Currencies Direct provides competitive rates, a variety of features, and cheerful customer service. However, there are limitations to its online platform.
|Transfer speed:||2-4 days|
|Trustpilot score:||5 stars|
|Our score:||3 stars|
What we like
- Excellent online platform
- Advanced payment features
- Competitive rates for high values
- Helpful customer service
What we don’t
- Online trades limited to £25,000
- Funds delivered using SWIFT network
- Not great for low values
Over the past few years, Currencies Direct has become a stablemate of Europe’s foreign exchange market. Established in the early days of independent currency dealers, it is now one of the largest services of its type in the UK.
Since its founding, Currencies Direct has focused on being an innovative payments provider for individuals and businesses. Having already helped over 210,000 customers, there are already many who can attest to its quality.
To learn more about this service and see if it’s right for you, read on for our in-depth Currencies Direct review.
Affiliate disclosure: If you sign up with a money transfer service after being referred from our website, we might earn a referral fee. Learn more.
About Currencies Direct
What is Currencies Direct all about? Let’s begin our Currencies Direct review with some general information about the service.
Currencies Direct was established in 1996 by Mayank Patel and Peter Ellis, who wanted to provide a better currency transfer service than was available at the time. Within three years of founding, the company had opened its first international branch in Spain, and it maintains a significant presence in this market to date.
While Peter departed Currencies Direct in 2000, the company remained in Mayank’s control until 2015, when the company was sold. The new owners, Palamon Capital and Corsair Capital, purchased the company for over £200 million. Mayank provided an insightful interview to Asian Wealth Magazine after the deal was completed.
Since its change in ownership, Currencies Direct has been overseen by Keith Hatton as CEO, Antony Jenkins as Chairman, and Leo Markides as Chief Operating Officer. These executives have extensive experience in banking and financial services, having come from firms such as Moneycorp, Barclays, and American Express.
Currencies Direct address (Head office)
Currencies Direct is headquartered at the following address:
Currencies Direct Ltd
1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf
London E14 5AA
Currencies Direct has established local offices in the following countries:
- South Africa
- United States
Supported countries and currencies
Currencies Direct supports the transfer of funds to approximately 188 countries. For the most part, the service facilitates its transfers using the SWIFT network, which allows it to deliver funds to all corners of the globe. The downside to this network is that there are often charges incurred by the recipient, of which Currencies Direct has little control of.
Currencies Direct has a minimum transfer value of £100, so it can be used for relatively small transactions if required. There is no maximum transfer value, which is great news for anyone who needs to make large transfers. However, its online platform is limited to transfers of £25,000. For values higher than this, Currencies Direct will complete your transfer manually.
Currencies Direct fees and exchange rate
What are Currencies Direct fees and exchange rate? It will take a few minutes to explore the foreign exchange market, so we can properly consider this question.
How the foreign exchange market works
Let’s begin with how the foreign exchange market works. Banks and other money transfer services will buy foreign currency at a price very close to the mid-market rate. They will then sell this currency to you, the customer, for a higher rate than they bought it for, taking a margin in between – known as “the spread”.
The spread is essentially a hidden cost that is not disclosed to you during the transaction. Then, in addition to the spread, some services will charge a transaction fee on top – which is typically the fee that they quote to you. In any case, the total cost of the transfer for you, the customer, is the combination of the two; the spread + transaction fee.
Q. Does the Currencies Direct exchange rate include a spread?
A. Yes, there is a spread.
Q. What about Currencies Direct fees?
A. No, a transaction fee does typically not apply.
But for the moment, don’t pay too much attention to the details. Rather, for the purpose of our Currencies Direct review, let’s consider the overall cost.
Why focus on overall cost?
If you focus on the spread or transaction fee in isolation, it is easy to become lost in marketing gimmicks. Instead, it is more helpful to consider the overall cost when these factors are combined. For example, a typical bank will charge up to 5% of the overall transfer value in spread and transaction fee to complete a transfer on your behalf. Not great.
But what about Currencies Direct? To determine its overall cost we need to compare a transfer with a benchmark – in this case, the mid-market rate – which in theory has no cost. Practically speaking, it is unlikely that you will ever receive the equivalent of the mid-market rate, however, your goal should be to get as close as possible.
If you can achieve a total cost of less than 1% of the overall transaction value then you are on the right track. However, it really depends on what your needs are and if you are willing to pay a little bit extra for additional features, advice, or research. To find out the mid-market rate of any currency pairing, use this calculator at xe.com.
What is the cost of Currencies Direct?
To calculate the cost of Currencies Direct, we received three quotes to exchange British Pounds (GBP) into Australian Dollars (AUD) – for low, medium, and high values. The overall cost of each transaction was then compared against the mid-market rate and represented as a percentage of the transfer value.
Here is the calculation:
|Transfer value||Overall cost|
An average cost of 1.79% means that for every £1,000 sent, on average £17.90 will be lost in spread + fees. By using this figure, we can make a general representation of Currencies Direct across a range of transfer values. Of course, it is not a perfect representation by any means, but it is helpful for comparative purposes.
Important note on SWIFT: You should be aware that any transfer conducted via the SWIFT network may incur additional hidden charges by correspondent banks; the exact cost depending on the amount of the transfer and the recipient bank. In our experience, these fees can be as high as £25 per transaction.
Currencies Direct review: Market comparison
So, how does Currencies Direct compare to other services in the market? To help you determine its relative competitiveness, we have prepared a chart. Beside the name of each service, we have listed its average cost, speed of transfer, receiving countries, and our review score – sorted from highest to lowest.
To sort this chart by column, click its respective headings. If you are reading on mobile, you may need to scroll horizontally to view all fields.
|wdt_ID||Service||Ave. cost||Speed||Countries||Our score||Review|
|1||Azimo||0.89%||1-3 days||200||2 stars||Read review|
|2||OFX||1.20%||3-5 days||226||4 stars||Read review|
|3||Currencies Direct||1.79%||2-4 days||188||3 stars|
|4||MoneyGram||3.50%||1-3 days||194||2 stars||Read review|
|5||CurrencyFair||0.45%||2-4 days||157||5 stars||Read review|
|6||OrbitRemit||0.43%||1-3 days||43||4 stars||Read review|
|7||Paysera||0.97%||3-5 days||174||3 stars||Read review|
|8||RationalFX||1.16%||1-3 days||201||3 stars||Read review|
|9||Remitly||0.77%||1-3 days||58||2 stars||Read review|
|10||Ria Money Transfer||3.06%||1-3 days||158||2 stars||Read review|
If you would like to learn more about the rationale of our Currencies Direct review, take a look at our review methodology.
A typical transfer with Currencies Direct takes 2-4 business days, from sending to receipt. The exact duration will depend on a few factors, including the currency pairings involved, the transfer value, as well as the particular systems of the sending and receiving bank.
That said, transfers involving more popular currency pairings may be completed even quicker. For example, transfers between GBP, EUR and USD are completed same-day; which means funds are typically received the following business day.
Key payment features
How do payment features affect our Currencies Direct review? Let’s take a look at its capabilities.
A spot contract consists of a single payment from one currency to another at the currently available exchange rate. If you need to send money right away, simply login to the Currencies Direct app or website and with a couple of clicks a transfer can be arranged.
A recurring payment is the easiest way to transfer money to the same recipient on a regular basis. A recurring payment allows any future payments to be direct debited automatically, providing a convenient solution to make better use of your time.
A market order allows you to set a target exchange rate that you would like to transact at in the near future. If and when your target rate is reached, Currencies Direct will initiate the transfer of funds immediately. This is useful if your transfer is not urgent and you willing to wait for a better rate.
A currency forward contract is useful if you would like to lock in an exchange rate but aren’t quite ready to transfer. This feature allows you to confirm a specific rate for up to 12 months in the future, protecting you from unfavourable rate movements.
Foreign currency options give you the right, but not the obligation, to purchase a particular currency at a predetermined exchange rate. It is one of the most useful methods of protecting a future transaction from adverse exchange rate movements.
A multi-currency account allows you to send and receive payments in various currency denominations. It is useful for individuals and businesses who would like the flexibility of transacting in more than one country at a time. For many, it is a suitable alternative to opening a foreign bank account.
Currencies Direct contact and phone number
Currencies Direct contact representatives are available by phone or email. Here are the contact details for a few of its offices:
+1 416 800 2493 (Canada)
+34 950 478914 (Spain)
+44 20 78479400 (United Kingdom)
+1 407 900 2174 (United States)
In our experience, we found Currencies Direct customer service to be friendly and helpful. We did not have to wait too long to speak with someone on the phone, and our queries by email have been answered in a prompt and professional manner.
Is Currencies Direct safe?
As a customer, is Currencies Direct safe to use? Let’s take a look at some of its security measures.
Currencies Direct is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and is licensed as an Electronic Money Institution under reference 900669. Its international subsidiaries are regulated by the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction of their operations, such as FinCEN in the USA and FSB in South Africa.
Customer funds are held in trust
In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of Currencies Direct customers are held in segregated accounts and are kept apart from the company’s own operating accounts. This ensures the security of customer funds, should Currencies Direct encounter financial difficulty.
Website is securely protected
The Currencies Direct website is protected with TLS encryption, which prevents sensitive data from being intercepted during your visit. You can confirm that this is in place by recognising a green padlock next to the website’s URL on your browser. Currencies Direct has also implemented two-factor authentication.
Currencies Direct Problems? A look at its reputation
Are there any Currencies Direct problems? Let’s take a look at its reputation.
As of publication, Currencies Direct has received over 4,000 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars; representing a positive experience in 91 percent of interactions with its customers.
Here are our observations of the feedback posted:
- Helpful customer service
- Very good exchange rates
- Many happy customers in the Spanish market
- Occasional transfer delays
- Miscommunication of fees for less popular currency pairings
- Poor exchange rates for small amounts
Upon viewing the Twitter and Facebook feeds of Currencies Direct, we can see a range of interactions between the service and its customers. It appears that any queries raised by customers are addressed within two days of posting. Currencies Direct will typically move the conversation into private messaging to rectify any issue.
Because Currencies Direct is a well-established service, its social media team is active in publishing news and market updates. This will be useful information for you if make transfers on a regular basis, or run a business.
Currencies Direct does not have a lot of mainstream media coverage. Any reporting on the service typically relates to its market updates and other industry-related commentaries.
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The Currencies Direct online experience
How does product design affect our Currencies Direct review? Let’s take a look at its user experience.
Currencies Direct online
The Currencies Direct website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and functionality. It is available in 10 languages; English, Chinese, French, German Korean, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.
Currencies Direct app
A Currencies Direct app has been developed for Apple and Android devices. By using the Currencies Direct app you can access your account at any time and use its core features; such as initiating new payments or tracking the status of in-progress transfers.
The registration process takes around 10 minutes and is relatively straight-forward. You begin by entering your email and password, before providing essential contact information such as name, address, and phone number.
Before you can commence transferring funds with Currencies Direct, you will first need to verify your identity. This will typically require providing two types of documents:
- Photo identification, such as a passport or drivers licence
- Proof of address, such as a bank or utility statement
How does Currencies Direct work?
As a part of our Currencies Direct review, we will take you through an example transaction. If you would like some guidance in navigating your own account, you can follow along below.
Step 1 – Sign up and login
Visit currenciesdirect.com, sign up and login. To begin a transfer, click Make a Transfer. Alternatively, you can enter some basic information into the quote widget and click Transfer Now.
Step 2 – Select recipient
First, designate your intended recipient – the details of which are entered in a separate menu – and click Select.
Step 3 – Select currencies
Choose the currencies involved and click Get Rate. When you are ready to proceed, click Continue.
Step 4 – Select payment method
Select your desired payment method. At this stage, the Currencies Direct can accept debit card or bank transfer. Click Continue.
Step 5 – Confirm transaction
The terms of your quote are presented, including the exchange rate and fees applicable. When you are happy to proceed, click Confirm.
Step 6 – Make payment to local account
You are provided with instructions to make your part of the payment. Now is the time to transfer your funds into the local bank account of Currencies Direct.
Step 7 – Track payment
When your funds are received by Currencies Direct, it will complete the final leg of the transfer. You can track its status online or with the Currencies Direct app. You will also receive email updates throughout the process.
Finally, once the transfer is complete its status will be updated accordingly. The funds should arrive in your recipient’s bank account shortly.
In our experience, the Currencies Direct platform was simple to use and we were satisfied with the instructions provided along the way. The entire process took 3 business days. However, because Currencies Direct uses the SWIFT network, our transaction incurred a short payment of $18. Not ideal.
Currencies Direct review: Final thoughts
Currencies Direct provides a professional service at a reasonable price. Its online platform is easy to use and is suitable for transfers of up to £25,000. For larger values, it has a team of friendly dealers that can complete transfers on your behalf and hold your hand through the process.
The service is well suited to business transactions of all shapes and sizes. If you have complex requirements or are in need of expert advice, Currencies Direct is a solid choice. That said, it is not the best solution for smaller transfers. If you are more technically inclined, you might wish to consider alternatives such as Wise or CurrencyFair.
If you have any questions or feedback about our Currencies Direct review, let us know in the comments below.