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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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.
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.
|Bank||Incoming domestic||Outgoing domestic||Incoming international||Outgoing international|
|RBC||Free||$45 or more||$17 or more for $50+; free below $50||$45 or more|
|BMO||$14||0.20% of outgoing wire value (min $15 and max $125)||$14||0.20% of outgoing wire value (min $15 and max $125)|
|CIBC||$15||$30 or more||$15||$30|
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.
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 Bank||Online money transfer service|
|Exchange rate||1 CAD = 49 INR||1 CAD = 51 INR|
|Transfer method||Online deposit||Online deposit|
|Transfer speed||1–2 days||1–2 days|
|Total INR received||4,900 INR||5,100 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.
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.
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