Wire Transfers: What Are They and How Much Do They Cost?

Wire transfers are a form of electronic payment service that enable you to send money from one bank account to another quickly and securely. Your financial institution will charge you fees for each transfer, whether you are sending or receiving the wire. These costs are mostly standard across a given bank, with minor exceptions. The price of a wire transfer is dependent on two factors: whether it is incoming or outgoing, and whether it is a domestic or international transaction.

Average Cost of Wire Transfers

Of the 11 different national banks we researched, we found that the average fee associated with each type of transfer was $13.88 for an incoming domestic wire, $28.13 for an outgoing domestic, $17.50 for an incoming international and $49.66 for an outgoing international. The following table lists the fee range for each wire transfer type at the following banks:

Bank 
Incoming DomesticOutgoing Domestic Incoming InternationalOutgoing International
Bank of America $0-$15 $30 $16 $45
Capital One $0 $30 - -
Chase $0-$15 $35 $0-$15 $50
Citi $0-15 $17.50-$35 $0-15 $25-$45
HSBC $0-$15 * $0-15 *
PNC $0-$15 $0-$30 $15 $45
SunTrust $15 $25 $30 $50
TD $0-15 $25 $0-$15 $40
US Bank $20 $30 $25 $50
Wells Fargo $15 $30 $16 $45
BB&T $15 $25 $18 $65

- Capital One 360 does not currently offer international wire transfer services

* HSBC does not list rates for outgoing domestic and foreign wire transfers until the time of transaction. However, a representative stated that the fees would most likely be in a range from $20-$35.

How to Waive or Reduce Wire Transfer Fees

Having a certain savings or checking account with a bank may sometimes qualify an individual for free or discounted wire transfer services. Furthermore, some institutions offer discounts for wire transfers that are initiated online. Here are some examples that we found for America's biggest banks:

Bank of America: Rewards Money Market Savings account and Interest Checking Account holders can receive free incoming domestic wire transfers; other wire fees apply. 

Chase: Chase Premier Platinum Checking account holders receive free incoming domestic and international wires. Chase offers $10 discounts on outgoing wires initiated online, making outgoing online domestic wires $25 (originally $35) and outgoing online international wires $40 (originally $50). 

Citi: Individuals with Citigold Accounts also receive free incoming domestic and international wire transfers. Like Chase, Citi offers a $10 discount on online-initiated wire transactions: outgoing online domestic wires are $25 and outgoing online international wires are $35. 

HSBC: HSBC Premier Checking and Savings account holders can receive free incoming domestic and international wire transfers. Advance Savings and Checkings members pay the decreased $12 incoming domestic and international wire transfer fee.

PNC: PNC Performance Select Checking account holders pay no fees on incoming or outgoing domestic wire transfers.

TD: TD Relationship Checking and TD Premier Checking account holders get free incoming domestic and international wire transfers. 

Wells Fargo: Members with the PMA package checking account and qualifying balances of at least $250,000 receive free incoming wire transfers.  

Other Ways to Reduce Wire Fees

Transferring Money to Student Accounts: When sending money to a student, many smaller banks and credit unions will actually waive or reduce any incoming wire transfer fees to student accounts, so that a parent or guardian isn't charged twice. However, many of these institutions only operate in certain regions, limiting their national availability. There is no guarantee your local bank or credit union offers such a waiver.

Discounted Rates for Regular Wire Transfer Senders and/or Recipients: If you regularly send or receive wire transfers, you may qualify for a discounted wire transfer rate. These rates are not always broadcasted, so it is important to read your account agreement and personal fee schedule to determine if the discount applies to you. 

ACH Transfers vs. Wire Transfers: What's The Difference?

Another way to send money is through Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers, so named because they pass through the automated clearing house, a national electronic network for financial transactions. ACH transfers are cheaper than wire transfers, but they are slower to arrive and impose lower limits on the amount of money you can send in a single transaction.

While wire transfers are processed immediately, on an individual basis, ACH transfers are processed in large batches. For a standard domestic wire transfer, you can expect the transaction to post within half a day. International wires can take approximately two to three days for the money to arrive; designated slow-to-pay countries can cause further delays. With ACH transfers, domestic transfers typically take 1 to 3 business days to arrive, and international ACH transfers will take even longer —if your bank allows them to begin with. Some institutions only allow domestic ACH transactions, while others may limit the number of ACH transactions you can perform per month.

Alternative Money Transfer Options

If you're seeking a more affordable way to transfer money from one currency to another, person-to-person services like TransferWise might cost you less than a typical wire. TransferWise is sponsored in the US by Community Federal Savings Bank, but it provides service to customers of any bank in the US. The fees at TransferWise vary by currency, but in general, transferring USD costs at minimum $3. On larger transactions, you can expect to pay around 1% of the total amount.

Transfer USD to…TransferWise Fee
EUR
  • flat $3 on amount up to $300
  • 1.0% of amount up to $10,000
  • 0.7% of amount over $10,000
GBP
  • flat $3 on amount up to $350
  • 0.85% of amount up to $10,000
  • 0.60% of amount over $10,000
INR
  • flat $2.70 on amount up to $300
  • 0.9% of amount over $300

If you aren't sending money abroad, apps such as Venmo and Square Cash let you make free domestic transfers from your linked checking account. Even popular social media platforms such as Facebook and SnapChat have begun introducing similar features into their own services. However, there are fees for these services if you decide to link them to a credit card as opposed to a simple checking account. While linking credit cards to Venmo or Square give you an extra layer of protection if you ever have to cancel a charge, frequent users may not find it a cost-effective practice.

Finally, money orders let you transfer cash domestically or internationally with just the recipient’s name, country and city. Western Union and MoneyGram are two of the largest companies that offer money orders. Though they tend to cost more than an app, money orders don't require bank accounts and offer the benefit of increased anonymity.

What Information Do You Need to Send a Wire Transfer?

In order to perform a domestic wire transfer, you will need to know the ABA/Routing number of the receiving bank, the name, address, or phone number of the receiving bank, and the recipient's bank account number. For international wire transfers, you will also need to provide the country’s International Routing Code (IRC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN). These last two can usually be easily found online.

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