Does anyone offer reasonably simple/cheap on-line dollar payments?

Does anyone in the UK offer reasonably simple and cheap on-line dollar payments? I want to make payments to an E-Trade share account to buy some share options. This will happen maybe once or twice a year and
I'm trying to find some way of doing it that doesn't involve visiting the bank, interminable telephone calls or similar 'jumping through hoops' to do it.
Of the accounts which I already have the easiest so far is HSBC who can do the whole thing by phone at a cost of £9 for transfers up to £2000. Does anyone else offer anything better than that, I'd much prefer to do it on-line as it seems to me that it would be much less error prone than reading out long strings of numbers and codes over the phone to someone.
I suspect that if more money was involved I could open an offshore account of some sort (and/or a dollar account with a UK bank) but the amounts involved are not enough for the costs of such an account to make sense.
Any ideas would be most welcome, I'm quite happy to open a new account somewhere to enable me to do this more easily as the hassle of once opening a new account would (for me anyway) be less than the repeated hassle of making payments.
--
Chris Green


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Use a credit card.
| Does anyone in the UK offer reasonably simple and cheap on-line dollar | payments? I want to make payments to an E-Trade share account to buy | some share options. This will happen maybe once or twice a year and | I'm trying to find some way of doing it that doesn't involve visiting | the bank, interminable telephone calls or similar 'jumping through | hoops' to do it. | | Of the accounts which I already have the easiest so far is HSBC who | can do the whole thing by phone at a cost of 9 for transfers up to | 2000. Does anyone else offer anything better than that, I'd much | prefer to do it on-line as it seems to me that it would be much less | error prone than reading out long strings of numbers and codes over | the phone to someone. | | I suspect that if more money was involved I could open an offshore | account of some sort (and/or a dollar account with a UK bank) but the | amounts involved are not enough for the costs of such an account to | make sense. | | Any ideas would be most welcome, I'm quite happy to open a new account | somewhere to enable me to do this more easily as the hassle of once | opening a new account would (for me anyway) be less than the repeated | hassle of making payments. | | -- | Chris Green |
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That would be an absolutely perfect solution if E-Trade accepted credit card payments. However they don't.
--
Chris Green


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On Mon, 30 Jan 2006 18:43:33 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@isbd.co.uk wrote:

Can you do anything with Paypal?
Tiddy Ogg. http://www.tiddyogg.co.uk
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No, same issue really, E*Trade don't accept PayPal. I can't really imagine any share trading site accepting PayPal, far too expensive. I can't move from E*Trade either as it's an employee share scheme so has to be managed via E*Trade.
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On Mon, 30 Jan 2006, snipped-for-privacy@isbd.co.uk wrote:

Use XETrade (https://www.xe.com/fx /) or Custom House Vantage (http://www.customhouse.com/services/chOnline/forPersonal.htm ). They are both the same product. XE just rebadges Vantage. The XE site is a little uglier but is actually easier to work with than Custom House's site IMHO.
Anyway, setup an account then transfer you money to XETrade via a standard BACS transaction and deliver by EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) or Draft to the US account. There will be no charge and you can do everything online.
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It's not immediately clear from their site, do they have a UK sterling bank account that you can transfer funds to? If they have then this will also satisfy my occasional requirements for sending Euros as well.
They appear to be much simpler than services like Forex where you have to talk to someone every time you send some money.
Thanks!
--
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On Tue, 31 Jan 2006, snipped-for-privacy@isbd.co.uk wrote:

Short answer yes. For more detailed information read below.

Here is a quick run down. I use this service primarily to make payments to a student loan based on Norway. Firstly I had to setup an account with XE. This took a couple of days a I had to fax copies of photos id amongst other things. But it was a one time deal to get an account and cost nothing other than a little time. After that I setup the details of the account/s I would be paying into, including (for Wire Beneficiaries) details such as, Beneficiary's name, Name of bank, Account (or IBAN) Number, Transit number (SWIFT code, ABA Routing Number, Bank Code, BIC), Bank address, Type of Currency.
Every time I want to make a payment I do the following:
1. Log on to XETrade and click on 'basic trade' (their language for a standard transfer), choose the currency I am 'buying' (in your case USA Dollars) and 'selling' (GB pounds) and the amount/s.
2. On the next screen I state how I want them to pay the benficiary. I choose wire but in your case as it is a US based company you might choose EFT since it attracts no cost and is an option for US/Canadian destination accounts. I also select how I will pay the money. I choose 'wire', which can be a standard BACs transfer in the UK.
3. I then select the Beneficiary (which was set up previously from a drop down list). If paying by wire you have the option to include a 'Payment reference'. (You might need this so your beneficiary knows the payment is from you, which I suppose could be a deal breaker since it costs money, probably ~=10, to do a wire transfer to the US. However, you may find it is still worth it in that you can do everything online and XETrade guarentee a better exchange rate than your bank).
4. The rate I will be paying is displayed on the next screen. I can click 'refresh rates' to get a new rate in real time if I like.
5. Once I 'confirm trade' I am given some account details (UK sort code, account number) and a unique 'Deal Reference'. The amount I am paying in pounds is also displayed back to me.
6. I have to 'initiate' a payment via my bank to that UK account number/sort code with the Deal Reference within three days.
7. Once this goes through and XETrade has received the money they will make the transaction to the final beneficiary.
If you want to get a better idea of this process yourself then use the Demo, found here: https://www.xe.com/fx/demo.htm
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Yes, I've done that, no problem.

This is the confusing/unclear bit but I gather from a bit later in your posting that I later get a UK sort code and account number to transfer my £ to. If this works it sounds brilliant, thanks very much.
--
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On Wed, 1 Feb 2006, snipped-for-privacy@isbd.co.uk wrote:

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Yes the process is a bit confusing but after you have put one or two payments through and satisfied yourself that it works as expected you can do all this fairly fast and with confidence. I pay a Norwegian loan every three months and have had no difficulties so far. I have also made a couple of payments to other countires such as Denmark.
I would run through the demo a couple of times to get the best idea of how it will work. Their UK bank account number is 65701015 with a sort code of 30-16-35 if that helps or makes you feel comfortable. You also need to quote a deal reference number which will be of the format W00XXXXXX (where the other 'X'es are other numbers). This deal reference number is unique to each transaction (they tell you what it is at the end of their online process).
One other thing I would do the first time you need to use the service is to go through all the setps up until the point of confirmation. Then don't actually confirm (yet). At this point stop and ring your bank and compare the deal you are getting. Ask the the total cost you must pay (including all fees) and see how this looks compared to what it would cost you on XE. You'll probably find it is noticably cheapier with XE. Of course on the off chance it isn't XE guarentee to beat the rate the bank offers anyway, see: https://www.xe.com/fx/faq.htm#bestrate
P.S. Looking at the demo it seems the cost of the wire transaction in the US will probably be 6.78, which is already cheaper than the 9 or so you pay at the moment. If you get a better exchange rate as well and can avoid having to speak to anyone (with the inherent potential for mistakes) then this should work well for you. I would be interested to find out your experiences with them, which will hopefully be positive. Either way (positive or not) perhaps you could post back here. For me, so far everything has been good. The only downside would perhaps be the speed compared to using a bank on its own (see: https://www.xe.com/fx/faq.htm#howlong ) and the fact that I can't automate recurring payments (which wouldn't matter to you I guess).
P.P.S. If for any reason this does not work out another option might be an account with the Co-operative bank. They allow you to arrange an international payment by sending a signed fax to them on 0161 872 0850 (this is the direct fax number of their foreign services department). Although not as good as using internet banking it does mean that you get to write everything out to ensure the details are passed on with accuracy. Also you can prepare a standard message to them in a word processor and just alter the details as is required. Finally, since this is a specialist department who regularly deal with foreign transactions they are less likely to make a mistake than the regular call centre staff.
The first time you send a fax you will need to call them (0161 742 4865) to confirm that you wish the payment to go ahead and answer security details (if you don't they call you back anyway). Afterwards you can confirm you are happy for payments of this type to be authorised by signed fax, though I believe they still call you back for large payments. Also they send a confirmation of payment letter two days latter to minimise the chance of fraud. It is possible to repeat a payment you made in the past just by reffering to the day and amount. You can also setup recurring payments at regular intervals, which are like UK standing orders, but for international payments. The Co-op charge 2.5% to make a SWIFT payment with a minimum charge of 13 and a maximum charge of 30. If for any reason you do want to call them you can get direct through to foreign services on 0161 742 4865 (no need to ring the regular Co-operative bank telephone banking number).
I used to use the Co-operative bank for all my payments to Norway in the past. In some ways it was easier as I could setup a recurring transaction and not have to think of it again. I only switched to XE to save a few pounds each time. I'm willing to do this purely because I don't have to do it very often but I am sometimes tempted to switch back to using the Co-operative Bank just for the sheer convenience of everything being automated.
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Thanks for all the further help. I'm not too concerned about the rate actually, it's just the ability to do everything online without ridiculously high costs.

Yes, as/when I need to do a transfer I'll report it here.

I have the same facility with my Abbey Business bank account but it does seem relatively clumsy.
--
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Well Custom House Vantage for a start is no use, you have to pay them in US or Canadian dollars which is exactly the problem we started with.
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On Tue, 31 Jan 2006, snipped-for-privacy@isbd.co.uk wrote:

Strange, I'm sure this was not the case before and it certainly isn't the case with XETrade now. I pay in UK pounds.
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Yes, I read your other posting and I will persevere with xetrade as I have set up my account with them now. All I need now is somewhere that I need to send foreign currency as I've done the urgent one I had by other means.
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