International transfer

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Thanks to international transfers, it is possible to send and receive funds quickly anywhere in the world. But this service comes at a cost. And banks often charge a high price for it. Deadlines, fees, exchange rates: here's everything you need to know to make your international transfer successful.

What is an international transfer?

A transfer is a banking transaction that allows you to transfer funds from one account to another. There are two main types of bank transfers: SEPA (Single European Payment Area) transfers and international transfers.

SEPA transfers

SEPA transfers are fast (1 to 2 working days) and generate few fees, especially when they are made online. However, these transfers only workwithin the single European payment area, or SEPA zone.

This space brings together the 27 member countries of the European Union, the 4 member countries of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), as well as Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, the Kingdom -United Kingdom and the Vatican.

SEPA transfers: price and operation

International transfers

To transfer money to countries outside the SEPA zonesuch as the United States, Morocco, Tunisia, Vietnam, Japan or Australia, you must make an international transfer.

There are two types of international transfers:

  • Non-SEPA transfers: an amount denominated in euros is transferred to a bank account outside the SEPA zone. For example, you send 500 euros to Senegal.
  • Currency transfers: a sum denominated in a currency other than the euro is transferred to a bank account located in a foreign country. For example, you send 500 Canadian dollars to Sweden.

Thanks to this fast and secure payment method, you can send money anywhere in the world. The only downside is that an international transfer is often much more expensive than an ordinary transfer.

How much does an international bank transfer cost?

6% of the amount transferred: this is the average amount of fees for an international transfer, according to figures from the World Bank. Or 90 euros in fees for a transfer of 1500 euros. A substantial sum. Too much in any case according to the United Nations, which wants to see the costs of international money transfers reduced by half by 2030 (1).

International transfer: the main types of fees

In detail, there are three main types of fees when you make an international transfer through your bank:

  • Issuance costs: Also called transfer fees, these are charged to the owner of the account from which the funds are sent.
  • Reception costs: they are billed to the owner of the account into which the money arrives once the international transfer has been made.
  • The exchange commission: these fees are used to remunerate the bank when it exchanges your euros into foreign currencies.

The good news is that the cost of international transfers in France is gradually decreasing. Since 2015, the cost of this banking operation has on average fallen by -0.23 points per year, according to Wise. However, there is still a long way to go.

Fees for an international transfer outside the SEPA zone

These fees may vary from one establishment to another. In June 2023, BforBank, for example, charged 25 euros in issuance fees for an international transfer outside the SEPA zone, while Crdit Mutuel Ile-de-France was satisfied with 11.60 euros for this same service:

Bank

Issuance fees

Receipt costs

BforBank2520
BNP Paribas1510
Boursorama Bank200.10% (20 mins)
Ile-de-France savings bank0.1% (23 mins)15
CIC17.5017.50
Crdit Agricole Ile-de-France0.10% (22 mins)21
Credit Mutuel Ile-de-FranceFrom 11.60 41.409.18
Fortuneo0.10% (23 mins)12
The postal bank0.10% (9.90 min, 70 max)13.50
LCL0.1244% (18.30 mins)18.30
Hello bank1510
HSBC12.5025
Monabanq0.10% (20 mins)0.10% (20 mins)
General SocietyFrom 9 13From 0 22

Examining the rates reveals that banks often charge minimum fees or fixed fees, which can quickly add up to the bill if you make small international transfers on a regular basis. It is better, if possible, to favor a single large international transfer.

Another observation: online banks, traditionally less expensive than traditional banks, do not really stand out in terms of fees for international transfers. Monabanq charges, for example, a minimum of 20 euros in issuance costs. In contrast, HSBC only charges 12.50 euros.

Fees for an international bank transfer in currencies

In the case of an international transfer in a currency other than the euro, banks charge additional fees. These fees often take the form of a foreign exchange commission:

Bank

Issuance fees

Receipt costs

Foreign exchange commission

BforBank25100.6030% (17 mins)
BNP ParibasFree if same currency as beneficiary
otherwise 15
19Not indicated
Boursorama BankFree0.10% (20 mins)Major exchange rate
Ile-de-France savings bank0.10% (23 mins)150.05% (10 mins)
CIC17.5017.509.18
Crdit Agricole Ile-de-France0.10% (22 mins)21Not indicated
Credit Mutuel Ile-de-FranceFrom 11.60 41.409.189.18
Fortuneo0.10% (23 mins)120.1% (15 mins)
The postal bank0.10% (9.90 min, 70 max)13.5010
LCL0.1244% (18.30 mins)18.30

Not indicated

Hello bankFree if same currency as beneficiary
otherwise 15
19Not indicated
HSBC12.5025Major exchange rate
Monabanq0.10% (20 mins)0.10% (20 mins)0.10% (15 mins)
General SocietyFrom 9 13

From 0 22

Not indicated

Depending on the establishment, exchange fees may be fixed or proportional to the amount of the transfer. Some banks also apply their own exchange rate, which may generate additional fees.

Who pays the fees for an international transfer?

When you make an international transfer, most banks give you the option to choose whether the fees will be borne by the recipient (BEN), the sender (OUR), or if they will be shared between the recipient and the sender. (SHARE).

By default, fees are often the responsibility of the issuer. But you are free to choose the option that best suits your situation. Be careful though: some banks charge additional fees for these options.

Socit Generale charges, for example, 36 euros for an international transfer of at least 501 euros made with the OUR option, which allows the issuer to cover all of the costs associated with the transfer of funds.

How long does it take for an international transfer between sending and receiving?

Deadlines for an international bank transfer are generally longer than for an ordinary transfer. Especially when the operation involves converting your euros into another currency.

Once the international transfer has been validated with your bank, you must on average 5 working days for the money to arrive in the beneficiary's accountcompared to only 1 4 days in the case of a SEPA transfer.

And if you're in a hurry, some extra-bank players offer fast or even instant international money transfers. This is for example the case of MONI, with which funds are available in the beneficiary's account in less than an hour.

How to make an international transfer?

Most people turn to their bank to make an international transfer. To do this, simply go to an agency, call customer service, or log into your customer area on the Internet. Then enter the amount of the operation, then complete the beneficiary's contact details:

  • Name
  • Address
  • IBAN
  • BIC or SWIFT code

Another option: go through an extra-bank operator, such as Wise, WorldRemit or Western Union. These players specialize in international money transfers and often offer more advantageous rates.

How to send money internationally at the best price?

Sending money abroad almost always has a cost. And it is not possible to make an international transfer without fees, unless you take advantage welcome offers.

At the moment (June 2023), WorldRemit is offering fees on your first three international transfers, for example. Likewise, the fees for the first transfer abroad are free for all new MONI customers.

But beyond these one-off offers, it is possible to send money outside the SEPA zone without breaking the bank in bank fees. The best option remains to go through parties other than your bank, whose fees are often very high.

More and more fintechs are seeking to find their place alongside banks and heavyweights in the sector, such as the American Western Union. Online money transfer services held nearly 60% market share in France.according to a study (2) from UFC-Que Choisir as of 2019.

The arrival of these new entrants and progress in technology are driving down the price of international transfers. And it now becomes possible to send money at lower costs around the world.

However, here again, we observe significant disparities in the costs of an international transfer. Not to mention that fees and resulting price differences may vary from country to country.

Here, for example, is a comparative table for a transfer of 345 euros from France to Morocco, made from the internet (3):

Operator

Deadline for receipt of funds

International transfer fees

Western Union1 day6.28 euros
Xendpay2 days3.97 euros
Wise3 5 days7.35 euros
WorldRemit2 days8 euros
Small World2 days8.69 euros
MoneyGramSnapshot9.76 euros
MONISnapshot16.22 euros

And here is the same table for a transfer of 345 euros from France to China (4):

Operator

Deadline for receipt of funds

International transfer fees

Wise1 day4.55 euros
Western Union1 day7.14 euros
RemitlySnapshot7.11 euros
MoneyGramSnapshot7.45 euros
WorldRemitSnapshot10.80 euros

It is precisely to avoid such price differences that it is important to compare costs before initiating an international transfer.

(1) Remittances, investments and the Sustainable Development Goals

(2) UFC-Que Choisir Study INTERNATIONAL MONEY TRANSFERS: A lawless zone at immorally high rates

(3) Source: data collected by the World Bank between May 29 and June 14, 2022.

(4) Source: data collected by the World Bank between May 25 and June 9, 2022.

© MoneyVox 2022-2024 / Paul Anthonioz / Page updated on / Rights reserved

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