Wire Transfer Fees: What the Top Banks Charge

Banking

If you need to move money from one bank to another, you might be considering a wire transfer. Wire transfers can be a good option because they’re a fast and safe way to send money.

woman looking at documents

However, this can be an expensive option, so most banks and credit unions charge hefty fees for this service. This article will explain how wire transfers work, what the average bank charges, and how you can lower or even eliminate wire transfer fees altogether.

What is a wire transfer, and how does it work?

A wire transfer is a way to move money electronically to another person or financial institution. It’s a safe and reliable way to move money since no cash is handled. And since wires are quick, it’s a good option when you need to send money fast.

To send a wire transfer, you need the recipient’s bank account number, name, address, and the amount you want to wire. Some banks and credit unions will allow you to process a wire transfer online, while others make you come in and fill out paperwork.

Once you’ve filled out this information, the bank will transfer the money, and you’ll be good to go. Wire transfers typically happen within a day or two, depending on the bank or institution you use.

Wire Transfer Fees of 10 Financial Institutions

Wire transfer fees typically range from $0 to $30, depending on the bank or credit union. Listed below is a chart of some of the biggest banks’ domestic and international wire transfer fees.

Financial InstitutionINCOMING DOMESTICOUTGOING DOMESTICINCOMING INTERNATIONALOUTGOING INTERNATIONAL
Bank of America$15$30$16$35 in foreign currency
$45 in U.S. dollars
Capital One 360$0$30Not availableNot available
Chase$15$25$15$5 in foreign currency
$40 in U.S. dollars
Citibank$15$25$15$35
Discover Bank$0$30$0$30
Fidelity$0$0$03% of foreign currency amount
$0 if sent in U.S. dollars
HSBC Bank$15$35$15$35
PNC Bank$15$30$15$45
U.S. Bank$20$30$25$50
Wells Fargo$15$30$16$35 in foreign currency
$45 in U.S. dollars

How Much Are Wire Transfer Fees?

Several factors will determine how much a wire transfer costs. The most significant factor will be the bank or institution you’re conducting the wire transfer through.

For instance, nonbank providers tend to charge lower fees to process wire transfers. Though if you are a regular customer at a particular bank, they may give you a break on the fees.

Wire transfer fees are also determined by whether you’re doing a domestic or international wire transfer. As you can see in the chart above, international wire transfers tend to be more expensive.

That’s because banks can process domestic wire transfers through one payment system instead of multiple banking systems.

Incoming Wire Transfers vs. Outgoing Wire Transfers

Some banks off free incoming wire transfers, or they might waive them depending on the type of bank account you have. For the banks that do charge them, incoming wire transfer fees tend to be cheaper than outgoing wire transfer fees.

International Wire Transfers

Banks and money transfer providers charge other financial institutions a mid-market rate for trading large amounts of foreign currency. However, when they convert the money for customers, they charge a higher markup. The markup is determined by the percentage of the amount being sent. You can check the mid-market rate online to see how much more your bank is charging you than the rate it pays.

If your bank doesn’t convert the money for international wire transfers, the foreign bank will do it and generally tack on their own fees. The best way to avoid these fees is by using a nonbank option for international wires.

ACH vs. Wire Transfers

If you’re looking for alternatives to wire transfers, you can also consider an ACH transfer. ACH is a safe way to transfer money from one bank account to another.

The advantage of doing an ACH transfer is that it’s usually free to complete. However, ACH transfers are less convenient than wire transfers. Wires can be completed in as little as a few hours, whereas ACH transfers typically take two to three days.

Wire transfers are a much more secure way to receive money, but it is riskier to send them. Once wire money, it cannot be undone, even if you made a mistake. On the other hand, ACH payments can be reversed in cases of error or fraud.

Other Alternatives to Wire Transfers

People often choose bank wire transfers because it’s a safe way to move large amounts of money electronically. But if you’re conducting a smaller transaction, there are more affordable alternatives you can consider.

For instance, your bank’s online bill pay is a great way to transfer money to another person safely. You can also use peer-to-peer payment options like Zelle or the Cash app. There are no fees to use the app, and the money is transferred instantly.

You can also send money through PayPal, Square Cash, or Venmo. And even Facebook Messenger provides an option for transferring money to other people.

How to Avoid Wire Transfer Fees

If you’re interested in sending money via a wire transfer, here are a few ways you can avoid or cut down on wire transfer fees.

1. Consider nonbanking providers

Big banks like Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo tend to charge the highest fees for wire transfers, so you can save money by choosing a nonbanking provider. Western Union, TransferWise, and MoneyGram are all good alternatives.

2. Wire the money in a foreign currency

Some banks will give you the option to conduct wires in a foreign currency. However, you don’t have to have the foreign currency on hand since the bank will convert it for you. This can be a good way to cut down on or even eliminate the wire transfer fee.

3. Schedule recurring wire transfers

You may be able to earn a discount by scheduling recurring wire transfers. However, if you anticipate needing a money transfer on a regular basis, your bank can probably offer you cheaper options.

4. Do it yourself instead of having the bank initiate it

Many banks will lower the fee if you do the wire yourself instead of having the bank initiate it. For instance, you could earn a discount by doing wire transfers online instead of visiting a branch and having a teller do it for you.

By wiring the money yourself, you could cut down on the fees by $10. Just make sure you feel confident about your ability to initiate a wire transfer on your own. Banks cannot cancel these transactions, so you don’t want to make a mistake.

5. Choose a bank that offers free wire transfers

Some banks will waive the wire transfer fees for their customers. These discounts are usually given as a perk for more exclusive bank accounts.

Summary

Wire transfers are a secure way to send money electronically to another person or bank. They are generally considered the safest way to transfer money, but they can come with hefty fees.

You’ll need to decide for yourself whether these fees are worth it. Here are a few things to keep in mind before sending a wire transfer:

  • Check with your bank to see what kinds of fees they charge. If they charge high fees, you can switch to a bank that charges more reasonable rates.
  • If you want to substantially cut down on wire transfer fees, you can look into nonbanking options like Western Union or TransferWise.
  • If you only need to transfer smaller amounts of money, consider peer-to-peer payment apps like Zelle or the Cash app. These transfers happen immediately and won’t cost you any fees.
Jamie Johnson
Meet the author

Jamie Johnson is a freelance writer who has been featured in publications like InvestorPlace and GOBankingRates. She writes about various personal finance topics including student loans, credit cards, investing, building credit, and more.