National Bank (NBC) International Money Transfer: Fees, Rates and Time

Diane Rekker

If you need to send international wire transfers to make payments to family and friends abroad, or cover overseas costs for travel or business, you want to find the best possible deal out there.

There are always charges involved when sending or receiving foreign currency payments, so understanding the transfer fees and bank charges you’re likely to encounter is crucial.

This guide covers all you need to know about transferring money abroad with National Bank. We’ll also offer an alternative service for comparison - Wise.

Wise international payments are made using the mid-market exchange rate, which you’ll also find on Google, with just a low transparent fee. This can work out cheaper than a traditional bank - and the online service may also be quicker and more convenient than your regular bank.

We’ll talk about:

A quick comparison between National Bank and Wise, for a transfer of 1000 CAD to USD, to a recipient in the US. Read on after that for the full information.

Service National Bank² Wise
Fees The fee consists of a branch services fee + wire charges²
  • Branch services fee: 0.34% of the amount (min $15, max $60)
  • Wire charges: $15 for payments to the US
The fee consists of a fee for your chosen payment method + a payment fee. For this payment (all amounts in CA$):
  • Direct Debit: $2.85
  • 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 rate of the day³ The mid-market exchange rate
Intermediary/receiving bank fees Possibly, yes² No

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 National Bank?

If you’re a National Bank customer, and want to send money overseas, you’ll need to call into your local branch. Cross border payment services aren’t available via online banking or phone banking at present¹.

When you visit a National Bank branch, you’ll be asked to provide the following information to set up your international payment¹:

What are the fees for an international money transfer with National Bank?

Before you arrange your international bank transfer, it’s wise to check out the fees involved. Here’s a rundown of the costs you need to know about²:

Service National Bank fees
Outgoing international wire transfer Branch service charge + wire charge + possible intermediary fees
  • Branch service charge - 0.34% of the transfer value, minimum $15 - maximum $60
  • Wire charge - $15 for transfers to the US, $20 for another country
  • Intermediary fees - these may be deducted by other banks involved in the transfer process. More on that topic, below
Incoming international wire transfer Fees based on transfer value:
  • Up to $100 - $5 fee
  • $100.01 - $100,000 - $15 fee
  • $100,000.01 - $1,000,000 - $20 fee
  • Over $1,000,000 - $25 fee
Depending on your account currency, this is either CAD or USD

We mention the possibility of intermediary fees in the table above. These are charges deducted by intermediary or correspondent banks which may be involved in the payment, if it’s processed using the SWIFT network. Here’s what National Bank say about these charges in their fees booklet²:

“Certain bank correspondents may deduct additional fees from the payment amount.”

The SWIFT network is a common way of routing international payments, and can involve up to 3 different banks working together to move your money. It’s well established and safe, but seldom quick - and each of the banks involved can deduct a fee as they process the payment, if they wish to.

SWIFT fees are deducted from the payment once it’s being processed. This means that you don’t always know what you’ll be charged before you agree the payment, and your recipient may end up with less than you expect in their account in the end.

The good news is that not all international transfer services use the SWIFT network. If you’re looking to compare the costs of cross border payments, and avoid surprise SWIFT fees, you can choose an alternative payment provider like Wise.

Wise arrange international payments all over the world, and charge only a low transparent fee that you’ll always see upfront. Payments are made avoiding the SWIFT network on almost all routes, which means no extra costs to worry about. You can also set up your Wise payment online, so you don’t need to visit your bank branch, saving you time as well as money.

What is the National Bank exchange rate for your international money transfer?

National Bank publish their daily exchange rates online³. When you have found the National Bank rate for your currency, it’s worth comparing it to the mid-market exchange rate to see if there's a markup added.

The mid-market exchange rate is the one you’ll find on Google, or using an online currency converter. It’s also the rate banks use when they buy and sell currency between themselves.

However, many banks and payment services add their own markup or margin to the mid-market rate, which they can then keep as profit in addition to their advertised fees. This can mean you pay more than you need to for your international transfer.

If you’re planning on making an international transfer it’s good to know that setting the payment up with your bank might not be the cheapest option available. While it can be very convenient to make your international money transfer with your bank, specialist international payment and currency services can prove to be faster, offering lower fees and better exchange rates. Take a look at the costs of your payment with National Bank compared to Wise to see if you can save.

With Wise you can also open a multi-currency borderless account, to hold, send and spend money across over 40 currencies. Accounts are free to open online, with no monthly service fees or minimum balance to worry about. Just pay into the account in Canadian dollars, convert to the currency you need at the mid-market rate, and arrange your international payment - all online.

You’ll also be able to receive local payments in major currencies like US, Australian and New Zealand dollars, as well as British pounds and euros. Then simply convert money within the account whenever you want to, using the mid-market exchange rate and for just a low fee.

No matter which currency you’re using, your money is safe. Wise is regulated and licensed - and uses high level security to protect your payments - just like a regular bank.

Sign up for Wise, and get started


How long can an international transfer with National Bank take?

You’ll be able to find out more about how long your payment will take, when you visit your local branch to set it up. International payment times depend on the currency and destination country, but also processing times from the sending, intermediary and receiving banks, and can often take a day or two to arrive.

How can you contact National Bank customer service?

If you need to talk to a member of the team from National Bank, you can get in touch by phone, email⁴ or by visiting a branch⁵. Here’s how:

  • Call the personal banking service team on 1-888-853-6281
  • Email using the contact form available on the National Bank website
  • Find your closest branch using the online branch locator service, and talk to a team member face to face

The National Bank website also has a helpful FAQ section, which provides answers to many common questions. Just click on the red button in the bottom right of your screen, and enter your question in the search box.

If you’re a National Bank customer it’s worth checking out a few different options before you choose how to arrange your international transfer. You might find that a modern online payment solution such as Wise is a more convenient and cheaper way to make your cross border payment.

Sources used for this article:
1.National Bank homepage
2.National Bank fee guide (page 26)
3.Exchange rate page
4.Contact page
5.Branch locator
*All sources checked on October 23, 2019

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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