If you are going to have someone send you funds by means of an international bank wire, what instructions should you give to them? Thirty years ago my firm did what I suppose most firms do. We went to our bank we asked our bank what to tell the sender. Our bank very promptly and cheerfully provided detailed “incoming bank wire instructions” including a Swift code and an ABA routing number. We then dutifully provided this information to all of our foreign associates for use in paying us for the work that we do for them.
It turns out that this is approximately the stupidest thing to do.
Our patent firm has changed banks from time to time over the years. But what has not changed is that each bank has charged us some amount of money for each incoming bank wire. Our most recent bank (Wells Fargo) usually charges us at least $16 for each incoming foreign bank wire, or as much as $33 if it feels the wire required “repair” (whatever that means). I cringe now to realize that during these decades our banks over the years have charged us many, many thousands of dollars in bank fees for our incoming foreign bank wires.
And the same is true for incoming foreign bank wires to my personal bank account.
Imagine how stupid I feel to have discovered only in recent days that there are common-sense ways to receive foreign bank wires that do not incur bank fees, for businesses and for personal accounts.
For our patent law firm, one way to receive foreign bank wires free of charge is by means of Afex.com. There are probably other ways too but this is the one that I know about. In recent days we have started sending new bank wire instructions to our various foreign associates letting them know to please send money to us through Afex.com rather than through our bank as in the past.
What about one’s personal bank account? What I was pleasantly astonished to learn just the other day is that if your personal bank account is with USAA, incoming foreign bank wires are free of charge. (Yes, the sender may have to pay money, but you as the recipient of the money into your USAA bank account will not be charged a fee.) There are probably other banks that do not charge for incoming foreign bank wires on personal bank accounts, but this is the one that I know about. I had just recently moved my personal checking to USAA, and did not know this nice thing about USAA until after I had moved my account. (Another nice thing about USAA is that you can get checks printed for free.)
What are your tips for receiving foreign bank wires? Please post a comment below.