Crazy High Currency Exchange Fees: How to Stop the Banks from Taking Advantage of You

Currency Exchange Fees

If you’re like me who travel often, or perhaps you have lived in different areas around the world, you constantly change money. Every time you do, the banks try and take from you as much as they can get away with.

The fees they charge you when you exchange money are hidden. You don’t see currency exchange fees easily.

Banks charge as much as 13% fees on a round trip exchange

So let’s say you are moving countries and you sold your house in one country and bought in another. $200,000 house, transferring from London to New York, or from Sydney to San Francisco. How much do you pay the bank when you wire the money?

You might be shocked to discover that the fees are as high as 13%.

That’s on a round-trip exchange, meaning if you changed the money then changed it back you would lose 13%. Of course you’re not going do a round trip exchange, but it gives you the idea of how much the banks are making. The average fees are around 7% round-trip or 3.5% one way.

This means that on your $200,000 house you just paid $7,000 to the bank to transfer the money for you.

Check how much they charge above the “inter-bank” rate

The rate the banks pay when exchanging money is called the “inter-bank” rate. This is the rate the banks pay when they are trading with each other (usually a few million dollars per trade).

This is the “true” exchange rate. The banks make a margin on top of this, and give you their exchange rate with the fee included.

Usually they do not disclose the fee, they just disclose the rate that you get to exchange.

The reason why they charge so much is because this is a hidden fee. You don’t see the fee because you just see how much foreign currency you received when exchanging.

Here are some fees from wire transfer exchange with popular banks in the US, Australia, the UK and Canada

Country Bank name Example currency Round-trip fees
International PayPal AUD/USD 3-9%
U.S.A. Wells Fargo USD/EUR 2%
U.S.A. Citibank AUD/USD 2.1%
Australia NAB AUD/EUR 10%
Australia Westpac AUD/EUR 11%
United Kingdom Barclays GBP/EUR 13%
United Kingdom Lloyds GBP/EUR 5%
Canada Toronto Bank CAD/USD 6%
Canada RBC CAD/EUR 8%

The table above represents the rates you receive if you were to wire money into your bank account, for example in another currency.

This is probably what would happen if you sold a house in one country and bought another house in another country. It’s not the rates you receive when exchanging cash over the counter in the bank (although rates for both situations are usually very high).

I included PayPal in the table above. Although they are not a bank they are a popular option for international transfers. You will notice that the fees in the US are a bit more reasonable than the UK, Australia and Canada. But still, even the Wells Fargo currency exchange rates of 2% round-trip (1% one-way) is a lot of money to pay when there are other lower cost options.

How to avoid these exorbitant fees

There are several options for avoiding these fees, but it really depends on how much money you are exchanging and which currencies you are exchanging.

If you’re transferring $5k to $100k, you can avoid the fees and pay only around 0.5% by using any one of these currency exchange companies:

  • Wise, formerly TransferWise – charges 0.5% one way or 1% round trip. They seem to be able to facilitate a transfer even if you do not have a bank account in both countries (but I have not confirmed this). The other alternatives on this list will need you to have a bank account in your name in both countries. Wise will definitely still need the sender to have bank account and will need the sender to verify their identity with a copy of a passport or similar documentation.
  • OFX – charges usually 0.5% one way or 1% round trip
  • CurrencyFair – charges usually 0.5% one way, they also have a marketplace where you can trade with other people directly. (Note: 10 free transfers with CurrencyFair if you use the link)
  • – fee varies depending on the currency
  • Curexe – offers a transparent 1% cost on currency exchanges and goes down to .4% on higher volume transactions. They have awesome customer service because you can get a direct line to the founder 24/7.

The way that these services work is that you transfer (via wire transfer usually or ACH in the US) to their bank account and then they will wire or direct transfer to you in the exchanged currency.

Usually this means you need a bank account in the two different currencies.

You can get a bank account with multiple currencies which will solve this issue, for example by setting up an account with HSBC in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia or the UK.

Can you get 0% fees (in other words can you get the inter-bank rate)?

There is also an option for using a foreign exchange broker to directly exchange money and pay the same rates that banks pay.

This is something I have personally done, but it’s a little tricky to set it up. I would not recommend it unless you have over $500k to transfer.

In other words brokers don’t really want you to set up an account just to exchange some money! They are looking for you to trade, and transact hundreds of times so that they make something on brokerage fees. One company you could use for this is Interactivebrokers. There will be a monthly fee and a minimum to open the account if you do this.

Options for lower fees when traveling

All of these previous options are more for transferring larger amounts of money. If you’re traveling overseas and just need some cash during your trip, there are basically two options: Local currency exchange (cash to cash) and simply using your credit card.

The best option depends on which country you are traveling to. Some countries have a local economy that relies heavily on exchanging to US dollars and you will find in these countries that the exchange rates for cash to cash can be quite reasonable (around 1% fees one way).

Some examples are: the Philippines, Hong Kong or Ukraine. If you have US dollars then the best option for these countries is to bring US dollar cash and exchange it when you arrive. Mostly you will not want to exchange at the airport as the rates are likely to be a lot worse than in the city center.

Credit cards without foreign transaction fees

Credit cards are another option for getting your money when traveling. This can be either paying via the card or withdrawing from an ATM.

You want to be careful as most cards will double-charge you, not only for the currency conversion, but also an extra fee for withdrawing from ATMs and then on top of this an additional charge for foreign currency withdrawals.

So you can end up being charged in three separate ways for the same transaction: 1) The ATM fee 2) A percentage charge for cash advance or for foreign currency transactions 3) Another hidden fee on the exchange rate (again banks do not declare this fee to you they just tell you that this the “rate” they are giving you, but of course that “rate” includes their undisclosed fee.

There are some credit card options without additional fees whilst traveling, but all of them as far as I am aware will still have the hidden fee that they take when converting currencies.

Here are a few of the options:

Update: New transfer method that is lower cost than any other especially when transferring from Europe or the UK

Wise, formerly TransferWise – This company has some investment from Richard Branson and is a great option in that they don’t charge any hidden fee on the currency exchange. Instead they charge a fixed and completely declared fee of 0.5% in the UK or Europe or 1% in the US.

If you have any other tips for saving money on currency exchange fees let me know!

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  • Avatar Sanjay Donde says:

    HSBC bank Turkey send money in india
    Thus the indian have paid any fee?

  • Avatar tanya says:

    Any way to minimise PayPal fees (paid in USD withdraw in GBP)?

  • Avatar Paul says:

    Hi Rob,

    Helpful article!

    Do you think I can transfer money from my Canadian Dollar account at RBC to my USD at RBC using transferwise? The exchange rate is about 2% better doing it this way?

    A few thoughts:

    1) Is transferwise only for sending from an account in one country to an account in another country or can money be sent to from a domestic account to a foreign dollar account within the same country?

    2) Do domestic banks charge their own fees for withdrawing and depositing in and out of transferwise accounts?

  • Avatar Nolan says:

    Add my vote to Transferwise. I’ve always been using it for my overseas trips.

  • Avatar Krystyna says:

    You have noted very interesting details! ps nice internet site.

    • Avatar Leonarda Tiamzon says:

      Thank you for this article..I am finding ways how I can send money as a gift to my daughter who lives in Canada and planning to buy a property. I wonder what is the best way I can do it without paying a high fee..would sending a check better than wiring the money to her bank account?

  • Avatar Gillian Carmody says:

    Hi Rob,
    What’s the best way to transfer 60k GBP from a UK account to a US bank account? Also, is the exchange rate much lower through the banks?

  • Avatar John S says:

    I was written a check in canadian dollars, I don’t have a canadian bank account. But if deposit the check in my BoA account they will only give me a .71 rate instead of the .75 rate. These solutions seem to be for people with a canadian bank account. Is there a solution if I’d like to get a similar rate but I have a canadian check and need to get the money from it into my us account?


  • Avatar Lito arguelles says:

    HI Rob, I will be inheriting about 141M pesos in the Philippines, at current mid market exchange rate worth about $2.7M. I have bank accounts both in the US and the Philippiines. In your opinion, what cheapest way to transfer money back to the States. I understand about the 0.5% fee. What about exchange rate, how much markup can I expect? Thanks

  • Avatar RHEA LA ROCHA says:

    Hi – can you tell me the best way to send US$ from the USA to a US$ Account in India?

  • Avatar Daniel Tinelli says:

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for the great article! I plan on checking time doctor out. I also have a question. I am the beneficiary of a will from my father who was and lived in France. The Notaire and insurance (I have given the insurance the number already) have asked for my bank number to transfer but, with BofA, while listed Euro to Dollar are at a rate of 1 U.S. to 1.14 Euro, BofA is giving me 1 U.S. to 1.07 Euro while everything listed on line is 1.14. It is under $500k but over 100k. The insurance wants to shoot it directly into my bank but I’m not sure what to do. The difference, the amount the bank is charging me is 7% for the one way transfer when comparing to rates I have found on line. Any ideas? Thanks a MILLION!

  • Avatar Suzanne says:

    Hi Rob,
    I am not a big business, just a 61 year old looking to buy in Greece for retirement.
    I have a very modest 30,000 which I wish to transfer into euro’s, I also know I need a Greek Bank account (for my future purchase and my state pension payments).
    I would welcome your suggestions as to whether I should put the whole pot into the bank or an FX account, or whether I should use a Greek bank account as I would my English one and just use my everyday spare cash to make it an active account.
    Any advise from yourself would be appreciated.

  • Avatar vivien says:

    hi Rob, I have a euro account in an australian Bank I have tried to transfer my euros throught transferwise from australia to australia to avoid there very high exange rate between accounts. My bank blocked my account and told me that transferwise was frauduleus and untrustworthy and refused to do the transfer. Is the only option transfering back to a european bank account the euros and then use transferwise to get my australian dollars? at my australian bank ? . and can I complain somewhere about my bank (commonwealth bank of australia) for denying me the right to use transferwise?

    • Avatar Rob Rawson says:

      Yes I would complain to Transferwise, and to Australian government authorities. This is completely unacceptable and anti-competitive behavior. I would also approach local media. This should not happen. In the mean time you can check out some of the competitors to Transferwise and/or get a different bank.

  • Avatar Deanna Butler says:

    hello, i sold a property in Canada and I am American. I lost a ton on the property as I bought on Par and sold because we had to and was hoping not to lose a bunch more on the left over monies that I originally took out of US anyways. It is a large amount over 500,000 , any suggestions of best way to bring it back without losing a fortune again?

    • Avatar Rob Rawson says:

      All of the options in the article work well, I would try any of them as the rates will be better than the bank

  • Avatar Bob says:

    would you know which money transfer provided would send money from a CFA / XOX account to a European (EUR) account and at reasonable cost/fees?

  • Avatar Bob says:

    I would like to send funds from my Ivorian (XOF / CFA) account to my account(s) in Europe, could be modest or lager sums. Which money transfer provider would do that, and at reasonable cost?

  • Avatar Scott says:

    Another option, if you have a brokerage account, is Norbert’s Gambit. You buy an interlisted stock in one currency and immediately sell it in the other. Exchanging CAD/USD, DLR/DLR.U is ideal. It’s traded on the TSX in both CAD and USD. It’s an ETF that only holds USD (so, going CAD->USD, your exchange rate is locked in as soon as you purchase). Between bid-ask spread, commission on the sale (I use a broker that offers free buys on ETFs), and ECN fees, it’s worked out to around 0.25% above spot on an exchange of a few thousand dollars.

  • Avatar Mark says:

    If you’re actually traveling and spending abroad, then the best bet for a US citizen is to get one of the major credit cards that has a 0% foreign transaction fee. There will be no specific fee for exchanging currencies, and the major US banks get their credit card customers a really competitive exchange rate– i.e., virtually no spread between buy and sell (given the huge volume of US$ that are traded against just about every currency). Especially if you’re dealing with Euro, GBP, Yen, CAD, AUD, or HKD to USD, you’re going to get a spread that will cost you pennies.

    And if you need cash, use a Charles Schwab bank account or brokerage ATM card, which will get you a similarly close-to-0 spread, and with $0 in fees (plus they reimburse you for any fees the ATM itself charges you, within a day or two).

    If you have bank accounts in multiple countries, then the best way to exchange currency for sending it internationally, in my opinion, is with an Interactive Brokers account. You pay a fee– US$2 or so– for the transaction, and then the spread is close to 0 for any currency they support. I’ve literally seen the “buy/ sell” spread to be a tiny fraction of a fraction of 1 US cent when buying/ selling HK$. But of course they don’t support every currency– for me, most annoyingly, they don’t support Thai Baht.

  • Avatar Javi says:

    Hi Rob,
    If you use Forex brokers, for instance the mentioned, Interactive Bokers, to get USD in exchange of EUR and you spend those USD, what does happen with your open positions at USD?
    If later you did the opposite (getting EUR for USD), at a different rate, loses/gains would be reported for taxing purposes, right?

  • Avatar Gail Karrer says:

    I am a 70-year-old semi-retired woman from the US. I came to Thessalonica, Greece last February to help my daughter with a sick baby. My funds are extremely limited
    Today I went to the Alpha Bank and took out $80. The fees the Greek bank charged me was $29!!!
    There are no foreign banks here, and I always have to pay 25% and more. Greece has no agreements with the Bank of America, or anyone, for that matter.
    I am wondering if this is legal. Aren’t there any international regulations with the EU or US which would prohibit such exorbitant rates? I have only a small pension and will have to go home soon. Thank you!

  • Avatar Daniel says:

    Use revolut app. Best tool ever.

  • Avatar Lee says:

    Thank you, Rob, so much for writing this! I am getting ready to sell my house in Europe and do not want to hand over any gain I will make to the bank. They have made enough from me. I lost money from the get-go as the US dollar was much cheaper against the Euro when I made my 20% down payment five years ago and now that I am selling, the bank wants Euro 30k in penalty. My interest rate is 4.1%.

  • Avatar Maria says:

    Hi, I was wondering if travelwise/western union will be able to send money internationally, but without exchangeing the currency? for example, if I have an account in foreign country A, but the currency of the account is USD, and I am living in United States, it it possible to transfer USD to USD but internationally?

    • Avatar Rob says:

      Generally no, if you don’t want to exchange the currency these do not work. You can use a normal bank transfer and there are no currency exchange fees, but you do have to pay the wire fee.

  • Avatar Sylvain says:

    Thanks for the info, this is accurate and the conclusion on Transferwise is more than valid.
    I think there is another “relevant” information to add to this, namely, the from where to where and the which currency to which.
    For example, you can’t transfer money from Hong Kong to let’s say europe. Many companies are there. Singapore is also tricky….
    But the other way around is very easy…..

  • Avatar Bob Ridge says:

    I have used Citibank in Japan for many years. They give excellent rates for TTS, with only one unit differences both sides of mid-rate for major currencies (especially good for GBP). The basic fee for a single transfer is between ¥2,500 and ¥4,000, regardless of the amount. Money can be transferred online or by ‘phone if over a certain amount. The worst TTS rates can be found at any Australian bank (not including Citibank in Australia). Westpac for example gives rates of around 7% worse in both directions compared to Citibank. It is a shock to see their published rates compared to Citibank.
    By the way, the UK has always been a part of Europe, so your last sentence does not make sense.

  • Avatar William Kitchen says:

    Hi there Rob,

    Enjoyed the article and found it a good read!

    I am currently in the situation where I reside in the UK but get paid a steady and comfortable salary per month. I obviously lose out on the the banks conversion rate so would you agree with me that my best option is probably to visit every possible bank in one day or within a few hours and obtain their rate for USD TO GBP? I figured at least this way I would be able to see who offers the best rate and ultimately make a decision whether to switch banks or not. I would also like to add that as a seafarer the income would also be tax free.

    Hope to hear back from you soon.


  • Avatar Mark Jackson says:

    Sorry, but you’re wrong about Hong Kong. You’ll pay far more trading in your US$ cash for HK$ cash than you will if you just go straight to the ATM and withdraw HK$ directly from your US account. Do it in a Charles Schwab account and you’ll get a very tight exchange rate and no ATM fees on either end.

    Indeed, you can rarely beat just withdrawing cash from the local ATM straight out of your bank account back home, and let your home bank get you the best exchange rate.

    I routinely look up the published exchange rate, and EVERY time I have paid less out of my US bank account than the published exchange rate would suggest I would pay. That also goes for credit card purchases. (But on credit card purchases, you have to make sure the vendor doesn’t charge you in US$ as a “service”, for which you pay dearly; instead, pay in the local currency and let your US bank make the exchange for you).

  • Avatar Amanda Li says:

    Hi Rob. I found Swaash is a great app for travelers to avoid big fee! I had the test trial of using the pre-launched the app. It is really easy to use, and my friend told me it is also only cost me USD$1.5 for swapping currency with local people wherever I travel to. And pay even less when I decided to become a verified user. I saw the Swaash Facebook page say they going to launch the APP in December! What a great way to save money on the trip.

  • Avatar ve says:

    You mentioned Interactivebrokers for 500k+, and then you mentioned that they have a monthly charge, indicating that this is some kind of long term agreement, but how about if you only want to do 1 transfer of 600k?

    • Avatar Rob Rawson says:

      It’s a a non-standard way of doing things to use a broker such as Interactivebrokers and is very difficult to do. It’s up to you if it’s worth the hassle and the difficulty for the money saved. There is no long term agreement as far as I am aware.

  • Avatar Amal Farah says:

    I have received euro wire to my Capital One bank account but i am missing over $12000 difference, is this normal for my bank to be me less due to the exchange rate to dolor . Pls help me figure this or how to get my money. Thanks

  • Avatar Eshan Gangwar says:

    Hello Rob, I wish to transfer US Dollars from Uruguay to INR in
    India, I have a bank account in Santander here in MVD, Uruguay. My first
    question is if Santander is gonna charge some amount if I pay to
    TransferWise Local account(I am not sure if they have it here in UGY),
    If yes, what will be those charges ? Secondly if Recipient Bank In
    India(I have heard it is Yes Bank) is gonna charge some amount for
    receiving the transfer.
    Thirdly, Is there a better alternative to
    Transferwise considering I have a bank account In Santander or Is there
    any other cheap way of transferring through Payment transfer agents
    through Cash like Western Union(It charges more amount)

    Thanks in Advance,

  • Avatar Eshan Gangwar says:

    Hello Rob, I wish to transfer US Dollars from Uruguay to INR in India, I have a bank account in Santander here in MVD, Uruguay. My first question is if Santander is gonna charge some amount if I pay to TransferWise Local account(I am not sure if they have it here in UGY), If yes, what will be those charges ? Secondly if Recipient Bank In India(I have heard it is Yes Bank) is gonna charge some amount for receiving the transfer.
    Thirdly, Is there a better alternative to Transferwise considering I have a bank account In Santander or Is there any other cheap way of transferring through Payment transfer agents through Cash like Western Union(It charges more amount)

    Thanks in Advance,

  • Avatar Robert says:

    Very useful info, Rob. Thanks !
    Say a clients of mine from France instructed his bank to wire 30,000 euro to my account in at local bank in New Zealand . My question is which of the three banks involved in SWIFT transfer is usually doing the currency conversion ?
    1. Would it be the client’s French bank?
    2. My local NZ bank?
    3. Or perhaps the correspondent bank?

  • Avatar JEFF says:

    My fiancee has moved from Colombia to here in the United States.

    What would be the best method for her to transfer her money?

    What’s your thoughts on Western Union?


  • Avatar Sandra says:

    Hi Rob
    Wonder if you have any tips for me. I recently borrowed aud $15,000 off my dad in New Zealand and have just gone to make my first $1,000 installment to him and was peeved to see that the conv rate they will charge is 1.2 instead of the current rate of 1.7 or 8. If dad’s agreeable perhaps l could put the money into a high interest ac (is there such a thing lol) and pay him outright when l have $15,000. But l guess l would only save on the $20 transaction fees?

  • Avatar Mario Guti says:

    Hi Rob,
    I just saw your article and It seems very Interesting because I am closing a deal For trading products. A (xxx) company will release money from a DLC , about 1 Mil(over) , I have an account in US dollars from australia. Do you think is a Good idea To transfer the money There? Or I should open the account in another country. I am original from Brasil but, Here US dollars accounts Are not available.

    Kind regards,

    Mario Guti

  • Avatar Paul says:

    Concerned about the card rates for simply withdrawing money , something like 3% ??

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Yes it’s very expensive to withdraw cash in a foreign currency. If you want to exchange cash it usually better exchanging from US dollars cash to other currencies but it depends on the country

  • Avatar Betty says:

    Hi Rob, I came across your article as I too, am looking for the best way to transfer money. And I just wanted to say how impressed I am with you for replying to all the people that asked you about their situation like you’re their financial adviser. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  • Avatar Mike says:

    Rob –
    How does one find out from the bank what rate they would give you? Can you simply walk into a branch and ask them what their current exchange rate would be? Trying to determine how much their markup is.


    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      It’s true that it’s hard to find out this information. They kind of don’t want to know. However if you ask support “What is the rate if I send USD to EUROS right now via a wire transfer”, hopefully they will give you the answer.

  • Avatar breth says:

    Hi ,
    I will to exchange from sgd to gbp. Which is the best alternative with lower interest ? Like what if I want to withdraw the bank will it still incurs interest even when I use transfer wise to exchange the rate ?

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      I don’t know why you mention interest when transferring the money, it’s not relevant.

      Most of the options mentioned in the article will work ok for sgd to gbp, they are both major widely traded currencies.

  • Avatar Ric says:

    What should I use Transferwize or My USA bank to Bangkok Bank New York Branch to Bangkok Bank Thailand?
    I have a BKK Thai bank account . I want to send 100k to my account in Thailand.I know the NY branch charges $20.00.But I’m not sure the name or how much the fee is once it gets to Thailand although I think it could be 0.25% which would be $250.00.So assuming this is correct .My USA bank ACH is $3 +20+250= $273.What would it be if I used Transferwize?

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Why do you think it could be 0.25% for currency conversion? Check on this, as that seems incredibly low for a bank currency conversion fee. The way to check on this is to find out what rate they would give you (today) and then divide it be the REAL currency conversion rate you can find it here That will give you an approximation of the hidden fee they are charging. I’m not familiar with banks in Thailand, but I know that for example banks in the Philippines charge 1% and in Australia charge 2-3%. So in some countries the banks completely rip you off, in others they are more reasonable (1%) but I don’t think any banks are cheap.

      Also not sure Transferwise is the best, check all the other options in the article, for a larger amount such as $100k you should be able to get 0.5% or 0.25% currency conversion fee.

    • Avatar Ric says:

      The fee for ACH $100k via USA bank($3)Bangkok Bank New York branch($10.00) via Bangkok Bank Thailand account ($15)
      The NY branch exchanges into Thai Baht .

  • Avatar Kelly says:

    Thanks for this overview. I think that P2P trasfers solve international money transfers for many people. Other options that I used are Xoom and Paysera. I read that Xoom has several several money delivery methods, however I tried only transferring money to bank account. Paysera option offers only transfer to a bank account. Fee of this option varies depending on the currency. I liked that they have no limit for the transferred amount.

  • Avatar TB says:

    Hi. I just got off the phone with Oanda and the customer representative was extremely angry….and quite scarey….in stating that if I use their service to exchange money for different currency, they would “shut me down, and lock me out of my account!” I am really confused about this interaction. Can you shed some light, as it’s recommended in your article.


    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      We don’t recommend Oanada in particular and just provide the options that we found online. See here for some text on their website, they do provide this service through a third party “OANDA has partnered with World First, a leading foreign exchange company. You can exchange currencies and send money to businesses or individuals around the world with World First.” So I really don’t know why they said this but I think we should remove them from the article.

  • Avatar Jack says:

    Hospital in America had requested me the fee of 2,350 USD to be paid by wire -SWIFT for medical fees.

    My bank account is in EURO as hospital a/c is in USD.

    Look at the rates that two sites are quoting.

    2,350.00 USD = 2,131.95 EUR- XE

    2,350.00USD = 2,142.95

    On the face of quote calculations above, it seems that XE is cheaoer than Transfer wise by some €11.

    Is there any other sites apart from the above cheaper?

    any advice cos Euro is on downwards as i’m trying to save interests/hidden charges etc?

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Have you added any additional fees from XE? Also I’m not totally familiar with how they work.

      I don’t think there is anything that is cheaper

  • Avatar Julie Brown says:

    How does the email option for payment work with transferwise?

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Julie, I’m not sure what you mean by email option for payment? Basically you make a local transfer to Transferwise and then they make a local transfer to the recipient.

  • Avatar Paul says:

    A simple example…
    USDCAD (interbancaire course 1.2452 at 15:59 pm)
    1.2438 (usd to cad ) – 1.2465 (cad to usd )
    no other fees to do that…
    Canadian bank will charge you 1.27 and up…plus fees…

  • Avatar Paul says:

    It is easiest to just open up an account with a major european bank, in any currency ( you can often do that online), transfer your own currency to that account, convert ( in general around the middle rate), and transfer the money back or to an account you need. In general transfer fees are about 5 euro….on the exchange you barely lose….there are also specialized banks for that to even more finetune that….
    For example compared to canadian banks you save about 4% of the transaction amount….so on 1 million you save about 35 to 40 k…..
    As well, you have modern banking…wire transfers is the only way to go…and it is basically a standard in europe…easy, safe…affordable…

  • Avatar Mam says:

    Hi, I will be inheriting over 100K in GBP and need to convert to Canadian Dollars. I just was burned by our bank in deposting bank a few hundered GBPs already. Should I consider Transferwise? or is there another option?

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      yes I think it will work to use transferwise or any of the options in the article, but you might need to have a bank account in GBP and Canadian dollars.

  • Avatar Rupert says:

    Hi Rob, I have a slightly different situation. I am being paid in USD from London to a GBP account in London. I have been charged by sender bank and my bank. I understand that if I get a USD account in London I will still have sender bank charges as all USD transactions outside USA are via SWIFT. Is that right? Do you have any ideas of what I could do to reduce these crazy charges?

    thanks in advance and best regards,


    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      If the fees from SWIFT transfers are too high then the best alternative is local currency transfers, but this is only for within the same country. So for a USD account in London I do not know of a lower cost alternative.

  • Avatar Eddie says:

    Hi Robb. selling a property in Spain (400,000 Euro) My Lawyer will arrange a Bank Draft to my account in a Spanish Bank.I have a GB Pound bank account the UK. Is this the best way or should it be sent to a currency exchange broker. For this value which one would you recommend. Looked at Interasctive Brokers but they state user must have at least a record of 100 executions?



    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Eddie, I would look at TransferWise who will charge 0.5% of the amount I think.

      Using a brokerage like Interactivebrokers is possible but probably not worth it even with 400,000 Euro. As you mentioned they are looking for people doing multiple trades not transferring money one time.

  • Avatar Nick D says:

    Thanks very much for the article. Do you know somewhere that lists what percentage different U.S banks charge over the Inter-Bank rate? Believe me, it is very difficult to find someone at the bank who can give you this information (or maybe they don’t want to). My Mum is due some life insurance proceeds from U.K. pound-denominated policies but needs the money in USD. Her current bank is BB&T.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      I don’t know any way to compare the rates from Banks, but I can tell you that likely almost all or possibly ALL banks have high hidden currency exchange fees and if you can use the options mentioned in the article you will save money.

  • Avatar Hish says:

    Hi Rob,

    Am moving to Australia and want to take my savings with me which mounts to about $400k. Can you tell me about the broker option in the article.



  • Avatar Wayne says:

    Hi – great article. I reside in the US and have almost $1M Aussie dollars to transfer back to the US following the sale of my Australian house. Oander (World First) and XE seem to be best options because Currencyfair does not work with US residents and Transferwise cannot do AUD to USD. Given the amount, I am interested in exploring the 0% fee option you mentioned. Could you provide details? Much appreciated

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      The other really low cost option is to use interactivebrokers or other forex trading companies. Currency fair might still be ok, check with them? Ozforex should be fine also.

  • Avatar Alex says:

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for the great tips.
    I have already used OZforex as doing business with Russia (occasionally Belarus). However it is impossible to do it now.
    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      We are working on an article on transferring money to Russia and also a separate one for Belarus. I will get back to you when that article is completed. There are not a lot of good options outside of Western Union for example and wire transfers (and Western Union is not really suitable for business transactions).

  • Avatar TB says:

    Hi Rob,

    I live in the US and need to Change US dollars,over $100,000 into Euros to make a purchase in Ireland. I do not have a bank account in Ireland. But it would be an option to transfer the money into the sellers account. Can you please tell me what my options are without being hammered by high exchange rates and fees?

    Thanks for this great article.

  • Avatar JP says:

    Hi Rob,
    Somehow I’m not finding your email on this page, but would appreciate the brokerage details you mention for a large single exchange. Where can I email you?

  • Avatar Michael Holland says:

    I am moving back to the US (I am a US citizen) but my money is currently in COP. The exchange rate is terrible and I stand to lose much of my money converting it to dollars. I will be using my money for a down payment on a home and can’t afford to lose 25%-30% in conversion or fees. I need $70,000 for my down payment and have 154,000,000 in Colombian Pesos. How can I convert without losing my Butt?

    Thank you,


    • Avatar Admin says:

      Hi Michael,

      We are writing an article specifically on transfers in Colombia so I hope this will help. But it will be a couple of weeks for this article.

  • Avatar Samuel W. says:

    Thanks for the informative article! I will share this to my friend.

  • Avatar Aaron says:

    Just received an inheritance of $50,000 canadian dollars, here in usa. If I deposit it to my acct, do they charge a fee? Thanks.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Yes they will charge a fee for sure. You should find out exactly how much the hidden currency fee is. The fee might be reasonable for Canadian to US dollars. If it’s only 1% then it’s $500 and probably not worth it to go up to Canada and open a bank account to save $500.

  • Avatar Stan says:

    I work for a foreign exchange company. The reason why we charge fees is 1. It costs us money to get the foreign currency to you. 2. You have to pay for the product you’re receiving – foreign cash is classed as a product. 3. Other overheads I.e wages, rent etc. Just a hint though, most pplaces aren’t going to wave the fee just because you don’t like it BUT if you ask us we are usually more than happy to give you a better rate if you’re exchanging large amounts of holiday money

  • Avatar Syed says:

    Hi Rob,

    I have a business account with BOA here in US and send money to various contractor amount 5000+ each and the bank does not give a fair rate and charges additional 35 for transfer, will you be able to suggest me an alternate where I can get a fair exchange rate.


  • Avatar Anna says:

    Hi Rob, I am currently in the process of moving money from aud to gbp via currencyfair. Can you advise when you think a good time would be to change the money? I am prepared to hold it in currency fair til mid next year if I thought the exchange rate would be better as it is currently only 1aud-0.5179gbp hoping it’ll maybe go up to 0.58? What is your opinion on the subject?
    Kind regards

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Anna,

      It’s impossible to know if a currency rate is going to go up or done. If you REALLY can know this you should trade the currency markets and make billions of dollars. The worlds most prominent experts MIGHT have an idea and if they do and they are smart they are trading and are making billions of dollars.

      For you or I it’s impossible to know. Just exchange the money now. You really have no idea which way the currency will go and so it’s better to just to exchange when you need the money.

  • Avatar Larry & Veronica says:

    Rob, We own a home in the US, want to buy in England but the exchange rate is going to kill us. Is there any way to reduce the rate so that what we have here is more of a match in England ?

  • Avatar Simon says:

    Hi Rob

    I am from Australia, currently residing and living in the US. I am looking to get some of my USD converted to AUD and send it home. I have bank accounts in both countries. Which of the services would you recommend are the best for USD/AUD transactions?

  • Avatar Gary says:

    I need to buy some French Antiques (in euros) from the U.S. My bank works through Wells Fargo but yesterday quoted a rate of 1.27+ while the Bloomberg rate was 1.23. I don’t have a French account. I have a Capitol One intl cc but the merchant only accepts cash. Any suggestions? Transfer will be in the 10K to 50K range. Thanks

  • Avatar Pacome says:

    Up to today I was using Oanda for Transfer between GBP/USD and EUR. It was the best service ever. A commission of 20£ for the transfer to France but the exact spot rate which was just amazing. I have used them quite a lot to exchange money among the 3 currencies. BUT, and this is the problem they just informed me that they now refuse to do it anymore which is really a pity. So looking for another similar one. Seems from what you are saying that or InteractiveBrokers would work but I’m really disappointed that I can’t use OANDA for that anymore.
    Thanks for the website and the discussion, very helpful though.

  • Avatar lily says:

    Can you send me information on how you do this: “Can you get 0% fees (in other words can you get the inter-bank rate)?
    There is also an option for using a foreign exchange broker to directly exchange money and pay the same rates that banks pay.

    This is something I have personally done, but it’s a little tricky to set it up. I would not recommend it unless you have over $100k to transfer. I won’t mention the specific company name in this article because it’s a bit of a work around solution.

    In other words brokers don’t really want you to set up an account just to exchange some money! They are looking for you to trade, and transact hundreds of times so that they make something on brokerage fees. If you email me I can let you know more details.”

  • Avatar Randy C. says:

    Wonderful tips! I am so glad that I found this. You put all of the information needed to Stop the banks from taking advantage.

    • Avatar Dee says:

      Hi Rob

      Your advice is especially salient as I have selling my condo in the US and need to send the monies back to my account in Ireland
      (Euro). The sale is expected to close on 11/26.

      I have looked at using a money broker, MoneyCorp, to transfer the money at low cost. I wonder might these also be the company you might have used?

      The US$ against the Euro is strong. My bank in Ireland quoted a rate of 1.2582 if the funds had been received today & at the time of the call.

      What is your view for a transaction of this size using (a) a transfer directly from US to my banks acct in Irl or (b) using a broker?

      Many thanks,

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Dee, you can check the rate very easily that they are charging. So this is the 17th of November I have a rate of 1.2533 but actually you have to check this at the exact time when they give you a quote as the rates can change 1% within the day.

      see here;range=5d

      So basically according to my calculation it might be around .4% which is 1.2582/1.2533
      BUT you need to check the interbank rate at the exact time that they give you the quote (also note that yahoo quotes are a little delayed)

      Anyway it seems like Money corp is NOT ripping you off and around .4% or .5% is a reasonable fee.

  • Avatar Dawn says:

    Hello Rob
    I am looking to buy a house in Canada jointly with my Son. ( Canadian resident)
    I live in UK and would appreciate any info on how to transfer around £200,000.00
    From my UK bank account to my Canadian bank account.

  • Avatar sunny china says:

    can i make transfer up to 90,000pounds sterling to uk with some that has personal account details with Barclay bank???

  • Avatar Ceci says:

    Dear Rob

    What happens if a UK bank send you a check to deposit in your US account? Do you still pay a fee, besides the conversion of pounds into dollars?

    Thanks for your reply!

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      I think you will need to ask the bank specifically about this question, but they will definitely charge you a currency conversion fee. Usually my experience of this is that it can take a long time to clear as well (possibly 30 days), and not all banks will do it

  • Avatar mark says:

    Interested to follow suggestion of email to find out about

    Can you get 0% fees (in other words can you get the inter-bank rate)?
    via foreign exchange broker.
    Do we need to email direct ?


    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Do you mean like a broker where you give them cash and exchange money? A foreign exchange broker is always going to charge a fee. They might say “0% fees” but what that REALLY means is “We will totally rip you off and take as much money as possible and say it’s not a FEE”

  • Avatar Shamus says:

    Rob, any info would help for an exchange of Iraqi Dinar, and for the Vietnamese Dong. I am talking about an exchange in millions, for US dollars.

    Much appreciated.

  • Avatar Sean Harvey says:

    We regularly import goods from China, and used various currency brokers in past, so totally agree on that front. All saved me a stack of money versus the banks.

    Interestingly, I was recently at a tech show Finovate Europe, and came across a clever startup – – basically, they claim to be an Expedia for Currency. I had a demo with one of their guys recently – you log on, enter requirements and get quotes from competing providers. all are in competition with one another, driving down fees. Going to book in my first live transfer in the next week or so, so will let you know how it goes.

    • Avatar Stephen says:

      Hi Sean

      Stephen Conway here from Hamilton Court FX in London. We regularly trade for clients with activities in China, we can trade CNY easily and seamlessly. I would be interested in knowing how you are currently trading and what kind of risk can be removed completely in terms of hedging.

      If you are looking for advice on trades as well as pricing, don’t hesitate to contact me.

  • In your article, you wrote that’s possible to avoid foreign exchange fees but we have to write to you to know how. That is my question (i.e. how to avoid currency exchange fee – we change millions every year). Best Regards.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      It’s possible using a trading account which will allow you to settle in multiple currencies. So this is normally supposed to be used to trade currencies but you can use it also just to trade one time from one currency to another. There are several possibilities but Interactivebrokers is one that works for this

  • Avatar Kathryn Cullen says:

    Great resource into some of the intricate mysteries of foreign bank transfers, Rob!

    I couldn’t figure out specific information for USD > GBP transfers though (as in, US to UK bank accounts). Also, how about over $200k?

    I’ve looked (in a rudimentary way) into some services such as and torfx (via Any opinion on these, or one that you might recommend?

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Kathryn, don’t have a specific recommendation but for major currencies (USD and GBP) if you have a bank account in both countries you will have no problem using any of these services. The lowest cost but difficult to use method is to start a trading account for example with Interactive Brokers

    • Avatar brian c says:

      I am a us resident, canadian citizen. i am going to move back to canada permanently have have $440k i want to transfer from us to Canadian funds. what is the best way to exchange this large amount and avoid the fees?

  • Avatar Richard says:

    Hi Rob,
    great article. I wonder if you can help. I am in the process of relocating to Canada from the UK and I need to tranferr approx £500,000 from UK in order to purchase property in Canada. Can you suggesst the best option in order to minimise exhorbitant bank charges. Many thanks.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Richard, all the options in the article will apply. You will need the bank account in Canada and the UK first. Just make sure you don’t use the banks directly!

  • Avatar Andrew says:

    You said email me for more info, can’t find where to email you Rob…

  • Avatar Andrew says:

    Dang, read this info too late. Just got screwed out of $4500aud by the Commonwealth banking cartel. Depressing how fucking greedy these mofos are. Ever heard of an honest days wage for an honest days labour? This is all electronic, it costs them virtually nothing.
    It is all well and good the people do not understand the banking cartel system, if they did there would be a revolution before the morrow. To paraphrase the late great Henry Ford.
    I’m just waiting for an option (sth like Bitcoin, but better) where we can all just simply bypass the banking system all together!!!

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      The issue I think is that the fees are not declared. If they itemized how much they were making on the currency exchange and told you they were ripping you off that would be more acceptable in my view.

  • Avatar Francisco says:

    I have an account in Bank of America (USD Account in USA) and another account in Bank Santander (USD Account in Uruguay). I need to transfer USD from USA to Uruguay. Bank of America wants to charge me 10% of the amount transferred, is this normal? I mean both accounts are USD account but in different countries. How can I avoid that?
    Thanks for your help.

  • Avatar steve tweedie says:

    Hi Rob, Great website. I am presently employed in Australia and earn aussie dollars. Every month my salary is transfered and converted via Swift to my account with Nationwide in the UK. I have noticed that the exchange rate given is quite different from the published bank rates to my detriment. Is there a bank that gives better rates in UK?

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Steve, yes any of the options mentioned in the article will work, but these are not banks. I don’t know of a bank that has good rates between Australia and the UK.

  • Avatar Curt says:

    I have investments overseas that will mature soon and I will be receiving EUR. They must send it to a bank account with my name affiliated with the account. I currently have Bank of America, and they are at nearly 6% one way. You have shown on your list that Wells Fargo is around 2% round trip. I tried to get the info from the bank on how much the exchange rate would be today, and they couldn’t get me the information. Do you know if Wells Fargo would indeed be the best bank for me to have wire come into in terms of round trip fees? Unfortunately I must have a bank account with my name attached, or else I would use one of the other mediums you mentioned.

    Thank you.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      The best option is to open a euro account in Europe (or maybe in the US is possible also) and receive the money there and then use one of the services in the article to exchange to your US dollar account. In terms of Wells Fargo versus Bank of America, I’m not certain, you should do your own research. I think the 6% figure you are talking about includes the wire transfer fee? I don’t think the bank will charge as much as 6% one way on currency transfer alone. But yes if the transfer is lower in amount then the wire transfer fee will be a bigger component of the transfer.

  • Avatar Magda says:

    Hi, thank you for your article. It was really helpful. I do have a question though so could you please e-mail me back if possible? I do travel a lot as a doctor and I constantly lose money from the bank transfers and the currency exchange. I am now in UK, have some UK bank accounts (Barclays and Lloyds) and I also have an option for a euro bank account in UK even though I am not sure if I need it for now so I chose not to hurry. I am from Greece so I have a Euro bank account in Greece but when I need to transfer money from my Greek bank account to my English one there is obviously a huge amount missing due to the hidden fees. I will probably be in US next year as well so I will need to change again soon. I really need some solutions on that. I also saw the transfer wise recently but I do not know if this is the best solution. Any suggestions? Any help would be much appreciated.

  • Avatar Choon Yong says:

    Thanks Rob for a great article. I’m planning to transfer Malaysian Ringgit to AU$ from the sale of my house. The websites listed above does not handle MYR > AU$ conversion.

    Could you suggest a way to reduce these hidden charges by the banks.


    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Malaysian Ringgit is a difficult one, I’m not sure about this. I think if you can find a local company to give you a really good rate in converting to US dollars you could then convert to AUD, but I’m not aware of an easy method to get a good rate between Ringgit and AUD.

  • Avatar Irina says:

    Hi. Thank you very much for the information. Can you please send me the name of the company I can use to transfer over 100k without commission?

    Thank you!

  • Avatar Chris says:

    Hello Rob

    I too would be interested if you can advise details of the 0% spread option. I regularly exchange amounts over USD 100,000. We have been using Oanda, but they have just pulled their currency conversion service. Had used them for many years, but just got a message from them telling me to go to a company called “World First” who just seem to be a standard brokerage service.


  • Avatar Nicole says:

    My mother is receiving an inheritance from Canada and will be moving about $700,000 CAD to USD. She recently had $5,000 wired to her from RBC (where the money is held) in Canada to her US bank account. RBC said the exchange rate was $1.28 but I checked online and it was $1.12…ridiculous mark-up. So I’m of course writing you to ask for the zero cost option since she will be transferring a much larger amount soon and there is no way I’m going to let the bank rip her off like that again. Thanks for such an informative article Rob!

  • Avatar Ol says:

    Hi Rob Great article. Would be really interested in 0% and as close to Interbank rate as possible. Could you send info on this. Would be appreciated. Thanks

  • Avatar Glenn says:

    Hi there, I have started dropshipping in the US from Australia. Just testing the waters at the moment and my method (purchasing with credit card and receiving cash with paypal) is proving costly with the exchange fees etc. could anyone recommend the most cost effective way to become a thrifty trader.

    Cheers in advance

  • Avatar Ewan says:

    Hi Rob, I have this new situation that I haven’t experienced before. I have done some research on how to do what I want to do and I have come up with no solution so far. I am currently living in UK, I have a cheque in Australian dollars in the thousands from the Australian Federal Reserve which is the tax return from the work I had done there in the past, I don’t have an Australian bank account anymore and I do not want to cash it into my UK account which obviously would be converted into pounds. I want to cash the cheque into Australian dollars in London, the reason being is the Australian dollars in the market at the moment is very poor against the pounds, so I want to hold onto the Australian dollars until the Australian dollars recovers to a reasonable rate conversion to the pounds. Do you know where there’s a place that I can cash the cheque in it’s original currency? Thanks.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Not really possible unless you hold a multi-currency account in London which I think is not common. Could do it if you have a private banking arrangement, but honestly I think the answer is to open a new account in Australia or take the hit on the currency exchange.

  • Avatar kaabeche says:

    I am a french living in the UK. I would like to transfer £ to € without these crazy fees, how can i do that???

  • Avatar Mort White says:

    Gidday Rob
    I am an Aussie now living in Canada
    I have monthly income paid into my ANZ (Oz) Account
    Every time I wire the money I get gouged.
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks heaps

  • Avatar Heather Henry says:

    I have received a cheque for 1,200 British pounds (Barclays!) and, from what I am reading, this is going to cost me 15% to convert to Canadian funds. I don’t see many feasible options for me – no out of country accounts, not a large amount of money… help.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hi Heather, if you received a check you must deposit it to an account. You should check with your Canadian bank if they will even deposit a check in pounds! If they do then yes there will be significant fees, but I think it will be less than 15%, it might be around 3% as a guess, but you would have to ask the bank. The best option is to have a UK bank account, but if you don’t have one you really don’t have another option.

  • Avatar Den C says:

    I need to transfer 90000 euros from an account in France to a U.S. account. What is the best way to avoid or lower the currency conversion fees?

  • Avatar Enzo says:

    Thanks Rob for your article. Very helpful.
    I signed up for but I was surprised that their exchange rate was also 2-3% above the interabank rate. So even though their transaction fees are very small, they also make a huge profit from the hidden fee. Is there any company out there that provides an exchange rate closer to the interbank rate?

  • Avatar c citizen says:

    I Just Want To wire US$ from My USA Account = 4000€ To An Account In Germany. I Know TheRe Is A WIre Fee, I Get That!!! I Also Know There Is An Exchange Rate. I Get That Too!! What I Don’t Get Is The Exchange Rate Was 1.3467, But Naturally The BOFA Charged Me1.41+. What The H IsUpWithThat BS??????? What A Rip Off!!!

  • Avatar Alice says: is also on of the well known exchange companies. Many charge a commission but Travelex has 0% commission policy on online purchases. One doesn’t realize how much they can save on exchange, but you could add up to a bomb.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Hello Travelex. I just checked your site. THE FEE IS NOT 0%. The current exchange rate is 64.18. The current interbank rate is 61.93. The difference is 3.5%.

      Your site is EXTREMELY expensive. Your customers are not idiots and will not fall for the concept that you have “0%” fees. That’s a total scam to pretend that you are charging 0%. You should be more transparent.

    • Avatar Alice says:

      Please read carefully, we have 0% commission only when you reserve online.

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      If you really have 0% in fees I apologize.

      But honestly I don’t believe you and what I think you are saying is that you have 0% commission PLUS a hidden 3.5% currency exchange fee. So the total fee is 3.5%. If this is not true then please prove it by giving the exact rate of exchange for today and I will compare it against the interbank rate.

  • Avatar David Butler says:

    Need to transfer large amountuf usd to euro can u help

    • Rob Rawson Rob Rawson says:

      Yes sure the article gives instructions on how to minimize the fees. Do you have a specific question about the article?

    • Avatar David Butler says:

      Yes, The name of the company you used to transfer large sums over 100k. I am planning on using fxcm and they said they “may” require time before withdrawing funds and a mimum trading activity.

      quote “there is obviously some expectation from our side that there will be trading going on in the account, you will not have to meet a minimum vol requirement, but you may be required to complete a set amount of volume before you can Withdraw money with a minimum mark up being applied.”

      As you know in these situations time is of the essence.


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