Wells Fargo International Wires: Everything You Need To Know

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

A true giant of US banking, Wells Fargo is considered one of America's "Big Four" banks, offering a large range of financial services to over 70 million clients across the globe from more than eight thousand physical branches and 13 thousand ATMs in total.

One of the many services on offer at Wells Fargo includes bank wires, which can be sent domestically and internationally. However, international bank wires, in particular, come at a steep price at Wells Fargo, with the bank offering poor exchange rates over and above an untransparent transfer fee that's levied at a variable amount.

As a result, the fees for smaller international bank wires at Wells Fargo can frequently swallow as much as 20% or more of the total value of your transfer, making the service pricey even when compared to other banks out there.

What Will Wells Fargo Charge You?

If you're banking with an ordinary Consumer Account at Wells Fargo, you will pay an undisclosed fixed fee every time that you send money abroad. According to the bank, this fee will be disclosed at the moment you pay for your transfer, with the starting fee being US$30.00 per transfer.

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

Wells Fargo's Exchange Rates: Beware The Hidden Fees

The total amount you'll be paying in fees when making an international wire with Wells Fargo doesn't end with the above-mentioned transfer fees, however.

In addition, you'll also be paying what's known as an exchange rate margin on every international money transfer that you send into a foreign currency. In essence, this means that Wells Fargo will take a hidden cut of the money you transfer by charging you an exchange rate that's inferior to the one used by banks to trade between one another, known as the mid-market exchange rate.

At Wells Fargo, these exchange rate margins vary from currency to currency, typically fluctuating between 4% and 10% above the mid-market rate and adding to the final amount you pay in fees.

These exchange rate margins are seldom disclosed in a fully transparent manner by banks. In the case of Wells Fargo, for example, while the bank is indeed significantly more forthcoming about this fee than are many banks in the US and abroad, the fact that you'll be paying an exchange rate margin is not made quite as transparent as the fact that you'll be paying a transfer fee.

To this end, Wells Fargo discloses the following information in its Terms and Conditions:

"Wells Fargo makes money when it converts one currency to another currency for you. The exchange rate provided to you is set by Wells Fargo in its sole discretion, and it includes a markup over Wells Fargo’s cost of sourcing the relevant currency or currencies."

The bank adds further that:

"The exchange rate Wells Fargo provides to you may be different from exchange rates you see online, in publications, at other banks or other foreign exchange providers. Also, different customers may receive different exchange rates for transactions that are the same or similar."

The Costs Combined

When taken together, Well Fargo's transfer fee and exchange rate margin can constitute a hefty slice of the total value of your transfer — a slice you'll notice most if you plan on wiring less than US$750 internationally.

For instance, if you were hypothetically to send US$500 to a family member living in Mexico, you would pay US$31.64 (or 6.73% of the value of your transfer) in exchange rate margin fees if you chose to make the transfer with Wells Fargo, as well as a further minimum of US$30.00 in transfer fees. The total fee amount (US$61.64) would therefore come to more than 12% of your transfer amount and leave your recipient with 8,934 Mexican pesos at the time of writing.

Compare this to making the same transfer with Remitly, a Seattle-based global money transfer service that was the best deal on Monito's real-time comparison engine at the time of writing. If you were transferring for the first time with Remitly, you'd pay no flat fees and get a better exchange rate than the mid-market rate by the equivalent of US$11.73. Compared to Wells Fargo, this would get your family member a total of 10,410 Mexican pesos. That's over 16% more than they'd have gotten with the bank!

To get a clearer sense of exactly what costs you might expect to pay when making an international bank wire with Wells Fargo, take a look at the fee breakdown below, as of 14/12/2020 at 12:00 +01:00 GMT. Bear in mind that we applied the minimum fixed fee of US$30.00 to all of the following transfer examples:

The Costs Visualized

Wells Fargo International Wires: Other Fees to Anticipate

In addition to the undisclosed transfer fee and exchange rate margin that you can expect to pay when sending an international wire with Wells Fargo, there may be other fees yet before your money finally arrives in your beneficiary's bank account.

For example, depending on your individual circumstances, the most likely of these fees will be either of the following, levied by third-party banks:

  • An amendment fee of an undisclosed amount if you enter your beneficiary's details incorrectly or insufficiently;
  • correspondent bank fee (usually hovering anywhere between US$10 and US$100) if your bank wire cannot be made directly to your beneficiary's bank account while going through the SWIFT network and Wells Fargo needs to rely on a third-party bank to finish the job.

💡 INSIDER TIP

Avoid "OUR" Payments. In the case that you're asked to choose between "SHA", "BEN" and "OUR", we'd 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.

Is Wells Fargo Right For You?

All in all, Wells Fargo is a pricey option for sending money abroad from the US. And while the bank does have a reliable reputation and an impressive scope of service, as a result, we recommend that you avoid making international wires with Wells Fargo for your money transfers, especially funds are destined for countries such as Pakistan, the Philippines, and Brazil

That being said, if you already trust Wells Fargo to get the job done and you don't mind paying extra in fees; then it might make sense for you to stick with the bank.

However, in almost all other circumstances, we recommend you explore your alternatives by comparing the competitive market of specialist services out there. Run a search on Monito's real-time comparison engine to see which services will offer you the best rates. If you'd like to see more about how money transfer specialists differ from banks for sending abroad, then take a look at our guide here.

To demonstrate just how much you could be saving by making the switch, take a look at how Wells Fargo compares to a few of these services on a US$500 transfer to Mexico (as of 04/02/2020 at 16:30 +01:00 GMT):

Provider

Time

Recipient Receives (in Mexican pesos)

Payment Option

Cost Overview

Wells Fargo

1-2 days

$8,934

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

You May Still Be Wondering...

Why Trust Monito?

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.

Learn More About Monito
  • Monito is trusted by 15+ million users across the globe.

  • Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.

  • Our recommendations are always unbiased and independent.

Monito.com

Global Impact Finance Ltd
Avenue de Montchoisi 35
1006 Lausanne
Switzerland

Affiliate Disclosure
Instead of banner ads and paywalls, Monito makes money through affiliate links to the various payment service providers featured on our website. While we work hard to scout the market for the best deals, we're unable to consider every possible product available to you. Our extensive range of trusted affiliate partners enables us to make detailed, unbiased, and solution-driven recommendations for all types of consumer questions and problems. This allows us to match our users with the right providers to suit their needs and, in doing so, match our providers with new customers, creating a win-win for everybody involved. However, while some links on Monito may indeed earn us a commission, this fact never impacts the independence and integrity of our opinions, recommendations, and evaluations.