Wire transfers are a way to quickly and conveniently send and receive money, both domestically and internationally. Maybe you want to securely send some cash as a security deposit to a landlord across town ASAP. Or perhaps you need to pay for a painting you bought at an auction overseas. Either way, a wire transfer may be a good option.
However, there are often wire transfer fees in exchange for their speed and convenience. The cost to send and receive money via wire transfer varies, but international wires are usually costlier than domestic wires.
However, with the right steps, you can reduce or even eliminate the fees you’ll pay using wire transfers.
Here, you’ll learn important details about this technique for transferring funds, including:
• What are wire transfer fees?
• How much do wire transfer fees cost?
• How do international wire transfer fees vs. domestic compare?
• How can you avoid wire transfer fees?
• What are other ways to send and receive money?
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What Are Wire Transfer Fees?
A wire transfer is an electronic funds transfer between financial institutions. Wire transfers can be faster than bank transfers, with same-day processing possible for most domestic wires. Wire transfers can occur domestically or internationally, but most banks charge fees both for sending and receiving funds in this way.
In addition to speed, another reason to use wire transfers is when sending money internationally, as a regular bank transfer isn’t possible in this situation. But international wire transfers can have higher wire transfer fees than domestic wires, and there might be more steps involved. For instance, the transaction might have been processed by the foreign country’s system and also possibly involve a currency conversion.
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How Much Do Wire Transfer Fees Cost?
As mentioned earlier, how much wire transfer fees cost can vary. Some financial firms waive wire transfer fees in certain situations, and others waive them entirely. When sending and receiving international wires, there can be a fee of $50 or more for each transaction
Typically, you might expect the following fees:
• For domestic wire transfers, outgoing fees usually range from $0 to $35; incoming fees can range from $0 to $15.
• For international wire transfers, outgoing fees can often range from $35 to $50; incoming fees are likely to be between $0 and $16.
Wire Fees by Financial Institution
Below is a list of wire transfer fees for large banks in the United States. However, third parties may be involved that charge additional fees, especially for international wires.
|Bank||Incoming domestic||Outgoing Domestic||Incoming international||Outgoing international|
|Bank of America||$15||$30||$16||$45 or $0 when sent in foreign currency|
|Capital One||Up to $15||Up to $30||Up to $15||$40-$50|
|Citi||Up to $15||Up to $25||Up to $15||Up to $35|
Do International Fees Cost More Than Domestic?
On average, international wire transfer fees are higher than domestic ones. But as is often the case, averages don’t tell the whole story. Some financial institutions don’t impose wire transfer fees, even for international transactions.
Still, it’s important to remember that there may be extra fees when dealing with international wire transfers. For instance, there may be a currency conversion fee when sending money between two countries that use different currencies. When sending or receiving money internationally, you’ll need information like an international bank account number (IBAN) or a SWIFT code to move the funds to the right account. Overall, it’s a somewhat more complex transaction than a domestic one.
Why Do Banks Charge Wire Transfer Fees?
Banks charge wire transfer fees because of the work that goes into processing wire transfers. For instance, wire transfers are processed individually as they are received. This differs from automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfers, which are processed in batches.
You also pay a premium for the faster processing speed. Domestic wire transfers can sometimes be completed within a few hours and are usually processed the same day. International wire transfers can be completed within one to two business days.
Another reason banks charge wire transfer fees is their higher transaction limits. Wire transfer limits are usually much higher than bank transfer limits, so they can be worth using if you must send a large amount in a single transaction.
Lastly, the international reach of wire transfers can lead to higher fees. For instance, when large amounts of foreign currency are exchanged, banks charge what is known as a midmarket, or interbank, exchange rate. The bank will often charge a higher markup if that currency must be converted. This results in higher wire transfer fees.
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Tips to Avoid Wire Transaction Fees
While wire transfer fees are common, they aren’t always a given. Here are some ideas about how to avoid wire transfer fees in some situations:
• Send money in foreign currency. For outbound international wires, it can be smart to send money in the currency used by the foreign company, if possible. In this scenario, some banks waive wire transaction fees since no currency conversion is necessary.
• Do it yourself digitally. Some financial institutions allow you to initiate a wire transfer using their website or app, and doing so may reduce the fees or even eliminate them.
• Look for firms that don’t charge wire transfer fees. Some banks and nonbank providers waive wire transfer fees in some cases, or they don’t charge them at all.
• Open an account with no wire transaction fees. Shop around: Some of the most popular banks offer accounts that let you wire money with no transaction fees.
Alternative Ways to Send and Receive Money
Some methods of sending money may allow you to reduce or eliminate transaction fees. You can do so by using one of the following methods to conduct the transfer:
• Use a payment app. Payment apps like Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal generally let you send money electronically to friends and relatives without paying a fee. However, sending money to those who are not “friends and family” may incur fees.
• Send money with a bank transfer. A bank transfer, or ACH transfer, might be preferable if you send money domestically. In 2022, the same-day transfer limit was increased to $1 million, enabling large funds transfers in a single day.
However, note that limits on single transactions might be lower, and there might be ACH fees.
• Use a cashier’s check. A cashier’s check is an alternative to wire transfers because it can be suitable for large transactions. This type of check draws the funds from the bank’s reserves rather than your account. However, the check must be delivered to you, so this method can take longer than a wire transfer. In addition, there might still be fees involved.
Wire transfers can be a quick, secure way to send money domestically or internationally. These transfers have several benefits, such as shorter processing times and larger transaction limits than ACH transfers. But wire transfers can also have significant transaction fees, especially when dealing with international transfers.
If you prefer to avoid costly wire transfer fees, look for firms that don’t charge them or offer accounts that don’t charge for wire transfers. You can also consider alternative methods of sending money, like using a payment app or sending a cashier’s check.
If you’re looking for other ways to save on your banking costs, consider opening an online bank account. With SoFi Checking and Savings, for instance, you won’t pay any account fees, and your money will earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), both of which can help your cash grow faster. You’ll also spend and save in one convenient place, have a suite of tools (like Vaults and Roundups) that can amp up your savings, and, for qualifying accounts with direct deposit, you can get paycheck access up to two days early.
Do you pay a fee to receive a wire transfer?
It depends, but most banks do charge a fee for income wire transfers. However, the fee for incoming wires is usually considerably less (maybe 50% lower) than the fee for outgoing wires.
Why are wire transfers so expensive?
Wiring money can be expensive for several reasons, such as their shorter processing times and higher transaction limits than bank transfers. Also, international wire transfers have more processing steps, which can increase their cost.
Do all banks charge wire transfer fees?
The majority of banks charge wire transfer fees in at least some situations. Some waive them in certain situations, while nonbank providers are more likely to waive them entirely.
Photo credit: iStock/Ridofranz
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