Ups and downs of fluctuating currencies and their ever changing rates of exchange were not anything that I have ever been unduly concerned about. Unless I was travelling abroad, the relative values of the currencies never bothered me.
That all changed in the time leading up to the purchase of our home in Spain – for which we needed to transfer a significant amount of sterling (GBP) into Euros. So, every day, both Lisa’s and my eyes could be found looking at the pound:euro exchange rate.
Throw in the volatility of the money markets owing to the Greek debt crisis plus the Bank of England’s governor indication an interest rate rise is likely by the year end, and we quickly found ourselves with a greater understanding of financial matters.
Note that I refrain from using the term expert for two reasons, the first being that a greater understanding is clearly not an indication of any real command of the subject. The second reason that I never claim to be an expert in anything is because of a training course I completed some years ago. In that we were told that an ‘ex’ is a has-been and that a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure. I have never forgotten that.
Anyway, it was obvious that we needed to find the best possible way to transfer our pounds sterling currency into euros – gaining a good rate and incurring the lowest charges possible.
So where do you begin? Well, we started by looking to our bank but their rate of exchange seemed less than favourable plus they charged a fee on top of that. Other places seemed similar, until we discovered companies that exist to buy and sell currencies.
There are quite a few but we chose to go with Currencies Direct (just to be clear, I am NOT being paid to mention or endorse them, this is just our experience). They offered a rate only just below the quoted exchange rate and charged zero fee. It all seemed great, so we opened an account and waited for the money to arrive from my UK property sale. I could organise a transaction via the website but that had an upper limit lower than the amount that we needed so, once the cash had arrived in our UK bank, I telephoned Currencies Direct’s trading desk.
Quoting my account number and answering the security questions, I gave details of the transaction I needed to make. It was so simple. The exchange rate was locked in, guaranteed, and the deal was done. I just had to transfer funds from our UK bank to Currencies Direct. They did the rest, even making a payment of some of the cash, now in Euros, to a third party. Our new home was bought.
Of course, it won’t end there.
Once we move to Spain, my company pension and disability benefits will continue to be paid into our UK bank, so we will regularly need a transfer money out to our Spanish bank account but in much smaller quantities than the initial transaction.
Oh, the world of international high finance!