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International Bank Transfer Fees

Making international bank transfers back home to family to wiring money abroad to a loved one on their gap year is now easier and more accessible than ever – but with some banks charging extortionate fees just for sending your own money abroad, it pays to be prepared and do some research. Knowing what kind of international bank fees to expect – and how to avoid them – is a good practice to get into.

Updated: 24/06/2021
Read time: 6 minutes
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In this guide, we’ll look at the kinds of transfer fees you can expect when sending your money abroad via bank transfer, and how to avoid shelling out too much whether you’re making a one-off transfer or regular payments.

What international bank transfer fees should I expect?

The main two costs you can expect when making an international bank transfer are foreign transfer fees, and the markup added onto the mid-market exchange rate by your bank or provider.

  • Foreign transfer fees

This is the fee you are charged for sending money abroad. Some providers – such as TransferWise – charge a fixed fee for transfers, while others will add a percentage onto your transfer meaning it’s more expensive the more you send. If you are sending via a bank, you will often find both you and your recipient will incur charges for international transfers.

  • Exchange rate

The charge added onto the exchange rate is often known as the hidden charge when sending money abroad, especially when using a bank. However, this is where you can end up losing a lot of money that by all right’s should be going to your recipient. Most transfer providers and banks will add a percentage-based markup on the exchange rate that you can usually find on Google on any given day. Other providers will offer transfers at the mid-market rate (the rate by which banks exchange money between one another) but may charge a higher fixed fee. What’s important is that you make sure you’re aware of what kind of markup is being added for your specific transfer – money transfer providers tend to offer a much more competitive rate than traditional banks.

We recommend you read our guide on making cheap wire transfers to learn more about avoiding these fees.

How much am I likely to pay for an international transfer?

How much you’ll pay for an international transfer really depends on a number mitigating factors, such as:

  • Where you are located
  • The country you are sending to and the two currencies you need to convert between
  • The sum you are sending (large sums can mean higher fees, so it is essential to consider the transfer amount when carrying out a wire transfer online)
  • How you are paying for your transfer (paying by credit card can incur additional costs)
  • How your recipient will receive the funds (a bank transfer can incur additional fees from the receiving bank, while cash picks organised through transfer providers are often the cheapest)

Our wire transfer fees guide highlights some of the fees you can expect to pay with popular US and UK banks, but our top recommendation would be to use our comparison engine to compare the best money transfer providers for your specific transfer provider. Have a look at our guide about international wire transfers for more information.

We’ve designed our comparison tool to compare providers based on fees as well as transfer time, payment options, security, and what payout methods are supported.

Is it possible to do a free international bank transfer?

There are a few limited exceptions where you may be able to transfer money internationally for free.

One such example is if you and the person you are sending to have accounts within the same banking group. Other banks may only allow you to transfer money internationally for free if you are moving money between accounts that are in your name only. It’s a good idea to check your bank’s terms and conditions first if you think this may be applicable to you.

Alternatively, you may be able to find a cheaper international transfer by taking advantage of incentives offered by money transfer providers. Some providers will offer bonuses to new customers such as a fee-free transfer when you sign up to their services. Azimo and WorldRemit often offer such deals, so we’d recommend starting there.

Do international money transfer providers have lower fees?

Anyone who is making regular international payments could benefit from using an international money transfer service. Whether you’re regularly sending money abroad to a travelling loved one, you’re working abroad and sending money back home, or you’ve got expenses such as a mortgage or are getting married abroad, you could lose a lot of money in the long-run if you don’t look into exactly what kind of international bank transfer fees you are being charged.

If you’ve been sending your payments via your bank, it’s a good idea to check the fees you’ve been charged and compare the rates you can get with a money transfer provider as an alternative.

International bank transfer fees for sending large sums of money

Many transfer providers do have limits to how much you can send abroad with them, so if you are looking to send a particularly large amount (for example, a deposit for buying a house abroad), you may need to find a company that specialises in larger sums.

A few providers that may be suitable for larger transfers include XE Money Transfer, Currencies Direct, Tor FX, and CurrencyFair.

Bottom line: what are the international bank transfer fees?

The most important thing when sending money abroad is to make sure your recipient is receiving as much of those funds as possible. To achieve that, keep the following things in  mind anytime you are looking to send your money abroad:

  • Transfer fees will vary depending on your specific circumstances: The right provider for you can change depending on how much you’re sending, where you send to, and how you are paying, so make sure you continue to compare providers to find the best option for you.
  • Be aware of hidden costs as well as fixed fees: Don’t forget to take the margin added on to the exchange rate for your transfer into account as well as any fixed fees you’ll be charged – if you’re not looking at all fees involved you could lose money.
  • Take into consideration any fees your recipient might be charged: Incoming wire transfers can incur fees not only from the sending bank, but from the receiving bank too. Keep this in mind when choosing the best option for you. Ensure you understand the full suite of products and services offered by banks, money transfer providers and what each of these mean for your transfer.

So, how much does it cost to send money internationally?

The answer is, it ultimately depends on the company you use. Different providers are going to provide the best service for different types of transfer.

Our comparison engine is the best place to start – simply input the specific details of your transfer and find the best service for you.

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Yasmin Purnell

Yasmin is the content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. With an English degree from the University of Nottingham and over 5 years’ experience freelancing in the personal finance niche, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers accessible and easy to understand for all. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Yasmin on her yoga mat or planning her next escape to the mountains.

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