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Starting out as a Freelancer in the UK (specifically banking)
Thread poster: Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Jan 5, 2013

Hey all,

I've just come back to the UK after spending a year in Germany working as a foreign language subtitler. Through my links with my previous employer, I've been offered some regular freelance work.

I currently hold a European bank account, and I am wondering, since this freelance work will be paid in Euros, whether I can use this account to accept payments even though I am no longer a resident of that country. Does anybody else use a similar set-up, i.e. using a UK and European bank account in tandem in order to accept payments?

I would really appreciate any advice for what to do in this situation, my head is swimming!


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Gail Bond MITI  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2009)
French to English
No problem as far as I know Jan 6, 2013

Hi Christopher,

I have a euro account in France and a sterling account in the UK. I receive client payments into both. For accounting purposes, I convert the euro payments into sterling and my accountant records them on my tax return. I've been doing this for 3 years with no problems.

Hope this helps!
Gail


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:32
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Sterling and Euro accounts Jan 6, 2013

I have a sterling account and a separate euro account with the same UK High Street bank.
Some customers want to be invoiced in Euros. The attraction is that what I invoice in Euros is what I receive. No bank charges, but on the other hand almost zero interest.
From time to time I transfer funds from the euro account to the sterling account.
For trips abroad I can withdraw Euros from my local branch and thus avoid buying euros at tourist rates. There are disadvantages – I cannot transfer money to other countries, and there is no online access. But on balance a convenient arrangement.


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Clive Phillips  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Sterling and Euro accounts Jan 6, 2013

Hi Peter,

Many of my received payments are in euros. I would love to be able to reduce/eliminate the amount I lose in charges and unfavourable exchange rate when they are paid into my sterling account.

I tried PayPal but they impose their own charge, so have ceased using them.

When you "transfer funds from the euro account to the sterling account", do you 1) pay a charge and 2) find the exchange rate used is unfavourable?

Thanks,
Clive


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Dutch to English
+ ...
Two accounts Jan 6, 2013

I have a euro account in the Netherlands and a sterling account in the UK with HSBC. HSBC does not charge for accepting payments from my euro account and the transfer is done in a day (sometimes on the same day if I am early enough). They do use a slightly lower exchange rate but I believe it is only 2 eurocents at most. I have had UK bank accounts with several banks but have found this one the best for my needs. I have had this set-up for more than 5 years. I believe that the other bank that does not charge for the euro transfers is Santander but you would need to confirm this. About 90% of my payments are in euros.

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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:32
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Reply to Clive Phillips Jan 6, 2013

Clive Phillips wrote:
When you "transfer funds from the euro account to the sterling account", do you 1) pay a charge and 2) find the exchange rate used is unfavourable?

1) There is no charge.
2) I have not verified the exchange rate except to confirm that it is much less unfavourable than tourist rates. Whatever you do, the bank is going to find a way of making some money from your transaction.


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Michael Joseph Wdowiak Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
@Christopher: Jan 6, 2013

Here is how I do it.

I came to the UK from Spain a few years ago and kept a euro account down there which I use to receive all of my euro invoices into. I wait a month or so and then transfer the euros from my Spanish € account to my £ HSBC account here in the UK.

However, I make sure to use a currency exchange specialist and not the banks themselves. They will %$#* you on the exchange rate and/or on charges! You will be surprised at how much it adds up to. I use a British firm called ‘Smart Currency Exchange’. As long as my transfers are around €500-1000 there are ZERO FEES. Each time you transfer yourself your money you just call a special number and get patched through to your own personal account manager who quotes you the best exchange rate he can manage at that moment. I can guarantee you that his rate is always going to be better than HSBS, Santander, etc.

Michael


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
French to English
+ ...
First Direct Jan 6, 2013

Marijke Singer wrote:

I have a euro account in the Netherlands and a sterling account in the UK with HSBC. HSBC does not charge for accepting payments from my euro account and the transfer is done in a day (sometimes on the same day if I am early enough). They do use a slightly lower exchange rate but I believe it is only 2 eurocents at most. I have had UK bank accounts with several banks but have found this one the best for my needs. I have had this set-up for more than 5 years. I believe that the other bank that does not charge for the euro transfers is Santander but you would need to confirm this. About 90% of my payments are in euros.


I use First Direct, which is owned by HSBC, so the same arrangements apply - no charges on deposits of euros from overseas clients. They also use a pretty good commercial exchange rate as opposed to the tourist rate. I used to bank with NatWest who charged me £7 per incoming euro payment (or £1 if it was less than £100). It's surprising how that adds up over the year - I reckon I've saved on average £250 a year in fees by switching. Interestingly, in the transition phase when some clients forgot to use my new bank details and still used the old bank account, the exchange rate from First Direct was much better than the NatWest exchange rate on the same day too, so I've no regrets about switching. FD also charge much less to transfer money to the Euro zone (£9) than most of the other banks (I've typically been quoted £20 upwards).

I have investigated either holding a Euro account here, or setting up a Euro account in one of my source countries, but both either charge a monthly fee plus transaction fees or require you to hold a large minimum sum on reserve on which they pay no interest. On balance I've decided it makes it easier for accounting purposes to have it all coming into my one business account in the UK. However, if you already have a euro account you're happy with, then that probably puts a different complexion on things. I suppose you then have to decide whether you convert the money nominally on the day it goes into your euro account, or use the actual figure when you eventually transfer it to your sterling account - presumably your accountant will be able to advise you which is preferable.

[Edited at 2013-01-06 23:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-01-06 23:27 GMT]


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2004)
German to English
Keep the German one Jan 8, 2013

I kept my German one and also have a sterling account with First Direct. Transfers from Germany to UK are free. No problems with accounting etc.
Gillian


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
But note.... Jan 8, 2013

Claire Cox wrote:

I use First Direct



Quote from the FirstDirect website:

"Banking with first direct usually costs £10 a month, but we'll waive the fee if you pay in at least £1,500 to your 1st Account each month, maintain an average monthly 1st Account balance of £1,500, or hold a selected first direct additional product. "


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
French to English
+ ...
True but Jan 8, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

Quote from the FirstDirect website:

"Banking with first direct usually costs £10 a month, but we'll waive the fee if you pay in at least £1,500 to your 1st Account each month, maintain an average monthly 1st Account balance of £1,500, or hold a selected first direct additional product. "


As an established freelance translator, paying in £1500 a month shouldn't be difficult, but I was concerned in the first few transitional months when payments were still going into my old bank as well, so I took out a First Direct credit card, which qualifies as one of their additional products. It costs nothing to take it out and I think I've used it twice since! They also pay you £125 to switch your account to them and I've found them to offer excellent customer service.

But each to their own of course! As an ex-NatWest employee, I kept my allegiance to them for years and years before I finally switched, but I've very glad I did.


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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Italian to English
First Direct Jan 8, 2013

Like Claire I bank with First Direct and am not charged for receiving payments in euros. I have never been asked to pay a £10 monthly fee either. I am very happy with their exchange rate and their customer service department is excellent.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
more info please Jan 8, 2013

Sonia Atkinson wrote:

Like Claire I bank with First Direct and am not charged for receiving payments in euros. I have never been asked to pay a £10 monthly fee either. I am very happy with their exchange rate and their customer service department is excellent.


What about the First Direct exchange rate Euro-GBP? What is it today, for instance?


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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Italian to English
Today's rate Jan 8, 2013

Tom in London wrote:


What about the First Direct exchange rate Euro-GBP? What is it today, for instance?


I received a payment today at the rate of 0.7987185 euros to the pound. I'm not totally sure how this compares to other banks, so it would be interesting to compare notes. I know it's much better than the PayPal rate, but that's another story.
Certainly when I was still banking with Lloyds too, the exchange rates seemed very similar.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Natwest exchange rate Jan 9, 2013

Sonia Atkinson wrote:

Tom in London wrote:


What about the First Direct exchange rate Euro-GBP? What is it today, for instance?


I received a payment today at the rate of 0.7987185 euros to the pound. I'm not totally sure how this compares to other banks, so it would be interesting to compare notes. I know it's much better than the PayPal rate, but that's another story.
Certainly when I was still banking with Lloyds too, the exchange rates seemed very similar.


The most recent payment in Euro I received via Natwest was dated 27 December. THe exchange rate applied by Natwest was 0.8001983 and of course they also deducted £7 (!!!!!) for doing the transaction.

So even though the rate is slightly better than First Direct, this is completely cancelled out by the £7.

I'm seriously thinking about switching from Natwest to First Direct.


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