Last updated: 7th July, 2020
How to pay for bills abroad
Paying the utilities, mortgage or other expenses on your second home? Covering emergency costs overseas like medical bills or household repairs? Or planned expenses like rent and expenses as a student studying abroad? Read our guide on how best to pay invoices in other countries.
At the same time as technology has made the world a smaller place, it has increased the reasons you might need to pay bills internationally. Maybe you need to pay the utilities bill on your holiday home, settle up with suppliers for an overseas wedding or cover medical bills. Whatever the reason, paying a bill in a foreign currency can seem like a complicated process.
There are many ways to pay an international bill – via your bank, the Post Office, a dedicated currency transfer firm or an app on your smartphone. But, with so many options, you need to find the safest, most reliable and most cost-effective way to settle your bill.
How to pay bills abroad
Using your bank to pay international bills is usually a straightforward process that can be done using online banking – there’s no need to go through the hassle of setting up a separate account and you can transfer the money straight away. Just tell your bank who you want to pay and how much the bill is. They may charge you a transfer fee before converting your pounds into the currency of the destination country – sometimes up to £25 per transaction*. The funds will then be sent to the recipient’s account.
The benefits of using your bank are clear. There’s minimal hassle and you get the safety of your bank’s security systems protecting your money, however fees can be high and it’s not always easy to understand the total cost of your international transfer.
Another way to pay for bills abroad is at the Post Office. This is fast – bills could be paid in minutes – and you can track the money for peace of mind. You can go into a branch or online to give the details of your bill. You’ll be told what the exchange rate is and how much sterling you need to pay to cover the bill. You then pay a transfer fee and the amount owed, and the money is transferred to the recipient’s account. You’ll then be given a code so that you can track the payment.
The Post Office can be convenient especially if you prefer to deal with someone on person to make your transfer, however the fees will vary by how you choose to make your payment and the exchange rate can vary by branch, order amount and more – so it’s not totally transparent or upfront (source).
Foreign exchange companies
International bills can also be paid via a dedicated foreign exchange company. These firms tend to be cheaper, as these transactions are the main focus of their business (unlike at your bank or at the Post Office). You can usually pay bills quickly online or via an app once you’ve set up an account. It is always important to check if your firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – as this gives the guarantee that your money is being dealt with securely and correctly.
PagoFX is a new, low-cost way of sending money abroad with confidence, backed by one of the world’s largest banks – Santander. As it’s open to everyone, you don’t need a Santander bank account to use the service. PagoFX allows you to easily send money abroad conveniently from your smartphone or desktop to pay your international bills – you just need to register online and provide some basic information about the recipient, such as name, address and bank account details, and you can be sending money in just a few minutes. The app will then tell you how long your transfer will take to be set up – it’s usually instant.
As well as fast transfer times, PagoFX will always show you the costs you pay before you press send and gives you the real-time, mid-market exchange rate with no mark-up (similar to those found on Google, Reuters or Bloomberg). So whether you’re covering costs for your second home, paying medical bills or just looking for an easy, low-cost way to manage all of your international payments, visit the App Store or Google Play to download PagoFX, or sign up via the website now.