Bank of America Wire Transfers 101
Technology is typically invented to solve problems and simplify our lives. While this is an oversimplification, it’s also the truth. We’re now capable of owning pocket-sized supercomputers, automobiles that can sustain hundreds of miles of travel in a day, robots that respond to nothing but our voices, appliances that are easy to use and simplify certain tasks, and probably any device in your proximity that makes your life easier. While technological evolution in a broader sense helps further progress society, it often does so by solving problems.
If you’re a business owner then there’s a large chance you have to use your financial institution to wire money. This is one of the inherent tasks set upon owning a business; exporting funds. As a business owner some of your principal responsibilities are to maximize profits, optimize your internal ecosystem, and ultimately cut unnecessary costs or time drains. This may be news to you, but using the traditional banking system to wire money domestically and internationally is no longer your best bet. In fact, the entire of idea of a ‘wire transfer’ is dying. There are now cheaper, quicker, safer, and more intuitive alternatives to transferring funds. Why? You probably guessed it by that opening; technology.
If you bank with Bank of America and use them frequently, or if you’re thinking of doing so, let’s take a look at their processes, fees, and methodology, then discuss an alternative (Veem) that may better suit your business’s needs.
Naturally, in order to make a wire money transfer through Bank of America, you’re going to need to have a bank account with them. If you do not have one currently, then you will have to visit your local branch to create one. This process is typically straightforward but becomes more cumbersome being that you’ll need a business account which requires additional government-issued documents (for reasons to be discussed later).
The necessary documents are listed here:
- Employer Identification Number or tax ID
- Articles of Incorporation
- Government issued photo ID
- Social Security number
Depending on the type of business account created, you will then have to wait for a certain period of time before you are allowed access to wire transfer services. In the event that you need to send a wire transfer quickly, this could be rather problematic.
Should you choose to go the institutional route, these are the general steps you’ll take at most banks, including Bank of America:
- Identify your recipient Bank of America will require the name and physical location of both your recipient and the bank they wish to receive the transfer. You will need to detail recipient’s full name, country, and street address. You have the additional option to assign a nickname to your recipient, used to expedite future wire transfers, and add a custom message indicating a specific invoice or note.
- Give your recipient’s banking information For domestic transfers you will need to provide the recipient bank’s identification number, known as an ABA (or IBAN, for international banks). If you do not yet have this information, you can find it via web browser search.
- Verify recipient and leave specific banking instructions At this point you will need to verify that the recipient information is correct and will have the opportunity to leave any additional instructions for the recipient bank itself.
- Verify your Bank of America wire transfer As an extra precaution, you will be asked to verify every detail (down to the character) of the transfer request. This is necessary for reasons we will discuss further. Once you have completed the verification process, Bank of America can begin the process.
How does Bank of America make international wire transfers?
When making an international wire transfer, Bank of America utilizes an age-old network called SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications). Established in the 1970s, SWIFT was a massive milestone for international fund transferring. The entire methodology behind the network was standardization. If they could create a form of communication ubiquitous across banks all over the world, then transferring funds between these banks would be easier and more efficient.
How does the SWIFT network work?
By using a system of unique SWIFT codes (each financial institution within the network has one) a message (wire) is sent between banks creating an order for funds to be delivered. This order—not physical cash—travels through a series of intermediary or correspondent banks until it reaches its final destination. Typically, this can take anywhere from a few days to weeks in time.
Then, once Bank of America identifies the SWIFT code of the bank in which you are trying to wire money to, it will then provide its own exchange rate (we’ll touch more on this later).
Are there any drawbacks to this system?
In short, yes there are drawbacks. To say that the system is flawed is to discredit the entire banking system which currently handles 85% of all wire transfers. To say that it is less optimal, efficient, affordable, and intuitive than other services out there is fair.
The SWIFT network is made specifically for the purpose of communication. As stated previously, different messages are carried from one bank to another all in hopes that, at the end of the process, the money has traveled to the correct destination. As mentioned above, this takes time. As we all know, time is money.
There is no end-to-end ownership in the SWIFT network. Bank of America employs liability contract which you are required to sign in order to use their service. This doesn’t mean that Bank of America simply sends off a wire in the right direction and hopes for the best, but it does mean that they do not take responsibility for ‘packet-loss’ or failed communication (which typically comes down to human error) within the wire itself. This means that as your money is in transit, there is no single party managing its travel every step of the way. If it fails to reach its destination, the burden (both time and money) falls to you
Know Your Customer Regulations and Speed of Transfer
Know Your Customer (KYC) is a set of government-backed regulations that lay down a strict list of rules banks must use to identify both the sender and recipient. When it comes to businesses, these rules force Bank of America to request the tax ID, articles of incorporation, financial records, affiliate details, and a whole host of paperwork on order to set up your account. These take time to produce.
How does this affect my wire transfer?
This can greatly reduce the speed in which a wire transfer is made. While the process of making a transfer generally has a set time to it, if the KYC regulations are not fulfilled, Bank of America can take weeks, and in rare cases, months to finally accept and process the transfer.
Average Transfer Time
In general, using Bank of America for a domestic wire transfer takes around 2-3 days, with international wire transfers taking around 3-5. Typically, these transfers can be expedited, but at a price.
Bank of America Wire Transfer Fees
Wire transfer fees at Bank of America are above the national average. They do offer to waive certain fees for those who hold enhanced accounts with them (which typically involves higher fees elsewhere). We’ll breakdown what it costs to send money using Bank of America as compared to the average bank here:
|Institution||Domestic Incoming||Domestic Outgoing||International
|Bank of America||$15, waived for Interest Checking and Preferred Rewards program||$30||$16, waived for Platinum and Platinum Honors tiers of Preferred Rewards program||$35 sent in foreign currency;
$45 sent in U.S. dollars
Additional fees: Exchange Markup
There are additional costs outside of Bank of America’s fee schedule as well. They are determined based on currency exchange rates and are typically tailored to accrue more fees for the bank; often considered to be ‘hidden fees’ within their network. While a bank can propose a ‘low fee’ for any given wire transfer, outside of the national average, their exchange rates will be extremely weak and they are likely to make up the difference with a higher markup during the exchange process. This is rarely advertised upfront and can be exacerbated when the currency you use is paired against a stronger foreign currency. This is made clear as, collectively, banks make billions of dollars per year in these fees alone.
Another hangup of the SWIFT network is that, as the funds pass certain waypoints, other banks may charge their own fees for facilitating passage. For any business that has ever transferred money using Bank of America (or any bank for that matter), then you know you are not only paying $45 for your outgoing international wire. Bank of America wire transfer fees are not so black and white, there are contingencies, and this is one of them.
Additionally, traces for your wire transfers will also cost you with. If or when something goes amiss, you will have to pay to identify where your money has been or why your order went missing, then also still pay for the fees accrued along the passage.
How can I reduce my Bank of America wire transfer fees?
Really the best way to keep fees as low as possible is to pay close attention to detail when entering instructions to ensure that nothing goes awry in transit. This way, you don’t incur any fees for tracing or resending. You may also choose to sign up for Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program which will allow fees to be waived for certain transfers. The other option is to use a non-bank alternative, like Veem
What is Veem?
Veem is a digital payment service, which acts as an intermediary between you and your recipient, that is currently changing the methodology behind wire transfers. Ironically enough, being that they are an intermediary, they eliminate correspondent and intermediary banks from the fund transferring process. This saves time and money in the transfer process as your order does not change hands, thus eliminating the risk of a failed transfer due to human error.
Typically working with small-medium sized businesses, they are the sole intermediary in this revolutionary new transfer service that offers more affordable fees, accountability, faster speeds, but most importantly, an intuitive and thorough approach to making international and domestic wire transfer.
How does Veem do it?
By taking advantage of the skyrocketing blockchain technology. Veem is a multi-rail solution that converts your funds to digital currency (offering better exchange rates if it’s across border transfers) and then ships it through a network composed of both old and new establishments. They currently have outreach to 60 different countries with no limits on the amount a sender can transfer.
What are the benefits?
Veem takes full ownership over the travel of your funds via their platform. They eliminate packet-loss and the volatility of your funds travel. Not only that, but their technology allows you to receive real-time updates on the transit of your money, free of charge.
No matter where you are, if you can use your mobile device, you can log into your account and track your money and its travel. In the case that there is some sort of error, not only do they provide customer service that will help right the issue, but you can also cancel it immediately to ensure that no further problems ensue.
Veem assumes total responsibility of your money’s transit and offers a competitive, straightforward fee schedule.