BMO International Money Transfer: Fees, Rates and Transfer Times

Diane Rekker

If you’re sending or receiving an international wire transfer, maybe as a gift for family and friends, or to cover overseas travel costs, you’ll want to check out the transfer fees and bank charges involved.

This guide covers all you need to know about the process and costs to send money internationally with BMO. We will also talk a little about an alternative way of transferring money, using Wise for convenient, safe and low cost international payments. Let’s get started.

In this article we'll talk about:

A quick comparison between Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Wise, for a transfer of 1000 CAD to USD, to a recipient in the US. Read on after that for the full information about international money transfers with BMO.

Service BMO Wise
Fees The fee for a BMO wire payment consists of a communication charge + wire charges³
  • Communication charge CA$10
  • Wire charges: 0.20% of the payment amount (min $15 - max $125)
The fee for a payment with Western Union via BMO is $9 + 1% of the amount
The fee consists of a fee for your chosen payment method + a payment fee. For this payment (all amounts in CA$):
  • Direct Debit: $2.58
  • Domestic Wire: $5.50
  • Bill Payment: $5.50
  • Debit card: $20.09
  • Credit card: $26.29
Payment fee: $9.03
Exchange rate The bank’s / Western Union’s rate of the day⁵ The mid-market exchange rate
Intermediary/receiving bank fees Possibly, yes³ No

Fees checked on Nov 12, 2019

Wise is different to banks. With its smart technology of connecting local bank accounts all around the world, you can easily skip hefty international transfer fees. That means you can save on bank fees by using Wise rather than your bank, when you send your money abroad.

Check out how to make your first transfer with Wise. And give it a try.

Create your free Wise account, today


How can you make an international money transfer with BMO?

BMO customers have a couple of different options when it comes to making an international payment. You can either work with BMO’s partner Western Union, or visit a branch to set up a transfer via BMO’s own branch services¹.

It’s worth noting the services described here are for BMO’s standard personal accounts. If you have a BMO Harris US dollar account and need to send money back to your Canadian account, you might have other options - check out the account terms and fee schedule for more information.

Western Union payments

BMO offer online international payments through a partnership with Western Union. To use this service you’ll need to log into your online banking as normal, and follow the steps outlined. You’ll be able to send money to over 200 countries and territories thanks to the Western Union network and agent offices throughout the world².

Using an online Western Union payment may be more convenient than visiting a BMO branch, but you could pay extra for the luxury. Check out the costs, detailed below, and don’t forget to compare the services available from BMO with other providers such as Wise. More on that in a moment.

In branch international wire transfers

If you don’t want to use Western Union, BMO can also set up an international wire transfer for you if you visit one of their branches. You’ll need to provide the recipient’s name, address and account details including information about their own bank branch².

It’s helpful to know that the fees charged are different for Western Union payments compared with in branch wire transfers arranged by BMO. It’s worth comparing the fee structures, which vary significantly, as well as the exchange rates used for the payment, and checking which works best for your payment.

What are the fees for an international money transfer with BMO?

Here’s all you need to know about the costs of arranging international payments through BMO.

Service BMO fee
Western Union outward payments¹ CA$9 + 1% of the transaction value
Wire transfers arranged via a BMO branch³ CA$10 communication charge + 0.20% of the transaction value (minimum charge CA$15 - CA$125 maximum) You could also be charged additional fees connected to the SWIFT network.
Incoming international payments³ CA$14

We mention the possibility of SWIFT fees in the table above. These costs can come as a surprise to customers arranging international payments, as it’s hard to know exactly what you may be charged. Here’s what BMO say about these costs³:

“Other financial institutions may have associated fees for incoming and outgoing wire transfers.”

The SWIFT network is commonly used to process international payments, but it relies on a series of banks working together to move your money. Each bank can then deduct a handling fee from the payment as they process it, which may mean your recipients gets less than you expect them to in the end.

Not all international payment providers use the SWIFT network. Wise, for example, use a different approach to avoid SWIFT costs on most payments. All transfers are made using the mid-market exchange rate, and there’s just a small transparent fee to pay. Check out the costs of your payment with Wise, to see if you can save money.

What is the BMO exchange rate for your international money transfer?

When you arrange your international payment you’ll be able to see the exchange rate being applied - either through online banking if you’re using Western Union, or by asking a member of the branch staff if you’re using BMO’s own service. BMO do publish indicative rates online, but it’s worth noting that these are for customers buying travel money, and don’t necessarily apply to international payments⁴.

Once you know the exchange rate you’ll be offered by BMO or Western Union, take a moment to compare it to the mid-market rate, which you can find with a Google search or using an online currency converter.

The mid-market exchange rate is the one banks buy currency at themselves, but they may add a markup or margin to calculate the rate they pass onto their customers. Western Union mention in their Terms and conditions⁵:

”In addition to the Transfer Fees applicable to this transaction, a currency exchange rate will be applied to this transaction. Canadian currency is converted to foreign currency at an exchange rate set by Western Union. Any difference between the rate given to You and the rate received by Western Union will be kept by Western Union (and its Agents in some cases) in addition to the Transfer Fees.”

Check out the costs of your transfer, and the exchange rates available at Wise. International payments with Wise use the mid-market exchange rate, and can be set up online for convenience. In addition to making your international money transfers, you can also get yourself a multi-currency borderless account. With this account you can not only make international payments, and hold over 40 different currencies, you can also receive local payments in GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, NZD and PLN - a convenient option if you need to make or receive regular cross border payments.

Sign up for Wise, and get started


How long can an international transfer with BMO take?

You’ll be advised of the time it’s likely to take to process your payment when you set it up. The time taken will depend on the service you use, the currency and the location you’re sending to.

How can you contact BMO customer service?

Get in touch with BMO’s customer service team using any of the following options⁶:

  • Call for help over the phone, on 1-844-837-9228 (Canada)
  • Send a message using Twitter or Facebook
  • Find your local branch using the branch locator tool⁷, and make an appointment or call in to talk to a team member

There’s also a helpful FAQ section available online which answers many of the more common questions you might have.

Before you decide to use BMO’s branch service or Western Union option to make an international payment, compare the costs and exchange rates available from Wise. It’ll only take a moment to model your payment - and you could find you save yourself money.

Sources used for this article:
1.BMO banking services, main page
2.BMO sending and receiving money, pdf
3.BMO Agreements, Bank Plans and Fees for Everyday Banking, pdf (page 12)
4.BMO exchange rates for over the counter cash exchange
5.Western Union terms and conditions
6.BMO contact page
7.BMO branch locator
*All sources checked on Nov 12, 2019

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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