A wire transfer is an effective way to get money to friends, family members and merchants around the world. These transfers typically involve electronically transferring money from one bank to another. Though secure, the service can come at a cost — high fees.
Read this guide to find out how to minimise costs and find the service suited to your needs.
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A wire transfer is an immediate, secure way of transferring money to a recipient. It is an electronic transfer of money from one bank to another, using a secure network.
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 UK bank:
Incoming domestic fee. For receiving money from another UK bank account.
Outgoing domestic fee. For sending money to another UK 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. This is when you do a wire transfer NOT online, for example in a branch or over the phone.
Tracer fee. For requesting tracing services for a previous wire transfer.
Beat the banks
We’ve tested the amounts a bank will give you against an average money transfer company, and the results could net you big savings. A £10,000 transfer to Australia with a money transfer company would save $378 AUD compared to a bank.
Why is this? Some banks charge up to £25 extra, which may be shown to you as a sum of small charges made of percentages and absolute fees. On top of this, there’s a hidden charge – the margin on the exchange rate. Money transfer companies tend to have much lower rates than banks and are generally a better option for sending money abroad. Don’t believe us? See our table below.
To make your decisions a bit easier, we’ve gathered wire transfer fees for several UK banks above.
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.
Banks offer a secure and familiar way to complete wire transfers with 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.
To send a wire transfer, you’ll need your recipient’s full personal and banking information, including their bank’s name and SWIFT code (if international) and their routing and account number.
Short for the cumbersome Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a SWIFT code is an international bank code used for incoming transfers. Overseas banks each have a unique SWIFT code that identifies which bank to send money to.
For international money transfers, it’s better to send money in your recipient’s currency. This takes the burden of converting the currency off of your recipient.
The processing time for a wire transfer varies from bank to bank and depends on several factors, such as whether the wire transfer is domestic or international. Some wire transfers can be processed within the same day if requested before the bank’s cutoff time. Others can take up to five business days.
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