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Bank of America International Wire Transfers: Fees, Exchange Rates, Limits, and More

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Feb 5, 2021
Affiliate disclosure

The second-largest bank in the US and one of the top ten largest globally, Bank of America is a financial services titan that provides a wide assortment of retail, business, and investment banking services to over 66 million customers across the globe.

Despite its rock-solid reputation and extensive scope of service, however, Bank of America is an expensive and slow option for sending money abroad from the US. By delving into the bank's fee schedules and exchange rates, we found that US dollar bank wires sent to accounts overseas are subject to hefty, untransparent exchange rate fees over and above a US$45 fixed fee. For smaller bank wires (i.e. under US$750), this typically means that fees will eat up more than 20% of the transfer amount.

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BoA International Wire Transfer Fees

Here's a summary of the cost of making an international wire transfer at Bank of America:

  • US$45.00 transaction fee for outbound international wires.
  • 5.00%-7.00% exchange rate margin.
  • (Potentially) US$10 and US$100 in correspondent bank fees.

What Will Bank of America Charge You?

To send money abroad with Bank of America, you'll need to use a bank wire (also known as a "wire transfer") to get the job done. These transfers, which are distinctly different from ACH payments, mean that Bank of America will wire your funds over the SWIFT network and charge a set of fixed fees for the service. These include:

  • A US$45.00 transaction fee for outbound international wires to a foreign currency bank account, sent in US dollars;
  • A total fee waiver for outbound international wires to a foreign currency bank account sent in the same foreign currency.

Bear in mind that, as an ordinary consumer (i.e. not a business), you will face a very tight limit on the amount of money you can send abroad per day with Bank of America. The maximum threshold is only US$1,000! If you enrol with Bank of America's SafePass security scheme, then you'll be able to raise this limit significantly, however.

If you'd like to find out how to make a bank wire transfer, take a look at our step-by-step guide here.

Other Fees to Anticipate

Over and above the exchange rate margins and transaction fees that you'll be paying when you make an international wire with Bank of America, there may still be other expenses before the money arrives in your beneficiary's bank account.

According to Bank of America's fee schedule, taxes "and other third-party fees" may apply to your international bank wire. What they're referring to here is what's known as a correspondent bank fee, a kind of "middleman" fee that can apply to transfers going over the SWIFT network. These fees will typically cost you anywhere between US$10 and US$100 per transfer. They could be levied without warning by a third-party bank if Bank of America cannot make your transfer directly to your beneficiary's bank.

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Avoid "OUR" Payments. In the case that you're asked to choose between "SHA", "BEN" and "OUR", we recommend that you avoid choosing "OUR" payments wherever possible. These instructions can open the door to your beneficiary's bank or the intermediary bank levying further fees from you long after the transfer has been sent.

Bank of America's Exchange Rates: Beware The Hidden Fees

In addition to the standard set of fees outlined above, Bank of America will also charge what's known as an exchange rate margin every time that you transfer abroad.

In essence, this means that the bank will be making a small profit off of every single dollar that it exchanges into a foreign currency on your behalf. This all comes down to the fact that the exchange rates Bank of America offers you will be ever-so-slightly worse than the exchange rates it itself uses to exchange your currency (known as the mid-market exchange rate.)

Bank of America's exchange rate margins are relatively high — typically between 5 and 7% of the total transfer amount.

As you can see above, exchange rate margins at Bank of America are fairly consistent. They tend to hover around 5 or 6% of the total value of your transfer, with European currencies tending to be slightly cheaper in general than other foreign currencies.

What's noteworthy about exchange rate margins is that they're seldom made transparent by traditional banks. In the case of Bank of America, for example, the bank doesn't mention that it charges an exchange rate margin with the same clarity as it mentions the transaction fee, instead burying the following line deep the terms and conditions underneath its fee schedule:

"The exchange rate you are offered may be different from, and likely inferior to, the rate paid by us to acquire the underlying currency."

The Costs Combined

When we take both the hidden exchange rate margin fee, and the US$45 fixed fee into account, international wires with Bank of America quickly become very expensive.

Suppose you were to send US$500 to a friend across the border in Canada, for example, and you chose Bank of America to get the job done. After paying US$68.12 in total fees (derived from the US$45 transaction fee and the relevant US$23.12 exchange rate margin fee), your friend would receive C$553.12 at the time of writing.

Contrast this to making the same transfer with Wise, a London-based money transfer specialist service that was cheapest for this transfer on Monito's comparison engine at the time of writing. With TransferWise, you'd pay no transaction fees whatsoever and only US$3.75 in exchange rate margin fees. This would get your friend C$636.80 at the time of writing or 15% more than they'd have received with Bank of America.

To get a better sense of how these combined fees impact the final receiving amount, take a look at the fee breakdown below (as of 04/02/2020 at 13:45 +01:00 GMT):

The Costs Visualized

Is Bank of America Right For You?

All things taken into consideration, Bank of America is a globally respected bank with a stellar reputation, and you can most certainly trust them with your next transfer abroad. If you already bank with Bank of America and value the ease of making your transfer straight from your account, then sticking with them may be the right option for you.

On the other hand, if you're interested in keeping the costs down and you're open to sending money abroad with a third-party specialist service (or if you plan on making a one-time transfer abroad that's greater than the US$1,000 limit at Bank of America), then there are lots of lower-cost alternatives at your fingertips to compare. Monito regularly evaluates and reviews these services for factors such as ease of use, security, and speed, so you can be sure that whichever service you choose through Monito’s comparison tools will get the job done.

For these reasons, we recommend that you explore your options through Monito’s comparison engine to find a transfer service that will get your money to your beneficiary safely, securely, and more quickly — and all at a much lower cost than Bank of America!

To get a better picture of just how these specialist transfer services differ from traditional banks such as Bank of America, take a look at our full in-depth guide here. Alternatively, take a look at the table below to see how these providers weigh up against one another on a US$500 transfer to Mexico:

Provider

Time

Recipient Receives (in Mexican pesos)

Payment Option

Cost Overview

Bank of America

1-2 days

$8,683

Bank wire

Upon paying

See More

Remitly

In minutes

$10,465

Bank transfer, credit/debit card

In advance

Transfer

InstaReM

~2 days

$10,154

Bank transfer

In advance

Transfer

TransferWise

~2 days

$10,096

Direct bank payment, bank transfer, credit/debit card

In advance

Transfer

WorldRemit

Same day

$10,066

Direct bank payment, credit/debit card

In advance

Transfer

Skrill

Same day

$10,007

Credit/debit card

In advance

Transfer

Quoted: 04/02/2020 at 13:45 +01:00 GMT

Frequently Asked Questions About Bank of America Wire Transfers

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