I'm trying to withdraw some money from Barclays currency account, but I don't know how without losing so much on the unfair conversion rate.

For example, I've found the following rates (as per 23/03/15) for PLN:

and I'm basically happy with 5.2ish rate.

However when I'm trying to transfer PLN into another GBP account, the rate is completely different (5.8673) than above and it looks like I'm losing over 600PLN on a single transaction, so I'm disappointed. How come?

Barclays Bank, Amount, PLN, GBP. This is at today's guaranteed rate of 1 GBP, screenshot

Why the rate is so much different and how I can perform withdrawal of PLN sum (from the currency account) with the lower rate (by having GBP in cash)?

3 Answers 3


If I understand your question, you're misunderstanding the buy/sell spread, and at least in this instance seem to be in an unfortunate situation where the spread is quite large.

The Polish Zloty - GBP ideal exchange rate is around 5.612:1. Thus, when actually exchanging currency, you should expect to pay a bit more than 5.612 Zloty (Zloties?) to get one Pound sterling, and you should expect to get a bit less than 5.612 Zloty in exchange for one Pound sterling. That's because you're giving the bank its cut, both for operations and so that it has a reason to hold onto some Zloty (that it can't lend out). It sounds like Barclay's has a large spread - 5.211 Buy, 5.867 Sell. I would guess British banks don't need all that many Zloty, so you have a higher spread than you would for USD or EUR.

Other currency exchange companies or banks, particularly those who are in the primary business of converting money, may have a smaller spread and be more willing to do it inexpensively for you. Also, it looks like the Polish banks are willing to do it at a better rate (certainly they're giving you more Zloty for one Pound sterling, so it seems likely the other way would be better as well, though since they're a Polish bank it's certainly easier for them to give you Zloty, so this may be less true). Barclay's is certainly giving you a better deal on Pounds for a Zloty than they are Zloty for a Pound (in terms of how far off their spread is from the ideal).


In answer to the "how I can perform withdrawal with the lower rate (having GBP)?" part of your question, as Joe stated you need to use another bank or currency exchange company to convert the GBP to PLN. Most of the UK banks charge similar amounts, and it's usually not possible to transfer the GBP to a foreign bank unless you have a GBP account with them.

Some currency exchange firms are Transferwise, FairFX, CaxtonFX, a web search will show a fuller range.

You could also use Paypal to do the transfer (if you have a paypal account) by transferring the GBP from Barclays to your paypal account and then from there to your PLN account.

  • Thanks, actually I think it's opposite. I meant I've PLN currency on my currency account, but I'd like to end up having GBP in cash.
    – kenorb
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 11:31
  • It's pretty similar for transferring from PLN to GBP, cheapest way is to use an currency exchange firm. You will need to setup an account, transfer the money from your PLN bank account to the currency exchange, do the forex transaction, then transfer the GBP to your Barclays account.
    – tkimber
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 7:53

In your position I would use one of the existing Polish currency exchange platforms (you can find a list here: http://jakikantor.pl).

A few of them have bank accounts in Britain so the exchange rate will be close to market price.

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