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Despite their bad reputation as the preferred medium for financial scams related to Nigerian “princes,” wire transfers are great for sending money quickly to anyone in the world. Many consumers turn to money transmission providers such as Western Union and MoneyGram, but banks can offer the same service, possibly for less.Because of how fast wire transfers occur (money often arrives within minutes), the costs of wire transfers are much higher than that of other money transfer methods.

At the 10 largest U.S. banks, customers pay an average fee of $26.40 for an outgoing domestic wire transfer and an average fee of $45.50 for an outgoing international wire transfer fee. The average costs of incoming domestic and foreign wire transfers are $14.70 and $17.50, respectively.

Here are the wire transfer fees for the top 10 banks in the U.S. by deposits:

BankDomestic - outgoingDomestic - incomingForeign - outgoingForeign - incoming
Bank of America$25$12 ($15, effective 11/8/13)$45$16
Chase$30 ($25, online)$15$45 ($40, online)$15
Wells Fargo$30$15$45$16
Citibank$25 ($18.75, online)$10$40 ($30, online)$10
U.S. Bank$30$20$50$25
PNC Bank$25$15$45$15
TD Bank$25$15$40$15
Capital One$25$15$50$15

Value depends on size of wire transfer

Consumers can determine whether or not banks are better than money transmitters for wire transfers depending on the amount sent and where the money is sent.

For domestic wire transfers, Western Union charges a $12 fee for transfer $100. For a $1,000 transfer, the fee is $86. At the big banks, smaller wire transfer would be more expensive while larger wire transfers would be cheaper, compared to Western Union.

Due to the need for currency exchange when dealing with foreign wire transfers, it is harder to say what option is less costly. Money transmitters can set different pricing for different destination countries, while banks do not.

Generally, however, it is also more expensive to perform a foreign wire transfer through a bank for small amounts, but less expensive for a foreign wire transfer for large amounts.

It’s best to ask for the exact fee for foreign transfers before sending the money, so that there are no surprises when you end up paying more than you expected.


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