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Guide to getting the lowest FX fees

By Clare West

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FX fees (also known as currency conversion charges) can really cut into your returns if you're regularly trading international assets. But with big differences between the FX fees on offer, it pays to know which trading platforms provide the best rates – and how to avoid them altogether in some circumstances.

My quick list

*We don’t make any money from the platforms for recommending them on this list. These are my totally impartial views that I think represent the best value for money.

5.0
Interactive Brokers

Lowest FX fees for a UK trading platform, low cost, unparalleled research tools and trade execution capabilities.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR. You must consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing money.

4.5
Trading 212

FX fees of just 0.15% whatever the trade value, easy-to-use platform, allows for multiple currencies to be held within a single trading account.

Capital at risk.

5.0
Wise

Wise is a specialist money transfer service. They offer some of the best exchange rates, and lowest fees on 160+ different currencies, as well as a multi-currency account and debit card.

FOR STOCK TRADING: Capital at risk.

5.0
Revolut

Lowest FX fees for a money transfer service, a multi-currency bank account, excellent exchange rates.

FOR STOCK TRADING: Capital at risk.

4.5
eToro

Those with £250k+ in their portfolio are exempt from FX fees. For those holding less, however, FX fees can be very high and all accounts are held in USD with eToro.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 51% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with eToro. Consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Don't assume that you have no choice over FX fees. The guide at the bottom of this page has suggestions which could save you money.


5.0

Interactive Brokers

Lowest FX fees for a UK trading platform, low cost, unparalleled research tools and trade execution capabilities.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR. You must consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing money.

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Reasons to use

  • Lowest FX fees of all the trading platforms we've reviewed (0.03%)
  • A tier-one trading platform with all the bells and whistles
  • 200+ research, market commentary and news apps
  • 100+ order types
  • Low trading fees and tight spreads
  • Demo accounts
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Reasons to avoid

  • Highly sophisticated and complex platform
  • No ready-made portfolios
  • No option to trade with MetaTrader 4

Clare says

“T212

Interactive Brokers offers the lowest FX fees of any UK trading platform – currently 0.002% (0.20 basis point) – with a minimum fee per order of USD 2.00.

Comparing that ultra-low rate with interactive investor's and eToro's 1.50% FX fees, and Hargreaves Lansdown's 1.00%, highlights just how cheap it is.

However, to take advantage of IBKR's rates, you'll need to be able to navigate its highly sophisticated platforms. Many traders complain that it is too complex and only suitable for very confident, experienced traders, although IBKR is marketing its latest platform – IBKR desktop – for less experienced traders.

The IBKR Multi-Currency Account function also gives you the ability to trade in products and make deposits and withdrawals in different currencies, and has linked up with Wise, meaning you can exchange currency through Wise and then deposit it straight into your IBKR account in the currency you want to trade in. Read more about the possibly advantages of doing this in the guide at the bottom of this page.

Fees

  • FX fees: 0.002%
  • Some of the lowest available commissions on trades
  • One free withdrawal per month. £7 per bank transfer and £1 for a BACs transfer after that.
  • Inactivity fee: $10 per month after 24 months of inactivity

Use this platform if

  • You are a confident trader, comfortable using advanced trading tools

Scores

Fees:

5.0

Trading platform:

4.5

Account opening:

3.5

Research:

5.0

Education:

5.0

Customer service:

3.0

For a detailed analysis of Interactive Brokers, check out our review for 2024

Read full review >
4.5

Trading 212

FX fees of just 0.15% whatever the trade value, easy-to-use platform, allows for multiple currencies to be held within a single trading account.

Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • Multi-currency accounts
  • 0.15% flat FX fee
  • Great user experience, suitable for beginners
  • 0% trading commission
  • No custody/platform fees
  • Highest interest rates paid on cash
  • Uses same back end as IBKR
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Reasons to avoid

  • CFD currency conversion fees are relatively high
  • No choice of other trading platforms such as MT4
  • No demo account
  • No ready-made portfolios

Clare says:

“T212

Trading 212 is very cheap – certainly one of the cheapest trading platforms in the UK market. Where other providers usually compensate for zero commission and zero custody fees with high currency conversion fees, T212 hasn't taken that approach and has gone with one of the lowest FX fee rates in the UK market too – just 0.15% of whatever value you're converting.

Those Trading CFDs will need to pay a bit more, however – 0.50% – so T212 make a bit of money back here.

One of the other big draws of T212 is just how easy the platform is to use. It's ideal for beginners, but with a decent spec of research tools, 5.2% interest on uninvested cash, 24/5 trading on US stocks, and those ultra-low fees, it’s become a platform serious traders can’t afford to ignore either.

Another big bonus if you're trading international assets – you can have a multi-currency account with T212. You can hold and trade in several different currencies, meaning you won't need to pay FX within the platform on those stocks that trade in a currency you hold. I'll talk more about that strategy in the guide below.

Fees

  • 0% commission
  • No custody fee
  • 0.15% FX fee on investments
  • Tight spreads
  • 5.2% interest on uninvested cash and cash ISAs

Use this if

  • You're new to trading or an intermediate level trader
  • You want a user-friendly platform with some social features

Scores

Fees:

5.0

Trading platform:

4.0

Account opening:

4.0

Research:

4.0

Education:

2.0

Customer service:

2.5

5.0

Wise

Wise is a specialist money transfer service. They offer some of the best exchange rates, and lowest fees on 160+ different currencies, as well as a multi-currency account and debit card.

FOR STOCK TRADING: Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup
  • Low FX fees
  • Same day and instant money transfer
  • 82% of Trustpilot reviews are 5-star – highest among money transfer services
  • Lets you hold and convert into 40+ currencies
  • Options to invest directly from your Wise account
  • Can get a debit card or pay by phone
  • Possible to have your salary paid directly into your Wise account in the currency of your choice
  • Can convert to foreign currency when you see a good rate, and hold until you need it
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Reasons to avoid

  • Not a bank account, but a money services provider (MSB), so you won't get as many features as a bank account

Clare says:

“T212

Wise is a specialist money transfer service. Although they do offer some opportunities to invest directly from your Wise account, that's not why I'm recommending it. By using Wise, you can take advantage of better currency exchange rates and lower FX fees than you may be able to get directly through your investment provider / trading platform.

You can exchange GBP into 40+ different currencies, and transfer to your investment / trading platform in whichever currency the assets you want to trade are natively traded in. For this approach to work, your investment / trading platform must facilitate multi-currency accounts, however. See my guide at the bottom of this page for details of how to make the strategy work.

Converting between currencies is made very easy with Wise. And it's relatively cheap. Wise offers attractive exchange rates (the best I could find for popular currencies) and reasonably low FX fees, although not as low as Revolut's in most cases. Converting £1,000 to EUR, Wise's fees were 0.41% and they could guarantee it would be done within 2 hours. Revolut was cheaper (0.18% fees), and could do it instantly.

I've found Wise's FX fees are generally around the 0.40% mark. That's higher than you'd pay within the platform at Interactive Brokers or Trading 212. However, if you're an interactive investor (ii) customer wanting to avoid FX fees of 1.50% then using either Wise or Revolut could save you a considerable amount (ii allows for multi-currency accounts).

Wise are great when it comes to transparency on fees, too, which I like. They make it easy to see what you're going to be charged, how that breaks down, and how it compares with competitors – even when they're not the cheapest.

Fees

  • FX fees of between 0.40% – 0.50% on major currencies
  • Among the best foreign exchange rates

Use this if

  • You're with a trading provider that allows multi-currency accounts but has higher FX fees than Wise
  • You want to send money abroad
  • You travel a lot and could benefit from keeping different currency in your banking account (although Wise is not a bank, its services cross-over with some of those provided by banks)

Scores

Fees:

4.5

Trading platform:

5.0

Account opening:

5.0

Research:

5.0

Education:

4.0

Customer service:

5.0

5.0

Revolut

Lowest FX fees for a money transfer service, a multi-currency bank account, excellent exchange rates.

FOR STOCK TRADING: Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • Very low FX fees
  • Fee-free currency exchange on weekdays (limits apply with some accounts)
  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals on £200 p/m – £2000 p/m depending on your plan
  • Commission-free stock trading
  • Between 2.29% – 4.75% interest on savings
  • Perks on paid accounts including insurance cover and discounted shopping
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Reasons to avoid

  • A 1% FX fee applied at weekends

Clare says:

“T212

With Revolut, you can hold and exchange up to 36 different currencies, and use the Revolut debit card to spend currencies around the world. Currently, supported currencies are:

AED, AUD, BGN, CAD, CHF, CLP, COP, CZK, DKK, EGP, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, IDR, ILS, INR, ISK, JPY, KRW, KZT, MAD, MXN, NOK, NZD, PHP, PLN, QAR, RON, RSD, SAR, SEK, SGD, THB, TRY, USD, ZAR.

That's slightly fewer than Wise but Revolut say they'll be adding more.

There are five levels of Revolut account with different perks attached to each. With the only free account – a Standard account – you can exchange up to £1,000 per month, Monday to Friday, with no additional fees (although fair usage limits apply). If you upgrade to a Plus account, that rises to £3,000 per month. With a Premium, Metal or Ultra account, there are no limits on what you can exchange without paying additional fees. You'll still need to pay a bit of a mark-up on the exchange rate, but overall, what you pay at Revolut will be less than other providers.

Fees

  • Standard account is free
  • Plus account: £3.99 p/month
  • Premium account: £7.99 p/month
  • Metal account: £14.99 p/month
  • Ultra account: £45.99 p/month
  • Between £200 p/m and £2,000 p/m withdrawals before being charged
  • Premium account: 20% discount on FX fees
  • Metal account: 40% discount on FX fees
  • Ultra account: No FX fees charged

Scores

Fees:

5.0

Trading platform:

5.0

Account opening:

5.0

Research:

4.5

Education:

1.0

Customer service:

4.5

4.5

eToro

Those with £250k+ in their portfolio are exempt from FX fees. For those holding less, however, FX fees can be very high and all accounts are held in USD with eToro.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 51% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with eToro. Consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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Reasons to use

  • Traders with £250k+ are exempt from FX fees
  • Becoming an eToro Money member is free & reduces FX costs
  • World’s largest social and copy-trading community
  • Exceptional returns on ready-made portfolios
  • 0% commission on stocks and ETFs
  • Intuitive interface
  • Demo account
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Reasons to avoid

  • High FX fees unless you have £250k+
  • Trading is all in USD so UK traders must convert to GBP at deposit and withdrawal
  • Customer service unreliable and admin processes are buggy

eToro Review Conversion Fees

This is a controversial choice as eToro's standard FX fee is an astronomical 1.50% so clearly I'm not recommending it for that. Nor am I recommending it for having a multi-currency account… as it doesn't offer one. You don't have a choice what currency you hold your account in, and it's not even GBP – you'll be forced to hold your money in USD, which means converting to and from GBP and paying FX fees every time you deposit from and withdraw into your British bank account, and paying FX on GBP assets!

So, why on earth am I including this provider? Because, for those with more than £250k, eToro actually becomes a smart choice. Unlike the other platforms, eToro eradicates FX fees altogether once your portfolio reaches £250k.

While eToro doesn't offer the option of a multi-currency account, if your portfolio is over the threshold of £250k, it won't matter if the whole point of having a multi-currency account for you is to avoid the FX fees that are otherwise due when you convert to and from GBP. If you wanted a multi-currency account because you bank in more than one country, it is still a problem, and you'll need to weigh up whether you save more by trading within a multi-currency account with a different platform, or you save more with a combination of zero FX fees at eToro and low exchange rates at a money transfer specialist, or multi-currency bank account.

There is another way to get a discount on eToro's FX fees, and that's by signing up for eToro Money. It's free and simple to do, there are plenty of perks of doing so, including no FX fees on deposits – in effect, halving your costs. Without this, you'll be paying 1.50% when you deposit GBP and have to convert it into USD, and 1.50% when you withdraw from USD back in GBP.

Fees

  • 0% commission on stocks
  • No management fees on ready-made portfolios
  • No-fee copy-trading
  • Minimum deposit: $50 (Smart Portfolios min is $500)
  • Very high 1.5% FX fees at top end
  • FX fees reduced with size of portfolio and eradicated at £250k
  • Pricey $5 withdrawal fees

Use this if

  • You want a well-designed, easy-to-use trading platform, suitable for beginners
  • You have a large portfolio – especially if over £250k
  • You want to copy-trade
  • You're not bothered about having a multi-currency account

Scores

Fees:

4.0

Trading platform:

3.5

Account opening:

3.5

Research:

3.5

Education:

4.0

Customer service:

3.5

Are there ways to avoid FX fees altogether?


The short answer is Yes – and no. Here's why…

Options for avoiding FX fees altogether

If you hold bank accounts which are funded in different currencies – in other words, you have bank accounts in different countries – then, yes, it is possible to avoid paying FX fees for those currencies.

That's because some trading platforms will allow you to hold multiple different currencies within one single trading account. If you trade in GBP and EUR, for example, and can withdraw and spend both those currencies in their respective home countries/regions, you won't need to pay FX fees.

However, the majority of traders will live in one country, making this opportunity a non-starter. Plus, in the case of our example, you'd still end up paying FX fees on any assets that weren't either natively traded in GBP or EUR. So if you wanted to buy US stocks, you'd need a bank account there too to avoid FX fees on USD.

The only other cases I can think of where FX fees wouldn't be part of the equation are:

– You're sending your returns to family members in another country. If you choose to withdraw your funds to their bank account and their native currency is the same as you've been trading in, it's the equivalent of the scenario we've already talked about – having multiple bank accounts which tally with the different currencies you're trading in. However, due to money laundering laws, you may have issues depositing and withdrawing money to/from an account that doesn't match your name.

– You hold more than £250k in your eToro portfolio. eToro removes FX fees altogether for customers holding over £250k. I haven't yet found another provider that offers this.

Options to reduce your FX bill

If you only hold a bank account in one currency, and you trade in multiple different currencies, then at some point you are going to need to pay a foreign exchange fee.

There are options for how you do this, however, and this is where you do have the opportunity to reduce your FX bill.

Your options consist of:

  • Paying a foreign exchange service to buy foreign currency before you trade, then transferring that currency into your trading account. This only works if your platform allows you to hold multiple currencies within your account. Trading 212 or interactive investor do this. In this instance, you'll pay the rate charged by the money exchange service.
  • Use the trading platform itself to convert between currencies at the time of the trade, or, in the case of a provider like eToro that only allows accounts to be funded in USD, at the time you withdraw from USD into your native currency. With this scenario, you'll pay FX fees at the rate charged by your trading platform. These usually vary depending on the size of the trade but some platforms have one flat fee. eToro's FX fees are determined differently – by the total amount you hold in your overall portfolio.

Which trading platforms allow you to hold multi-currency accounts?


Some platforms only allow you to hold a balance in a single currency – GBP if you reside in the United Kingdom. This usually means that when you trade in other currencies like EUR or USD, a currency conversion will need to take place. If your provider allows you to hold more than one currency in your trading account, then you can make trades in the same currency as your asset (provided the currency is one your provider allows you to hold).

Trading 212

Trading 212 Invest allows for multi-currency trading. That means you can deposit, withdraw and trade in up to 12 currencies.

Those 12 currencies are: GBP, USD, EUR, CHF, DKK, NOK, PLN, SEK, CZK, RON, BGN, and HUF.

Interactive Brokers

With IBKR, you'll need to designate a single base currency. That's what you'll get your statements denominated in. However, deposits and withdrawals may be made in any non-base currency in AUD, CAD, CNH/CNY, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, INR, JPY, MXN, NOK, NZD, SEK, SGD or USD.

Interactive Brokers also offers a link-up with Wise which means you can initiate fund transfers between your Wise multi-currency account and your IBKR account more quickly. It could also help reduce transfer fees as transferring funds to IBKR using Wise Balance is fixed and costs around $0.39. Funds are immediately available for trading when they appear in the account.

interactive investor

ii allows you to fund your account in both GBP and non-sterling currencies. Currently you can hold: Euros, US dollars, Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars, Hong Kong Dollars, Singapore Dollars, Swedish Krona, and Swiss Francs.

Unlike Interactive Brokers, however, there's no direct hook-up with Wise. In fact, ii does not accept third party payments or payments from any money transfer/FX companies. So, Wise isn't going to be a go-er. You could use Revolut or though as they offer a if you're using a service like Wise, or Revolut etc, you'll need to transfer it into your bank account first.

Saxo

Saxo allow you to fund and deposit your account in 18 different currencies, or open sub-accounts to switch between different currencies. (Sub-accounts are only available to Platinum and VIP clients, however.)

You can open an account in the following currencies: AED, AUD, CAD, CHF, CNH, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, MXN, NOK, NZD, PLN, RON, TRY, SEK, SGD, ZAR, USD

High street banks

The following high street banks offer multi-currency accounts:

HSBC
Barclays
NatWest
Lloyds Bank

However, some banks only offer multi-currency accounts to businesses, and exchange rates and FX fees at high street banks tend to be at the very top end of the price scale so I'd highly advise shopping around for alternatives.

Can you hold foreign currency in an ISA / SIPP account?


ISAs

HMRC doesn't allow investors to hold foreign currency in ISAs, although you can still buy international shares. The currency conversion happens when you buy and sell, and any income from non-UK holdings is automatically converted into GBP sterling.

SIPPs

Holding foreign currency in a SIPP is allowed under HMRC rules.

A note on accuracy of the rates quoted above


The rates cited on this page were correct at the time of publication and are regularly reviewed. When rates change, we update them and make any necessary adjustments to our reviews.

However, we encourage investors to confirm rates by visiting platform websites before making any decisions on the basis of the information in this article.

FAQs

You might hear FX fees also referred to foreign exchange fees or currency conversion fees. It is the charge that financial services companies make to convert one currency into another for you. It is not the same as the exchange rate. FX fees are levied on top of exchange rates and pay for the services of the company doing the currency exchange for you.

If you are a trader, you might find that using your own trading platform is the cheapest way to convert. It very much depends on which platform you trade with, however, and the size of your trade. Interactive Brokers charges a very low rate of 0.03% for any foreign currency transaction. eToro customers can pay nothing for their FX transactions if the trade size is £250k or larger. However, at the other end of the scale, you could be paying a whopping 1.50%. It's always worth checking and using a specialist currency conversion service like Wise or Revolut if your trading platform is charging you over the odds.