5 Best Banks for International Money Transfers 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 5 major Singapore banks.
Banks aren’t your only option for moving money overseas - an online specialist service like Wise or OFX 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.
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 5 big banks measure up against Wise or OFX on fees and exchange rates.
|Provider||International wire fee||Exchange rate|
|Wise||Low fee which varies by destination||Mid-market exchange rate|
|OFX||No fee||Exchange rate includes a small markup|
|DBS||Cable/telex charges: 20 SGD per transaction + handling commission of 5 SGD - 35 SGD + applicable third party fees||Exchange rate includes a markup|
|UOB||1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + cable charges + applicable third party fees||Exchange rate includes a markup|
|Bank of China SG||0.125% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + cable charges (20 SGD - 30 SGD) + applicable third party fees||Exchange rate includes a markup|
|OCBC||1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + 20 SGD cable charges + applicable third party fees||Exchange rate includes a markup|
|HSBC SG||No HSBC transfer fee for online payments + cable fee of 20 SGD + applicable third party fees still apply||Exchange 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:
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
Wise: Send to 80+ countries, with the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees. 50%+ of payments arrive instantly
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.
Looking for the best Singapore bank for an international wire transfer?
Let’s start with an overview of the fees that apply to international wires from 5 big banks:
DBS - Cable/telex charges: 20 SGD per transaction + handling commission of 5 SGD - 35 SGD + applicable third party fees
UOB - 1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + cable charges + applicable third party fees
Bank of China SG - 0.125% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + cable charges (20 SGD - 30 SGD) + applicable third party fees
OCBC - 1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + 20 SGD cable charges + applicable third party fees
HSBC SG - No HSBC transfer fee for online payments + cable fee of 20 SGD + applicable third party fees still apply
*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 Singapore 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.
Things to consider when choosing an international money 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.
Type of fees for international wire transfers with banks
Singapore 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 Singapore 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 Singapore banks don’t share the exchange rates they use and the correspondent and receiving bank fees vary so much.
International wire transfer fees for banks in Singapore
Here’s an overview of the typical costs for sending an international wire with 5 large Singapore 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 SGD overseas can also attract further fees.
|Provider||International wire fee|
|DBS||Cable/telex charges: 20 SGD per transaction + handling commission of 5 SGD - 35 SGD + exchange rate markups + applicable third party fees|
|UOB||1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + cable charges + exchange rate markups + applicable third party fees|
|Bank of China SG||0.125% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + cable charges (20 SGD for payments to mainland China, 30 SGD per transaction elsewhere) + exchange rate markups + applicable third party fees|
|OCBC||1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (10 SGD - 100 SGD) + 20 SGD cable charges + exchange rate markups + applicable third party fees|
No HSBC transfer fee for online payments
Cable fee of 20 SGD + exchange rate markups + applicable third party fees still apply
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 5 of the most popular banks in Singapore, 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 Singapore:
Bank of China SG
DBS international transfers
You can send a DBS international transfer online, in app, by phone or in a branch. You’ll be able to send up to 200,000 SGD to most destinations online or in the DBS app, which can mean paying a lower fee compared to visiting a branch. If you’re sending a low value transfer to Malaysia, there are special fees which can be far less than sending payments elsewhere.
DBS international transfer fees are fairly complicated and actually include several different variable fees. Check out the details online carefully so you know what you’ll be paying.
DBS transfer fees
DBS transfers arranged online: Cable/telex charges: 20 SGD per transaction + handling commission:
5 SGD for remittance up to 5000 SGD
10 SGD for remittance up to 25,000 SGD
35 SGD for remittance above 25,000 SGD
DBS transfers made in a branch: Cable/telex charges: 20 SGD per transaction + handling commission: 1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount (SGD10 to SGD120)
Additional agent bank charges may apply.
DBS 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 DBS - 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.
DBS international transfer limits
You’ll usually be able to send up to 200,000 SGD overseas online or in app, but for payments exceeding this you’ll need to visit a branch in person.
UOB international transfers
You’ll be able to send a payment with UOB to a good range of countries and currencies. Fees are pretty complex and some won’t necessarily be known in advance, though. While you’ll be able to calculate the UOB transfer fee fairly easily, there will also be an exchange rate markup, and could be third party fees and cable charges to cover. These costs aren’t transparently described in the UOB pricing, as they can vary depending on the currency and country you send to. You’ll need to get a quote for your transfer and compare it to a few alternative services to see if UOB offers decent value for your specific payment.
UOB transfer fees
1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount
Minimum fee: SGD10
Maximum fee: SGD100 (300 SGD if no currency conversion is required)
Additional cable charges and agent bank charges may apply.
UOB exchange rate
The UOB exchange rate includes a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. That’s an extra fee, but it can be tricky to spot.
UOB international transfer limits
UOB transfer limits vary depending on the country and currency you’re sending to. However, you can often amend the limit within the UOB app or online banking service if you’d like to.
Bank of China SG international transfers
You can send payments with Bank of China in around 10 currencies, with better rates and discounted fees for transfers going to Mainland China. Payments can be arranged online or by visiting a branch to transact in person.
As with other Singapore banks, the fees you pay can be relatively complicated, with several different potential charges - some of which may not be very predictable in advance. Exchange rate markups and third party charges can push up the overall costs without you really realising it.
Bank of China SG transfer fees
0.125% transfer fee (minimum 10 SGD, maximum 100 SGD) + exchange rate markup
You’ll also need to pay cable charges: 20 SGD for payments to mainland China, 30 SGD per transaction elsewhere
Additional agent bank charges may apply.
Bank of China SG exchange rate
The Bank of China SG 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.
Special rates may apply for CNY payments to Mainland China.
Bank of China SG international transfer limits
The amount you can send overseas with Bank of China will depend on your specific account type..
OCBC international transfers
At the time of writing, OCBC is offering some transfers which have commissions and cable charges waived - as long as you have an eligible account. You may even benefit from preferential exchange rates. However, as promotional offers tend to change frequently - and not all account holders will be eligible for this offer, you’ll need to double check the terms offered carefully before you proceed.
If you’re paying a standard OCBC fee, you’ll need to cover a commission charge, cable fee, exchange rate markup and agent costs - which can mount up quickly.
OCBC transfer fees
At the time of writing, the commission and cable charges of some payments, for eligible account holders have been waived. However, in most cases you’ll find a fee to pay.
Here are the standard OCBC fees - you’ll need to double check the terms of your own account before you get started to make sure there are no surprises:
Cable charges: 20 SGD per transaction
1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount
Minimum fee: SGD10
Maximum fee: SGD100
Additional agent bank charges may apply.
OCBC exchange rate
The OCBC 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 OCBC. Instead, OCBC - like most banks - will add a markup to the mid-market rate to calculate their retail rate. That means a less favourable rate for you, and a little more profit for the bank.
OCBC international transfer limit
Transfer limits may vary based on your account type, and will be shown when you log into online banking and start to set up your payment.
HSBC SG international transfers
HSBC has no specific commission fee for payments sent online or through their mobile banking service. If you’d rather make your payment in person, fees vary based on your account type. In most cases cable charges, exchange rate markups and third party fees will apply.
HSBC offers payments to 200+ countries, online through mobile banking and in branch.
HSBC SG transfer fees
Online and mobile banking payments: HSBC (SG) commission is waived
In branch transfers: HSBC (SG) commission of 35 SGD for standard payments
In branch transfers for HSBC Premier customers: HSBC (SG) commission of 15 SGD - 20 SGD for standard payments
For all payments, a cable charges of 20 SGD may still apply
Additional agent bank charges may apply
HSBC SG exchange rate
The HSBC SG exchange rate is likely to include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate you’d find on Google or with a currency converter tool.
HSBC SG International transfer limits
Your default payment limit for online banking will be set to 5,000 SGD per day. However, you can change this within the app to anything up to 250,000 SGD if you’d like to.
Conclusion: What is the best bank for international wire transfers?
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 or 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
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.
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.
Some banks like HSBC 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.
Get paid from around the world into your Singapore 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.