In this guide, I will explain the best way to transfer money from Israel to the USA.
As an Israeli myself, a lot of this comes from first-hand experience.
Additionally, as the managing director of Money Transfer Comparison, this guide takes into account a broad view of both Israeli and non-Israeli international money transfer companies.
Which currency is used in Israel?
The currency used in Israel is the Israeli Shekel (ILS).
However, for an Israeli individual who does a lot of international business or international investing, it’s somewhat common to have a bank account denominated in USD, and to a lesser extent EUR.
Similarly, most international businesses in Israel have bank accounts in multiple currencies with their Israeli bank.
However, this article focuses mainly on ILS-USD transfers.
Currency Exchange Rates
ILS to USD
Current Rate: 0.2685 USD
Estimated Bank Rate (2.5% markup): 0.2618 USD
Provider Rate (0.6%): 0.2669 USD
Indicative rates only. 2.5% was applied as the bank margin and 0.6% as the provider rates, but we don’t guarantee either.
USD to ILS
Current Rate: 3.7247 ILS
Estimated Bank Rate (2.5% markup): 3.6315 ILS
Provider Rate (0.6%): 3.7023 ILS
Indicative rates only. 2.5% was applied as the bank margin and 0.6% as the provider rates, but we don’t guarantee either.
What Options are There to Send Money From Israel to the USA?
One way to transfer money from Israel internationally (and still the most common method as of 2023) is through Israeli banks.
Each of the major 5 banks in Israel support international money transfers to many countries, with this guide focusing on the USA as it’s the most popular destination. You can also send money from Israel abroad, to any country in the world, using a service like PayPal.
Additionally, one uncommon but wallet-friendly way to transfer money from Israel is through a handful of commercial money transfer companies licensed and regulated in Israel.
We believe that using a money transfer company is the best way to transfer money from Israel for most use-cases.
How to Transfer Money from Israel? (4-Step Process)
Step 1: Choose your Provider
The following are the best 4 ways (services) to transfer money to and from Israel.
They all support international money transfers to Israel, but only Covercy can on-board Israeli clients.
Those looking to send money from the USA to Israel, can choose from any of the other 3 providers (excluding Covercy), so have slightly more choice than those trying to send money from Israel.
Why consider a bank alternative when transferring money from Israel?
When transferring money from Israel internationally, banks can be inconsistent and occasionally very expensive. It all depends on the terms that you have negotiated with your bank.
To break it down, Israeli banks like Leumi, Ha’Poalim and Mizrahi would normally charge a fixed fee for each transfer from Israel abroad.
That fee ranges around 200 shekels per transfer by default (which amounts to $50-60 depending on the current exchange rate).
That is a higher transfer fee than what is charged by any British, European, American or Australian bank that we have tested (including NatWest in the UK and CommonWealth in Australia, who are both notoriously expensive for international payments).
On top of that, Israeli banks still typically charge an additional “commission”, which is a percentage of the total amount transferred.
While the commission is normally fairly low, around 0.2% , it’s just another layer of payment fee that doesn’t exist in most other places around the world.
Additionally, Israeli banks charge a hidden markup in the currency exchange that is literally impossible to determine before you have an account with the bank (and even then you really have to know what you’re doing to understand all the costs).
That currency exchange markup by default can be as high as 2% on its own.
In other words, in many cases, Israeli banks are an extremely expensive option for sending money from Israel to the USA (or anywhere else in the world).
With that being said, Israeli banks are known to be open to negotiating customers terms and international transfer fees from Israel, as well as other banking fees.
How much power the customer has in that negotiation ultimately boils down to the amount they’re looking to transfer and how important of a customer the bank deems them to be.
Larger customers with more assets and a better banking relationship are likely to get a reduction of up to 80% off the cost of transferring money from Israel.
In fact, business clients and HNW can secure margins as low as 0.1% or 0.2%, which beats almost any money transfer provider in the world.
With the knowledge that using an Israeli bank might not be your cheapest option, plus having been introduced to money transfer providers like Covercy as an alternative, you are now better positioned to decide who to use for your money transfer.
Step 2: Register With Your Service of Choice
When you register with a new financial service provider, you will have to prove your identity, a process often referred to as ‘Know Your Customer’.
You will provide details about yourself and perhaps the source of your funds.
This is a requirement for payment companies and banks across the globe to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations, which vary from country to country.
You can find more details on the KYC process here.
Reviewing this article is still a worthwhile process, despite its focus on the UK, EU, and Australia.
By registering from Israel, some providers may deem your application as high-risk, requiring you to complete ‘Enhanced Due Diligence’ checks.
The process exists to contribute to a more secure and safer market for yourself and others.
Remember, it only has to be completed once, so this should not put you off registering with a new provider.
Signing up to who you believe to be the best provider will likely lead to great savings and better service, so it is certainly worth it.
Step 3: Format the Details of Your Israel-US Wire Transfer
Once registration with your chosen provider is complete, you are now authorised to trade.
To begin setting up your transfer, the next step is requesting your beneficiary’s bank details.
It’s important these are collected and entered correctly, so, if possible, request a copy of an official bank letter from your beneficiary with these details included.
Mitigating any mistakes at this stage not only helps to avoid unnecessarily delays, but also protects you from accidentally sending money to the wrong US bank account.
To send money from Israel to a US bank account you must provide the following details:
- Full legal name of the beneficiary account and address
- Bank, branch number, and sometimes address of branch
- Account number
- Your beneficiary bank’s SWIFT code
The SWIFT code format is simple and consists of 11 digits.
The first 4 letters represent the bank code in the USA.
The next two letters will always be US (which stands for USA)
The following two digits stand for location.
Finally, the last 3 digits are the branch code (where XXX stands for the head office).
If the SWIFT code you have has only 8 digits, it refers to the bank’s primary office.
Then, either input the amount of Israeli Shekel (ILS) you want to convert, or the USD amount you want your beneficiary to receive.
Step 4: Settle Your Deal and Wait For Your Funds to Hit the USA Account
To fund the deal and settle your trade, your provider will supply the details of their local bank account, along with any payment reference details to include.
Whilst Israel-USA transfers are sometimes faster, it’s best to allow for 1-4 business days.
Entering your payment reference correctly helps to speed up this process, so take care when finalising your transfer.
What Are the Most Popular Reasons to Send Money from Israel?
Relative to the size of the country and its economy, there is a large number of outbound money transfer transactions from Israel to other locations across the globe.
Below you can find the popular use-cases in which money is being sent from an Israeli bank account abroad:
Business payments: as Israel is quite a small country, it is heavily reliant on international service providers. Making a payment to an American company that includes a ILSUSD currency exchange is a very common use-case.
Personal payments: Israel imports more than $46bn worth of goods. Again, it’s the economy of size that forces it to import heavily.
As large Israeli importers are known to take excessive margins, many Israelis resort to buying directly from abroad. It’s a big enough business that e-commerce giant Amazon decided to expand into Israel in 2019.
While many overseas payments from Israel are completed with a credit card or through an e-wallet like PayPal, large payments may be made with a bank wire from an Israeli bank account.
Relatives abroad: Jewish families are known for their close ties, even if parts of the family reside across the ocean. Transferring money to the USA is quite often for family related purposes.
Political instability: “Judicial reforms” by an extremist government threaten to decimate the banking sector and with it the economy. After a sustained period that saw the ILS strengthening, these reforms, combined with the sad increased occurrence of war, has seen the ILS on the backfoot since the summer of 2022.
This continues to cause an increased outflow of funds from Israel abroad, and particularly from Israel to the USA, as some American brokers are happy to onboard Israeli customers.
The proposed reform will enable the government to have full control of the high court of justice, raising fears among international companies and international investors that it will turn Israel totalitarian.
Among the proposed laws by the government are a private army reporting directly to a minister titled “Minister of Chaos” (as reported by the New Yorker).
Transferring money out of Israel for cheap in a timely manner may increase in popularity as long as this issue is not resolved.
The recent developments on Israel’s war with Hamas, only contribute to greater uncertainty, which may well continue to drive international transfers to the USA.
Multi-Currency Accounts in Israel
In Israel, most banks offer multi-currency accounts “free of charge” for the majority of their customers making it easy to receive, hold and transfer money internationally.
Unlike the UK and the U.S, where many banks won’t let you hold foreign currencies, Israeli banks – based on the dynamically international nature of Israeli residents – have no problem with it.
The problem is, as mentioned earlier in this article, the exchange rates that are applied when you want to exchange various currencies.
It’s easy to get hit with as much as 2% in FX markup, on top of the fixed costs for a currency exchange!Israeli credit card company Max has recently announced it will enable holding multiple currencies for its credit card holders, with no extra charge for both receiving and sending foreign currency and no hidden fees.
When we break down the costs, it seems like their USD to ILS margins are at 1.6% which can be significant when it comes to a large currency exchange in Israel.
Therefore, those that specifically require a provider offering a multi currency account are limited to choosing an Israeli bank or Max, who are likely the slightly cheaper option.
Final thoughts: Sending Money to the USA from Israel
While Israeli nationals certainly have less choice, this should not deter customers from considering a company like Coverly to send their money to the USA.
Claiming to offer bank-beating fx rates and charging a $15 fixed fee for ILSUSD transfers, means that you could stand to make huge savings compared to a bank.
High net worth individuals and those looking to transfer large amounts may be able to negotiate the FX rate and associated fees with their Israeli bank.
Either way, it’s always worth exploring your options and weighing up the potential benefits of moving away from your existing bank.
Consider registering with a new provider that might better suit your needs and allow you to make significant savings on your international transfers.
Sending Money From / To
View all routes on our sending money abroad guide