What are the fees associated with international transfers?

France By Fabien Lesage Jun 1, 2022

Knowing and understanding the reasons why international transfer fees are applied is important before you send money around the world. Whether they’re individual agency fees or exchange rate conversion charges, you should know where your money is going.

In this helpful guide, learn everything you need to know about international bank transfer fees. Understand the different types of fees applicable when sending money to other countries and territories and how foreign exchange currency transfers work.

Whether you’re sending to – or receiving money from – another country, being well-informed of the fees you may be expected to pay when supporting loved ones from afar can help you budget.


In this article


What is an international money transfer?

An international money transfer is the process of sending money from one person in a specific country to someone in another country or territory. The money is sent electronically but can be received either in a bank account or as cash in many cases.

You can make an international money transfer online, via a bank or money transfer provider’s app or in person at a bank or other locations.

There are two main types of international transfer – SWIFT and SEPA.

  • SWIFT transfers allow people to send money to other countries regardless of geographical locations.
  • SEPA transfers deal with transfers to countries who use the euro as their currency. Countries also have to be members of the SEPA zone to conduct these transfers.


The different types of fees applicable to international transfers

There are three types of international transfer fees – sending fees, receiving fees and conversion charges.

  • Sending fees – Usually charged by whoever you transfer money with, such as a bank or online agent. This is essentially a transfer handling and processing fee charged by money transfer services and paid by the sender. Individual services will charge different rates depending on the sender’s location, receiving destination and chosen method of payment. Banks usually charge at higher fixed rates than online agents.
  • Receiving fees – Not as common as the above, though some institutions may charge international bank transfer fees to those receiving funds. This is usually customary with banks. These fees are charged by the service that processes the money and passes it onto the receiver, who then pays the charges.
  • Conversion charges – The costs calculated from converting one currency to another. The price the sender pays is determined by the current exchange rate and the amount sent. Exchange rates vary all the time and differ depending on the provider. Conversion charges will likely differ between money transfers.


Fees on transfers outside the SEPA zone

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a zone where money transfers fall under the same set of rules. They usually have the same, or similar, fees. It mainly consists of countries within the EU and these transfers are not classed as ‘international’. However, for international transfers outside of this zone, fees can differ.

When you send money outside of the SEPA zone, banks and providers are free to define and charge their own individual international transfer fees. So, it’s a good idea to research before making a money transfer.

For example, within the SEPA zone you can usually make free online bank transfers. However, outside of the zone you may have to pay sending and receiving fees, even online, which can differ between providers and banks. You will also have to consider the exchange rates and conversion charges when sending euros to another non-euro country.


Fees on foreign currency transfers

International currency transfer fees are calculated with both exchange rates and individual bank and provider fees in mind. Exchange rates fluctuate constantly and they also differ between institutions. So do the sending and receiving fees, which all contribute to conversion charges.

These foreign currency transfer fees are either charged at a fixed or percentile rate. Again, each differs depending on the decisions made by individual banks and providers. With this in mind, it’s best to shop around to compare international money transfer fee rates and get the right deal for you.


Comparing international money transfer fees

Before you get started and commit to a certain bank, provider or transfer type, it may be a good idea to compare money transfer fees beforehand. When comparing international transfer fees, do your research and compare institutions and money transfer types.

The goal is to ensure you get a good price when it comes to sending and receiving fees and exchange rates.


FAQs and guides

  • Make an international transfer
  • What is the maximum amount for an international bank transfer?
  • What is an international account identifier?