Comparing FX rates and fees
A currency exchange service is a relatively simple one as financial services go, but part of the difficulty in comparing rates is figuring out if the ones displayed on the websites or currency calculators of online FX brokers or specialists are exactly what you get, with no hidden fees.
Irish currency specialists Fexco, which markets overseas money transfer for individuals as one of its services, declined to answer questions sent by the Sunday Independent about its service.
Ireland FX, a British firm that was originally set up by two brothers in Bangor Co Down in 2006 and now works with a wholesale FX provider, was happy to talk about its service but reluctant to disclose its rates.
"Our rates are genuinely tight but there's no point advertising this. Clients find this out once they have registered with us and make their first transaction," said owner Tejpal Thanjal, who has written extensively on the subject of FX services.
He said that given the tight margins, choosing a FX provider was more to do with finding a service that you can build a good business relationship with than about comparing rates.
He added: "Some FX providers will lower their rates in the beginning to get you onboard and then over time increase them."
Adam Davidson of peer-to-peer currency exchange provider CurrencyFair, which charges €3 per transfer and a margin of between 0.15pc and 0.5pc, claims that some brokers and specialists who advertise commission free or fee-free rates will often "load" their fee into their exchange rates.
Other services may quote the interbank rate (or the market rate) on their home pages. "But that's not what they are offering their customers. You will find in the small print or on another tab that the real rate that their customers get is considerably less attractive than that.
"Whereas with ours, the figures you see on the home page are the actual figures that already take into account our fees etc."
He claims that around 11pc of customers manage to exchange at a rate better than the Interbank rate.
Sunday Indo Business