Best/cheapest US bank for initiating international wire transfers online?
February 21, 2008 10:48 AM   Subscribe

I think I've determined that the best way to send regular payments from the US to Europe/Asia is simply a wire transfer (but willing to entertain ideas I haven't considered yet). Now the question is -- B of A sucks for online/international wires -- what bank is better?

After a long trail of looking at paying international subcontractors via:
- Western Union (they charge it as a cash advance on your CC, plus it's expensive)
- PayPal (eats a lot of fees, especially with the extra 2.5% on top of the foreign exchange)
- Moneybookers (have to either wire money to them, or they eat 1.9% on loading via CC and have low limits)
- Priority Mailing a cheque (slower, too analog, high fees for others to deposit)

I think a wire transfer is both going to be the cheapest, fastest, and easiest for people we're paying regularly. Unfortunately all our business banking is with BofA, which charges $45 and you can't do it online. I've since learned that this is pretty crappy and other banks seem to have better options, so I think we're going to open a second account elsewhere just for this. Plus we're moving back to Canada in a couple of years and it'd be nice to have a way to move money back and forth easily, and it's not looking like BofA is that answer.

Can anyone recommend a bank for this?
posted by stephthegeek to Work & Money (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
HSBC has branches pretty much everywhere and have never been anything but pleasant and easy to deal with.
posted by lia at 10:54 AM on February 21, 2008

Response by poster: Specifically I'm looking for international wire transfer fees/experiences and ability to do this online. The bank sites seem to be amazingly vague about this.
posted by stephthegeek at 11:07 AM on February 21, 2008

This Fat Wallet thread suggests WAMU.
posted by JJ86 at 11:14 AM on February 21, 2008

i'm not sure about the pros/cons of this method but HSBC has a new type of account called Easy Send.
posted by sharkfu at 11:28 AM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: XeTrade will do this. Their parent company, Xe, has been around since the stone age on the Internet. You pay Xe with wire transfer, EFT, or ACH, and then they pay the recipient with your choice of wire transfer, EFT, ACH, or paper draft. It's free to pay via EFT, ACH, or draft. For wire transfer, here are their fees, which vary depending on the receiving currency.
posted by zsazsa at 11:38 AM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: I’ve regularly used the foreign exchange service at and found them a solid and reputable route. They don’t charge any commissions fees, and XEtrade wire transfers from are done as close to "cost" as possible. Any fees for an outgoing wire transfer are stated up front before you confirm your transaction. And when I screwed up once, the folks at the 800 number corrected my error while waiving the transfer fee.

XEtrade works in the following manner:

1) You book a transaction using the XEtrade website to convert your funds. Once you hit the "Confirm Trade" button this locks in the exchange rate. The rate does not change during the processing of the trade.

2) You send XEtrade the funds to be converted. This is the "payment" for the transaction. Payments can be by EFT (Canada, U.S.) or wire transfer. (More information on how to send funds can be found in their FAQ at ).

3) They convert the funds that you have provided to the currency you specified, and deliver the converted currency as you specified. Deliveries can be by Wire Transfer (15-16 USD) or can snail mail a draft (a corporate check) to any recipient you choose (free but slow).
posted by ohcanireally at 11:39 AM on February 21, 2008

Arrgh...jinx. Stupid delayed preview.
posted by ohcanireally at 11:41 AM on February 21, 2008

Just another happy Xe customer speaking up. I used to send money back and forth to Australia from the US all the time, and it worked a treat.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:27 PM on February 21, 2008

I support Maw back on The Farm, and HSBC in London (where I live) blasts the cash into her Western New York based account in two business days. Supposed to take between three and five, but it almost never has taken that long.

As she's with HSBC, no charge on either side (don't kid yourself, they make it back on the bid/offer spread). I've also pushed cash into a brokerage account (non HSBC) and they were equally fast (relatively small charge for that one).
posted by Mutant at 12:37 PM on February 21, 2008

Just another recommendation for XE. Used them extensively, never had a problem, very inexpensive.
posted by thparkth at 1:15 PM on February 21, 2008

I've never had any problems with sending wires from my Citibank account in the USA to my non-Citibank accounts in New Zealand, and you can do the entire thing online (fee is $30 a wire). In fact I sent a wire on Tuesday night US time and it was in my NZ account when I checked earlier this morning (less than 36 hours elapsed time).
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2008

Response by poster: XEtrade, wow, this looks perfect. I had no idea that they offered this. Thank you all!!
posted by stephthegeek at 1:25 PM on February 21, 2008

I use to move money around the world.

I normally simply issue instructions to my account manager, and he confirms a rate, $ autodebited out of my normal Australian bank account by their Australian branch, and appear 12-48 hours later in my Canadian account (or whatever supplier account I nominate) from their Canadian branch.

They make there $ from from the exchange spread. Think they charge me $5 per wire as well under $10,000

I like it because I don't have to have another bank to deal with, and is much fater than using traditional bank to move $. I think they have an online ability, but email is quicker for me.
posted by dripped at 8:02 PM on February 21, 2008

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