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I live in Canada, a relative of mine lives in the U.K. I would like to know the best option for sending small amounts of money approximately once a month. I'm thinking most likely $100 to $300, but for the sake of this question, would be interested in knowing if anything changes at up to $1000.

Time-in-transit is not a significant drawback. An option that takes three weeks but costs slightly less is better than an instantaneous option. However, ease-of-use is a significant concern. I'd much rather be able to do the regular transfers online if possible.

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You might investigate Paypal if it is available to both of you. the International Transfers page on their site has a way to find out what sort of fee's they would charge you. It might be a lot simpler and easier than doing wire transfers or dealing with banks etc.

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I did this for a few years and the best way I found was via http://xe.com/

It uses a bank transfer from your UK bank to xe.com (no fees from bank or xe).

On the Canadian side, they use EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer, no fees from bank or xe.com)

They have very competitive exchange rates.

To make a transfer, you log in to xe and arrange your transfer. This locks in the rate and tells you how many GBP you need to transfer in. Then, transfer your money from the UK bank into xe using the details they provide. Two or three days later the money shows up in your Canadian acount.

There's a bit of paperwork they need to set it up but it's not very hard. After it's set up, everything else is online.

Enjoy!

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  • I tried out XE. The transfer took around 3 weeks, plus a week or so to get set up initially. It was much slower than I expected, but a fairly straight-forward process once everything was set up. – ChrisInEdmonton Aug 7 '12 at 18:57
  • @ChrisInEdmonton I had the same week setup but my transfers only took three or four days. This was 2008-2011 time frame. BACS transfer in UK, EFT in Canada. Maybe my experience isn't typical? – secretmike Aug 7 '12 at 21:02
  • Very likely MY experience is not typical. I think I ended up getting a money order (?) sent to the remote side, instead of doing a BACS transfer. That probably accounts for the difference. Either way, XE was a pleasant company to deal with, and well worth checking out for people in a similar situation. – ChrisInEdmonton Aug 7 '12 at 22:51
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I've done this for many years, and my method has always been to get a bank draft from my Canadian bank and mail it to my UK bank. The bank draft costs $7.50 flat fee and the mail a couple of dollars more. That's obviously quite a lot to pay on $100, so I do this only every six months or so and make the regular payments out of my UK account. It ends up being only a couple of percent in transaction costs, and the exchange rate is the bank rate.

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