A wire transfer is one of the quickest ways to send and receive money within the U.S. and all over the world. With wire transfers, money can be sent from thousands of miles away in matter of minutes. Due to the extremely high speed of these transactions, the cost of wire transfers tends to be much greater than any other money transfer method. Compare the domestic and foreign wire transfer fees at the top 10 banks in America.
On average, wire transfer fees have increased only slightly at the top 10 U.S. banks since 2013 — but show no movement from MyBankTracker’s Spring 2014 analysis.
Here are the wire transfer fees charged by the 10 largest U.S. banks:
|Banks||Domestic - Incoming||Domestic - Outgoing||Foreign - Incoming||Foreign - Outgoing|
|Bank of America||$15||$25||$16||$45|
Wire transfer fee comparison
According to MyBankTracker’s July analysis, all of the domestic wire transfer fees at the 10 biggest banks have remained the same as last quarter — $15 for incoming and $26.40 for outgoing transfers. The average also stayed the same for both outgoing and incoming foreign wire transfers at $47.50 and $17.50 per transfer, respectively, at the 10 banks in America.
At any given bank, incoming wire transfers tend to be considerably cheaper than for outgoing ones, while domestic wire transfer fees are significantly lower than that of international transfers. The highest wire transfer fee is $65 for each outgoing foreign wire transfer at BB&T Bank, while the lowest fee for any type of a wire transaction can be found at Citibank, which charges a $10 fee for both domestic and foreign incoming wire transfers.
Ways to get discounts on wire transfer fees
Note that the fees shown in the table above are reflective of transfers made in person at a branch and outgoing transfers sent in U.S. dollars. This is noteworthy because the fee for foreign outgoing wire transfers sent in U.S. dollars is not the same as transferring money in foreign currency. Some banks — including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase Bank and Capital One — will charge a difference of $5-$10 between the transfers made in either currency.
In general, banks will charge you $5-$10 less for making a wire transfer online through the bank’s website rather than in person at a branch. In the case of Chase Bank, you will be paying $5 less for all outgoing wire transfers made through www.chase.com, while Citibank will give you a $10 discount on all outgoing wire transfers made online.
If you plan to send money on a regular basis, either in the U.S. or overseas, you can set up repetitive wire transfers, which will give you a $5 discount on each item transferred. For instance, Wells Fargo offers domestic outgoing wire transfers at $30, but if you set up repetitive wire transfer, each transaction will cost you $25.
Make sure to find out if your bank offers these services by asking a customer service representative.
Domestic wire transfer
Domestic and foreign wire transfers differ more than just in fees. A domestic wire transfer is a way to electronically transfer funds between two bank accounts or to transfer cash through a cash office within the U.S. — while foreign wire transfers will move your money anywhere in the world. Hence why foreign wire transfers tend to cost significantly more.
Determining the cheapest way to wire money domestically is pretty straightforward — it’s usually a flat rate regardless of the amount transferred at all financial institutions. The amount transmitters charge depends on several factors, including the amount transferred, method of payment and delivery time.
Foreign wire transfers
It is a bit more complicated when it comes to foreign wire transfers, also known as remittance transfers. Commonly used to send money to family members in foreign countries, foreign wire transfers take many consumers by surprise when they find out that the recipients have received less money than then originally sent.
Currently, at the 10 largest U.S. retail banks, foreign wire transfers can cost as little as $40 and as much as $65 per transfer — depending on whether the transfer was conducted in-person or online, and sent in U.S. dollars or in foreign currency.
In addition to the transfer fee, senders should be aware that foreign wire transfer fees also come with additional charges they must consider — including an exchange rate, taxes and correspondent fees. To determine the best value, you should consider both the wire transfer fee and the exchange rate. The hidden charges of exchange rates can drastically impact the total currency delivered at the end of the transaction, especially with larger transactions.
In fact, the surprise in costs comes mostly from the currency exchange rate, as many remittance providers convert to foreign currency at a lower exchange rate, resulting in less money transferred to the recipient.
Rules and regulations
To prevent this unfair practice and to make the process more transparent, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a regulation, which took effect in February 2013, to ensure more clarity in how the exchange rate is handled and presented to customers in the U.S by all financial institutions.
Although the exact rate applied in the transaction will be unknown until the wire transfer is actually initiated, the consumer will be presented with useful information including the fees, exchange rate and net funds to be delivered, before completing the transaction.
When wire transfers that are cheaper elsewhere
Many people turn to banks to wire transfer money, but depending on the type of transaction, other money transmission providers may be able to provide the same service at a better price — although there is no single method that is definitively cheaper than others.
Money transmitters, for example, usually impose foreign transfer fees based on how you conduct the transfer, the recipient’s location, amount transferred, and delivery time. That differs from banks and credit unions, which usually charge a flat fee. Using a money transmitter can be especially advantageous for transferring smaller sum of money — below $1,000. On the other hand, bank wire transfers can be advantageous for the transfer of larger sums of money — usually between $1,000 to $5,000 — because the flat fee is unaffected by an increase in the amount transferred.
Wire transfers at credit unions
Many people are aware of the fact that wire transfer fees are actually cheaper at credit unions than at banks — a lot cheaper. In fact, many credit unions don’t charge a fee for incoming wire transfers — both domestic and foreign.
Currently at the 10 largest credit unions, the average fee for an incoming domestic wire was $4.80 compared to $15 at banks, while outgoing domestic wire transfers cost an average of $17.30 compared to $26.40 at banks. The average fee for outgoing foreign wire transfers at the top 10 credit unions was $36.22 versus the average of $47.50 at the top 10 banks. The average costs of incoming foreign wire transfers at credit unions was $12.40 per transfer compared to $17.50 at banks.
Essentially, all of the wire transfer methods will provide you with the same service — the deciding factor here will be accessibility and the cost. If you’re someone who utilizes wire transfers often, it might not be a bad idea to consider switching to credit unions.