International Money Transfer Fees: Bank Wire + Markup Costs

By 
Russell Gous
Russell is a UK-based content specialist who is passionate and knowledgeable when it comes to banking, foreign exchange, payments, and Fintech as a whole. Prior to writing for MTC, he spent more than half a decade at Barclay Corporate Banking division and as a senior relationships manager at WorldFirst.
Read more about Russell Gous
Last Edited Nov 20, 2022

What is the true cost of an international wire transfer? It depends on where you’re sending money from, where you’re sending it to and the provider you use but this is the question we seek to answer here. We highlight the bank costs for international transfers in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and the rest of the world, taking into account the advertised wire fees and the not-so-visible hidden fees which are applied in the FX markup on the exchange rate. On the whole, we can say that bank fees for international money transfers are high all over the world.

And with increasing demand, international money transfer services and currency brokers are flourishing due to their no-fee policy and superior exchange rates, boasting being the cheapest way to transfer money internationally, in UK and globally. These firms have regularly demonstrated their ability to reduce international money transfer costs. Learn about the international money transfer fees and costs associated with the major banks from your country and see how it stacks up versus other major countries around the world.

In this article we cover:

Need to Transfer Money?

 

Summary of Findings: International Money Transfer Fees with Banks

Banks inSWIFT Bank Fees (Wire)Exchange Rate MarkupAverage Exchange Rate MarkupAverage Cost on 10,000 Transfer
UK£0-£301.62%-3.55%2%£215
USA$0-$502.65%-3.64%2.75%$300
AustraliaA$0-A$302.13%-4.58%3.50%A$365
Europe€0-€1000.67%-3.04%1.25%€140
CanadaC$1.99-C$252.07%-3.3%2.50%C$265
NZNZ$15-NZ$301.64%-3.16%2.50%NZ$265

International Bank Transfer Fees UK

UK banks, like all other banks in the world, charge a combination of fixed payments costs and an exchange rate markup (i.e. the difference between the actual interbank rate and the rate offered to customers).

London and the UK is generally regarded to be the global centre of finance. Particularly when it comes to FX. Considerably more currency is traded in London than anywhere else in the world. And with the increasing pace of technological innovation, the UK has also been widely-regarded as a world-leader in fintech and neobank growth.

Since the UK was one of the first countries around the world (from as early as 1979 with Moneycorp‘s pivot into payments) to offer safe, secure and credible alternatives to banks for international wires, this appears to have had a small impact on some major UK banks lowering their international money transfer fees. UK bank transfer fees for international wires are generally lower than that of banks in other countries around the world but still significantly higher than non-bank alternatives. What’s more, the exchange rate markup that UK banks apply to personal and small business customers remains high. Customers can still stand to lose large sums of money due to wide foreign exchange margins applied by banks.

UK BankNon-SEPA Wire OnlineNon-SEPA Wire (Phone)Non-SEPA Wire (Branch)
BarclaysFree£25£25
HSBC£5£5£5
Lloyds£9.50 (+£12/£20 if opt to cover correspondent fees)£9.50 (+£12/£20 if opt to cover correspondent fees)£9.50 (+£12/£20 if opt to cover correspondent fees)
Nationwide£20N/A£20
Natwest£15£15£15
RBSStandard: Free, Urgent: £15Standard: £22, Urgent: £30Standard: £22, Urgent: £30
Santander£25£25£25

Additional International Money Transfer Fees and Costs in UK

With the exception of Lloyds international payments, the markup that UK banks apply when converting one currency to another, is not specified in either their fee information documents or their website. Hence, we refer to these as hidden fees. Whilst it’s possible to see how much the recipient will receive, the charges taken by the bank in the exchange rate and the amount lost on the transfer is opaque.

In order to calculate how much has been lost on the transfer, customers are required to make their own exchange rate margin calculations. We have sampled the margins offered by UK banks for GBPEUR, GBPUSD and one ‘exotic currency’ offered by each bank (this may differ depending on what currencies the bank offers but gives a feel for their margins on non-standard currencies). Please note these are indicative margins as per our rate sampling, i.e. comparing the live interbank rate vs the rate offered to customers of the bank at the same time. We do not commit to the accuracy of the information and we encourage readers to calculate the exchange rate margin on their own transfers. We are however confident they will get similar results to us.

BankCurrencyExchange Rate Margin
BarclaysGBPEUR2.75%
GBPUSD2.75%
GBPUGX (Ugandan Shilling)2.70%
LloydsGBPEUR3.55%
GBPUSD3.55%
GBPUGX3.55%
NationwideGBPEUR2.03%
GBPUSD1.62%
GBPUGX2.47%
Natwest / RBS*GBPEUR2.33%
GBPUSD2.23%
GBPKES (Kenya Shilling)2.63%

*Business rates – full methodology and sourcing included in footer.

Summary of Data for UK Banks

International money transfer charges were quite diverse between the pool of UK banks we sampled. Providing the transfer is made online, Barclays charges no international transfer fee whatsoever. Whereas Santander charges £25 for the same international wire to be made online. The majority of banks charged more for in-branch transfers, with RBS charging the highest bank transfer fee of £30. HSBC and Natwest were the only banks to charge a flat international payment fee. In the case of HSBC this is quite reasonable at £5 but Natwest charges a higher £15.

Of the major UK banks we tested, the foreign exchange margins were generally high across the board. Nationwide had slightly lower FX spreads than the rest, with a GBPUSD transfer incurring a margin of 1.62% and a GBPEUR incurring a margin just over 2%, and is the best bank for international transfers due to that. A pound sterling transfer to Ugandan shilling attracted a higher FX spread of 2.47% but this was still lower than the FX markup applied by other UK banks on exotic currencies. Despite Barclays charging no bank transfer charges, they take around 2.75% in the hidden costs of the exchange rate markup. Lloyds has the most uncompetitive FX spreads, starting at 3.55%, but these do lower when larger volumes are sent.

International Bank Transfer Fees USA

The US banking system is fractured and the ability to conduct international transfers depends on having the required state licensing to do so. For this reason we have focused on the most popular US banks which generally have a presence throughout the USA. Leading US banks offer convenient and safe international wires but they generally come at quite a cost, particularly if no currency conversion takes place and customers are making a USD transfer to another country.

BankInternational Wire Sent in US DollarsInternational Wire Sent in Foreign Currency
Bank of America$45$0
Chase (JPMorgan)$40/$50$5 under $5,000, $0 over $5,000
Citibank$35$35
PNC Bank$40/$45$40/$45
US Bank$50$50
Wells Fargo$30$30

Additional International Money Transfer Fees (Markups)

BankCurrencyMarkup
Bank of AmericaUSDEUR2.65%
USDGBP2.6%
USDMXN2.77%
ChaseUSDEUR3.05%
USDGBP3.25%
USDMXN3.05%
Wells FargoUSDEUR3.64%
USDGBP3.57%
USDMXN3.05%

Summary of US Bank Data

At $30, Wells Fargo charges the lowest international wire fee for USD transfers outside of America but they also charge $30 even when a currency conversion takes place and the international wire is sent in a foreign currency. Bank of America and Chase Bank charge no payment fee whatsoever when an international wire is sent in a foreign currency. US Bank applies the highest international wire fixed fee – a whopping $50 regardless of whether the transfer is sent in USD or converted to a foreign currency.

Bank of America applies the lowest exchange rate markup of the three US banks we tested. According to our analysis, they were around 0.5% cheaper than Chase on major US currencies and up to 1% cheaper than Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo applies the widest FX margins and customers stand to lose around 3.5%+ on a USD transfer to EUR or GBP. Interestingly, Wells Fargo actually proved more favourable on transfers to MXN, a traditionally more ‘exotic currency’ than euro or sterling. If we consider that Bank of America charges no fee when an international wire is sent in a foreign currency, and they apply the lowest FX spread of the banks we tested, this makes them the most competitive US bank. However, the exchange rate spreads that Bank of America applies are still higher than what can be achieved through a dedicated foreign exchange company.

Americans Happily Accept High Fees?

Below our findings from a survey we conducted at Money Transfer Comparison USA where it is demonstrated 57% of Americans, based on our sample size of 1144 respondents, believe their bank charge unreasonably high fees, but the focus is on bank loan repayments rather than international payment fees:

International Bank Transfer Fees Australia

The ‘big five banks’ – ANZ, CommonBank, Macquarie, NAB and Westpac – are easily the largest banks in Australia and, despite a growing fintech scene, still continue to process the overwhelming majority of international transfers. We cover all five of these banks and their respective international money transfer fees here. Interestingly, Macquarie Bank, which has less of a retail presence than the other four, opts to use the specialist foreign exchange company OFX to provide their retail FX services.

BankFees – Sent in AUDFees – Sent in Foreign Currency
ANZ Bank$18 / $32 in-branch<$10,000 $9, >$10,000 $0
Commonbank$22 / $30 in-branch$6 / $30 in-branch
Macquarie Bank (OFX)$15 below $10,000, >$10,000 no fees<$10,000 $15, >$10,000 $0
NAB$30 / $30 in-branch$10 / $30 in-branch
Westpac$20 / $32 in-branch$10 / $32 in-branch

Other International Money Transfer Costs Australia – Exchange Rate Markup

Australian legislation requires Australian banks to publish their current exchange rates on their website.These are the ‘standard FX rates’ applied by the bank for sending international money transfers and rates might be negotiable or improved for select customers. Positively, the information is completely open to the public and there is no requirement to register with the bank in order to view rates online.

BankCurrencyMarkup
ANZ BankAUDUSD3.25%
AUDEUR3.37%
AUDBDT4.62%
CommBankAUDUSD4.23%
AUDEUR4.35%
AUDMUR4.81%
Macquarie Bank (OFX)AUDUSD2.13%
AUDEUR2.28%
AUDPKR2.3%
NABAUDUSD2.56%
AUDEUR2.52%
AUDPKR3.8%
WestpacAUDUSD3.88%
AUDEUR3.76%
AUDPKR4.58%

Will Australian Banks Commit to Their Markups?

From our own experience with international bank fees in Australia won’t necessarily commit to the markups above. Australian banks can claim that they need to take an “extra margin” to defend themselves from volatility and actually add up to a full percentage point on top of their extremely high costs already. This information is sporadic and impossible to collate properly so we left it out of the above table, but it certainly adds even higher costs to international bank transfers from Australia.

Summary – Australia Bank Data

As a general rule, customers can expect to pay around $10 in bank transfer fees for international transfers made online. This increases to around $30 in payment fees to make transfers in-branch or over the phone. There are no international money transfer fees when sending a payment above AUD $10,000 with either ANZ or Macquaire/OFX but payments under $10,000 are charged at $9 with ANZ and $15 with Macquaire (whereas if you transfer via OFX directly through MoneyTransferComparison’s referral link there is a $0 fee policy in transfers of all sizes). Macquaire is the only provider not to penalise customers for making offline transfers – the same payment fees for international transfers apply whether you’re making these online or over the phone.

Unfortunately, the relatively low payment fees that Australian banks offer customers do not translate to low FX markups on currency exchange. To make low-value international transfers, customers can expect to lose at least 3% with ANZ and Westpac when trading major currencies and at least 4% for more exotic currencies. With CommBank, customers are looking at a significant 4%+ markup, regardless of the currency sent. Even a low-value transfer to a common currency like EUR attracted a markup of 4.35% with CommBank. Unsurprisingly, the service provided by OFX for Macquarie Bank had the lowest FX markup, with savings looking particularly preferable on transfers to exotic currencies. An AUDPKR transfer with Westpac (4.58%) attracted an FX-spread that was almost twice as high as that of OFX (2.3%).

The only surprise is that OFX rates were not much better than NAB on low-value transfers. However, based on a comparison on their currency converter tools, we could see OFX was much more competitive on large-value transfers. For example, an AUD $100,000 to USD transfer would see customers land an extra USD $1,185 with OFX when compared to NAB.

International Money Transfer Fees Europe

The introduction of the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) has drastically lowered the cost of EUR payments made between its 36 member states (which includes all EU members, plus others like the UK and Switzerland). Nowadays, non-urgent SEPA transfers are free with the overwhelming majority of European banks. ECB legislation forbids banks from charging more for EUR payments made over the SEPA network than what they would charge for domestic transfers. As most banks provide free domestic transfers to remain competitive, they provide free EUR transfers through SEPA too. There are no such rules on transfers outside of Europe or when the sending currency is not euro and European payment fees on non-EUR transfers are some of the highest in the world. Individuals sending money to the UK from Europe or to another non-EU country should proceed with caution as ECB rules do not apply and some European Banks apply high international money transfer fees for sending and receiving money between the countries.

BankSEPARest of World
BNP Paribas€0 Standard / €0.50 Urgent / €7 to Switzerland€7 – €100
Societe Generale€0 online / €1.80 in-branch0.10% of Transfer Volume, Min €26, Max €70 (+€20 to cover correspondent fees)
Deutsche Bank

Standard: €0

Urgent: €0.60

1.5% (min €10)
ABN Amro

Standard: €0 online / €16 in-branch

Urgent: €5.50 online / €21.50 in-branch

Standard: €9 online / €25 in-branch

Urgent: €18 online / €34 in-branch

ING€0€6 (+ other fees to cover correspondent fees)
Banco Sabadell€0 Standard / €0.75 Urgent0.75% (Min €22)
CaixabankStandard: €0 <€20,000, 0.4% > €20,000 (min €3.95)

Shared costs: 0.6% (min €15)

Cover costs: 0.7% (min €27)

Additional European Bank Fees for International Transfers

BankCurrencyMarkup
BNP Paribas*EURGBP1.8%
EURUSD1.9%
EURPKR1.97%
ABN AmroEURGBP0.7%
EURUSD0.67%
EURHUF1.98%
INGEURGBP0.85%
EURUSD0.85%
EURHUF0.85%
Banco SabadellEURGBP3.04%
EURUSD2.94%
EURHUF3.3%
CaixaBankEURGBP2.31%
EURUSD2.3%
EURHUF2.39%

*Corporate rates – full methodology and sourcing included in footer

Summary – European Bank Data

Standard SEPA transfers are free with all but one European bank in our research. CaixaBank levies a 0.4% variable fee on SEPA transfers above €20,000, with a minimum fee of €3.95 and no mention of a limit as to the maximum fee. Most European banks charge a minimal fee for instant SEPA transfers, which generally reach the recipient within 10 minutes. The international money transfer fees to the rest of the world varied quite significantly between banks in different countries and unlike banks in the UK, US and Australia, some European banks opt to charge a variable payment fee (i.e. a percentage of the overall transfer) in addition to the FX markup they apply to exchanging currencies. From the banks we researched, banks in the Netherlands were the only ones to apply fixed payment fees – ING keeps it nice and simple with a €6 fee no matter where you’re sending money to and the €9 fee applied by ABN Amro for online transfers is also quite reasonable. Payment fees with the French banks BNP Paribas and SocGen are extortionate but at least they are capped at €100 and €90 respectively. The Spanish banks we researched, Banco Sabadell and CaixaBank, and the German bank, Deutsche Bank, apply variable payment fees in addition to the ‘hidden’ FX markup they take. With a 0.75% payment fee applied by Banco Sabadell, a 0.6% or 0.7% fee applied by CaixaBank and an even higher 1.5% payment fee applied by Deutsche Bank, the international money transfer fees for these banks will soon start to dwarf even the high fees charged by US banks.

The dutch banks ABN Amro and ING also came in much cheaper for the more important ‘hidden costs’ which are taken in the FX markup. By bank standards, ING was very competitive across the board and ABN Amro was very competitive when trading major currencies but a euro trade to Hungarian Forint saw a markup of 1.98%. FX trades with the French bank BNP Paribas saw a markup of just under 2% on both major and exotic currencies, whilst the Spanish banks Banco Sabadell and CaixaBank saw fees of at least 2% applied, regardless of the currencies we tested. An international transfer sent in a foreign currency had an FX markup around 2.3% applied by CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell was the most expensive of all with currency conversion seeing a markup of 3%+.

International Bank Transfer Fees – Rest of the World

Of the remaining countries around the world, we also take a look at the international wire transfer fees associated with banks from Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore. All territories which have a large number of expatriates working overseas or permanent migrants who are still regularly sending money to their country of origin. Banks in Asia have long been known to take better care of their personal customers than banks in western countries and this is reflected in the fees associated with international transfers.

BankPayment Fees
RBC Royal Bank (Canada)$6 <$1,000, $10>$1,000
Scotiabank (Canada)$1.99
TD Bank (Canada)Up to $25
HSBC HK (Hong Kong)HKD50 online, HKD120 to HKD240 in-branch
ANZ New Zealand (NZ)$9 online, $28 in-branch
Bank of New Zealand (NZ)$5 online, $25 in-branch
DBS Bank (Singapore)

Online: SGD20 + SGD 5 <$5,000 /

SDG10 <$25,000 / SGD35 >$25,000

In-branch: SGD20 + 1.8%, min SGD10, max SGD120

UOB (Singapore)1.8%, min SGD10 max SGD100

Additional Fees – Rest of World

BankCurrency Markup
RBC (Canada)CADGBP2.92%
CADUSD2.07%
CADSAR3.5%
Scotiabank (Canada)CADGBP2.6%
CADUSD3.02%
CADMXN3.3%
TD Bank (Canada)CADGBP3.19%
CADUSD1.8%
CADMXN3.3%
HSBC Hong KongHKDGBP0.92%
HKDEUR0.91%
HKDTHB2.05%
ANZ New ZealandNZDAUD1.64%
NZDUSD1.86%
NZDLKR3.16%
UOB (Singapore)SGDGBP1.28%
SGDEUR1.25%
SGDINR2.31%

Summary – Rest of World Bank Fees

When looking at other countries around the world, New Zealand had some of the lowest bank transfer fees for international payments. For international transfers made online, ANZ charges $9 and the Bank of New Zealand charges an even lower $5 (equating to around £2.50). The lowest international wire transfer fee of the banks we tested was with Scotiabank in Canada at just $1.99, and whilst other Canadian banks RDC and TD Bank came in more expensive, they were not extortionate. At up to CAD$25, international bank transfer charges with TD were the highest in Canada. Online transfers with HSBC Hong Kong are charged at a pretty reasonable HKD50 and the cost of international wire transfers was highest in Singapore where online transfers with DBS could be up to SGD40 and international transfers with UOB could be as high as SGD100 (around £60).

Whilst banks in Singapore applied quite significant payment fees, the Singapore-based UOB had some of the tightest foreign exchange margins of the banks we tested around the world. Major currencies were traded in the low 1%, whilst a trade to Indian Rupee saw a wider 2.31% margin applied. HSBC in Hong Kong had the lowest FX margins of the rest-of-world banks we researched and major currencies could be traded with a markup under 1%. The notion that Asian banks look after their personal customers better than western banks is supported by the lower margins applied by Hong Kong and Singapore-based banks. The FX margins applied to major currencies were a little higher with ANZ New Zealand and were between 1.5%-2%. An FX spread over 3% was applied by ANZ for a Kiwi Dollar to Sri Lankan Rupee trade. Canadian banks were charging the widest FX margins and regularly applied FX spreads of 3%+, even on major currencies. Given their popularity, CADUSD transfers came with a lower FX markup than CAD trades to other currencies, but even these margins would see large international money transfer costs incurred.

SWIFT Transfer Fees

Another cost consideration when making an international wire are SWIFT transfer fees. SWIFT transfer fees, which can be considered a type of ‘handling fee’, relate to how the SWIFT network is operated. All banks that directly process international transfers have a panel of correspondent or intermediary banks they worth with in order to make the transfer over the SWIFT network. For example, a UK bank would have a Brazilian correspondent bank to clear BRL payments and they would work with another correspondent bank in Kenya to clear KES payments.

SWIFT transfer fees vary depending on the currencies involved in a transfer and the correspondent bank that a remitting bank uses. For this reason, the majority of banks do not take a fixed charge for SWIFT transfer fees ahead of making an international transfer, they simply provide customers with the option to pay or share the fees that correspondent/intermediary banks apply. The bank will then deduct the relevant fee which applies specifically to that currency corridor.

There are a small handful of banks who choose to take a fixed fee upfront in order to cover the SWIFT transfer fees involved. Where a bank has included this, we have made reference to them in the tables for international bank transfer charges. For example, Societe Generale charges €20 if the sender wants to cover the correspondent fees and SaixaBank charges a 0.7% fee for the sender to cover the SWIFT transfer fees, compared to a 0.6% fee if they opt to share them with the beneficiary. Where no SWIFT fees are mentioned it does not reflect the fact that this bank charges no fees for SWIFT transfers. The terms & conditions of each bank highlight that they will deduct the SWIFT transfer fees from the transfer, either from the remitter or the beneficiary.

Dedicated international money transfer companies will also encounter fees with payments made over the SWIFT network but the more established companies do look to avoid the network where possible. This could be through working with blockchain providers, making payments over their own ledger, or moving funds through their own network of bank accounts that they operate around the world, as per below.

In Action: Intermediary Bank Fees on the SWIFT Network

With SWIFT having had total domination of the international transfer industry, this caused potential inneficies; payments are generally quite slow and one of the worst things about sending international wire overseas through SWIFT is the intermediary bank fees. Intermediary bank fees happen when there’s a need for an intermediary bank to help process an international wire transfer because two banks don’t have a direct relationship with one another, as per the diagram

Each one of these arrows lead to a bank that may charge an intermediary bank fee, should their involvement be required to process an international transfer. Making the international wire more expensive than it was set out to be, and potentially leaving the recipient with less money than anticipated.

Basically, if you are a client of bank ABC and you want to send $10 to a client (your friend Joe) of the same bank, things will be very straightforward. Bank ABC will just debit your account by $10 and credit Joe’s account by $10. There will be no physical movement of money and in most cases, fees will be quasi-null. Now, in case Joe is not a client of bank ABC. Let’s assume that Joe is a client of bank XYZ. In case there is an existing relationship and agreement between your banks, the flow will work in the following way:

  1. Bank ABC will debit your account by $10
  2. Bank ABC will credit bank XYZ account by $10
  3. Bank XYZ will credit Joe’s account by $10

When banks have an agreement together, they will each have a dedicated settlement account for the other, allowing direct transfers between the two. . There could be fees applied anytime there is a new credit or debit operation. These are known as remitting bank charges and recipient bank charges. When other banks need to come into the equation, these are known as intermediary bank charges.

In cases where banks ABC and XYZ have no direct relationship, or it is an international payment and your bank doesn’t have the capabilities to clear the destination currency of your choice, there will be a need for one, or even multiple, intermediary banks to get involved. Let’s assume that Bank ABC and XYZ each have a direct relationship with bank TUV. The process will get more complex and will involve more fees and transactions as follows:

  1. Bank ABC will debit your account by $10
  2. Bank ABC will credit bank TUV’s account by $10
  3. Bank TUV will credit bank XYZ’s account by $10
  4. Bank XYZ will credit Joe’s account by $10

This process can get more complex, particularly when sending money to more remote destinations around the world.. For this reason, transfers between major banks can usually be done with minor SWIFT transfer fees, while transfers to remotely located banks involve more fees.

 

How to Avoid SWIFT Wire Transfer Fees?

There are alternatives to banks who we believe will not only provide bank-beating exchange rates and low international payment fees, but also reduce the chance of incurring SWIFT transfer fees that might be applied by intermediary or beneficiary banks throughout the online money transfer process.

When possible, these providers DO NOT to use the SWIFT protocol for international wire transfers; instead, they debit and credit their own bank accounts in different countries, as per the diagram below:

 

moneycorp-process

Similarly to a bank wire transfer, to use such a service for sending money abroad, you have to:

  • Register with the provider and pass through its KYC process.
  • Provide documentation about the source of the money and the reason for the overseas wire (per demand).
  • Know the details of your recipient i.e. know your recipient’s bank account number (IBAN, bank identifier number, and other bank details).

A Global Comparison of International Money Transfer Costs

As our research has shown, the cost of international wire transfers can vary hugely depending on the remitting bank. There are some quite significant differences in international money transfer costs between banks in the same country but some geographical patterns clearly emerge. Overall, international bank transfer charges were highest in Australia. Despite Australia having the highest level of transparency around the international money transfer costs incurred, the foreign exchange margins applied by Aussie banks came out, on average, even higher than that applied by US banks. According to our analysis, the average margin applied by Aussie banks was 3.5%, with the average largely driven up by CommBank who charged a 4%-5% margin on each currency we tested. The average margin applied by US banks was still above 3% and a number of US banks were charging expensive payment fees, in addition to a wide FX markup. An international transfer with US Bank would set customers back $50, whilst the same transfer with Bank of America was free. North of the border in Canada, payment fees were generally quite low but they too applied wide FX margins that regularly fell between 2.5%-3.5% on the currencies we tested.

Other notable mentions for high FX markups include the UK and Spain. Not only were the FX margins applied by the Spanish banks we tested high, these were supported by high variable payment fees that would also be calculated as a percentage of the total transfer volume. Payment fees in the UK were generally lower but there are many alternatives in the country offering fee-free international transfers. The transparency around FX margins in France and Germany was poor and the only exchange rates we could find from any bank in either country was the corporate FX rates supplied by the French bank BNP Paribas. This suggests their FX margins were lower than that of UK and Spanish banks, but it’s generally known that corporates have access to more favourable margins than retail clients as they tend to make higher-value and more frequent international transfers.

The banks in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Netherlands proved the cheapest when taking into account all of the international money transfer costs incurred. By European standards, the Netherlands was the cheapest by quite some way. The payment fees were quite low, ABN Amro charged €9 whilst ING charged €6, but where they excelled most was with the low FX markups they applied on currency exchange. These ‘hidden fees’ were under 1% on the major currencies we tested, something no other banks in Europe were able to demonstrate. ABN Amro was less competitive when trading exotic currencies. The payment fees applied by banks in Singapore was quite high but they generally applied an FX markup in the low 1% range when converting one currency to another. The payment fees for HSBC Hong Kong were HKD50, which works out at around £5, the same as what the bank charges in the UK, so it’s good to see some consistency around the world. Margins a little under 1% were also possible with HSBC Hong Kong when trading major currencies, however, we have reason to believe HSBC UK is much less competitive on its FX markups and charges around 3.5% on smaller transfers.

Best Bank for International Transfers

In Europe, ING regularly applied the lowest FX margins in our testing and had a straightforward international payment fee of €6, no matter how the transfer was made.

Hong Kong residents are fortunate that a number of banks in the city apply low foreign exchange spreads. We opted to include HSBC Hong Kong in our analysis given their multinational presence but it seems like other banks in the area are just as competitive. The HSBC multi-currency account provides a rounded solution for individuals looking to move money between their own accounts. However, there are a number of non-bank alternatives that offer the same functionality with lower FX markups.

Bank Alternatives Offer Lower Fees

When making overseas payments, it is always worth comparing the total international money transfer costs incurred through your provider with other banks and non-bank providers. It pays to get familiar with the providers who offer the best exchange rates for bank transfers when they’re large and the providers who offer the best rate when they’re small. The same applies to currency pairs, one provider might prove cheaper when buying euros, whilst another is better when buying US dollars.

An international money transfer fee calculator is a quick way to compare international bank transfer charges with non-bank alternatives. The general rule of thumb is that dedicated international money transfer companies charge no payment fees to private clients and take a smaller foreign exchange markup than banks. On the rare occasion bank transfer fees for international transfers are smaller, a simple rate comparison will show this and ensure an informed decision is made. There is a huge group of international money transfer services providing bank-beating exchange rates in the UK, there are a large number of international money transfer services in Australia providing lower FX markups, and there are a handful of excellent international money transfer services in USA and Canada (predominantly the same companies across N. America) who offer lower international wire transfer fees for individuals and SMEs.

We have also created guides for specific destinations such as transfers from Spain to UK, USA to UK and France to UK.

Source / Methodology

The FX margins calculated in this guide are for informational purposes only. They are indicative margins and should not be considered as factual. Rates may differ depending on the account type, the size of the international transfer and a number of other factors. The data was collected in September 2022 and the methodology on how the FX margins were calculated is available below. We have endeavoured to find the most up-to-date information from each bank with respect to their international bank transfer charges and all sources are available here.

UK

HSBC Fees: www.hsbc.co.uk/content/dam/hsbc/gb/pdf/personal-banking-terms-conditions.pdf

Barclays Fees: https://www.barclays.co.uk/ways-to-bank/international-payments/

Lloyds Fees: www.lloydsbank.com/online-banking/benefits-online-banking/international-payments.html

Nationwide Fees: https://www.nationwide.co.uk/help/payments/transfer-limits-and-timescales/#international-payments

Natwest Fees: https://www.natwest.com/business/support-centre/making-and-accepting-payments/electronic-payments/international-transfers.html#cost

RBS Fees: https://www.rbs.co.uk/current-accounts/rates-and-charges.html

Santander Fees: https://www.santander.co.uk/assets/s3fs-public/documents/everyday_current_account_fee_information_document_may20.pdf

Barclays Exchange Rates: Barclays Online Banking:

  • GBPEUR 1.1252 (Barclays) / 1.1570 (Interbank)
  • GBPUSD 1.1250 (Barclays)  / 1.1568 (Interbank)
  • GBPUGX 4293 (Barclays) / 4,412.17 (Interbank)

Lloyds Exchange Rates: www.lloydsbank.com/online-banking/benefits-online-banking/international-payments.html:

  1. 0 – £10,000 (3.55%)
  2. £10,000 – £50,000 (3.55% – 2.40%)
  3. £50,000 – £100,000 (2.40% – 2.10%)
  4. £100,000 – £250,000 (2.10% – 1.50%)
  5. £250,000 and above (1.50%)

Nationwide Exchange Rates: https://www.nationwide.co.uk/help/payments/foreign-exchange-rates/

  • GBPEUR 1.1294 (Nationwide opening) / 1.1528 (Interbank opening)
  • GBPUSD 1.1305 (Nationwide opening) / 1.1492 (Interbank opening)
  • GBPUGX 4307 (Nationwide opening) / 4416.14 (Interbank opening)

Natwest Exchange Rates: https://www.natwest.com/global/commercial-currency-rates.html (SME Rates)

  • GBPEUR 1.1259 (Natwest opening) / 1.1528 (Interbank opening)
  • GBPUSD 1.1236 (Natwest opening) / 1.1492 (Interbank opening)
  • GBPKES 134.69 (Natwest opening) / 138.33 (Interbank opening)

RBS Exchange Rates: https://www.rbs.co.uk/global/commercial-currency-rates.html (SME Rates)

USA

Bank of America Fees: https://www.bankofamerica.com/foreign-exchange/wire-transfer/

Citibank Fees: https://online.citi.com/US/JRS/pands/detail.do?ID=WireTransfers

JPMorgan Chase: https://www.chase.com/content/dam/chase-ux/documents/personal/checking/ABSF-en.pdf

PNC Bank: https://www.pnc.com/content/dam/pnc-com/pdf/personal/Checking/service-charges-standard-checking-A.pdf

US Bank: https://answers.usbank.com/answers/s/article/How-much-does-a-wire-transfer-cost

Wells Fargo: https://www.wellsfargo.com/online-banking/transfer-pay/comparison-chart/

US Bank Exchange Rates – Sourced from Wise https://wise.com/us/compare/

Bank of America

  • USDEUR: (BoA) 0.976625 / (Interbank) 1.00320
  • USDGBP: (BoA) 0.855481 / (Interbank) 0.878310
  • USDMXN: (BoA) 19.5291 / (Interbank) 20.0855

Chase

  • USDEUR: (Chase) 0.972560 / (Interbank) 1.00320
  • USDGBP: (Chase) 0.849730 / (Interbank) 0.878310
  • USDMXN: (Chase) 19.4721 / (Interbank) 20.0855

Wells Fargo

  • USDEUR: (Wells Fargo) 0.966651 / (Interbank) 1.00320
  • USDGBP: (Wells Fargo) 0.846953 / (Interbank) 0.878310
  • USDMXN: (Wells Fargo) 19.3451 / (Interbank) 20.0855

Australia

ANZ Fees https://www.anz.com.au/personal/travel-international/international-payments/

ANZ Exchange Rates: https://www.anz.com.au/personal/travel-international/currency-converter/

  • AUDUSD: (ANZ) 0.6488 / 0.6706 (Interbank)
  • AUDEUR: (ANZ) 0.6475 / 0.6701 (Interbank)
  • AUDBDT: (ANZ) 66.18 / 69.39 (Interbank)

CommBank Fees: https://www.commbank.com.au/international/fees-charges.html

CommBank Exchange Rates: https://www.commbank.com.au/international/foreign-exchange-calculator.html

  • AUDUSD: (CommBank) 0.6414 / 0.6697 (Interbank)
  • AUDEUR: (CommBank) 0.6405 / 0.6696 (Interbank)
  • AUDMUR: (CommBank) 27.88 / 29.29 (Interbank)

 

NAB Fees: https://www.nab.com.au/personal/travel-and-overseas-banking/transfer-money-overseas/additional-information

NAB Exchange Rates: https://www.nab.com.au/personal/travel-and-overseas-banking/foreign-exchange-rates

  • AUDUSD: (NAB) 0.6534 / 0.6706 (Interbank)
  • AUDEUR: (NAB) 0.6531 / 0.6700 (Interbank)
  • AUDPKR: (NAB) 152.97 / 159.01 (Interbank)

Westpac Fees: https://www.westpac.com.au/international-travel/international-transfers/send-money/

Westpac Exchange Rates: https://www.westpac.com.au/personal-banking/services/currency-converter/

  • AUDUSD: (Westpac) 0.6442 / 0.6702 (Interbank)
  • AUDEUR: (Westpac) 0.6443 / 0.6695 (Interbank)
  • AUDPKR: (Westpac) 151.51 / 158.78 (Interbank)

Europe

BNP Paribas Payment Fees: https://www.bnpparibasfortis.be/rsc/contrib/document/1-Website/5-Docserver/BNP/F01604F.pdf

Societe Generale Fees: https://particuliers-societegenerale-fr.translate.goog/tous-nos-tarifs?_x_tr_sl=fr&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc

Deutsche Bank: https://www.deutsche-bank.de/dam/deutschebank/de/shared/pdf/List-of-Prices-and-Services-Deutsche-Bank-AG.pdf

ABN Amro Fees: https://www.abnamro.nl/en/personal/payments/fees/transferring-and-receiving-funds.html

ING Fees: https://www.ing.nl/particulier/betalen/buitenland/buitenland-betaling/wereldbetaling/index.html

Banca Sabadell Fees: https://www.bancsabadell.com/cs/Satellite/SabAtl/Cuenta-Sabadell/1191346505022/en/:

  • +3% markup on currency conversion specified as the general charge in the fee information document

 

CaixaBank Fees:

https://www.caixabank.es/deployedfiles/particulares/Estaticos/pdf/HolaBank/20210419_HolaBank_ing.pdf

+2.5% markup on currency conversion specified as the general charge in the fee information document

BNP Paribas Exchange Rates (Corporate FX Rates): https://www.bnpparibas.co.uk/en/corporate-institutional/live-currency-rates-for-the-united-kingdom/

  • EURGBP: (BNP) 0.8599 / 0.8756 (Interbank)
  • EURUSD: (BNP) 0.9797 / 0.9986 (Interbank)
  • EURPKR (BNP) 233.92 / 238.63 (Interbank)

Other European Bank Exchange Rates – Sourced from Wise https://wise.com/us/compare/?sourceCurrency=EUR&targetCurrency=GBP&sendAmount=1000

ABN Amro:

  • EURGBP: (ABN) 0.86576 / 0.8718 (Interbank)
  • EURUSD: (ABN) 0.98116 / 0.98775 (Interbank)
  • EURHUF: (ABN) 399.178 / 407.235 (Interbank)

ING:

  • EURGBP: (ING) 0.86439 / 0.8718 (Interbank)
  • EURUSD: (ING) 0.979354 / 0.98775 (Interbank)
  • EURHUF:  (ING) 403.773 / 407.235 (Interbank)

Banca Sabadell:

  • EURGBP: (Sabadell) 0.845268 / 0.8718 (Interbank)
  • EURUSD: (Sabadell) 0.958747 / 0.98775 (Interbank)
  • EURHUF: (Sabadell) 393.818 / 407.235 (Interbank)

CaixaBank:

  • EURGBP: (CaixaBank) 0.851621 / 0.8718 (Interbank)
  • EURUSD: (CaixaBank) 0.965079 / 0.98775 (Interbank)
  • EURHUF: (CaixaBank) 397.485 / 407.235 (Interbank)

Rest of World

RBC Bank: https://www.rbcroyalbank.com/banking-services/international-money-transfer.html

TD Bank: https://www.tdcanadatrust.com/document/PDF/accounts/802234.pdf

Scotiabank: https://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/personal/ways-to-bank/international-money-transfer.html#:~:text=How%20much%20does%20it%20cost,Transfer%20Agreement%20on%20our%20website.

HSBC – Hong Kong: https://www.hsbc.com.hk/transfer-payments/products/international/

ANZ New Zealand: https://www.anz.co.nz/personal/migrants-travel-foreign-exchange/international-banking/international-money-transfers/#:~:text=Pay%20an%20ANZ%20fee%20of,goMoney%20and%20ANZ%20Internet%20Banking.

Bank of New Zealand: https://www.bnz.co.nz/support/rates-and-fees/essentials/service-fees#int

DBS Bank: https://www.dbs.com.sg/personal/default.page

UOB Group: https://www.uobgroup.com/uobgroup/rates/remittance-fees-outward.page?s_pid=HOME201205_eg_quicklnk_ql6

Rest of World Exchange Rates https://wise.com/us/compare/

RBC:

  • CADGBP: (RBC) 0.637812 / 0.657001 (Interbank)
  • CADUSD: (RBC) 0.728206 / 0.743605 (Interbank)
  • CADSAR: (RBC) 2.70314 / 2.80125 (Interbank)

Scotiabank:

  • CADGBP: (Scotiabank) 0.639895 / 0.657001 (Interbank)
  • CADUSD: (Scotiabank) 0.721139 / 0.743605 (Interbank)
  • CADMXN: (Scotiabank) 14.2688 / 14.7814 (Interbank)

TD Bank:

  • CADGBP: (TD) 0.636046 / 0.657001 (Interbank)
  • CADUSD: (TD) 0.729898 / 0.743246 (Interbank)
  • CADMXN: (TD) 14.2932 / 14.7814 (Interbank)

HSBC Hong Kong:

  • HKDGBP: (HSBC) 0.112169 / 0.113212 (Interbank)
  • HKDEUR: HSBC) 0.128272 / 0.129456 (Interbank)
  • HKDTHB: HSBC) 4.66072 / 4.75830 (Interbank)

ANZ New Zealand:

  • NZDAUD: (ANZ) 0.867205 / 0.881646 (Interbank)
  • NZDUSD: (ANZ) 0.576285 / 0.587200 (Interbank)
  • NZDLKR: (ANZ) 204.617 / 211.284 (Interbank)

UOB (Singapore):

  • SGDGBP: (UOB) 0.615354 / 0.623358 (Interbank)
  • SGDEUR: (UOB) 0.705833 / 0.714782 (Interbank)
  • SGDINR: (UOB) 55.7764 / 57.0958 (Interbank)