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Old 16.07.2010, 05:16
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Re: What is the cheapest way to transfer money from UK to Swiss bank account?

Others have stated the cheapest way to move relatively small amounts from the UK to Switzerland. A Nationwide Flexaccount VISA card has no fee, but you will pay VISA's exchange rate spread (but, within Europe, not the 1% loading that VISA normally charges, and Nationwide adds nothing).

Note that all foreign exchange transactions are first converted into dollars by VISA and then into the other currency, if any. And they are subject to snooping by the US authorities, if that means anything to you.

For amounts transferred of more than 10,000 or so, you exceed (for example) HSBC's online transfer limit. And this is just as well: when you ring them they will get you an instantaneous quote on the forex market, and you can accept or reject it. Xe, Oanda, and the Money Store among others handle market-rate conversions too and may have different minimums. Nationwide will only let you send a SWIFT transaction (also subject to USG snooping) online if you have their Card Reader. Otherwise you have to do it in writing and hand in the request at a branch, or post it in.

An alternative is to wire the funds in Sterling and either maintain a Sterling account with a Swiss bank (it will not pay interest on demand deposits) and/or negotiate the exchange in Switzerland. You may or may not get a better rate. Not long ago I was in my Swiss bank, converting funds for a property deal, and as we spoke Sterling started to fall (within a couple of days it had fallen 5%). To their credit, the bank's forex desk honoured the first (higher) rate quoted ten minutes into the fall.

UK banks' forex wiring charges vary between 9 and 25. HSBC's is 17 for transfers of, say, a few thousand pounds. Your Swiss bank will probably charge CHF 10 or less to receive the funds; mine charges CHF 7.

The worst way to transfer funds is in cash. The second worst is with a credit card. The third worst is a debit card other than Nationwide's (or perhaps one or two others that I don't know about); their loading is often 3%. (USAA Savings Bank and many US credit unions also forgo loading charges, but VISA and MC add 1% regardless. There may also be ATM charges, depending on the US bank.)

As for PayPal: I would check their exchange rate spread before using them. They are good for small amounts but I suspect they may be costly for larger sums. Google "paypal sucks". (I note that they re-incorporated in Luxembourg a few years ago, and Luxembourg is known for its lax regulation.)

If you are taxable in the UK, note that you may be charged with a capital gain every time you spend CHF and the exchange rate is higher than that at which you transferred the funds.

Last edited by andy02; 16.07.2010 at 05:27.
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