These days, making an international bank transfer shouldn’t cause you too much hassle. But moving your money across borders for a fair price can be more of a challenge. There are lots of different options available, all of which come with different fees and costs, and it’s not uncommon to struggle to find the information you need to even make an informed choice.
You might choose to set up an international wire transfer with your regular bank. This can be a simple solution if your bank offers international payments via online banking, but it’s usually fairly expensive.
If you’re with Citizens Bank, the good news is that they offer international wire transfers in over 125 currencies. But the not so great news, especially if you’re outside of the US, is that you’ll need to visit a branch to make an international wire transfer as these can’t be set up online. For a more convenient option, try a specialist in international transfers, such as Wise. You set up your transaction entirely online with your Citizens bank account. More on that later.
Here’s all you need to know about making an international wire transfer with Citizens Bank.
Let’s make this real, and take a US$1000 transfer from the US to Canada in Canadian dollars as an example.
Here’s the cost using Citizens Bank, compared with the same transfer placed through Wise:
|Provider||Fee||Exchange rate||Total cost|
|Citizens Bank (USA)||$20 (in person)||Exchange rate + likely mark-up||$20 + likely exchange rate mark-up + likely fees from other banks|
|Wise||$8.45||The real exchange rate||$8.45|
Though $20 doesn’t seem too bad, the costs don’t end there.
The exchange rate used for your transfer can also make a big difference. That’s because banks often add a mark-up to the real exchange rate and keep the difference as their profit. That can mean that you pay some 4-6% more than you need to.
Not only that, but almost all international wires are sent via the SWIFT network. In that case, up to 3 intermediary banks in addition to the recipient’s own bank will likely tack on their own charges.
In both cases, Wise avoids both of these hidden costs. But more on that later.
You’ll need to visit your branch in person to arrange an international transfer. Which means if you’ve decided to use Citizen’s Bank for your transfer, you can check out the specific costs with your local bank to make sure all of the below information is correct before you make a decision.
|International Wires||Regular fees|
|Outgoing international wire (US dollars to another currency)||$20¹ + possible exchange rate mark-upⁱ + likely other bank chargesⁱⁱ|
|Outgoing international wire (US dollars only to a foreign country)||$35 + likely other bank chargesⁱⁱ|
|ⁱExchange rate mark-ups||This can be the highest cost of the entire transaction. See the next section for more information.|
|ⁱⁱOther bank charges||Often $10-$50 deducted from the transfer by up to 4 banks. You may be able to decide with the recipient who pays these fees.|
|Chargeback or return international transfer||$25|
The fees applied to international transfers do change over time, and the exact costs depend on on a number of factors, including where your money is headed.
You may have noticed in the previous section that Citizens Bank has two different prices for international wires.
Why? It likely has to do with the exchange rate.
Banks and major transfer services generally roll a bulk of their profit into poor exchange rates. Which means if you’re sending the same currency that you want the recipient to receive, the bank can’t build a profit into the exchange rate. Which means, in Citizen Bank’s case, they then charge a bit extra. $15 extra, in this case.
Why the extra? On average, banks often mark up the rate you see on Google by around 4-6%, and pocket the difference. Which means you should be on the lookout. To see if you’re getting a fair deal, compare the exchange rate you’re offered with the rate you see on Google.
It’s worth knowing that it might not even be Citizens Bank which decides the exchange rate used. This depends on how you structure your transaction. The exchange may be done by an intermediary bank or the recipient’s own bank when the money arrives, which leaves you even more in the dark.
If you want that exchange rate like you find on Google, you have options. Wise may be a better bet.
If you’re concerned about the costs of making an international transfer then it’s good to know that you have options. You don’t have to stick with a traditional bank.
You might find that a specialist will offer you a much better deal.
And if you travel a lot, or have to frequently make international payments for any reason, a new Wise borderless multi-currency account can make life even easier. Hold your cash in any one of dozens of different currencies within the same account, and switch between currencies easily. You can even accept domestic bank transfers in regions like the EU, the UK, Australia using your very own local bank details — without even living there. This means you can bank like a local, wherever you are, and avoid the high costs of international transfers altogether.
Find out for yourself if you can get a better deal with Wise, today.
Although Citizens Bank offer online transfers domestically, through the Popmoney service, this isn’t available for international payments.
To arrange an international wire transfer with Citizens Bank for the first time you’ll need to visit your local branch. Here you can get the details of the transaction fees and exchange rates, and you’ll usually be asked to provide recipient details and your own ID documents. Once you have made one payment to a recipient abroad, you should be able to do subsequent transactions on the phone rather than visiting the branch every time.
- Go to wise.com
- Choose the originating currency and amount in the top box and the corresponding recipient currency in the bottom box
- Click on “Show fee breakdown”ⁱ to see the costs
- Click the green button “Get started”
- Fill out your personal detailsⁱⁱ
- Enter your recipient’s informationⁱⁱⁱ
- Make sure you’re happy with the cost and exchange rate
- On the final step, you’ll have several options to pay for your transferⁱ
ⁱ The cheapest option for you will likely be bank debit (ACH) or paying by debit/credit card if limits permit. Bank debit may be slightly slower, but has higher limits than if you pay by debit card. Both options will deduct the money directly from your Citizen’s bank account.
ⁱⁱ Especially on your first transfer, you may be asked to verify your identity with an ID, address proof, the reason for your transfer, or even your SSN just like you would when you open a bank account in person at a regular financial institution.
ⁱⁱⁱ It may be helpful to note that when sending money through Wise you won’t actually need international banking details for your recipient. You’ll need their local banking details — the same information they would give to a friend inside the country for a domestic bank transfer. That likely means you may not need their SWIFT/BIC code, but more like the domestic equivalent.
The exact details needed when you place your international money transfer will vary a little depending on where the payment is headed. However, in most cases, you’ll need to give your bank the following details:
- Recipient’s name and address
- Amount being transferred, and the currency to be used
- Recipient’s bank account number and SWIFT/BIC code
- Recipient bank name and address
- IBAN if relevant
You may also want to agree with the recipient who will pay which of the charges.
What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?
Whenever you want to receive an international payment, you’ll have to give the sender some information to make sure the money reaches you safely. This can vary a little depending on the specific details of your transaction, but you can expect to be asked for the following information:
- Your own bank’s BIC/SWIFT code
- Your full name and address, as detailed on the account
- Your Citizens Bank routing number, and branch address
- The amount and the currency you’d like to receive the payment in
If you’ll be sending yourself money to your Citizen’s account via Wise, you can enter the following:
- Your name as it appears on your account
- Your 9-digit ACH routing number with Citizens Bank
- Your account number with Citizens Bank
- Your address and your bank’s address
- Whether your account is checking or savings
If someone else is sending you money through Wise, you’ll only need to provide them your email address and name. You can then fill in the above information yourself once you receive notification that you’ve got money.
This depends a lot on where your money is headed. Most international wire transfers will take several business days depending on several factors, but branch staff should be able to estimate the arrival time for your transfer when you arrange it.
If you need a little more help you can call Citizens Bank at 1-800-922-9999, send them a secure email, or pop into your local branch.
However you decide to arrange your international payment, you’ll need to check out both the upfront fees, and the exchange rates used. If you’re using a commercial bank and your payment is being sent through the SWIFT network, then be on the lookout for intermediary fees, too. With a bit of research in advance, you can make sure you’re getting the best service for your specific needs. And not paying too much for it.
- https://www.citizensbank.com/pdf/IVFS11129M0%20CIS.PDF (July 2, 2018)
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 TransferWise 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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