Fidelity international wire transfer: Fees, exchange rates and transfer time

TransferWise
06.19.18
10 minute read

When it comes to sending money overseas, either to get money safely to a loved one or pay an invoice sent from abroad, you have a number of choices to make. You could go to your regular bank to arrange an international bank transfer — also known as an international wire transfer — or you could use a specialist in international transfers, such as TransferWise.

Although technically a brokerage, not a bank, Fidelity offers many of the same features of a regular bank to its customers, through the cash management account option. It’s also possible to make international transfers from several of Fidelity’s account types.

Fidelity’s different payment routes come with different requirements and costs, though. Which means that before you decide how to make your international payment, you should do a little homework to make sure you get the best value service for your specific needs. You might find that an alternative provider like TransferWise offers cheaper, and more flexible international transfer options.

In this article, you’ll find covered:

  • Fidelity international wire transfer fees
  • Fidelity exchange rates
  • An alternative – TransferWise
  • How you make an international transfer with Fidelity
  • What you need to do to make an international wire
  • What you should give to the sender to receive an international wire
  • How long Fidelity international wires take
  • Fidelity help and support

Here’s all you need to know about making an international wire transfer with Fidelity.


A cost example: Sending $1000 from the US to Canada

Here’s what you’ll pay to make an online US$1000 transfer from America to Canada in Canadian dollars, using a Fidelity brokerage account, compared with the costs of the same transfer placed through TransferWise:

Provider Fee Exchange rate Total cost
Fidelity (US) $15¹ (via representative) Exchange rate + likely markup $15¹ + likely exchange rate markup + possible fees from intermediary and recipient banks
TransferWise $8.45 (debit card online) The real exchange rate $8.45

The upfront fee doesn’t look too steep. In fact, when comparing TransferWise and Fidelity at this amount, the upfront fees aren’t vastly different. However, when making an international wire transfer, you also need to pay attention to two other costs not so clearly laid out.

The first cost few talk about is a markup on the exchange rate. When converting money from one currency to another, banks and transfer services often mark up the exchange rate by an average of 4-6%. That’s a hefty hidden fee that isn’t laid out upfront.

The second cost can be levied by up to 3 intermediary banks. A majority of international wires are sent via SWIFT, including those sent by Fidelity. In terms of cost to the customer, that means those additional banks as well as the recipient bank often deduct their own flat fee to your transfer.


1 fidelity bank fees

What are the fees for Fidelity in the US?

Fidelity offers several different account types with various available options. You can’t set up a regular international money transfer from some Fidelity accounts, for example — and the time it takes and the process followed to make a transfer will also vary, between, say, a brokerage account and a mutual fund account.

Not only that, but their international wires are sent through 2 different services:

  1. Foreign currency wire transfers.² This works only for international transfers that involve 2 different currencies. The transactions are done through Fidelity’s Fidelity FOREX Inc. subsidiary. These type of transfers use the SWIFT system, which means there could be additional intermediary and recipient fees deducted.
  2. Foreign currency transfer service.³ This works only for same currency international transfers and also use the SWIFT system, which means there could be additional fees levied by intermediary banks. As of the time of writing, this service is available for 15 currencies. Though US dollars aren’t on Fidelity’s list of supported same-currency transfers, a Fidelity representative confirmed that US dollar to US dollar transfers in 2 different countries are possible.

It’s worth checking all the details relevant to your account type before you decide which international money transfer service to use.

Fidelity international transfer fees table

It’s important to note that all Fidelity accounts aren’t created equal. Which means that, depending on yours, you may see different numbers. The below table is based on a brokerage account.

In addition, Fidelity notes that for an international wire, you won’t be able to set one up online.⁴ You’ll have to speak to a Fidelity representative, which costs a little more than if you were to set everything up online.

Fidelity international wire transfers Fees
Incoming⁴ $0⁴ + possible exchange rate markupⁱ + possible fees from sending and intermediary banksⁱⁱ
Outgoing (same currencies) $15⁴ + possible fees from intermediary and recipient banksⁱⁱ
Outgoing (2 currencies) $15⁴ + possible exchange rate markupⁱ + possible fees from intermediary and recipient banksⁱⁱ
ⁱ Exchange rate markups See the next section
ⁱⁱ Intermediary/recipient bank fees Fidelity notes “Your bank may charge a fee for sending/receiving a wire.”⁴ These flat fees can range from $10-$50 and may be levied by up to 4 banks on top of Fidelity’s fees.

2 fidelity bank exchange rates

Fidelity exchange rates

If you want the beneficiary bank in the foreign country to receive a different currency than you’re sending, then you’ll want to definitely pay attention to Fidelity’s exchange rates, because you might be losing out on more money than you realized.

If your wire involves at least 2 currencies, Fidelity offers foreign currency wire transfers through its Fidelity FOREX Inc. subsidiary.² If you’re sending money abroad, Fidelity will wire the amount in the currency required, and then debit the equivalent in US dollars from your Fidelity account. And if you’re receiving money in another currency, Fidelity can accept a handful of foreign currencies, and then credit you with the equivalent in US dollars.

It’s pretty common for banks and other exchange services to markup the exchange rate they use, an average of 4-6%, to make sure they make a profit on foreign currency transactions. That means that even if the stated fees look low, the overall costs of a transfer can be pretty high. Unfortunately, Fidelity’s exchange rates aren’t publicly available, which means you’ll need to call a Fidelity representative to check the rate used for your currency pairing before committing to the transfer.

Once you have the exchange rate that Fidelity offers for your specific wire transfer, you’ll want to use some calculations to see if you’re getting a good deal. To do that, you’ll want to compare Fidelity’s exchange rate with the real mid-market rate using an online currency converter or by Googling the currency pair.

3 transferwise as a fidelity bank alternative

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

If you’re worried about the costs of transferring money abroad, especially those hidden exchange rate markups, then it’s good to know there are other options out there.

Have a look at the costs of using a specialist in international transfers like TransferWise. This can prove a much better value, because transfers are done using the fairest exchange rate — like the one you find on Google — with no markup, and only a small transparent fee. That means you can see the true cost of the transaction easily, and there aren’t any hidden fees to worry about. As all transfers are set up entirely online, it’s convenient, too.

Another great choice, if you travel a lot, or regularly make international money transfers, is a new TransferWise borderless multi-currency account. This smart new account lets you quickly and safely move your money around the world, and even accept payments locally in several regions around the world like the EU, the UK, and Australia. You can keep your cash in any of dozens of different currencies in the same account, and switch between them when you need to for just a small upfront fee.

Find out for yourself if you can get a better deal with TransferWise, today.

4 how to make an international wire

How do you make an international bank transfer with Fidelity?

The exact requirements can vary based on your account type. In addition, Fidelity notes that they are unable to process international wire requests online. Which means if you want to send money directly through Fidelity, that you’ll have to contact a Fidelity representative.

However, there are other online options.

Online by connecting your Fidelity account to TransferWise

  1. Visit transferwise.com
  2. Choose the originating currency and amount in the top box and the corresponding recipient currency in the bottom box
  3. To find out how much TransferWise costs, click on “Show fee breakdown”ⁱ
  4. Click the green button “Get started”
  5. Fill out your personal detailsⁱⁱ
  6. Enter your recipient’s informationⁱⁱⁱ
  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 transferⁱ

ⁱ The cheapest option for you will likely be bank debit (ACH) or paying by debit/credit card. Bank debit can be slightly slower, but has higher limits than if you pay by debit card. Both options will deduct the money directly from your Fidelity account.

ⁱⁱ Especially on your first transfer, you may be asked to verify your identity with an 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.

ⁱⁱⁱ 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.

Via a Fidelity Representative

Fidelity requires those setting up international wires to do so via a Fidelity representative. You should be able to do that at your local branch or call 1-800-544-6666 to set one up.

Via snail mail

Fidelity also offers you the option of filling out their Bank Wire Form and mailing it to one of their offices for processing. You can find more information directly on the form, the URL of which is listed in sources below.⁵

5 international wire info needed

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

First you’ll need to check that your account type is eligible for bank wires, as not all Fidelity accounts can have this feature enabled. You may find you can’t make wire transfers if you have any of the following account types: 4

  • Self-Employed 401(k)
  • Workplace Self-Directed Brokerage
  • Fidelity Retirement Plan (Keogh)
  • Investment-Only Retirement Account (Non-Prototype)
  • Health Savings Account (HSA)

If you’re sending directly through Fidelity, make sure you give yourself plenty of time as you won’t be able to make the international transaction online. You’ll need to fill out a form and get the wire processed through a Fidelity representative.

When you fill in the authorization form, you have to give details of the recipient to make sure the process goes smoothly. You’ll need the following:⁵

  • Your own Fidelity account details
  • Recipient’s name and address
  • Recipient’s bank details, including the bank name, branch and address
  • Any correspondent bank details required by the recipient bank
  • BIC/SWIFT code for your recipient’s bank
  • If you’re sending money to a country other than the country where you’re designated a tax resident, then you might have to provide further details of the reason for the payment to the tax authorities

Once you’ve set up the recipient as an authorized account, you might then have to complete and mail back further paperwork to make individual transfers or visit a local branch. The documents you need depend on the account type you have, and links to the PDF files can be found in the source link below.⁵

If you’re looking for a simpler alternative, you might consider a specialist provider like TransferWise — which allows all transfers to be completed online for convenience.

6 info to give to sender

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

If you’re expecting to receive an international transfer then the sender will need some information. What’s needed will depend a bit on where they’re based, and whether the transfer is being sent in US dollars, or another currency — but you can expect to be asked for the following:⁶

  • Your own account BIC/SWIFT code; or the Fidelity wire instructions as detailed in the source link below if you have a brokerage or mutual fund account
  • Your full name and address, as detailed on the account
  • Your Fidelity account number
  • The amount and the currency you’d like to receive the payment in

Don’t forget to also agree with the sender who will cover the charges applied to the transfer.

7 international transfer time

How long does an international transfer with Fidelity take?

The length of time it takes to make an international wire will depend on where your money is headed. Check the likely delivery time when you place the transaction.

8 international transfer help

Contact / Help — More questions around your transfer?

If you need a little more help, the easiest way to contact Fidelity is through the online chat feature, or by calling the customer services hotline for advice.

When you’re doing your homework on the costs of international transfers, you’ll want to look at both the upfront and intermediary fees, and the exchange rates applied. Compare the rate to the real, mid-market rate to make sure there are no hidden fees — and don’t forget to ask about the likely intermediary charges if you choose to make a transfer with a traditional institution.

The real costs of international wire transfers can vary widely, so a little research could save you a lot of money.


Sources

  1. https://www.fidelity.com/customer-service/how-to-wire-money-out (June 19, 2018)
  2. http://personal.fidelity.com/accounts/services/forex.shtml (June 19, 2018)
  3. http://personal.fidelity.com/products/trading/What_You_Can_Trade/intl-pop-up.shtml?Ref_at=fxInit#foreign (June 19, 2018)
  4. https://www.fidelity.com/cash-management/bank-wires (June 19, 2018)
  5. More than 1 currency wire request form: https://www.fidelity.com/bin-public/060_www_fidelity_com/documents/bank-wire-form-standalone.pdf (June 19, 2018)
  6. https://www.fidelity.com/cash-management/information-needed-wire-to-fidelity-account (June 4 2018)
  7. Same currency foreign wire request form: https://www.fidelity.com/bin-public/060_www_fidelity_com/documents/fidelity/outgoing-foreign-currency-wire.pdf (June 19, 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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