Union Bank international wire transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

TransferWise content team
6 minute read

You’ll probably look to your bank to assist you with international wire payments or money transfers abroad. But the process can be different from bank to bank. Plan ahead to avoid steep fees and surcharges, or penalizing wait times. The good news is, you might be able to save your time and money if you use a service like TransferWise. But more on that later.

Read on for a guide to international wire transfers with Union Bank.

A quick example before we get started.

Take a look at this theoretical online bank transfer sending $1,000 from the US to a pound sterling account in the UK.

Provider Fee Exchange Rate Total Cost
Union Bank (USA) $35¹ (via Direct Access) Exchange rate + markup $30- $50 + 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

Union Bank’s fees appear to be much higher. And fees aren’t even the only thing to consider here. Many banks mark up their exchange rates for international transfers by 4-6%, which is basically a hidden fee you have to pay. Plus, there may be 1-3 intermediary and recipient banks who also charge fees.

Try using an online currency converter to compare the exchange rate you’re being offered to the mid-market rate -- the same one you’d find on Google. You may be surprised by how much your transfer is actually costing you.

What are the fees for an international money transfer with Union Bank in the US?

Depending on where your money is traveling and the details of your account, you will face varying fees. If you’re not sure what fees will apply to your transaction, then check with Union Bank for specifics. Otherwise you can find an outline of possible fees with Union Bank below.

Union Bank International transfer fees table

Union Bank Transaction Fee¹ per transfer
Incoming wire transfer $15
Outgoing international wire transfer (foreign currency) via direct access $35
Outgoing international wire transfer (foreign currency) in person, at a branch $40
Outgoing international wire (foreign currency) via customer service on the phone $55
Outgoing international wire (in USD) via Direct Access $45
Outgoing international wire (in USD) in person at a branch $50
Outgoing international wire (in USD) via customer service on the phone $65
Additional fees See below

You can select how you want the fees to be charged, when you create the payment. There are 3 different options²:

  • Ours - you, as the sender, want to pay all the fees. This means you will pay the fees charged by Union Bank, but also any fees that are charged by the intermediary or receiving bank.
  • Beneficiary - the recipient of the transfer will pay all fees. These will be deducted from the amount that you transfer, so the recipient will receive less money.
  • Shared - the sender and the recipient will share the fees. Usually this means that you pay the fees from the sending bank, in this case Union Bank, and the recipient will pay any fees charged by the intermediary and/or receiving bank.

Union Bank exchange rates

When making an international wire transfer, the money you send will have to be converted into the recipient’s local currency at some point. Banks don’t use the exchange rate they use between themselves - the actual mid-market rate - to convert your money. They use a marked up exchange rate instead. Meaning that any difference between the two rates is pocketed by the bank that’s in charge of converting your money, making them a profit.

This is also mentioned on the Union Bank website in fine print:

Our currency exchange rates for retail and commercial transactions, and for transactions effected after our regular business hours or on weekends, are different (and usually less favorable to you) from the exchange rates for large interbank transactions effected during a Business Day (the rates reported in The Wall Street Journal or elsewhere are usually for large interbank transactions)¹.

Additional fees from Union Bank

Union Bank international transfer Additional fees
Sending/recipient bank and/or intermediary bank(s) Union Bank notes online, “Foreign or domestic correspondent bank or other intermediary bank charges may apply.”¹

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

TransferWise can save you a lot of confusion and money, as there are no sneaky markups or hidden fees to worry about. They use local bank accounts to transfer your money to your recipient’s bank account, which means you don’t have to worry about having to pay international transaction fees, as your money never crosses borders. They also use the real mid-market exchange rate to convert your money, which is the rate that banks use to trade between themselves.

With the new TransferWise borderless multi-currency account, you’re able to quickly and easily open an account in 29 different currencies - including US dollars. You can use it to receive payments from abroad, manage your money at the click of a button and pay bills around the world, using the real exchange rate. TransferWise also only charges a small, transparent fee when you convert money between your borderless balances, and only charges a small, fixed fee to transfer money out of your borderless balance. Before you decide on which provider is better for you, make sure to compare prices between Union Bank and TransferWise, so you’ll know which one will give you a better deal.

How do you make an international wire transfer with Union Bank?

Union Bank allows you to initiate international wire transfers in-person at a local branch, over the phone, or via Direct Access, if you’re an account holder. You can’t make international wire transfers via online banking however, only domestic wire transfers are supported. Instead, you’ll need to go into a local branch, call Union Bank’s Direct Access support line, or general customer support to initiate a transfer. You’ll need to have on hand all of the required information that’s needed about your recipient and yourself.

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

To make an international transfer with Union Bank, you need to fill out a wire transfer request form within any bank branch. You will need²:

  • BIC/SWIFT of the recipient (check the BIC/SWIFT code online)
  • Recipient’s full name and address
  • The recipient’s bank account number
  • Recipient bank’s address
  • The reason for the transfer (reference)

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

As a Union Bank account holder, you can receive international payments. You might have to agree with the sender on who will pay the various transfer fees, although usually the charge defaults to the sender. Provide them with the following:

  • Your bank’s name and address
  • SWIFT/BIC code for Union Bank
  • Your full name and address
  • Your account number
  • Your routing number

How long does an international wire transfer with Union Bank take?

How long does it take normally to arrive to the destination account?

The cutoff time for international wire transfers is 2:15 PT². However, Union Bank doesn’t guarantee any delivery timeframe for international transfers on its website. What they do say is³:

> Transfers to bank accounts outside Union Bank take two to three business days. Remember that these are business days, not weekends or holidays. Be sure to take this into account when you schedule transfers.”

Contact / Help - More questions around your transfer?

Should you have questions about how to set up an international wire, or you’ve already made one and want to inquire about it, you can get in touch with Union Bank directly⁴ through the following means:

  • Secure email through online banking
  • Standard email
  • In branch in person

Wire transfers and banking aren’t always the easiest systems to navigate. It’s not always simple to find answers to your questions. Use this post as your Union Bank international wire transfer guide, and make sure you’re educated on your options.


¹ https://www.unionbank.com/Images/Personal_AllAbout_FS_and_Gap_ORWA.pdf, March 21st 2018

² https://www.unionbank.com/Images/Wires_Internal_Transfers_User_Guide.pdf, March 21st 2018

³ https://www.unionbank.com/help_pages_ob/transfer_overview.jsp, March 21st 2018

⁴ https://www.unionbank.com/global/contactus/index.jsp, March 21st 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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