I have always had a nagging feeling that although many currency exchange services say 'fee free' you know deep down that a fee is wrapped up in the actual exchange rate and there is no way of working out what you are being charged.
Such charges are easy to disguise in exchange rates and so you are left with the sense that you have paid for something without being exactly sure what you are getting.
Clarity on fees and charges
A little bit of transparency would really appeal where a company was actually upfront with the fee being charged and the actual rate for swapping euros for sterling, dollars or other currencies.
Well, whilst taking a break browsing online I saw that an old work colleague was now employed with CurrencyFair and so I took a look over their website.
It is as you would expect a currency exchange service that was created by people who like me were a little annoyed at seeing their money eaten up by fees they had little control over.
So right up front, CurrencyFair says that for transfers from sterling to euros then you will pay a fee of £3, but having checked some rates you will also receive a competitive currency exchange price.
A quick currency exchange test
So as a quick example here is what I found for transferring £1,000 to euros on Friday 16 September in the mid-afternoon.
For my £1,000 I would receive €1,125 from CurrencyFair, while HSBC who I've used in the past would provide me with €1,085.
That is a difference of €40 when compared to HSBC, and could add up to a sizeable amount over a year or two of regular transfers.
Of course you are going to have to go through the registration process if you decide to use CurrencyFair, which in these days of tightened online security requires you to submit a copy of your passport and two proofs of address for checks to be carried out.
Financial regulation system
The company is incorporated in Ireland (No. 469391) and is fully regulated as an Authorised Payment Institution by the Central Bank of Ireland (No.C57373) under the European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009.
Another feature within CurrencyFair is that they offer a peer-to-peer currency exchange service, that allows individuals with differing currencies to swap their money at favourable rates.
Bank details are not exchanged between each person, that is handled via CurrencyFair itself, but if you are willing to wait a short time for an advantageous rate of exchange again you could benefit.
But if you want to just transfer money as you have in the past, be it savings, a pension or some business payments then you would set up an account and undertake a currency exchange as normal.