When you want to send money internationally, there are quite a few methods available, including:
- Traditional banks
- Wire transfer services
- Remittance services
- Online money transfer companies
You can send money to friends, family or business partners overseas by going online, to a bank or service branch or over the phone.
Although these methods might seem like equivalent options, they can vary in terms of cost, speed and convenience. Taking time out of your day to go to a bank branch such as Chase, for example, can be much more time-consuming than wiring money through an online service such as TransferWise, and the money might not get there as quickly. Before you send money via wire transfer to friends, family or business associates abroad, read on to find out which international wire transfer method is best for you.
What Is a Wire Transfer?
A wire transfer is an electronic transfer of money from one person or company to another. It usually refers specifically to the electronic transfer of funds from one bank or credit union account to another. Wire transfers can be either domestic or international, depending on where your payee is, which might affect the cost and speed of your transfer.
What Is the Cost of an International Wire Transfer?
Sometimes it’s hard to determine the cost of an international wire transfer, as extra fees can be hidden in the exchange rate. Many banks claim that they do not charge a fee to transfer funds abroad, but they often offer an exchange rate that is less than the mid-market exchange rate, which is the rate banks use to trade between one another.
The bank takes the difference as its commission. In addition to offering a low exchange rate, some major banks require that you make international money transfers in person rather than online, which can make the process inconvenient in addition to costly.
Average Wire Transfer Fees
To get a better understanding of what a wire transfer might cost you, here’s the average wire transfer fees for four types of transfers based on information from the top five U.S. banks:
- $14 for incoming domestic wire transfers
- $26 for outgoing domestic wire transfers
- $14 for incoming international wire transfers
- $36 for outgoing international wire transfers
Many banks use SWIFT — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication — to send money abroad. SWIFT transfers involve four fee types:
- Outgoing international transfer fee
- Flat fees taken by intermediary banks
- Currency exchange rate markup
- Incoming international transfer fee on the recipient side
Wire transfer services such as Western Union might claim they do not charge a fee, but they also profit from the currency exchange markup. The online money exchange tool PayPal makes money in three ways: it charges a fixed fee, makes a profit on the currency exchange rate and takes the difference when it rounds up the exchange amount. TransferWise, a good alternative to PayPal, exchanges currency at the mid-market exchange rate and charges a transparent and upfront fee.
How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?
The speed of your online wire transfer depends on the method you choose. Banks can take two business days or more, whereas wire services can take up to six business days depending on your payment method. At Western Union, for example, payment by credit or debit takes three business days, and payment via bank account can take six business days.
Online money transfer companies such as PayPal and TransferWise also have varying speeds based on the country you are sending to and your method of payment. With TransferWise, card payments are normally instant for online money transfers, while bank transfers take longer but no more than five days. Here’s what to expect for speed and coverage from a few major wire transfer options:
Wire Transfer Service Options
|Chase||3-5 business days||35 currencies||Yes|
|Bank of America||2 business days||200 countries||Yes|
|Wells Fargo||1-3 business days||13 countries||Yes (Except initial transfer)|
|TransferWise||1-4 business days||59 countries||Yes|
|PNC||1-3 business days||30 currencies||No|
|Western Union||Up to 5 business days||Over 200 countries||Yes|
How to Make an Online Wire Transfer
To make an online wire transfer, it’s best to be prepared with all the necessary information, including:
- Your bank account information, including your account number, routing number, online username and password
- The amount you wish to send
- The recipient’s information, including their name, email or phone number. Depending on the wire transfer method you choose, you might also need their address, bank account number, and bank transit number or routing number so your friend or family member can effectively receive the wire transfer.
A bank-to-bank transfer can usually be done online, though some banks, such as PNC, require you to make international wire transfers in person. Online services such TransferWise or PayPal provide the convenience of allowing you to transfer funds easily from the comfort of your home.
How to Wire Money Internationally With Chase Bank
You must have a Chase bank account as well as an online login and password to send money internationally online via wire transfer. You then need to register for Chase’s wire transfer services and fill out information about your beneficiaries or recipients. You will need the following bank details and information about your recipient:
- Recipient name
- Recipient account number
- Recipient mailing address with city, region, country and postal ZIP code
- Recipient bank routing/SWIFT code
- U.S. or foreign dollar amount to be transferred
If you are sending an international money transfer to a Chase bank account, you will need these wire details:
- Bank Name: JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
- Bank Address: 270 Park Ave. New York, NY 10017
- Chase Bank SWIFT Code: CHASUS33
Chase Bank International Wire Transfer Fee
|Inbound (wire transfer sent to Chase Bank)||$15; waived for Chase Premier Platinum Checking and Chase Private Client accounts|
|Outbound (wire transfer sent from Chase Bank)||$40; waived for Chase Private Client accounts|
Chase allows you to submit bank wire requests anytime and send repeat wire transfers to the same recipient. Requests made by 4 p.m. EST can be processed the same business day. The Chase wire transfer fee is $40 for international transfers sent in U.S. dollars and $45 for international transfers sent in foreign currency.
How to Wire Money Internationally With Bank of America
To send an online Bank of America wire transfer abroad, log into its online banking system. In the transfer section, select “Send money to someone” and the “Using their account number at another bank” link. You will need the following information about the recipient:
- Recipient bank name, address and country
- Recipient bank’s routing code and recipient’s account number
- SWIFT code, National ID or IBAN number of the bank where the receiving account is located
- Purpose for transfer
If you are sending an international money transfer to a Bank of America bank account, you will need these wire details:
- Bank Name: Bank of America NA
- Bank Address: 222 Broadway, New York, NY 10038 (regardless of where your account is located)
- Bank of America Swift Code: BOFAUS3N — for U.S. dollars (USD) or unknown currency
- Bank of America Routing Number: 026009593
Bank of America International Wire Transfer Fee
|Inbound (wire transfer sent to Bank of America)||$0|
|Outbound (wire transfer sent from Bank of America)||$35-45|
For an outbound international wire sent in foreign currency, the Bank of America wire transfer fee is $35, and the fee for an outbound international wire sent in U.S. dollars is $45.
How Long Does a Bank of America International Wire Transfer Take?
International wires sent by 5 p.m. EST are usually received within two business days. Factors that could cause the transfer to take longer include local bank holidays, delays caused by an intermediary bank or other local conditions. The speed in which the recipient receives the funds also depends on the country you are transferring to, as some countries are considered more “slow to pay” than others, according to Bank of America.
How to Wire Money Internationally With Wells Fargo
To send money internationally online via a Wells Fargo wire transfer, you will need to sign up for an ExpressSend account. Your first remittance must be done in person; future remittances can be done online or via phone.
To transfer funds via ExpressSend you must provide:
- The name, address and telephone number of your beneficiary, and the remittance network member to which your funds should be sent
- Your beneficiary’s full physical address, no P.O. boxes
- Your beneficiary’s telephone number
If you are sending an international money transfer to a Wells Fargo bank account, you will need these wire details:
- Bank Name: Wells Fargo Bank
- Bank Address: San Francisco, CA
- Wells Fargo Swift Code: WFBIUS6S
- Wells Fargo Routing Number: 121000248
Wells Fargo International Wire Transfer Fee
|Inbound (wire transfer sent to Wells Fargo)||$16|
|Outbound (wire transfer sent from Wells Fargo)||$30-45 (the exact fee will be disclosed at the time of processing)|
The Wells Fargo wire transfer fee and the exchange rate provided vary based on the amount sent. For example, the fee to send money to Mexico is $5 for transfers between $25 and $1,500. In addition to charging a transfer fee, Wells Fargo makes additional money from the currency exchange. Sending an international wire transfer with Wells Fargo takes one to three business days.
How to Wire Money Internationally With TransferWise
To avoid the hidden fees that banks often charge, you might want to consider sending money with TransferWise. You can send money via TransferWise using a debit or credit card or directly from your bank, and you can sometimes send money to a recipient using just their email address.
Follow these easy steps to send money via the TransferWise website:
- On the homepage, select the currency you want to exchange from and the currency you want to change to. Enter the amount you wish to send.
- Click “Get Started.” Sign up via Google, Facebook or with your email address.
- Review your transfer, including the fee and the exchange rate.
- Click “Continue.” Enter your personal details, including your name, date of birth, phone number and address.
- Enter the information for the recipient, including their name and email, and bank details if required.
- Select your method of payment: debit card, credit card or bank transfer. Enter relevant information.
TransferWise’s fee is 0.5 to 2.5 percent of the amount you transfer depending on where you need to send money to, and you are always offered the mid-market exchange rate without any markup. In addition, the company does not charge intermediary bank fees or recipient fees.
What Are the Best Ways to Send a Wire Transfer?
When deciding which method to choose to wire money internationally, consider which option is the most convenient, cheapest and fastest. A bank that requires you to do your initial wire transfer in person might not be as convenient as an online option, such as PayPal or TransferWise, that allows you to easily make a transfer from the comfort of your own home.
Also pay close attention to fees, both hidden and upfront. For example, transferring at a bank can cost eight times as much as sending via TransferWise. Lastly, keep in mind that some methods might be faster than others. Chase can send a same-day international wire transfer, whereas the other options might take one to four business days for the transfer to be completed, and TransferWise card payments can be processed almost instantly for online money transfers.