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The hidden costs of sending money to Turkey


UK banks can be costly when sending money to Turkey – but mobile apps and Turkish banks are considerably cheaper

By Michael Daventry

Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot expatriates have a wide selection of transfer services available in the UK to send money to family and friends living back in Turkey.

But with each company charging different exchange rates and transfer fees, calculating the actual cost of sending funds can be a bewildering experience.

Some services say they place no transfer fee at all, but recoup their losses through an unfavourable exchange rate. Others charge a high fee to send the money, but offer a rate closer to what you might expect in Turkey.

Haber Newspaper examined the rates and fees charged by 9 different services if someone wanted to send £250 to Turkey on Wednesday 1 February, when the official Turkish Central Bank rate for the day was 4.7794 TL = £2.48.

If the customer could transfer the £250 without any fees at the central bank rate, they would receive 1194.85 TL in return. We compared each service’s rate and fee against this figure to find out which came closest to it.

Our investigation revealed the mobile app Transferwise offers by far the cheapest service. A customer wanting to send £250 through this service would lose just £5.39 on the official exchange rate, but would have to wait up to 4 days for the transfer to clear.

The two UK branches of the Turkish bank İşbank, meanwhile, offers a next working day service but at a higher rate. This the customer loses £16.45 against the central bank’s rate.

Western Union and Moneygram both allow recipients to pick up the funds at any Turkish branch 15 minutes after they leave the UK, although their exchange rates were less favourable than Transferwise or İşbank.

ustomers using these services on 1 February could expect to lose between £19 and £27 against the central bank’s rate.

The UK high street banks were the most extortionate of them all. A Barclays customer wanting to transfer £250 on that day would have lost £33.19 because it charges a £15 fee and one of the lowest exchange rates on the market.