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Thread: How to send a wire and prevent the banks from skimming money

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    How to send a wire and prevent the banks from skimming money

    Sending and receiving banks can always guarantee how much they will charge for a wire transfer, but refuse to say anything about what intermediate banks will charge.

    Since checks are not practical in Europe, are we forced to play the fee lottery?

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Banks cannot legally charge any fee for wire transfers within the EU (as long as you use IBAN and BIC/SWIFT codes in according with SEPA regulations). Some banks (notably in France) continue to charge their customers because they know that suing them is more expensive for the customer than paying the small fee.

    In Belgium, I know that some banks don't charge anything (or just a few cents) even for wire transfers to some other developed countries. I am not sure about American banks, but they sure have a reputation for greediness.
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    One of the tricks Fortis uses in Belgium is to put on the EU wire form a check box marked "urgent", and then to put a date field somewhere else on the form. If you do not tick the box marked urgent, but in the date field specify the same day you're filling in the form, it is treated like an urgent wire anyway, and a fee will be siphoned. The siphoning is hidden from the customer, as Fortis does not enumerate any urgency fee on the bank statement. Less money simply shows up on the other end.

    A salesman for a UK brokerage claims not to charge any wire fees. Once the euros arrive, I ask the cost of wiring the euros back from the UK to a Belgian euro account (which the salesman originally said was free). Now that they have the money, they give the honest answer: ~14 GBP fee to wire the euros back.

    Note that no currency conversion is involved, and this is in a SEPA region. Technically, the brokerage really doesn't charge anything. However, they have established a relationship with an intermediate bank that pays itself by siphoning money from transfers.

    I read the law passed by European Parliament. It does not say that wires must be free, it merely says that banks much charge the same fee to all eurozone banks as they would locally. A bank can in fact choose to charge a fee uniformly for all wires. And if they are an intermediate bank, they can simply siphon money that goes through, without disclosing their fee to the client who's sending the money.

    I've thought about putting a note on the wire transfer memo field saying "if xxx amount of money is not in this wire, refuse this wire". But I'm told that the receiving bank does not have the option to refuse a wire.

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgombos View Post
    I read the law passed by European Parliament. It does not say that wires must be free, it merely says that banks much charge the same fee to all eurozone banks as they would locally. A bank can in fact choose to charge a fee uniformly for all wires.
    That may be true. But most of the banks I know don't charge any fee for local transfers (except in Japan, where it is about 1.5 euro whatever the amount sent).

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