Whether you need to send or receive money, wire transfer may be your quickest option. In the past, many people resorted to wire transfer services at banks and money transmitters — like Western Union and MoneyGram — but seeing how much cheaper the fees are at credit unions, you may never go back.
Domestic wire transfer vs. foreign wire transfer
Domestic wire transfer is a method of electronic fund transfer between two bank accounts or cash transfer through a cash office within the U.S. — while foreign wire transfers will move your money anywhere in the world.
Determining the cheapest way to wire money domestically is pretty straightforward — it is a flat rate regardless of the amount transferred at all credit unions and banks. Money transmitters charge depending on several factors including the transfer amount, method of payment and delivery time.
It is a bit more complicated when it comes to foreign wire transfers, which may have additional fee depending on the country it is being sent to. It’s also important to note that banks and money transmitters will convert to foreign currency at a lower exchange rate, resulting in less money for the recipient, in the process.
Here are wire transfer fees compared at the top 10 credit unions in America:
|Credit Unions||Domestic Incoming*||Domestic Outgoing||Foreign Incoming*||Foreign Outgoing*|
|*Additional fees may be assessed by the receiving financial institution|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||$0||$15||$0||$25|
|State Employees Credit Union||$0||$10||$0||$25|
|Pentagon Federal Credit Union||$0||$20||$0||$30|
|Boeing Employees Credit Union||$0||$25||$0||$35|
|SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union||$0||$20||$0||N/A|
|The Golden 1 Credit Union||$0||$25||$0||$40|
|Alliant Credit Union||$0||$25||$0||$50|
|Security Service Federal Credit Union||$0||$15||$0||$61|
|Star One Credit Union||$0||$40 ($30 if you have an account or loan with a balance greater than or equal to $5,000)||$0||$60 ($50 if you have an account or loan with a balance greater than or equal to $5,000)|
|San Diego County Credit Union||$5||$25||$5||$45|
At a given bank, incoming wire transfers tend to be cheaper than or equal to outgoing fees, and the fee for domestic wire transfers are significantly lower than or equal to that of international transfers.
Currently at the 10 largest credit unions, the average fee for incoming domestic wire was $4.80 compared to $15 at banks, while outgoing domestic wire transfers was $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.
Credit unions vs. banks
Contrary to popular belief that the cheapest wire transfer fees can be found at banks, we found that wire transfer fees are actually cheaper at credit unions — a lot cheaper. In fact, many credit unions don’t charge a fee for incoming wire transfers — for both domestic and foreign wire transfers.
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.
Theresa is a research analyst at MyBankTracker.com. She is an expert in bank fees and policies, money psychology and consumer spending.