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Working in UK but paid by French agencies
Thread poster: Vicky James

Vicky James
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
French to English
Feb 1, 2010

Does anyone know how it works for transferring money over to the UK on a regular basis from a French bank account, without incurring hefty charges each time? I currently work in France but am about to move back to the UK. Most of my agencies are based in France, which means that I will continue to be paid in euros into my French bank account (unfortunately a large no of them still pay by cheque, which will add another layer of administration). The question is: what's the most economical way of getting that money back to my UK bank account in the form of sterling?

Any thoughts very much appreciated.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
French to English
+ ...
Check the charges Feb 1, 2010

Hi Vicky

I recommend you check what your current French bank actually charges for transfers within Europe (note: not within the Euro zone) and change your account *before you move* if you find you can get a better deal elsewhere (it's very difficult to open an account in France as a non-resident).

I have an account with Crédit Agricole's international branch, and I am charge EUR 3.50 for each transfer. I usually wait until I have a good few thousand ready to transfer, and the fee becomes a tiny percentage of the whole.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
The best way Feb 1, 2010

In my experience the best way would be not to have the money paid into your French bank account unless you intend to keep it there.

If you want the money in the UK then the best way would be to have each of your clients pay you by bank transfer into your UK account.

You will of course lose or gain depending on how the Euro and GBP fluctuate against each other, and for each bank transfer your UK bank will take a fixed charge (about £10-£20, the £20 being the max regardless of how big the sum is).

To economise on these bank charges I always try to get my Euroland clients to pay me several invoices at once so that I only pay one bank charge.

I've tried every other way and that, I think, is the most economical. Not ideal, but since the UK failed to join the Euro and now has no chance of ever meeting the criteria (even if it wanted to) we're stuck with Sterling


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Member (2004)
German to English
Not sure about France Feb 1, 2010

But from Germany a SWIFT/SEPA transfer is free. That means you just need the IBAN and BIC. The UK receiving bank shouldn't charge you either. If they do switch to First Direct - cos they don't.
Gillian


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hmmm Feb 1, 2010

Gillian Searl wrote:
The UK receiving bank shouldn't charge you either. If they do switch to First Direct - cos they don't.
Gillian


Gillian - I immediately went to the First Direct website and checked the T&C covering payments in from Euroland banks and then to double check I spoke to them on the phone and you're correct - First Direct do NOT apply these charges. HOWEVER before I jump ship from Natwest to First Direct, I need to check whether First Direct sneakily apply a less favourable exchange rate than other banks, thus actually charging *more*.....


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Italian to English
Currency Exchange brokers Feb 1, 2010

Since I came across this site this morning, I thoiught I'd mention it: http://www.comparemoneytransfer.co.uk/foreign_exchange_trading.html
I suspect these brokers are only fee-free if you are transferring £5,000 or more but it might be useful.


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Vicky James
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all Feb 1, 2010

for your comments and ideas. I would indeed much rather be paid directly into my UK bank account, but unfortunately all bar one of my France based agencies pay by cheque only (will they EVER get over this love affair with the cheque book?) which wastes considerable time on my part but also means I am tied to having a Euro account based in France. I enquired about Barclays international account which amounted to little more than a French current account similar to the one I have with credit agricole now, but with Barclays name splashed all over it and horrendous charges to boot.

Will check out Angela's advice; seems like it's my best route given the situation... Angela - is there a difference in bank charges between your "international" CA account and a regular one like mine?

Thanks!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Great minds think alike Feb 1, 2010

Russell Jones wrote:

Since I came across this site this morning, I thoiught I'd mention it: http://www.comparemoneytransfer.co.uk/foreign_exchange_trading.html
I suspect these brokers are only fee-free if you are transferring £5,000 or more but it might be useful.


Great minds think alike, Russell....I was exactly on that website when you posted your comment. You can guess what I'm doing


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 22:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
Simple Feb 1, 2010

Just persuade the British govt to change immediately to the Euro....

Sorry to be irreverent, but I am so fed up with having to pay charges back and forth!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Alas..... Feb 1, 2010

aceavila - Noni wrote:

Just persuade the British govt to change immediately to the Euro....



It can't be done immediately.

Alas, the British Government (under John Major) did once try to join the Euro but was bounced out of the Euro Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday - 16 September 1992, when after a hectic day of short selling by George Soros and others, the British government was forced to withdraw Sterling from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) after they were unable to keep sterling above its agreed lower limit.

Many believe that this was a deliberate manouvre by currency speculators to ensure that Sterling did NOT join the Euro, so that they could continue to make money by trading the Euro against Sterling and viceversa - as they are merrily continuing to do today, whilst we continue to pay the banks for converting our money from one to the other.

Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge and today, even if any British government wanted to try again, the UK economy is in such a mess that it would not even qualify to enter the ERM (which is an obligatory "test period" that limits fluctuation of the applicant currency against the Euro, for a period, before a country can actually join the Euro).

So we're lumbered.

For the full, gory details, see http://wapedia.mobi/en/Black_Wednesday

[Edited at 2010-02-01 16:45 GMT]


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
French to English
+ ...
No idea Feb 1, 2010

Will check out Angela's advice; seems like it's my best route given the situation... Angela - is there a difference in bank charges between your "international" CA account and a regular one like mine?


I don't know - as the CA international account was the only one available to me as a non-French resident (and I had to take a trip to Paris to open it, oh the hardship!) I didn't compare. I pay EUR 6.20 a month, and I think there is an annual or quarterly charge for a debit card facility, but I can't remember how much.

I find it saves me a great deal of money in comparison to receiving transfers into my UK account. I used to lose a bit on each of those transfers, whereas now I just lose a little bit on less frequent, much larger transfers. It's all part of the cost of doing business, but it can be minimised.


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Ivana UK  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Hi Vicky, Feb 1, 2010

UK banks don't normally charge for receiving EUR payments into personal accounts so you should consider having your invoices paid by international transfer.

e.g.

Abbey (now Santander) does not charge for receiving international payments

http://www.santander.co.uk/csgs/Satellite?appID=abbey.internet.Abbeycom&canal=CABBEYCOM&cid=1210607023591&empr=Abbeycom&leng=en_GB&pagename=Abbeycom/Page/WC_ACOM_TemplateA2#Receiving%20money%20via%20a%20CHAPS%20or%20International%20Payment;

Halifax does not charge for EUR payments into a sterling account unless the transfer amount exceeds £8,000, at which point they charge £3.00

see http://www.halifax.co.uk/bankaccounts/internationalpaymentservices.asp then click International Payments and Travel Money for a breakdown of fees and charges.


** Sorry, I missed your last post Vicky so please ignore this! I'll leave the post anyway in case anyone else is interest in the cost of receiving international payments. **

[Edited at 2010-02-01 17:16 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
but.... Feb 1, 2010

Ivana UK wrote:

UK banks don't normally charge for receiving EUR payments into personal accounts


but they recoup the cost by applying a less favourable exchange rate. I'm afraid the unpalatable truth is that *nobody* carries out a transaction from any currency to any another, without charging you for it.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:05
French to English
Soc Gen / HSBC; post and internet Feb 1, 2010

Post:
I went into Soc Gen before I left France and asked for a blank international xfer form, which I have replicated (ish) in Word. If I post this form to them, they seem happy to do the xfer fairly pronto. They charge, and it ain't cheap (50 euros or so) so I usually whack over a few thou at a time to lessen the blow. However, the exch rate does tend to be pretty close to that quoted on xe.com for the date of the xfer.

Soc Gen charge less if the currency conversion takes place at the HSBC end, but HSBC will then also also charge and the exch rate is different. (Edit to add that I have just seen Ivana's post - clearly our experience differs in this respect.) I have yet to work out which method is cheaper (i.e. all charges at Soc Gen, or smaller charges at both ends) when the exch rate is factored in.

The postal method also means i can, if need be, shove over a "remise de cheques", altho all my clients have now stopped using cheques, it was handy at the time. I should also add I only pay about 20 euros a year to keep this bank account.

Internet:
Soc Gen allow internet xfers up to 4k euros, but you need to have registered your payee (i.e. your own UK bank account) first, and this involves them printing stuff off and sending it to you to sign and return, which takes a few days, of course. The money takes a couple of days to arrive (why?), there are no charges at all either end BUT the exh rate is about 2 eurocents less than the xe.com rate on the day of transfer.

In summary - rest assured, there is no such thing as free currency exchange. It is almost certainly cheaper to do big transfers less often, but you will pay!

[Edited at 2010-02-01 18:08 GMT]


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Tracey  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:05
French to English
+ ...
Depositing International Cheques in the UK Feb 1, 2010

I'm sure you can also deposit checks in different currencies onto UK accounts. A couple of years ago, I was able to deposit two cheques in Canadian dollars onto my Barclays account but I can't remember how much I was charged/if I was charged/good or bad exchange rate, etc. You could also check that out with your UK bank.

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