Thousands of people have family, work or property interests in both Ireland and the UK. Many hundreds of people live in Ireland but work in Northern Ireland – and will be dealing with payments in both Sterling and Euros on a regular basis.
The ability to have a Sterling Current Account allows Irish Residents to make and receive GBP payments to or from the U.K, without the need to convert to Euro.
Opening a GBP Sterling account while living in Ireland can sometimes be tricky with the “main” banks. (See below) . But one option that does not need a UK address is the online payment service from Monese.
Irish residents can sign up online with Monese and have a Sterling account as well as a Euro one within hours. It comes with Apple Pay & Google Pay.
Monese is not a bank – it is an electronic payment service linked to a prepaid card. (Monese is authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority).
With Monese it is possible to get a Sterling account and a Euro account regardless of where you live in the EU. It can be used to pay Direct Debits in the UK. Monese have a “Simple” free account – but there are some usage charges. But if your main use of the account is going to be accepting payments in Sterling and spending in Sterling- then it will be basically free to use. The maximum balance in a Monese account is £40,000.
- First €/£ 200 of ATM withdrawals a month are free. Anything over that is charged at 2%
- The first €/£ 2000 a month spending on foreign currency transactions is free – after that, there is a 2% fee.
- There is a 2% fee on currency transfers to non Monese accounts. (Free on transfers within Monese)
You can upgrade to a “Classic or “Premium” account to get bigger limits.
You can find out more and sign up for a Monese account Here
If you are using an Apple device – you can get the Monese App here
They also have a “Classic” account with a £4.95 a month fee that has bigger limits and lower charges. (e.g. 0.5% on currency exchange).
If you need to transfer larger amounts of Sterling to Euro (over £2000- you may be able to get a better deal from one of the currency specialists listed further on in the article below.
Opening a Sterling bank account in the UK with the “mainstream” banks while you are living in Ireland.
If you want to go with a “bricks and mortar ” bank you will probably find it easier to try one of the Irish banks that have branches in Northern Ireland. Most of these will allow residents of the Republic of Ireland to open a Sterling Bank Account. You can ring around the various banks that are the easiest for you to get to – and arrange an appointment (Try Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Allied Irish ). They might even let you open an account through the post without having to travel in person.
AIB in Ireland offer a Sterling current account – but it comes with a £10 standing charge every quarter – plus transaction fees and fees on incoming payments. It doesn’t come with a debit card.
It is probably best to open a Sterling account with a small amount of sterling, to begin with. You could use cash if you have it or do a small electronic transfer from your Irish Bank to the UK Bank. You can send Euros and it will be converted into Sterling by the UK bank. But don’t go drawing out hundreds of Pounds in cash at an ATM.
Once you have the UK sterling account opened you can then arrange for any larger currency exchange and transfers from your Irish Euro account into the Sterling account. (See below for options)
If you want to transfer Euros from your bank in Ireland and convert it to Sterling to be sent to a UK account – don’t assume you would have to do the transfers through your own bank in Ireland. You don’t.
The exchange rate from the banks will not be the best you will get – and they may also charge some additional fees or commissions too. You could send Euros straight to your Sterling account – but the recipient bank will convert it to Sterling using a poor exchange rate which could end up losing you as much as 2 to 3% of the value.
There are specialist currency exchange brokers that you can use – and their exchange rates will typically be better than the banks. Even a difference in the exchange rate of just 1 per cent will save you €1000 on a €100,000 Euros transaction
For example – we did a check on the exchange rates offered in early October 2017 and found that on a transfer of just €10,000 Euro into Sterling using Bank of Ireland would have got you £8584 Pounds but using a specialist currency exchange company (see below) would get you £193 more (£8777) . So the savings are substantial.
Some Currency Exchange Companies
Fexco is an Irish firm that can exchange your money and transfer the funds to your chosen bank account overseas. Fexco was established in 1981 in County Kerry and now employs over 2,300 people in 29 countries. They are authorised as a payment services provider by the Central Bank of Ireland and are also regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the conduct of payment business in the UK. Fexco can provide personalised advice to reduce your exposure to fluctuating exchange rates. You can get a quick quote online at the Fexco Website
FairFx is a London based foreign exchange company – and they have an office in Dublin. They have been operating since 2007 and are fully regulated by both the UK Financial Conduct Authority and the UK HMRC. You can arrange currency transfers with FairFx online or over the telephone. FairFx will allocate you a personal broker and advise you on setting up regular transfers such as pension or rental payments. You can call FairFx on their Irish number 01 5665546 or on their UK number (0044) 207 858 2001 .
Another company we recommend that specialises in Foreign Currency Exchange is Currency Solutions. They are based in London and regulated and authorised by the UK Financial Services Authority and HM Revenue. They can carry out currency transfers from Euros to Sterling as well as most other major currencies. You can make a no-obligation enquiry about your currency requirements online here . If you prefer – you can telephone the Money Guide Ireland contact: Ernie Enver direct on their Irish number 01 431 1344 or on a UK number 0044 207 740 0000 .
Transfermate is another well-established currency broker – they are based in Ireland and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. They also provide an international money transfer service. You can do everything online or if you prefer you can do it by phone. They tend to deal with amounts over €5000.
You can call them in Ireland on 01 6353776 or register online at Transfermate.com
If you need to transfer smaller amounts of money you could use online companies such as CurrencyFair or TransferWise . These companies are “peer to peer” – they cut out the banks and for a small fee allow you to get exchange rates that are pretty close to the interbank rates. You won’t get any advice or a dedicated broker.
Of course – always check with your own bank first to see what exchange rate they will offer you so you can be sure you really are getting a better deal by not using the bank. The rates are usually better on larger amounts. Don’t just ask for the exchange rate – get the bank to confirm exactly how much Sterling you will get after conversion – and after any fees have been deducted.
If you just compare the raw exchange rates – the difference in those figures may look insignificant and you may feel it’s not worth the bit of extra hassle. But when you see the difference in the total amount you will get after the exchange – it could easily amount to hundreds of pounds. Not bad for a couple of phone calls and a bit of online form filling.
If you are worried about the fluctuating exchange rates – you can reserve an exchange rate up to a year in advance. This is useful when your money might be tied up in a fixed rate account or in a property.
Moving Sterling into a Euro Account in Ireland
With the UK leaving the Euro – there may now be some people who are thinking of moving some of their Sterling savings into Euros in Ireland
All the currency exchange companies mentioned above will be able to help you transfer your money to Ireland.
Opening a Euro bank account in Ireland will probably need a personal visit to a branch. With cheap Ryanair flights, you could be in and out of Dublin on the same day. Ring around some of the major Irish banks to see if they will allow a UK resident to open an account in Ireland. They will be more likely to deal with you if you say you plan to move to Ireland or are thinking of buying property here.