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Can You Transfer Large Amounts of Money Between Banks? Yes, But Beware The Hidden Fees

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Dec 13, 2023
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Is it possible to transfer large amounts of money between banks? Yes, it certainly is. In most countries, making a large transfer from one bank to another is a simple process that's normally more or less identical to making a small transfer.

However, depending on where you live, how much you're sending, the type of transfer you're making, and whether your transfer is domestic or international, there may be some things to consider or extra complications to navigate. This guide takes you through the broad details and helps you make a start on transferring a large sum of money.

Transferring internationally? Compare the market to save on exchange rates:

Domestic Transfers

If you're sending money within your country, there are generally few restrictions on how much you can transfer in a single transaction. However, this often differs significantly from country to country, so a good place to start would be to research if there are limits for transferring a large amount of money between local banks in your country of residence.

Making a domestic bank transfer to move money between bank accounts is usually facilitated by a clearing house or a real-time gross settlement payment system. These systems differ from country to country, and each comes with its own waiting times, processing speeds, operating costs, and, in some cases, minimum and maximum transfer limits. A few examples of clearing houses or real-time gross settlement systems around the world include ACH in the United States, CHAPS in the United Kingdom, BECS Direct Debit in Australia, Autogiro in Sweden, Interac in Canada, and SEPA in the Eurozone. On the other hand, international payments between two foreign currencies are handled via a distinct system called SWIFT, which we discuss in more detail later.

What's The Maximum Amount You Can Transfer?

As we touched on above, local payment systems sometimes impose different limits depending on the country in question. Here are a few examples:

  • United Kingdom: Most banks in the UK impose their own limits on personal transfers. BACS transfer limits are often around £10,000 to £20,000 (which can typically be raised in your online banking), while limits for transfers made via Faster Payments are £1 million per transaction. There are no limits on CHAPS transfers.
  • United States: In principle, there are no limits for transferring money within the US. However, depending on your bank and transfer type, there may be limits. For example, for ACH transfers, the same-day limit is typically $1 million, with some banks like Citibank and Bank of America imposing much lower limits.
  • European Union: If you're sending a euro-based credit transfer within the EU through SEPA, the maximum you can send is €999,999,999.99 (just one cent shy of a billion euros).
  • Australia: There are no limits on BECS transfers, but individual banks of financial services providers typically impose their own limits.

Quick & Free Transfers In The USA & UK

If you live in the USA or the UK, Cash App is a great way to make and receive instant payments in US dollars or pound sterling respectively for no fees. It's quick, savvy, and easy to use, and you can link it directly to your bank account to streamline and simplify your transfers.

As an unverified Cash App user, you can only transfer up to $1,000 or receive up to a total balance of $1,500 per 30-day period, but as soon as you're verified (a process which involves submitting your full name, date of birth, and the last four digits of your SSN), you can transfer up to $7,500 per seven-day period, without any limits on how much you can receive.

International Transfers

If you're sending money across borders, the exchange of currency becomes involved, adding a new level of complexity to the money transfer landscape. This is because converting money between currencies isn't an easy process, requiring lots of steps and intermediaries between the point at which the funds leave your bank account and the point at which they arrive in your recipient's. The global system which facilitates international transfers is called SWIFT.

Reasons to Transfer Large Amounts Internationally

The world is becoming more accessible to everyone, so transferring money at a reasonable rate is crucial to your goals and quality of life. People make high-value transfers (typically defined as being over $10,000) for various reasons. Here are a few common examples:

  • An expat moving abroad: You’ve decided to relocate to another country, temporarily or permanently.
  • Buying a property abroad: You might be investing in a desirable location or buying somewhere to live over the medium- or long term.
  • Funding educational costs: Studying worldwide can be expensive, so you must pay academic fees.
  • Business transactions: If you’re expanding into new markets, opening an international office, or buying inventory, large amounts of capital are essential.
  • Other reasons: You could be paying for a wedding, sending money home, buying a car, or any one of dozens of reasons.

Whatever your reason for making a high-value foreign exchange transaction, several factors will significantly influence how much money you send in your native currency and receive in the new one. We go through these factors below.

Key Factors Impacting High-Value Foreign Exchange

The main areas that impact the deal you get from your bank or currency exchange company are the following:

  • The exchange rate you are offered: This has the single most significant impact on the value of your FX transaction. A 1% or 2% variance in the exchange rate can create significant additional costs.
  • Commissions or "extra" fees: Beware of any payments based on the total amount you are transferring. These can eat into how much money the recipient will get in the new currency.
  • Payment fees (deposit and withdrawal): fees levied by banks and other financial institutions can impact the total amount received and delayed transaction times.
  • Fixed-rate transfer fees from the FX provider: you typically won't need to worry about these as they are often waived on high-value transactions.

How Much Can You Transfer Internationally?

You can generally transfer any amount abroad (there are seldom fixed limits on how much you can transfer across borders), but be sure to check whether or not the amount will be taxed or requires declaration in either your country or in your recipient's country. A common maximum threshold for tax declaration is $10,000 USD in many countries, though it varies considerably.

Here are a few examples of major countries and declaration limits per sending or receiving transaction involving domestic accounts:

Country

Tax Declaration Free Limit

Relevant Law

USA

$10,000 USD /transfer

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act

India

$14,000 USD /transfer

The Income-tax Act, 1961

Canada

No limit

-

UK

No limit

-

Colombia

$7,500 USD /transfer

Colombian Tax Code

Philippines

$10,000 USD /transfer

BSP Foreign Exchange Regulations

Last verified: 1 September 2021

It's also worth noting that banks and money transfer operators may impose their own (sometimes much lower) limits on your transfer amount. For example, the following major operators impose the following limits:

To learn more, take a look at our full guide to limits when transferring money internationally.

How The Exchange Rate Makes a Difference

As we saw earlier, the exchange rate is the single largest factor influencing the cost of an international transaction, large or small.

Here's an illustration of the difference getting a reasonable exchange rate can make to the recipient's money. In the example below, we're going to convert 50,000 British pounds into US dollars to show you how much this sum is worth in dollars using various providers:

Exchange Rate

Received (USD)

Loss (USD)

Mid-Market Rate

1.2554

$62,770

$0

Avg. Forex Broker

1.2498

$62,490

$280

PayPal

1.2125

$60,625

$2,145

Avg. Bank

1.2268

$61,340

$1,430

Last updated: 11 December 2023

As you can see, the exchange rate significantly affects the value of your FX transaction. Using a bank like HSBC, Barclays, or others for international transfers can mean you’re up to almost 4% worse off.

That’s why you should always choose a specialized currency provider who can provide much more competitive foreign exchange rates. You can use Monito's free-to-use comparison engine to find the best deal for your specific transfer in real time.👇

Compare exchange rates across foreign exchange providers:

The Hidden Costs of Commissions and Extra Fees

Most foreign exchange providers don’t charge additional fees for high-value transactions, but some exceptions exist. Banks will often charge a flat fee and provide poor exchange rates.

For example, on a £50,000 currency exchange, Barclays would charge an additional £28. However, they’re not the worst culprits for fees. To find them, you need to turn to PayPal. PayPal doesn’t provide reasonable exchange rates, to begin with. They then add an additional fee (between 1% and 3.9% for GBP to USD conversions) to compound that. This fixed fee can significantly impact the amount the recipient gets. On the £50,000 transaction, that additional fee comes to around £500 and could go as high as £2,000!

Payment Fees to Deposit and Withdraw Money

Some banks and financial institutions charge to send and receive currencies into accounts, especially if your FX provider does not have local pay-in or pay-out accounts in your country.

Although these fees are generally not that high, you need to pay attention for two crucial reasons: The fee deduction will impact how much the recipient gets. If they rely on receiving a specific amount, the monies you transfer won’t fully settle your obligations. Getting your funds to the provider or beneficiary can take longer, sometimes significantly longer. It would be best if you spoke to the sending and receiving banks to understand any fees likely to be levied and plan for them.

How Currency Exchange Works

The currency exchange process is straightforward. Although it varies from provider to provider, it will follow these steps.

  1. Find which FX provider gives you the best exchange rate. You can do this for free on Monito.
  2. Set up an account with your currency provider. They typically need your name, address, contact details, bank details, and proof of identification.
  3. Decide the currencies that you want to exchange money between.
  4. Book a rate through your currency provider; you may use a spot rate or get a forward contract to lock in an exchange rate.
  5. Provide details of the sender and receiver of the funds.
  6. Send money to your currency provider. This will typically be from a bank account, although you might also use a credit or debit card for larger value transfers.
  7. Your currency provider will make the exchange and deposit funds in the new currency in the recipient’s bank account.

How to Safely Transfer Large Amounts of Money Between Banks

If you're transferring large sums of money internationally, it's essential to do so in the most secure and least risky way possible. There are several steps you can take to get the job done:

1. Understand Your Costs

You will need an understanding of your end-to-end total costs, including exchange rates and fees. Our foreign exchange comparison tool shows you exactly how much you can expect to pay and receive.

Compare exchange rates in real time:

2. Work With a Personal Account Manager

Some currency providers will assign a specialized account manager to handle your currency exchange needs. This is especially true if you’re transferring large amounts. They can walk you through every step of the foreign exchange process so you know exactly what’s happening at every step. Sometimes, you will even negotiate your exchange rate with the account manager and get a better deal.

3. Find Good Customer Service

Good customer service is vital when you’re transferring large amounts. Our reviews section highlights currency providers who have excellent customer service.

4. Use a Forward or Limit Order

Forward and limit orders can help protect you from exchange rate variations. A forward order lets you set a rate now for currency exchanges you’ll complete in the future. A limit order means your currency exchange will only happen when certain conditions are met; for example, the exchange rate hits a specific value. Talk to your provider about these types of orders.

5. Read Reviews of Various Currency Providers

One of the best ways to manage your risk is to read reviews of foreign exchange providers to make an informed choice. Here at Monito, we provide expert reviews, customer reviews, and video reviews so you can get the information you need. Below, we’ve included information about several of the most popular currency exchange providers.

Popular Foreign Exchange Providers

We’ve listed several of the most popular options for international currency exchange providers below, together with the pros and cons of each.

Currencies Direct

Offering excellent exchange rates, Currencies Direct is a world-class option for large transfers. Like OFX, its online interface is smooth and functional, allowing you to take advantage of many forex-related features. Currencies Direct has been in business since 1996, making it a long-standing and highly-trustworthy option for your transfer.

  • Cost: 0.1% receiving fee + ±0.4% margin /transfer. Third-party fees may apply.
  • Coverage: Available in most countries worldwide and supporting transfers to 120 countries in 40+ currencies.
  • Speed: 24 - 48 hours
  • Transfer Limits: £100 - £300,000 (or equivalent)
  • More Info: See our Currencies Direct review or visit the website.

OFX

A specialist in large money transfers, OFX is a popular FX broker that's been around since 1998. It's a large and established provider that scores highly on all four criteria of our Monito Score, and we especially like its detailed yet easy-to-navigate user dashboard that lets you send money, track exchange rates, and make advanced instructions like forward contracts, limit and stop loss orders, and FX options.

  • Cost: 0.4% - 1.5% margin /transfer. Third-party fees may apply.
  • Coverage: Available in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, the US, the EU, Singapore, and Hong Kong. It supports transfers to an impressive 190 countries in over 50 foreign currencies.
  • Speed: 1 - 2 business days
  • Transfer Limits: $2,000 - $2 billion
  • More Info: See our full OFX review or visit the website.

Currency Solutions

A smaller company than OFX and Currencies Direct, UK-based Currency Solutions nevertheless offers an excellent forex platform and great exchange rates. They also charge no fees on transfers over £3,000 and support not only bank transfers but debit card transfers from any debit VISA or Mastercard.

  • Cost: 0.4% - 0.8% margin /transfer. Third-party fees may apply.
  • Coverage: Available in most countries worldwide supporting transfers to 33 currencies.
  • Speed: Up to 48 hours
  • Transfer Limits: £1,000 - £20,000
  • More Info: See our Currency Solutions review or visit the website.

Find the best way to transfer large amounts of money between banks:

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You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.

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