What’s the Best Way to Transfer Money to India?

If you want to send money to India from the UK, you’re certainly not alone. With 1.5 million people of Indian origin living in the UK, it’s not surprising that India is one of the UK’s main remittance destinations. 

Whether you want to support loved ones, pay bills or transfer money to an Indian savings account, there are several fast and low-cost methods you can use. But which is the best? 

In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about sending money to India from the UK, from the fastest and cheapest transfer methods to the best providers.     

How do I transfer money from the UK to India?

There are a few transfer methods you can use. Each has its benefits in terms of the protection you receive, the speed of the transfer and how much of your money the providers take in fees. 

You can send money to India from the UK by:

  • Transferring money from your bank – Send money from your bank or building society to your recipient’s bank account.
  • Sending money to India via an online money transfer provider – Choose how you want to complete your transfer and benefit from low fees. 
  • Using a foreign exchange broker – A broker usually offers the best rates when sending larger transfer amounts to India.
  • Performing an instant money transfer – Services like Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to send cash that your recipient can collect in person from a physical location.  

When choosing your transfer method, think about how quickly your recipient needs the money and the amount you’ll lose in exchange rates and fees. Let’s look at each transfer method in more detail so you know what to expect. 

Transferring money from the UK to India via your bank

An international bank transfer allows you to move money between accounts with different banks in different contries. In this case, it’s from a UK bank account to an account in India. 

International bank transfers are the most secure way to send money to India. Transfers take place over the secure and reliable SWIFT network, and you are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which is only available via banks that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

In the unlikely event that your bank goes bust, your first £85,000 is protected. If a money transfer company goes bust while holding your funds, you could lose your money.  

How long do bank transfers to India take? 

That depends on the bank you’re sending the money from and to.

Some banks can transfer money to Indian accounts on the same day, while others take two to three working days.

How much do bank transfers to India cost?  

There’s usually a fairly hefty transfer fee to pay, which varies between providers. That’s because the banks must pay to use the SWIFT network and then pass that cost on to you.

The banks also typically offer less competitive exchange rates than the money transfer companies, which can make international bank transfers an expensive option. 

When is an international bank transfer to India the best option?

It could be a solution when you want to transfer money to your own Indian bank account or send a relatively small amount of money to a recipient with a linked bank account (when the transfer fees are usually less). 

Pros and cons

Pros

  • It’s very secure

Cons

  • Not the best option if you’re in a hurry
  • Transfer fees can be high and you may not get the best exchange rate

Sending money to India via an online money transfer provider

There are lots of money transfer services online that give you a quick and easy way to send money from the UK to India. You can also choose from several different transfer methods.

You can send a transfer to your recipient’s bank account, but in this case, it’s much cheaper as the transfer doesn’t rely on the SWIFT network.

Alternatively, you can send cash to your recipient that they can collect from a physical location such as a store or a local bank branch. You may also be able to send money to an e-wallet on your recipient’s mobile phone. 

Regardless of the transfer method you choose, use a money transfer company that’s authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to help keep your money safe.

Authorised providers include Wise, Revolut, XE, Remitly, TransferGo, WorldRemit and Panda Remit.      

How long do online money transfers to India take?

That depends on the transfer method.

If you send money to an Indian bank account, it will usually go through on the same day or take one to two working days.

If you transfer to a recipient’s e-wallet or send money they can collect in cash, the funds are usually available within minutes. 

How much do online money transfers to India cost?

Fees vary but it’s cheaper than sending an international bank transfer and you’ll usually get better exchange rates.

Some money transfer providers even offer fee-free transfers, but you should always check exactly how many Indian Rupees your recipient will receive to make sure you’re getting the best deal.  

When is an online money transfer to India the best option?

An online money transfer can be a quick and cost-effective way to send under £5,000. 

Pros and cons

Pros

  • There are several transfer methods to choose from
  • The fees tend to be quite low

Cons

  • You get less protection than international bank transfers
  • You have to provide proof of identity to open an account and pass further checks to send larger transfer amounts

Using a foreign exchange broker to send a large transfer to India 

If you want to send a large amount of money from the UK to an Indian bank account, typically around £5,000 or more, the best way is usually through a foreign exchange broker.

They specialise in large transfers and can negotiate more competitive exchange rates. 

Security should be a priority when sending larger transfer amounts.

Unlike the banks, foreign exchange brokers are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

However, many are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and it’s those you should look for. Reputable currency brokers include Corpay, Moneycorp and Currencies Direct. 

How long does it take to send money to India with a currency broker?

Your recipient can typically access the money in around 48 hours, although it can take up to five working days depending on the provider. 

How much does it cost to transfer money to India with a currency broker? 

Most currency brokers don’t charge a transfer fee and there shouldn’t be any receiving costs for your recipient. The cost will depend solely on the exchange rate, so you should always shop around for the best deal.

It’s also worth asking your bank what exchange rate it can offer.  

When is sending money to India with a currency broker the best option?   

Foreign exchange brokers are best suited to large transfer amounts, usually over £5,000. 

Pros and cons

Pros

  • No fees to worry about
  • Very competitive exchange rates

Cons

  • No FSCS protection
  • Longer transfer times

Sending money to India quickly with an instant money transfer

If your recipient doesn’t have a bank account in India or you need to get money to them quickly, an instant money transfer could be the perfect solution. 

Providers like Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to transfer money that your recipient can collect in cash from a physical location like a shop on the same day.

They have a huge network of pick-up locations, so wherever your recipient is, there should be somewhere nearby. Some online transfer companies also offer this type of ‘cash pickup’ service. 

Instant money transfers are fast and convenient and can be a lifesaver in an emergency. However, they also come at a cost, with higher transfer fees and less competitive exchange rates.

How long do instant money transfers to India take?

Instant money transfers are one of the fastest ways to send money to India. With some providers, your recipient can access the cash within minutes. 

How much do instant money transfers to India cost? 

Instant money transfers usually attract higher fees than other transfer methods. Compare providers to get the best exchange rate and be aware that the maximum transfer limits can be quite low. 

When is an instant money transfer to India the best option?

Instant money transfers are a good fit if you need to send money to India quickly or your recipient doesn’t have a bank account. 

Pros and cons

Pros

  • It’s very fast
  • Your recipient doesn’t need a bank account

Cons

  • Transfer fees tend to be higher
  • Maximum transfer limits are low

Money transfers to India from the UK: FAQs

What’s the cheapest way to send money to India from the UK

What’s the fastest way to transfer money to India from the UK?

How can I send money from the UK to an Indian bank account?

Is there any tax to pay on money transfers from the UK to India?