Transferring money from the US to the UK

Wiring Money across the Atlantic

.... or how to give yourself many gray hairs, in 50 cloudy steps

How do I get money from the USA to the UK?
Why this web page?
How unhelpful will everybody be?

How do I get money from the USA to the UK?

Banks and the local bureau de change do not give good exchange rates. If you are sending a large amount of money (eg., $10,000 or more), you will get a better deal going thru a financial services institution that gives relatively good exchange rates. The one I dealt with is Moneycorp. They charge £15 per transaction, plus a very small percentage on the inter-bank rate (about 0.5%). What I gained in good exchange rates I lost in customer service, however.

Many US banks (or other institutions, such as credit unions) cannot wire money directly overseas. They requre a "corresponding" bank to complete the transaction. The money will be wired to the corresponding bank, who will then be able to wire the money directly to the foreign institution.

If you are using Moneycorp, they receive US dollars into (currently, 27 June 2003), a US dollar account held at HSBC Bank, 129 New Bond Street, London W1A 2JA, SWIFT Code=MIDLGB22. You will need to request recipient account number from Moneycorp. If your US bank (or credit union) wants you to nominate a corresponding bank, tell them to use

HSBC Bank USA
Correspondant ABA: 021001088

And on the wire write the following:

REMITTER PAYS
ALL WIRES IN US DOLLARS

These details should entail that your wire arrives as the exact and correct amount that you intended to send, and in US dollars.

If you need to get the money over within a certain time frame, you may need to do some steps in "wrong" order. For instance, usually one would agree an exchange rate with Moneycorp and then contact the bank to wire the money. But Moneycorp wants the money to be transferred over within 6 days. I couldn't guarantee 6 days, because of the corresponding bank delays, the working hours of my California contact (joint-bank holder) who would authorise the wire, and the time differences between California and UK. Therefore, I obtained from Moneycorp the bank details, gave them to my contact person in California, so he could take the form into the Credit Union and authorise (via signature) the wire. Once he told me the day the wire would be sent, I then phoned Moneycorp on that date, to agree the exchange rate. From the time my contact person went into Credit Union to arrange the wire, until the wire was sent, was ? days, ? over? Moneycorp's limit.

Why this webpage?

If it's so straightforward, why did I bother to set up this web page?

Because it wasn't straightforward. The background is that I wanted to wire money from a San Diego Credit Union. The Credit Union wanted me to nominate a corresponding bank. Moneycorp refused to help me figure out which US banks might be able to serve as a corresponding bank; they insisted that the Credit Union should know. The Credit Union stuck firm to their position that I had to tell them which corresponding bank to use. A friend, who had previously had the very same problems transferring money from a Bank of America branch to Moneycorp, suggested that I contact the London HSBC branch that holds Moneycorp's dollar account. They had given him details of a US HSBC branch (New York) that could act as a corresponding bank. But when I phoned the HSBC London bank (New Bond Street), they claimed to be in complete ignorance about any of the details (address, swift code, or telephone number) of which HSBC New York branch they usually used for wire transfers.

In the meantime I found (on the Internet) a Manhatten branch of HSBC USA, and emailed HSBC USA. They confirmed that the Manhatten HSBC had the ability (fortuitiously) to act as a corresponding bank between the San Diego Credit Union and HSBC London (ie., no other corresponding banks need be involved). I confirmed with Credit Union that they were happy to use this HSBC branch as the corresponding bank.

Moneycorp insisted that an exact and precise amount should arrive in the US dollar account from me. So if we agreed "$10,000", it had to be $10k, and $9,975 would not do. Having located (no help from HSBC London) a US branch of HSBC that could act as corresponding bank, I then needed to know if the HSBC New York branch would deduct further charges from the wire. I received contradictory information from six sources, about how much and whether such charges would be deducted from the wire. I was also concerned that HSBC USA would try to convert the money into Great Britain Pounds before wiring it to HSBC London. I received much contradictory advice on this point, as well.

The replies went something like this:

Which corresponding bank in the USA should I use?

No information, not our problem: Credit Union, HSBC New Bond Street London, Moneycorp.


What charge would the corresponding bank take directly out of the wire?

Varies, depends on wire amount: HSBC email (globalinfo@us.hsbc.com).
$25: Carol at the 1-800-975-HSBC number.
Something, but unknown how much: San Diego Credit Union.
None if we write "REMITTER PAYS" on the wire itself: Georgina HSBC head office.
None: HSBC New York (telephone call); and The HSBC Foreign Account Dept. in UK
No information, not our problem: Moneycorp.


Would the corresponding bank transfer the wire from US$ into GBP before wiring across the Atlantic, if it was going into a US dollar account?

"In general", but might be avoidable: Credit Union.
No: Globalinfo@us.hsbc.com email.
No information, not our problem: HSBC New Bond Street, London. Moneycorp.


Finally, I decided I just had to try and see what would happen. The instructions I gave in the first section above ("How do I get money from the USA to the UK?") worked. The exact amount that I intended to wire arrived, and the charges were....? But I'm not promising they'll work for anybody else -- far from it! Maybe I was just lucky.

How unhelpful will everybody be?

All along the way I had contradictory information. The Credit Union, everyone at HSBC except the New Bond Street branch, at least tried to be helpful. But the inability of HSBC staff to give consistent answers was very unhelpful. Moneycorp flatly refused to help, except for giving me the HSBC New Bond Street details. Below some excerpts from the communication log.

11 June 2003:
Email from San Diego County County Credit Union, Information System:

The information that you listed for the corresponding bank (HSBC Bank USA (New York Branch) ) is correct, and is exactly what we would require for the wire transfer.....

Unfortunately, the corresponding bank will deduct its fees directly from the wire you are sending. It can range from $10 to $25 dollars depending on the amount. I contacted our wire department to obtain a phone number for HSBC, it is as follows- 303-636-2200.

Please call them to see what the cost will be to transfer the amount you are requesting.

In general, the corresponding bank will exchange the funds into Pounds Sterling automatically. To try and prevent this, please have the representative at SDCCU place instructions with the wire, to request not to convert/exchange the funds. Please note: SDCCU can not assure, or guarantee that placing the instructions will prevent the exchange to Pounds Sterling. The corresponding institution is in no way affiliated with SDCCU. They are established as individual institution, that specialize in foreign currency.

We can only recommend to contact them for any specific instructions to prevent the exchange ( other than the initial request from SDCCU).

12 June 2003:
Email from globalinfo@us.hsbc.com:
Thank you for your recent e-mail to HSBC.

The charges assessed may vary depending upon the amount of the transfer. This fee is generally taken out of the funds that are transferred. All transfers are made in US Dollars. It is up to the receiving institution to convert the funds if necessary. The process is generally completed within 48 hours. For more information, please contact us at the number listed below. If you do not have access to US 800 numbers, you may call us collect at (716) 841-7212.

To wire funds through HSBC Bank USA please provide your bank the following information:...


13 June 2003:
I phoned Moneycorp, who I want to do my conversion from dollars to Pounds Sterling. Moneycorp wants an agreed and exact amount to be wired to their dollar account, with HSBC, New Bond Street in London. I asked for New Bond Street's phone number, which Money Corp gave me.

I phoned New Bond Street. They knew nothing about coresponding banks, said that they do their wire transfers to the USA through "HSBC New York". They didn't know if that was New York City or New York State. They didn't have an address, Swift No. or phone number for "HSBC New York".

I phoned the +1-716-841-7212 phone number for the HSBC Manhattan branch. First he said that the standard HSBC charge for foreign wires, from their own customers' (HSBC) accounts, is $25. Then he put me on hold, phoned up the wire room and asked, and got back to me. Saying that his wire room told him that there was no surcharge when HSBC (his branch) was acting as a corresponding bank.

My patience finally wore out. My husband took over and phoned Carol at the 1-800-975-HSBC number who checked with the International Department -- they say that there should be a $25 fee. My husband queried why the difference with globalinfo (on email) and the chap at the +1-716-841-7212 number. We ended up speaking to "Douglas" in the UK. Douglas phoned the HSBC branch where we want to transfer money to (New Bond Street). Then Douglas put us onto the HSBC Foreign Account Dept. (08457-43445).

The HSBC Foreign Account Dept. only deals with foreign accounts. Not foreign transfers. They are under the impression that the New York Branch would impose no fee for acting as a corresponding bank. They suggested we phone the HSBC head office.... +44-020-7260-8000.

HSBC head office ("Georgina") said probably a charge would be made to wire the money between HSBC New York and HSBC London. However, that standard banking practice would be to bill the sender, at the originating insititution for the wire charges between HSBC New York and HSBC London. She said to include "REMITTER PAYS" with the wire to ensure that no charges are taken out of the wire itself, but instead will be billed to me at the originating instititution (SDCCU).

View the event info page


3 Comments

by Frustrated of New England on 05 April 2012 Reply
Wow, 2012 and this article is still entirely accurate.

Credit union insist that HSBC UK must nominate a corresponding bank? Check. HSBC UK insist it's the credit union's problem? Check. Endless back-and-forth trying to get one or the other to throw me a bone and give me SOME VAGUE HINT how to find out what the fuck they want? Check.

A million thanks to you, article author, for the suggestion to contact HSBC USA. They got back to me within hours with the information I needed.

And, yes, the bank name and ABA code they gave me are identical to the ones given in this article -- so this information is still correct, all these years later!

by Julii Swindells on 06 April 2012 Reply
Bummer, hope you get it sorted soon.
by robotronik on 19 September 2011 Reply
I am suffering from these money transfer issues as we speak. I guess I am writing 6 years after this article was written. You would think that after this many years, with the strength of internet banking and digital international relations, things would be a little easier. I still get "I don't know, ask the other guy" from all the involved institutions, and I waste many hours on the phone talking to these banks. I just signed up with Moneycorp. I was hoping they would help me solve my issues with bank-to-bank transfers (in this case, US to Sweden) but maybe this is just the beginning? Ugh.
by Julii Swindells on 20 September 2011 Reply
That's bad to hear, hope that things get sorted for you soon.
by Musa Al Hawadi on 16 January 2011 Reply
Banks can be difficult to deal with to say the least and expensive.

I suggest using local Somali Money Transfer Methods, they operate in most Western Nations and Most Muslim/Arab nations including North Africa. They usually charge as little as 0.3% on transfer fees and give great exchange rates.

The money is delivered within 24 hours and you actually speak with someone face to face at the branch.

So why use this form of international money transfer? simple. Somalis have been scattered around the world due to civil war and have become experts in transferring money around the traditional system. Most western banks dont operate in Somalia and where most Somalis live.

Some big names are;

Dahabshill

Qaran Express

Tawakal Express

You can find them anywhere where Somalis live.

Europe

Middle East

Eastern Africa

North Africa

North America

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