DCU international wire transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

17.04.18
9 minute read
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When you travel abroad, anything can happen. That could mean making new friends in Costa Rica and taking an unplanned scuba-diving excursion, but it could also mean your lodging falls through and you have to spring for a pricy hotel for a few nights. The point is, unexpected expenses happen, and you might need to have someone back home wire you cash. The good news is, you might be able to save yourself time and money if you use a service like TransferWise. But more on that later.

DCU Bank is a regional bank chain in New England, with most branches in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as over 6,800 co-op branches where you can still use bank services. DCU bank allows you to make international wire transfers in numerous foreign currencies. If you have either a checking or savings account with DCU USA, you can make an international wire transfer. And, if you’re looking to save money, you can still use your DCU bank account and send money domestically online through TransferWise for the international transfer — likely saving yourself a lot of hassle. And money.

Read on for a guide to international money transfers with DCU banking.

A quick example before we get started.

Here’s a theoretical bank transfer sending $1,000 from the United States to a pound sterling account in the UK.

Provider Fee Exchange Rate Total Cost
DCU (USA) $40¹ Exchange rate + markup $40 + exchange rate markup + likely fees from intermediary and recipient banks
TransferWise $8.70 The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google $8.70

At the outset, it already seems clear that DCU appears to have much higher fees. But there’s more to the cost of an international transfer than just the fees. Keep in mind that many banks mark up the exchange rate by 4-6%, plus there are normally 1-3 intermediary and recipient banks who also charge fees.

This is getting expensive.

There’s something you can do to make sure you’re getting the best deal, though. Compare the exchange rate offered for your transfer to the mid-market rate using an online currency converter so you know if the rate is marked up and by how much.

What are the fees or an international money transfer with DCU in the US?

The table below lists the fee structure for international wire transfers for DCU account holders. This information is taken from the DCU website.

DCU International Transfers² Regular Fees
Incoming Wire Transfer Free + correspondent fees (see Additional fees section)
Outgoing Wire Transfer (Foreign Currency) $40.00
Outgoing Wire Transfer (US Dollar) $50.00
Additional fees See below

DCU Exchange Rates

When you’re transferring money to a different country, an exchange rate is used to determine how much the recipient will be paid out in the local currency. This is an area where you can lose out on a big chunk of change. In fact, the amount often lost out on is around 4-5% of the amount you’re sending. That adds up. Fast.

If you want your recipient to receive a currency other than US dollars, then the exchange is often made by an intermediary bank unless you organize DCU to make the exchange first. However, if DCU does convert your currency, you should know that they even note themselves that they won’t offer you the interbank or spot rate also called the mid-market exchange rate. The mid-market rate is the rate you see when you Google. Here’s how they explain it:

Please be aware that exchange rates vary throughout the world. An exchange rate offered within the United States might be very different from that offered abroad. Rates published on the internet are generally for high dollar volume traders. Making the currency exchange on the sending end offers more competitive choice, whereas sending United States dollars to a foreign institution leaves you with their exchange rate. Please be aware that currencies with low exchange volume have high market volatility.

Essentially, in regular human speak, DCU is noting that the exchange rates you see online are never the ones that you’re going to get with them. Or with any other bank. Understandably, they say you’re safer making the currency switch with them rather than with another. But even still they say that you won’t get the rates you see online because those rates are normally only “for high dollar volume traders”. However, if you use TransferWise you can actually get the real exchange rate you see online. Because, to TransferWise, it’s important that whether you’re a high dollar trader or just a regular everyday Joe, that we all deserve to have access to good exchange rates. Another reason that you could save money when sending or receiving money from abroad with TransferWise rather than sending it straight through your bank.

Additional fees from DCU

DCU international transfer Additional fees
Sending/recipient bank and/or intermediary bank(s) DCU notes that "Please be advised additional fees may be charged by the intermediary bank due to contractual agreements. DCU has no prior knowledge of these fees and is not responsible for them”.² If your money is transferred using SWIFT, there could several intermediary banks involved, and they can all deduct fees from your transfer. These fees normally range from $10-$40 per bank.
Expedited transfer⁴ $10

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

When you transfer money from country to country, it’s important to be aware of the fees and exchange rates charged by different financial institutions. Most banks and transfer services charge low up-front fees but take advantage of you by using a higher exchange rate than the average and skimming the difference.

To transfer money and have the largest amount left over when you collect it, give TransferWise a try. That way, your money will be converted at the real exchange rate - the same one you’ll find on Google or XE - and that should put more money back in your pocket.

If you’ll be making semi-frequent transfers from one country to another, the TransferWise borderless multi-currency account is probably best suited to your needs. A borderless account allows you to have a virtual account in several regions including the EU, Australia, the UK, and the US, but still, reside in a different country. There are no monthly fees, and it means you can hold, send, manage, or receive money through your account in dozens of currencies.

To see TransferWise’s revolutionary exchange rate method in action, check out the exchange rate calculator on the TransferWise homepage. Everything is laid out for you: the fee, the exchange rate, the final amount the beneficiary receives in the converted currency, and the amount you can save using TransferWise.

How do you make an international bank transfer with DCU bank?

If it’s your first time making an international transfer, it can feel a bit scary. Oftentimes, many would like to go in person to make their first transaction. Unfortunately, with DCU, that may not be an option. Your only choice may be to make your wire online. Although if you were going for convenience, then that’s actually really great news.

You can make a transfer online with DCU in 2 main ways.

Directly online through DCU

  1. Go to the DCU online banking page
  2. At the top of the page, click Personal Banking > Online Banking.
  3. Log in to your account.
  4. Click Account Manager > Payments/Transfers.

By connecting your DCU bank account to TransferWise

  1. Go to TransferWise.com
  2. Choose the originating currency and amount in the top box and then choose the corresponding recipient currency in the bottom box
  3. Click on Show fee breakdown to see how much each payment option costs
  4. Click the green button Get started
  5. Fill out your personal details†
  6. Enter your recipient’s information††
  7. Make sure you’re happy with the cost and exchange rate
  8. On the final step you’ll have several options to pay for your transfer†††

† Especially on your first transfer, you may be asked to verify your identity with ID, address proof, the reason for your transfer, or even your SSN just like you would when you open a bank account in person at a regular financial institution.

†† It may be helpful to note that when sending money through TransferWise you won’t actually need international banking details for your recipient. You’ll need their local banking details the same information they would give to a friend inside the country for a domestic bank transfer. That likely means you may not need their SWIFT/BIC code, but more like the domestic equivalent.

††† The cheapest option for you will likely be Bank Debit (ACH) by debiting the money straight from your DCU account, but the fastest option will be paying by debit/credit card if the limits permit it.

For more information, visit how TransferWise works to find out a bit more.

What do I need in order to make an international wire transfer?

Before you can make an international wire transfer, every financial institution will require you to have some information on hand. For DCU Bank, you need to collect the following information:²

  • Your name, DCU member number, and residential address
  • The account number of the account from which funds will be transferred
  • The name and address of the receiving bank
  • The recipient bank’s SWIFT code
  • The amount and currency of the transfer
  • Recipient’s full name and address
  • Recipient’s account number

If you decide to use an alternative like TransferWise, instead, and fund your international transfer via a domestic ACH bank transfer or with your debit card from DCU, you’ll actually only need your recipient’s local banking information as well as name and home address.

What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?

Normally if you’re receiving an international transfer, you’d need to give the international sender DCU’s very own SWIFT/BIC code. However, a bit unusually, DCU doesn’t belong to the SWIFT network and, as you might guess then, doesn’t have a SWIFT code nor even an IBAN. Which means that it’ll be a little trickier than usual for you to get your money from abroad as any funds sent internationally will actually go through an intermediary bank. In fact, the sender’s bank will have to choose their own intermediary bank in order to get the money to DCU. And this will incur further costs.

The exception would be if your sender uses TransferWise to send you money from abroad and, in that case, you’ll only need your normal domestic bank details like ACH routing number, account name and account number. And, in that case, with TransferWise, those additional SWIFT costs would be skipped altogether.

However, if your sender is making a normal SWIFT transfer through their bank to receive an international wire transfer through DCU Bank, you need to have the following information ready.²

  • The DCU ABA number: 211391825
  • Your name and, if applicable, the name on the account
  • Your account number, which can either be your member number or your checking account number (DCU refers to this as the SDC number. It’s an 8-digit number that appears on the bottom of your checks)

How long does an international bank transfer with DCU Bank take?

If you’re sending money internationally straight through DCU, you’ll need to get familiar with their cutoff times as it will make a big difference when your money will arrive.

If your international wire request is received and verified — the speed of which may depend on how busy your branch is that day — then you can expect certain processing times.²

  • Before 12:00 EST (New York time): Processed on the same business day
  • After 12:00 EST (New York time): Processed on the next business day

However, keep in mind that it only means your international wire will be processed. That doesn’t mean your recipient will receive it at that time. Each country’s banking system is unique, and some of them process transfers faster than others. Though DCU doesn’t guarantee a range of days in which the transfer will be completed, typically, the wire will take 2-5 business days to arrive to the recipient once it’s processed.

If you choose to send your money internationally through TransferWise via your DCU bank account, especially if you pay using your debit card, you’ll likely find it quite a bit faster, depending on the country. Go to the TransferWise home page to get a price and delivery time estimate to see if it can help you get your money there a bit faster.

Have more questions about your transfer? Contact DCU Bank

You have several options to get in touch with DCU.

Once you have the tools to make an international wire transfer with your home bank, making them should be a cinch in the future.

Sources

  1. https://www.dcu.org/pdfs/fees.pdf#page=2 (April 10 2018)
  2. https://www.dcu.org/account-services/money-wire.html (April 10 2018)
  3. https://www.dcu.org/personal-banking/checking-foreign-check.html (April 10 2018)
  4. https://www.dcu.org/infodesk/fees.html (April 10 2018)
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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