In our last blog post, we highlighted how the cheapest provider for your transfer will change depending on how much you send. Today, we’re showing how the ranking of the providers changes over time.

To power our comparison engine, we collect the exchange rate and fees of many providers in real-time. We used our technology to scan the cost of making a GBP-PLN transfer between the United Kingdom and Poland every hour during one week, to get a better sense of how costs evolve over time.

You can click on the above graph to increase its size.

The top grey dashed line represents the value of GBP 1000 in PLN at the current mid-market exchange rate (sourced from XE.com), and the colored lines are how much you would have received for a 1000 GBP transfer with some of the online money transfer providers we compare in real-time on our website.

The general evolution of the amount received with the different providers roughly follows the evolution of the mid-market exchange rate between the pound sterling and the Polish złoty.

But not all providers react in the same way and at the same frequency to the evolution of the mid-market rate, meaning the ranking between money transfer companies changes almost every hour of the week. In the graph below, we highlight which provider is the cheapest for each of the 168 hours observed.

As you can see, during the week of our analysis, 6 different providers occupied the first place in our ranking at different times, with 55 changes for the first place. For example, you can see that Western Union was the cheapest option during several consecutive hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, or that the first place was changing almost every hour between TransferWise and OFX between Monday and Tuesday.

As the next two graphs illustrate, some providers apparently adapt their exchange rate very frequently with the mid-market, while others only update their rates every few hours or days.

As a general rule, the most competitive providers tend to follow the mid-market more closely, which makes sense as they have less margin to make sure they still make profit on the transfer.

On average, the cheapest provider to make a 1000 GBP-PLN transfer during the span of our analysis was TransferWise, with an average total cost of 0.51%, followed by OrbitRemit (0.58%) and TransferGo (0.59%).

It is important to note that all online money transfer providers displayed in the above graphs (except Small World) have an average total cost below 1%, which means that they are between three and four times less expensive than using PayPal or a high-street bank for the same transfer, as the illustration below demonstrates.

It is of course very important to note that the above illustrations are based on a very specific transfer of GBP 1,000 from a bank account in the United Kingdom to a bank account in Poland, during a given week. The cost figures, the ranking, and the availability of the providers not only changes over time but also depends on the sending and receiving currencies, the amount you’re sending, and the pay-in and pay-out methods. For all these reasons, it’s important to always use our comparison engine to compare services for the exact transfer you need to make.   

How can you make sure you send money with the cheapest provider?

Since the amount you will receive fluctuates a lot over time, the most important recommendation is to make sure you compare your options just before making your transfer, and for each new transfer (you can do that easily using our real-time comparison engine).

To protect you from variations in the exchange rate, you can also favor providers offering a “rate lock” so that the exchange rate quoted by the provider is guaranteed to you for a certain amount of time.

Another way to optimize your transfer, especially if you’re transferring a larger amount of money and don’t need the money to be delivered urgently, is to go with a provider offering limit orders. That way, you can set up a target rate you want to reach, and whenever the provider can offer you this rate, your money will be converted automatically. This kind of service can typically be arranged with foreign exchange brokers such as OFX, but also with the online money transfer service CurrencyFair.

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This analysis is only one example of the many insights we can gain from the data we collect on a daily basis. We look forward to look deeper into our datasets, and if you’re interested in getting access to our data to make your own research, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.