Is it Possible to Get a Free Wire Transfer?

4 min read

Everyone loves to take advantage of free opportunities. For small businesses, anything that comes free means one less thing the business needs to pay for. In the case of something like a wire transfer, that cost savings can be a huge boon. Wire transfers aren’t cheap, and every dollar a business can save itself is one more dollar that goes toward breaking even and becoming profitable. 

If your small business sends money around the world or across borders with any regularity, you know how quickly wire transfer fees can add up. It begs the question: is there any way to get a free wire transfer?

Why do Wire Transfers Cost Money?

When it comes to wire transfers, the first thing to understand is that every banking institution has its own stipulations. Each bank governs terms and fees, and has different approaches for executing wire transfers. The one thing they all share, however, is the cost associated with executing a transfer through the SWIFT system. It costs banks money to move money, and that cost is typically passed on to customers in the form of a wire transfer fee. Asking the bank to waive the fee means asking them to eat the cost of moving money—a prospect they’ll generally avoid. 

Some Banks Offer Free Wire Transfers

Bank wire transfer fees can vary significantly, from as low as $15-$20 per wire, to as high as $50-$60. Few banks, if any, will advertise anything even remotely close to a free wire transfer. That said, some banks do have fine print that enable free wire transfers for certain accountholders. 

Fidelity, for example, offers free incoming and outgoing domestic and international wire transfers in U.S. dollars; however, the recipient bank may charge a fee. Likewise, a bank like HSBC offers its Premier Account holders free wire transfers. Even still, these options aren’t truly free when you consider exchange rates or recipient bank fees. Nevertheless, they’ll cost businesses far less than many other banks. 

Unfortunately, banks with free wire transfer options are few and far between. Even those with account ownership stipulations are reluctant to waive fees. More often, they’ll offer discounted fees, if any incentive at all. 

Banks Can Waive Fees in Certain Situations

There are some situations where banks may choose to waive a wire transfer fee. These are one-time situations and are rare. They come at the bank’s discretion and are typically reserved for very specific incidences, such as:

  • One-time wire transfers for large sums
  • Wires executed by high-value accounts
  • Wires to a sister institution or foreign branch

Most banks won’t offer a free wire transfer unprompted, which means it’s important to ask to have fees waived. Even then, banks are likely to decline unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Still, it’s worth asking!

Most Transfers Come With a Fee

The sad truth is that almost always, wire transfers come with some sort of fee—multiple different fees, in fact. There’s the cost incurred by the initiating bank, the cost incurred by the recipient bank and—in the case of international wire transfers—the cost of currency conversion. These fees range dramatically depending on the institutions involved and the currency conversion rate, which isn’t always transparent. 

For many businesses, wire transfer fees are simply the cost of doing business at a global scale. Thankfully, that cost is becoming more and more mitigated as new money transfer options become available. For example, digital payments completely absolve these fees, with only the cost of currency conversion to worry about. 

Expect to Pay a Fee for Wire Transfers

While it’s possible to get away without paying a fee under certain, special circumstances, businesses should plan to pay every time they initiate a wire transfer—especially when moving money across borders. It costs banks money to move your money, and that cost is what’s being passed back to you. Asking to waive fees or looking for ways to circumvent them means saddling the bank with that cost—something any financial institution will avoid. 

If wire transfer fees are adding up and encumbering your business, consider eliminating the need for wires altogether. Digital payments offer a modern, hassle-free, transparent way to move money around the world—without the fees. With no-cost digital wallets, transparent exchange rates and no-fee transfers to countries around the globe, businesses don’t need to worry about how much it’ll cost them to continue doing business across borders. Try it for yourself today: schedule a free demo with Veem.

Blog: Ditch the wire. No more SWIFT codes. No more wire fees.

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