A wire transfer is a method of sending money to someone at another bank domestically or internationally through a service such as the Federal Reserve Wire Network.
Wires are one of the most expensive ways to transfer money, because banks generally charge outgoing wire transfer fees. Some banks and accounts may even charge for incoming wire transfers.
Domestic outgoing wire transfer fees average about $26 and outgoing international wire fees average $42.
Average wire transfer fees
Wire transfer fees typically range from $0 to $50.
Domestic outgoing wire transfer fees typically range from $0 to $35, while international outgoing wire transfer fees are usually $35-50.
What you need to know about wire transfers
Wire transfer fees exist in part because there’s a cost to send money between banks. But wire transfer fees are also a source of revenue for banks, similar to the monthly maintenance fees charged on checking and savings accounts.
A domestic wire could arrive in a few hours or a few days. Sending a wire on a weekend or on a weekday after the wire deadline can affect the speed of a wire. Also, providing incorrect information for the wire transfer can cause delays.
International wires typically take one to two business days if the wire is sent before the bank’s deadline, according to Bank of America, but they could take longer.
Making a down payment on a house, funding a brokerage account, settling tax bills, paying school tuition or sending money quickly to family or friends are all common situations for using a wire transfer to get funds into the hands of another person or entity.
Average wire transfer fees by bank
Banks tend to charge similar fees for sending outgoing wire transfers, but they vary from bank to bank.
For instance, Fidelity, a brokerage, doesn’t charge a wire transfer fee, while some banks, such as Citi, may waive the fee for customers who have certain types of accounts. Other banks, such as Chase or PNC Bank, may have a lower wire transfer fee for sending a wire online.
Wire transfer fees by financial institution
|Bank||Incoming domestic||Outgoing Domestic||Incoming international||Outgoing international|
|Bank of America||$15||$30||$16||$35*-$45**|
|Capital One||Up to $15||Up to $30||Up to $15||$40/$50‡|
|Citi*****||Up to $15||Up to $25||Up to $15||Up to $35|
†Includes the average of the highest fee in each category at each bank.
*Sent in foreign currency.
**Sent in U.S. dollars.
‡$40 for international wires sent in foreign currency and $50 for international wires sent in USD.
***$35 in a branch and $25 on Chase’s website.
****Wires of $5,000 or more have no fee if they’re sent online in a foreign currency. Wires of $5,000 or less have a $5 fee when sent online.
***** For online wires.
††$30 for customer service assisted wires and $25 for self-service wires.
‡‡$45 for customer service assisted wires and $40 for self-service wires.
Avoid wire transfer fees
Here are some strategies for avoiding wire transfer fees:
- Select a financial institution or account that waives wire transfer fees.
- Use a payment or money transfer app to send money for free.
- Send a check (if time permits).
- Send money using online bill pay, possibly for free.
- Initiate a wire transfer through a checking, money market or savings account.
Check with your bank to see what accounts you can wire money from. Not all accounts — even some checking accounts might not allow wires. For instance, the Chase First Checking account doesn’t allow check writing or incoming or outgoing wire transfers.
Look for discounts
Chase and PNC Bank both offer discounts for sending wires online yourself, without the assistance of a customer service representative.
Shop for the best rate
Consumers who expect to frequently wire money to others may want to compare wire transfer fees before opening a bank account. Also, consider other forms of less expensive payments and transfers, including digital payment apps, such as Zelle, Venmo or PayPal.
Which bank offers the lowest fees?
Many of the financial institutions on Bankrate’s list are available to consumers nationwide, so it’s easy to shop around to find the best deal. But many consumers might not be able to meet the requirements to get the lowest fee at a particular bank. Citigold Private Client, for example, requires a combined balance of $1 million or more in linked accounts to waive wire fees.
Can I get a lower fee for online vs. in-person transfers?
It’s possible. Some banks may offer a discount for initiating wire transfers on the bank website. Check with your bank to see if sending a wire yourself will save you money, but having a banker help may be beneficial with complex wires or when wiring a lot of money.
What if the receiver doesn’t have an account at a receiving bank?
Generally, you’re able to send wire transfers to people with accounts at other banks.
Does the recipient pay a fee?
Some banks charge incoming wire transfer fees, which might be waived depending on the type of account held at the bank.
These days, wire transfers aren’t the only fast way to send or transfer money. Your bank may offer Zelle or people use apps and services such as PayPal, Venmo and Wise.
Compare the fees of these apps and services with wire transfer fees. Generally, wire transfers are more expensive than using a service like PayPal, Venmo, Wise or Zelle. But wire transfers often send money faster than apps, or transferring services or websites.
Western Union’s website, for instance, lets you see an estimated quote of the fees being charged for a potential transfer. Seeing the fees should help you decide whether this option is better for you than sending a bank wire.
Third-party services offer these benefits over wire transfers:
- Potentially low or no transaction fees.
- May be easier to use then logging on to a bank website or going into a branch.
- May transfer money more quickly than a wire transfer.
- Provide a deadline for instant transfers that apps such as Venmo don’t offer (wires usually have a cut-off time during banking days) and the ability to transfer money on weekends and holidays.
Third-party services do have some downsides compared with wire transfers:
- May be slower than sending money via a wire transfer.
- May require consumers to sign up for another service instead of using existing bank services rather than consolidating your banking.
- May charge a fee for instant transfers. An app, such as Venmo, may have a fee for instant transfers.
- May have transfer limits. A wire initiated with a banker usually won’t have limits, as long as you have the funds available in your account.
Additionally, PayPal, Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Zelle (owned by Early Warning Services) have been the subject of consumer complaints, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database.
Free wire transfers
You might be able to send free domestic wire transfers.
Certain financial institutions or types of bank accounts may not charge for domestic wire transfers. The Citigold Private Client account, for example, waives domestic and international wire fees. Fidelity offers free wire transfers, and Schwab waives its wire fee on up to three domestic wire transfers initiated online per quarter for clients with $100,000 or more in household balances.