How to transfer foreign currency?

United States By Christy Lowry Jun 3, 2021

People send money internationally and domestically for several reasons, from paying back a friend for lunch to helping a loved one with a down payment on a home.

It’s helpful to know that transferring money around the world is as easy as initiating a money transfer and having your receiver get the funds almost instantly, but how much does it cost?

While money transfers can be fast, convenient, and easy to initiate, they include fees that vary depending on several factors. Before you transfer funds, learn about money transfer fees, requirements, and how to save money on your next transfer.

4 types of money transfer fees

If you’ve ever transferred money, you know that the fees depend on several factors, including the bank itself, whether the transfer is domestic or international, and whether there are fees from an intermediary bank. Understanding these pieces will help you feel confident when sending money.

Here are some of the most common types of money transfer fees you may encounter:

Transfer fees

Every bank or financial institution will have its own fees for money transfers that range depending on the bank. Most banks separate fees into sending fees and receiving fees, and whether the transfer is domestic or international.

Intermediary bank fees

Some money transfers may involve a third-party (or intermediary) bank that facilitates the money transfer between banks that don’t have a financial relationship together. The intermediary bank may charge a transfer fee in addition to the transfer fees from the sending and receiving banks.

Exchange rate<

While an exchange rate isn’t necessarily a fee, it is a money transfer cost that you should consider. An exchange rate refers to how much one currency is valued against another currency. For example, as of March 2021, you could trade about 1 USD for 0.83 EUR. Or in other words, 1 EUR is equal to about 1.21 USD.

Make sure to account for the exchange rate so you know exactly how much you will receive from a transfer, or how much you need to send your receiver to ensure they get the correct amount of money.

Remember that some banks charge a higher markup when converting local currency for an international transfer. This markup is generally a percentage of the amount of money being sent, so it can factor in significantly if you’re sending a large amount of money.

Additional fees

There can be additional fees associated with a money transfer, such as online versus in-person transfers, cancellation fees, correspondent bank fees, and more. Before initiating a money transfer, check with your financial institution to get a quote for how much it will cost or what fees you may incur.

How much does a money transfer cost?

As you can see above with the variable fees, figuring out how much a money transfer costs depends on several factors.

The table below shares some of the costs associated with money transfers for the most popular banks in the United States:

Bank Name Sending Receiving
Bank of America Up to $30 per transfer for domestic transfers.


Up to $45 per transfer for international transfers.


Up to $16.00 per transfer.


Up to $35 per transfer for domestic transfers.


Up to $50 per transfer for international transfers.


Up to $15.00 per transfer.
Citi Up to $25 per transfer for domestic transfers.


Up to $35 per transfer for international transfers.


Up to $15.00 per transfer.
Fidelity Up to 3% of the amount in foreign currency. No charge.
PNC Bank Up to $30 per transfer for domestic transfers.


Up to $45 per transfer for international transfers.


Up to $15.00 per transfer.
USAA Up to $20 per transfer for domestic transfers.


Up to $45 per transfer for international transfers.


No charge.
Wells Fargo Up to $30 per transfer for domestic transfers.


Varies for international transfers.


Up to $16.00 per transfer.

As of 5/10/2021

Before initiating a transfer, use a bank or transfer service’s online calculator (if available) to estimate your money transfer fees and international money transfer fees. Western Union’s online send money form makes it easy to start sending money because you know how much your transfer will cost.

How to save money on your international money transfer fees

Money transfer fees can add up, especially if you are frequently sending or receiving money. Luckily, there are a few ways you can save money on international transfer fees.

Here are some tips on decreasing your money transfer costs:

Shop around

As we mentioned, different financial organizations have different money transfer fees and if you have the time, shopping for the best deal can save you money. You can research both bank and non-bank options and compare prices online, or ask your local branch questions like:

  • What fees are associated with a money transfer?
  • Are there different fees for online vs. in-person transfers?
  • Are there different fees when transferring foreign currency vs. USD?
  • What if the receiver doesn’t have an account at this participating bank?
  • Are there receiver fees as well?

Compare your transfer options

If you don’t need your transaction to clear instantly, you could use an ACH transfer instead. These transfers take a little longer, but they are generally cheaper.

How you initiate a money transfer may change the fees

Some banks charge different money transfer fees when you initiate the transfer online versus going into a branch.

Research exchange rates or convert before the transfer

Many financial institutions use a marked-up exchange rate as part of their service fees. Because of this, some banks offer lower fees if you let them convert the funds before transferring, or if you provide the currency already converted. Contact your financial institution to see if this option is available.

Use a money transfer service

International money transfer services like Western Union can help you easily send money abroad, and the fees may be less compared to traditional banks. Plus, Western Union can be a more convenient option because there are additional methods to send money such as cash pick-up.

What are Western Union’s fees?

Western Union offers easy, reliable ways to send money with fees based on the services you need. While these fees can range, you can get a free estimate when you start sending money with Western Union online.

In the send money form, you can easily adjust different parameters, such as how your receiver wants to get the money and how you want to pay. Plus, you can join the My WU® program to start earning points1 on qualifying transfers. You can redeem points for exclusive member benefits such as transfer fee2 discounts.

Send money with Western Union

Deciphering the different types of money transfer fees can be confusing, but Western Union makes it easy with convenient ways to send and receive money. Send money online, with our money transfer app, or from hundreds of thousands of agent locations globally. Register online to get started today.

* Data valid as of March 11, 2021.

1 Earn 1 point for every $1 in qualifying transfer fees spent on a single transaction.

2 Western Union also makes money from currency exchange. When choosing a money transmitter, carefully compare both transfer fees and exchange rates. Fees, foreign exchange rates and taxes may vary by brand, channel, and location based on a number of factors. Fees and rates subject to change without notice. Fee reductions apply only to the Western Union® transfer fee for a single Western Union Money Transfer® or Quick Collect® transaction. Excludes all other services, including without limitation, online bill payments, and money transfers via social/chat applications. Points used will not be reversible and if amount of transfer fee is less than redeemed discount, no cash, credit or refund will be provided. Western Union reserves the right to offer promotions l discounts that cannot be combined with My WU® fee reductions.

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