This extensive guide on Canadian bank wire transfer fees tells you everything you need to know so you can avoid nasty surprises.
13 november 2020 — 6 min read
One of the perks of living, working and banking in Canada is you can send money overseas directly from your bank account, and have it reach its destination in just a couple of days.
But while wire transfers tend to be quick and convenient, they aren’t always the cheapest option. There are usually high fees attached to the transfers, and there may be additional charges throughout the transaction or even upon arrival. But international money transfers don’t have to be expensive.
If you want to save money, don’t just default to your local bank or go with the first provider that you find. Compare the different options available, and take a look at their fees and their exchange rates. You also don’t need to stick with banks—there are also reputable third parties like Xe who make international money transfer affordable and convenient.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at Canadian bank wire transfer fees from some of the biggest banks. Take a look to see what your bank charges—and whether you could get a more cost-effective money transfer elsewhere.
These are the fees charged by banks for money transfers done using traditional bank networks. You pay for the transfer at the remitting bank and provide the recipient's name, account number, and the transaction amount.
Most Canadian banks charge a flat fee of C$15 to C$40 for the international wire transfer service that most customers use. Many banks charge fees for sending wire transfers and receiving them. They also charge a 2% markup fee (on average) for currency exchange services.
To help you understand Canadian bank wire fees better, let’s talk about the interbank (mid-market) rate first.
The mid-market rate is the midpoint between the buying rate and the selling rate of two currencies at any time. It’s the rate you see when you do a Google search. The buy and sell rates are usually based on the ever-changing demand for a currency and cause the mid-market rate to change constantly.
If you send or receive money in a currency that differs from what’s in your account, an intermediary bank or the recipient bank will convert the money at its own exchange rate. This rate is usually 4-6% higher than the mid-market rate. Your bank may also charge you a markup for converting the money—a percentage of the amount being sent.
If your bank fails to convert the money for a wire transfer, the recipient bank will do it and add a markup. You can visit platforms such as Google, Reuters, or Bloomberg (or the Xe Currency Converter) to check how much more Canadian banks are charging above the mid-market rate. The best way to avoid high markups is to use a non-bank option like Xe.
If you work or run a business in Canada, it’s very important to look at the wire transfer charges. Most Canadian businesses operate on a profit margin of 2% to 7%. If you pay wire transfer fees and foreign exchange markups every time you send money across borders, you’ll end up losing a lot of money.
The wire transfer fees charged by Canadian banks vary from bank to bank. Let’s take a look at what the top banks charge.
Here’s how much you’ll pay for international money transfers through BMO.
Wire transfers through a BMO branch: 0.20% of the transaction amount ($15 minimum and $125 maximum). You may also pay extra fees linked to the SWIFT network.
Outgoing payments via Western Union: C$9 and 1% of the total amount.
Incoming international payments: C$14.
To send a bank wire transfer via TD Canada Trust, you’ll pay:
Outgoing payments: USD $40.
Incoming international payments: USD $15.
These are the only fees charged by TD bank. However, when you make an international wire transfer, several intermediary banks may be involved in transferring your money to the destination account—which is standard practice with SWIFT transfers. These banks may charge fees which aren't set by TD Bank. Therefore, it can be hard to find out the real cost of an international wire transfer. You can ask TD Bank to provide further details.
You can send money internationally with CIBC in 2 ways: through the bank’s Global Money Transfer system or through your local branch.
CIBC Global Money Transfer (GMT) charges: 0 fees if you’re sending less than C$15,000 and your destination currency is on the bank’s list. However, recipient banks may still add their own fees. CIBC also adds charges to the exchange rate.
Outgoing international payments:
C$10,000 or less: C$30.
Above C$50,000: C$80.
Incoming international payments: C$15 and a possible exchange rate spread.
CIBC charges a standard fee of C$35 for the recall of a wire payment, the return of a wire payment, and the amendment of a wire payment.
This is how much RBC charges to send or receive a wire transfer:
Outgoing payments: C$35 via wire transfer and C$13.50 via International Money Transfer.
Incoming international payments:
C$50 and below: free.
Above USD $50 or C$50: USD $17 or C$17 (based on the currency of the incoming wire payment).
The wire transfer fees for Scotiabank are as follows:
Outgoing payments: Via mobile app or online banking: C$1.99 per transfer on select accounts. Western Union payments cost C$9 and 1% is charged on the total transfer amount.
Incoming international payments:
Pension payments: $1.50 per transfer.
All other wire transfers: USD or C$15 per transfer.
It’s worth noting that Canadian bank wire fees keep changing as banks and financial institutions regularly update their pricing. Visit the banks’ websites to get the latest information and up-to-date figures. Intermediary banks who handle the transaction may also add their own charges.
As recently as 10 years ago, banks and wire transfer companies like Moneygram dominated the money transfer market. Customers had to pay costly fees for wire transfers as they had no other option.
While that has long changed, many Canadian banks still charge a 2% markup fee for currency exchange and a flat fee for the international wire transfer. 2% might not seem a lot at first, but if you send money internationally on a regular basis, the costs quickly add up.
If you want to save yourself some money, compare the fees and exchange rates offered by Xe. We don’t add any hidden charges and provide an affordable and effective way of transferring money internationally. Open an account today, it only takes 5 minutes.