Wells Fargo Fees and What You’re Really Paying For

It has been a rough year for Wells Fargo. The LA Times, reported that Wells Fargo has admitted to favoring sales and numbers over clients.The revelations that have rocked Wells Fargo in this high profile manner underscore the fact that in large banks it is not uncommon for smaller customers in particular to receive higher fees and poorer service. These are often the very customers that have the potential gain the most from improvements that modern technology can afford.

Wells Fargo themselves have admitted to favoring sales and numbers over clients

The reality is that banks are not organizations that move and adapt rapidly to change. When an old system “works,” it often stays in place the way things have always been. Banks cannot always see a better way because the current way works for the bank. And their customers pay the price. Sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes in subtle but even more important ways. The customers that often come up short the most in such situations are small businesses.

One of the single greatest ways that banks are under serving their customers are cross border bank wires. Small businesses rely on bank wire transfers every day to make payments and cover bills. The unfortunate reality is that bank wires are a cumbersome and time-consuming process that often results in unexpected fees. This is without taking into consideration the rates that banks charge for currency conversion in international payments. But what are these fees on bank wire transfers and why do they exist? To get a better sense of why you’re paying an arm and a leg for an outdated service, we should look at bank wire transfers themselves.

Bank Wire Transfers

Whenever you choose to send money to someone, your bank approves the payment and creates a connection with the recipient’s bank. If the payment is domestic, the funds should go from your account to theirs. But, if your bank doesn’t have a direct connection with the recipient bank, it could take longer. The payment then travels through several intermediary banks before it arrives at its destination.

However, international payments have a network of banks that communicate using a system called SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications). Since your bank in Washington probably isn’t connected to a bank in Sydney, Australia, your money can travel through several banks on the SWIFT network before it arrives in it’s destination.

In both cases, you end up paying a handler’s fee for having your money sent from bank to bank. Since international transfers go through more banks, the fees are higher. Despite this, you’ll still be hit with a fee to receive the funds. That’s a burden you can choose to pay, or you’re forced to ask your supplier to pick up that cost.

These are the fees for sending and receiving money with Wells Fargo:

  • Incoming domestic wire fee: $15
  • Outgoing domestic wire fee: $30
  • Incoming international wire fee: $16
  • Outgoing international wire fee: USD 45

The SWIFT network was established in the 1970s and its age is showing. The system simply does not meet the needs of modern small businesses. Because international transfers go through a complicated process, SWIFT only tracks account numbers, your funds themselves are not tracked. There’s no concrete way to track a payment once it’s entered this system.

Because international transfers go through a complicated process, SWIFT only tracks account numbers, your funds themselves are not tracked.

The worst of it is, if you’re the recipient waiting for money, you’re expected to pay for this headache once it’s over. Recipient fees typically aren’t as high, but they’re still inconvenient.

The Middlemen

Imagine for a moment that you’re in a restaurant sitting in the farthest corner from the kitchen. You order a pizza. But, instead of the server placing it on the table when it’s ready, your food passes through the hands of every table between you and the kitchen. By the time the pizza reaches your table pieces are missing, and there are bites in the crust. That’s what it’s like to send an international wire transfer.

You have no way of knowing how many hands your payment passes through even after it arrives

Whether you’re the customer who ordered the pizza, or you’re the chef that sends it out, the diners between you and your recipient shouldn’t be getting pieces of your pizza pie because it’s not their food.

The number of middlemen your money passes through before landing in the recipient’s account can be in the double digits. You have no way of knowing how many hands your payment passes through even after it arrives.

What’s more, if there’s an error with the payment, like a missing number in the recipient’s account info, it could take you a lot of time and a lot of hassle before you get it back.

A Complete Pie

As the Wells Fargo debacle showed, unfortunately for a large bank a small business can become just an account number. It makes no difference to them how loyal or credible your business is.

The question becomes, how do you get the pizza from the kitchen to the customer in one piece? There must be an easier way – and there is.

Veem is the next generation payment platform that acts as the waiter you need and deserve. We offer competitive foreign exchange rates instead of fees. Our Multi-Rail technology finds different ways to send payments to eliminate handsy middlemen. Not only does this method keep your money safe and secure, it also means you can track it every step of the way.


Veem believes in transparency and we take the interests of small businesses to heart. We’ve connected over 50,000 clients in 80 countries worldwide and continue to grow everyday.

Sign up for a free account with Veem and join the thousands of businesses who are taking charge of their payments.


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* This blog provides general information and discussion about global business payments and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.