Guide to bank fees for wire transfers

Consider the fees you could pay to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to on a bank wire transfer.

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A wire transfer through your bank is an effective way to get money to and from friends, family members and merchants around the world. These transfers typically involve electronically transferring money from one bank to another. Though secure, bank wire transfers often come with higher fees and exchange rates than money transfer companies.
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    What kind of fees could I expect?

    The fees your bank charges depend on whether you’re sending or receiving the money, as well as whether the recipient or sender is overseas. Some banks charge more depending on how you initiate the wire transfer — for example, online or in person.

    Here are fees you can expect for wire transfers at your typical Canadian bank:

    • Incoming domestic fee. For receiving money from another Canadian bank account.
    • Outgoing domestic fee. For sending money to another Canadian bank account.
    • Incoming international fee. For receiving money from an overseas bank account.
    • Outgoing international fee. For sending money to an overseas bank account.
    • Initiation fee. For conducting a wire transfer via a method other than online, for example in a branch location or over the phone.
    • Tracing fee. For requesting tracing services for a previous wire transfer.

    How can I beat the banks and reduce what I pay in fees?

    Fees by major Canadian bank

    We’ve gathered the wire transfer fees charged by 5 major Canadian banks. Before switching to a new bank for its lower wire transfer fees, consider its overall suite of financial products. You may also be subject to foreign transaction, minimum balance and other fees.

    BankIncoming domesticOutgoing domesticIncoming internationalOutgoing international
    TD Bank$15$25$15$40
    RBCFree$45 or more$17 or more for $50+; free below $50$45 or more
    Scotiabank$15$20$15$20
    BMO$140.20% of outgoing wire value (min $15 and max $125)$140.20% of outgoing wire value (min $15 and max $125)
    CIBC$15$30 or more$15$30

    How can I compare these bank fees?

    When assessing these fees, how much you’ll pay depends on where you’re sending money to and other elements like:

    • Incoming vs. outgoing. Incoming wire transfers tend to be cheaper than outgoing wire transfers. This is because the sender usually bears the brunt of the costs associated with the wire transfer.
    • Domestic vs. international. Because domestic wire transfers involve less processing, they tend to be cheaper than international wire transfers. International wire transfers typically involve multiple banking systems and operators between the two countries.
    • Recurring vs. one-time fees. Some banks offer savings of a few dollars per transfer when you set up recurring wire transfers.
    • Initiation fees. Your bank could charge a fee for requesting the wire transfer in a branch or over the phone, instead of online.
    • Tracer fees. If your recipient hasn’t received your transfer as scheduled, you may need to trace it. This could incur more fees.
    • Exchange rates. An exchange rate shows how much one currency is worth in another currency. Nearly all banks skew the published exchange rate for a profit, and they aren’t always forthcoming about the margin they add. You may need to call your bank or initiate a transfer online to see the rate you’ll get.

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    Example: Wiring $1,000 to India

    You will pay more for an international wire transfer through your bank than you will using an international money transfer service, but you may find that the security and familiarity it offers is worth it. With a bank, you simply log into your existing online bank account to initiate the process, without handing your personal information over to a third party.

    Take Harwinder, for example, who wants to send $1,000 to her aunt in India. While she’s more comfortable with the idea of using her local TD Bank, where she holds an account, she decides to compare its rates and fees against a popular online money transfer service.

    Here’s a breakdown of what Harwinder could pay to transfer $1,000 to India.

    TD BankOnline money transfer service
    Transfer fee$40$5
    Exchange rate1 CAD = 49 INR1 CAD = 51 INR
    Transfer methodOnline depositOnline deposit
    Transfer speed1–2 days1–2 days
    Total INR received4,900 INR5,100 INR

    The biggest drawback here is the cost. Jessica’s bank not only charges an outrageously high transfer fee, but also offers a weaker exchange rate. By going with a money transfer service like OFX or World First, Jessica could save $30 in fees and send 200 INR (around $4) more to her aunt.

    Bottom line

    Banks offer a secure and familiar way to send money to friends, family members and merchants. However, you can expect to pay high transfer fees on top of weaker exchange rates than you would get by using an online money transfer service.

    Ultimately, you’ll need to compare your options to find the service that’s best for you.

    Compare banks to these independent money transfer services

    Rates last updated November 17th, 2019
    Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Description Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
    OFX International Money Transfers
    USD 150
    1 day
    Online, Phone, Agent
    Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
    A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
    WorldRemit International Money Transfers
    CAD 0
    Within an hour
    Online, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer
    Use code FINDERCA and pay zero fees on your first transfer. Conditions apply.
    An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
    TransferWise International Money Transfers
    CAD 1
    1 - 2 days
    Online
    Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts.
    InstaReM International Money Transfers
    CAD 50
    1 - 2 days
    Online, Bank Account to Bank Account
    Quick and simple international money transfers with zero-margin exchange rates. Earn loyalty points on sign up, referral and every transaction.
    XE International Money Transfers
    CAD 0
    1 day
    Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
    Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand.
    CurrencyTransfer International Money Transfers
    GBP 5,000
    1 - 2 days
    Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account, International Money Order
    Aimed at larger transfers, CurrencyTransfer is an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best exchange rate.
    TorFX International Money Transfers
    CAD 2,000
    1 day
    Online, Phone, Agent
    TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.

    Send money overseas in 45 currencies.
    The ‘Rate’ and ‘Amount Received’ displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

    Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

    Compare up to 4 providers

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