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Most common reasons for sending money outside the UK

Along with video calls and messaging apps, international transfers can help families stay connected when they’re scattered across the globe.

And during the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve become even more important. 

There are many reasons to make international payments – here we explain why and where people commonly send money, and how to make payments of your own. 

Popular reasons for making international payments

Nearly half of all payments sent outside the UK (48%) are gifts for family members, according to research carried out for HSBC UK.1  

These could be to mark festivals such as Chinese New Year, Holi, Vaisakhi and Eid, or for personal celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries or graduations. Gifts are often given with a particular purpose in mind. Common reasons for making international payments include:

  • putting money into savings outside the UK (15% of all transfers)

  • to pay utility bills, for example on holiday homes (15%)

  • to buy investment products such as stocks and shares (15%)

In all, 41% of transfers were made to give financial support to family outside the UK, according to our research. This shows a large number of people are sending money with an emotional connection. 

Where are most payments sent to?

The most popular destination for money to be sent is Europe, accounting for more than half of payments (53%). Next most popular are North America and Asia.

Average money transfer size

People in the UK who make international payments average 6 payments a year, with an average size of £750 (or the local currency equivalent). Higher value transfers are sent more often – on average, 8 times a year.

In India, for example, the local currency equivalent of £750 typically buys a lot more than in the UK. For example, it could be used to buy:

  • a 149cc scooter

  • 375 cinema tickets

  • 5 smart TVs

  • a 4-day hotel break

How to make an international payment

With HSBC, you can log on to online banking to make secure payments to more than 150 countries in 65 currencies. You can now also use the HSBC UK Mobile Banking app to send money to existing payees, If you prefer, you can call us or visit one of our branches to make your international payment. Fees apply.

Our live exchange rates are updated throughout the day Monday to Friday and before the cut-off of 22:00.

Top tip: Send money in the local currency of the receiving country. Why? You’ll lock in your exchange rate so you know up front exactly how much you’re sending.

Find out more about how to make an international payment.


1 International payments research report conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of HSBC UK Bank plc. The report surveyed 400 UK residents aged 18+ between 24 June and 13 July 2020.