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The FairFX guide to paying study abroad fees

If you or a loved one are studying abroad next semester you’ll have a few fees to pay in the coming months, the majority of which will need to be paid overseas. Whether those fees are for tuition, accommodation or just living costs, you need to think carefully about how you’ll be making these international payments.

If you default to your bank you’re likely to get stung by unfavourable exchange rates and hidden fees.

And don’t assume you’ll get the best deal through your university’s recommended provider. Many universities will partner with providers for their own simplicity, rather than prioritise the quality of service and value provided to students and their parents. That means poor exchange rates can be common practice and will ultimately end up costing you more.

To make sure you’re taking your money further, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you easily make international payments at a fair rate. After reading it, those expensive study abroad fees will no longer have to be unfairly higher than they already are.

Compare like-for-like rates
The foreign currency market is very dynamic and rates often change from one minute to the next. If you’re looking to find the best rate from a foreign exchange supplier, remember to compare rates at the same point in time. This is easier to achieve online, but if you’re phoning around for quotes, try to keep the calls with the shortest timeframe possible to get an even comparison.

Don’t leave it until the last minute
You know that you have accommodation and tuition fees to pay (amongst other bills no doubt), so there’s no reason you should be leaving it to the last minute and getting a bad deal. Don’t leave your payment until the deadline and speak to an expert before you choose your payment method. This way you can make the most of favourable exchange rates.

Sign up to our Rate Alert service to be alerted when the exchange rate moves in your favour.

Do your homework
Many people make the mistake of going to their bank or their university’s suggested provider for international money transfers without shopping around first. Providers such as Western Union reportedly charge as much as 5% on international payments through their student portal on university websites. Make an educated decision about the best service provider, don’t assume it’s your bank!

Venture away from your bank
Make sure your provider is FCA registered, but don’t be afraid of venturing away from your bank or the university’s suggestion when making your international payments. When it comes to security and good rates, you can have your cake and it eat with foreign exchange professionals such as ourselves, as we keep customer funds in segregated accounts for additional protection.

Look into hidden fees – it all adds up!
Before you use any money transfer service, make sure you check all the fees and charges involved. What is their foreign exchange fee? Do they charge a transaction fee, a “processing” fee or an “out of currency” fee? Don’t get caught out by hidden fees!

Don’t pay for a service that should be free
With many reputable money transfer providers available online and over the phone, don’t pay for a service and guidance that you can get from expert suppliers at no cost elsewhere.

Find out more about our international payments service. Send money abroad for free with great exchange rates.

Discover the true cost of studying abroad at one of the top 200 universities in the world, as ranked by the new Times Higher Education World University Rankings, with the FairFX Study Abroad Cost Calculator.

Mariette Ferreira

Mariette Ferreira

Mariette heads up marketing at FairFX. She loves travelling, scuba diving and South Africa, but she's yet to combine all three in one.

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