5 Best Banks for International Money Transfers [2023]

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
March 23, 2023

If you need to send an international payment you may be considering using your normal bank as a secure and convenient option. Sending an international wire with your bank shouldn’t be too much of a headache - but it can be quite expensive, and because third party fees may creep in, your recipient might get less than you were intending in the end.

This guide walks through the pros and cons, features and fees of sending money overseas with 6 major Canadian banks.

Banks aren’t your only option for moving money overseas - an online specialist service like Wise or TorFX may be able to offer a better exchange rate, a lower overall cost, and a faster delivery. We’ll touch on a few alternatives to regular banks later, to help you compare and choose.

More about WiseMore about TorFx

Looking for the best Canadian bank for an international wire transfer?

Let’s start with an overview of the fees that apply to international wires from 6 big banks:

  • BMO - 5 CAD + exchange rate markup + any applicable third party fees

  • RBC - 6 CAD - 10 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary bank fees

  • TD Bank - Up to 25 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees

  • Scotiabank - 1.99 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees

*These outbound wire transfer fees do not take into account the exchange rates charged by the banks which almost always include additional costs and charges.

As you can see, the upfront transfer fees from major Canadian banks do vary widely. Exchange rate markups and third party costs can also apply even where transfer fees are waived, which push up the price further.

You may find alternative services such as Wise or OFX for international transfers with more transparent fees and - often - a better exchange rate. More on that later.

Which bank is best for international transfers?

The best bank for your international transfer may not be a bank at all. Specialist services can often provide lower fees and a better exchange rate compared to your bank. We’ll look at a few specialist alternatives in just a moment, but first let's see how our 6 big banks measure up against OFX or Wise on fees and exchange rates.

ProviderInternational wire feeExchange rate
WiseLow fee which varies by destinationMid-market exchange rate
OFXNo feeExchange rate includes a small markup
BMO5 CAD + any applicable third party feesExchange rate includes a markup
RBC6 CAD - 10 CAD + any relevant intermediary bank feesExchange rate includes a markup
TD BankUp to 25 CAD + any relevant intermediary feesExchange rate includes a markup
Scotiabank1.99 CAD + any relevant intermediary feesExchange rate includes a markup

Alternatives to international wire transfers with banks

Sending your international payment with a bank is secure and familiar. But it may also be expensive and slow. Specialist services are safe to use - they’re usually regulated in the same way your bank is - and can often offer a lower overall cost. Here are a few to consider:

  • Wise: Send to 80+ countries, with the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees. 50%+ of payments arrive instantly

  • OFX: Make payments in 50+ currencies online, in app and by phone. There’s no transfer fee and the rates offered can beat the banks

  • TorFX: Send money online or over the phone, and get award winning customer service if you want to talk through your options

  • WorldRemit: Online and in app payments to a range of countries around the world, with a good range of pay out methods

  • Remitly: Send digitally on popular remittance routes, and pick a faster Express fee or a cheaper Economy service

At the end of the day there’s no single best way to send your international payment. It depends on the transfer value and currency, so comparing a few different options is your best bet.

 Online providers like these we’ve detailed above can often offer lower overall costs and give you an instant quote online so you can easily see which works best for you.

Go to WiseGo to TorFx

Things to considering when choosing an international transfer provider

Not sure how to arrange your international wire? Here are some factors to consider when you’re deciding:

  • Costs - before you get started make sure you’ve thoroughly read the payment fee schedule. The transfer fee you pay can vary widely depending on how you structure the payment.

  • Speed - international wires commonly take 3 to 5 days to arrive in the destination account when sent with a traditional bank. Check the delivery times when you arrange your payment.

  • Exchange rates - compare the exchange rate your bank offers against the mid-market rate you’ll find on Google. It’s common for banks to add extra fees here, so doing a bit of homework and looking at a few alternatives can save you money.

  • Convenience - check out the options for sending your payment - while many banks let you set things up online or in an app, some still require you to head into a branch in person.

Types of Fees for International Wire Transfer with Banks

Canadian banks will charge you in several different ways for an international wire transfer:

Bank sending fee: The bank will charge a fixed fee for each international money transfer that you make. This fee can vary depending on the type of account you have, how you’re making the transfer and the currency you send.

Exchange rate markup fee: A Canadian bank typically offers a worse exchange rate than the base exchange rate, often between two and four percent worse than you might get elsewhere. This is a hidden fee as the bank pockets the difference.

Correspondent bank fee: Third party charges which can be called agent fees, intermediary fees, SWIFT fees or correspondent bank fees. You may not be able to see the exact cost of these charges in advance of confirming your transfer.

Receiving bank fee: Finally, the beneficiary’s bank will probably charge a fee for them to receive the money into their account.

All of these fees do add up and can mean the beneficiary ends up receiving quite a bit less than you sent them. When we’re comparing fees below, we’ve only included the bank sending fees, as most Canadian banks don’t share the exchange rates they use and the correspondent and receiving bank fees vary so much.

International Wire Transfer Fees for Canadian banks

Here’s an overview of the typical costs for sending an international wire with 6 large Canadian banks. The exact price you pay may vary based on how you set up your transfer - in branch payments are often more expensive than online transfers for example, and payments made in dollars overseas can also attract further fees.

ProviderInternational wire fee
BMO5 CAD + exchange rate markup + any applicable third party fees
RBC6 CAD - 10 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary bank fees
TD BankUp to 25 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees
Scotiabank1.99 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees

How to avoid international transfer fees with Banks

With charges added into the exchange rates and hard to spot intermediary bank fees, international wire transfers with traditional banks can be costly.

Here are some tips on how you could keep your costs down:

  • Sending money through your bank’s online or mobile banking service is almost always cheaper than visiting a branch

  • If you need to send someone a lot of money, using one larger payment can be cheaper than sending several small transfers, thanks to the fixed transfer fees that apply

  • If you can, use a specialist international payment provider. You’ll be able to make your payment online or in an app for convenience, and can often find lower costs and a better exchange rate compared to a regular bank

  • Compare some different transfer services to make sure you get the best value for your particular payment

Best Bank for International Wire Transfers

We’ve looked at 6 of the most popular banks in Canada, to see how they measure up on international wire transfers. We’ll look at the fees, rates, limits, pros and cons of each of the following banks in Canada:

  • BMO

  • RBC

  • TD Bank

  • Scotiabank

BMO international transfers

If you bank with BMO you’ll be able to send payments online through the BMO Global Money Transfer service to 50+ countries, with relatively low fees. For other transfers you’ll need to make a standard bank wire, which comes with higher fees - and may take longer to arrive too.

If you have a premium account tier with BMO you could find that some international transfer fees are waived - but don’t forget, if there’s an exchange rate markup used to convert your dollars to the currency you need, you’ll still need to cover that fee.

  • Some account types can have the transfer fee waived

  • Send online or in person depending on your preference

  • Exchange rate markups apply

  • Third party charges may apply which are deducted from the send amount

BMO transfer fees

BMO waives transfer fees for holders of a few account types - but even if you don’t pay a transfer fee, there will likely be an exchange rate markup fee to pay. If you need to pay for your BMO transfer, the fees are as follows:

BMO Global Money Transfer (online): 5 CAD + exchange rate markup + any applicable third party fees

Wire payment: 0.2% of transfer value - minimum 15 CAD, maximum 125 CAD + exchange rate markup + 10 CAD communication charge + any applicable third party fees

BMO exchange rate

You’ll notice that the rate you’re offered isn’t the same as the one you can find online with a Google search, or using a currency converter tool. What you find online is the mid-market exchange rate - the rate banks get when they buy currency themselves. However, most banks - like BMO - don’t pass this rate on to customers. Instead they add in their own fees and costs to calculate a retail exchange rate, which means you pay an extra fee here.

BMO international transfer limits

If you’re sending your payment online through the Global Money Transfer service, you can send from 100 CAD, up to the daily maximum limit on your debit card. You’ll be able to see this limit by logging into your online banking service.

If you need to send a higher amount, you’ll be able to do so through arranging a wire - but this also comes with higher fees.

RBC international transfers

RBC customers can send up to 2,500 CAD a day online, with relatively low fees of 6 CAD to 10 CAD. However, if you want to send more than this you’ll need to visit a branch to arrange an outgoing wire transfer, which means a far higher fee - starting at 45 CAD per payment.

RBC does also note that intermediary fees and charges levied by the recipient’s own bank may apply when you send a payment overseas.

  • Send online to over 200 countries

  • Send transfers up to 2,500 CAD a day online or using the mobile app for convenience

  • Higher value transfers must be made in branch, pushing up fees

  • Exchange rate markups and third party fees may apply

RBC transfer fees

International money transfer (online): 6 CAD - 10 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary bank fees

International wire transfer in branch: From 45 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary bank fees

RBC exchange rate

The RBC exchange rate includes a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. That’s an extra fee. To see this charge you’ll need to compare the RBC rate quoted for your currency, against the Google exchange rate.

 The exact rate you’re offered depends on the account you hold, the specific payment being made, the currencies and payment amounts involved.

RBC international transfer limits

Under RBC international transfer limits for online payments you can send up to 2,500 CAD per day, split into as many transactions as you want.

TD Bank international transfers

Most TD Bank customers can send payments online, to a total of 6,500 CAD a day. When you set up your payment you’ll see a quote for the fees and exchange rate. Fees can vary, and will be up to 25 CAD per transfer. If you need to send a higher amount - or if you simply prefer to arrange your transfer in a branch - you can also do so, but the fee will be 50 CAD for a standard outgoing wire.

  • Transfer money to a broad range of countries

  • Send money online for convenience, or visit a branch if you’d prefer in person service

  • Fees vary, and can be high for in-branch payments especially

  • Exchange rate markups apply

TD Bank transfer fees

TD Bank’s fees for sending money abroad vary - you’ll get a quote when you set up your transfer. The total fees you will pay to send a transfer online can be different to the amount you pay if you would rather set up your payment in a branch.

TD Bank international transfer (online): Up to 25 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees for each transfer you make.

TD Bank international transfer (branch service): 50 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees for each transfer you make.

TD Bank exchange rate

The TD Bank exchange rate includes a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. That’s a fee for currency conversion, but it’s hard to spot because it’s rolled up into the rate you’re offered for your payment.

TD Bank international transfer limits

You can send up to 6,500 CAD in every 24 hour period using TD Bank international transfer online service. If you need to send more than this you can visit a TD Bank branch - but a higher fee will apply.

Scotiabank international transfers

Scotiabank has an online payment service with a low fee of just 1.99 CAD. Some account holders - including people on the newcomers package - may even have this fee waived. However, the range of countries you can send money to through this service is relatively small, and intermediary and exchange rate fees are still likely to apply.

If you need to send a payment to a country not served by this online transfer system you’ll need to call into a branch, which is likely to mean a higher overall fee.

  • Safe and familiar service

  • Send payments online, by phone or in person at a branch

  • Exchange rate markups apply

  • Fairly small number of countries offered with the 1.99 CAD fee options

Scotiabank transfer fees

Here are the standard Scotiabank fees - you’ll need to double check the terms of your own account before you get started to make sure there are no surprises:

Scotiabank transfer (online): 1.99 CAD + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees

Scotiabank transfer (branch service): Variable fee + exchange rate markup + any relevant intermediary fees

Scotiabank exchange rate

The Scotiabank exchange rate includes a markup which is an extra fee rolled up in the exchange rate you’re offered.

The rate you find when you run a Google search or use a currency converter tool is the mid-market exchange rate. However, this isn’t the same as the rate you’ll be given when you send an international transfer with Scotiabank. Instead, Scotiabank - like most banks - will add a markup to the mid-market rate to calculate their retail rate. That means a less favorable rate for you, and a little more profit for the bank.

Scotiabank international transfer limit

Scotiabank online payments can be made from 100 CAD in value. Upper limits are likely to apply, based on your account type. You’ll be advised at the time of arranging your payment, if a limit applies to your account.

Go to WiseMore about OFX

Conclusion: What is the best bank for international wire transfer?

Using banks for international wire transfers can be convenient and secure but is also often expensive thanks to complicated fees and poor exchange rates. It’s also not often the fastest option, with bank wires commonly taking several days to arrive, depending on the destination.

Specialist services like Wise and OFX are a good option for a faster payment which can be cheaper too. Compare a few options to see which works best for you.

FAQs on Best bank to make an international transfer with

What is the best way to transfer money internationally?

There’s no single best way to send money internationally - but specialist digital providers like Wise, OFX or WorldRemit can often offer a lower overall cost compared to your normal bank.

What is the cheapest way to wire money internationally?

Sending a payment with a specialist online service may work out cheaper than using your banks. Compare a few options - you can often get an instant, no obligation quote, so it’s easy to see which works best for you.

Which bank does not charge wire transfer fees?

Some banks like CIBC will sometimes waive international wire fees - but it’s worth remembering that there are likely to be extra costs added into the exchange rates applied in this case.

Which Canadian banks accept international wire transfers?

Get paid from around the world into your Canadian bank account - most major banks will let you receive an international wire to your account, although fees may apply. You can also check out online specialist providers like OFX, Remitly and Wise which often offer better rates and lower overall costs on international wire transfers.