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Total newbie here, with near-zero level of knowledge about cryptocurrencies.

I'm seeking to transfer large sums from US bank account to European account for a home purchase and would like to avoid exorbitant fees and possibly improve on bank and 3rd party exchange rates. A friend suggested crypto but I have no idea how or where to begin. All the videos & websites I find are oriented toward trading, are highly complex, and none are oriented toward my rather basic need.

• How would I do such a thing with crypto? Set up an account with Binance, Coinbase, or something else?

• Do I buy crypto with US dollar account and cash out in euros into my European account? Considering the extra steps and two conversions, how is that better than simply exchanging dollars for euros?

Any other practical suggestions would be welcome.

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    Regarding Point #2, that would be the sequence. However, you have to not only compare the fees involved, but take into account the stability of BitCoin prices compared to the exchange rate between dollars and euros.
    – chepner
    Jan 11 at 12:45
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    I advise caution. The Total newbie here + transfer large sums overseas = risk of scam, mishap or hidden fees. Consider something like transferwise. I believe they charge a reasonable 0.43% (or less) they are fully transparent up front and it is fast and safe. No product placement intended: it's just what I use and it works well (in my opinion). Figuring out the crypto account fees will be tricky.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 11 at 12:54
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    This seems like bad advice from your friend considering short-term volatility in crypto markets. Crypto is not a great way to do an account transfer and conversion.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 11 at 13:11
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    "avoid exorbitant fees and possibly improve on bank and 3rd party exchange rates" - what are the actual fees you are seeing (and where)? And how far from the midmarket rates are the rates you're actually being offered?
    – AakashM
    Jan 11 at 14:21

2 Answers 2

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What 'exorbitant fees' are you actually expecting? Have you asked your bank how much this would cost? Would you really put everything on the line to risk what is likely a ~$30 one-time wire fee charge?

The fact is, crypto is ill-suited to your needs [and in my opinion, it is ill-suited to anyone's needs, with the exception of money laundering and tax evasion]. Even purely from a fee perspective, you will need to pay a fee to buy the crypto, and then to sell it. In a theoretical world where everyone is natively earning crypto and using it for payment, then yes you avoid bank transfer fees, but since you have fiat currency on one end and want fiat currency on the other end, this doesn't apply.

Just ask your bank how much it would cost to do the transfer. That cost is the price of saving you the headache and also the risk of failure in the transaction that attempting something like a crypto transfer would do.

*I have avoided discussion of getting a better fx rate, because that's just foolishness - USD-EUR conversion is one of the most liquid markets in the world, whereas USD:BTC followed by BTC:EUR is self-evidently less liquid, and therefore comes with higher transaction spread costs.

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  • By exorbitant fees, I mean the percentage that some transfer services take. With five- or six-figure amounts, that can be pricey relative to zero fees -- which themselves can be pricey relative to a % on a good exchange rate if the zero fee rate is bad. Jan 11 at 18:03
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    The fee based on distance from the 'true' fx mid-point is going to be paid whether you go to crypto first or not. In fact, due to the liquidity difference (there are hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars converted back and forth to euros daily, vs maybe... 100M-1B BTC USD?), the spread will be narrower for direct fiat trade rather than going through crypto first. Wire fees themselves are fixed and are therefore nominal relative to 'house-buying' amounts. Jan 11 at 18:13
  • There is a common misconception that crypto is free. It's NOT! Depending on the coin it can be quite expensive and do to what the OP suggests implies at least 3 transaction fees. I'm guessing the bank route will be the cheapest by far. In some cases your "home" bank may do this free of charge for good and established customers. It doesn't hurt to ask.
    – jwh20
    Jan 11 at 20:54
  • @jwh20 Agreed - it is somehow presumed that crypto miners suck down massive electricity costs from the goodness of their hearts, and not to turn a profit by charging for their services. Meanwhile, most jurisdictions now have free or near-free electronic money transfers, and new competitive providers keep popping up. There is no longer a monopoly on electronic transfer fees that would artificially inflate fiat transfer costs. Jan 11 at 21:38
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    @KingCreole Just yesterday (Jan. 10 2022) the price of Bitcoin in USD dropped almost 5% in the course of the day. That means that if you purchased your Bitcoin at the start of the day, and sold it back at the end of the day, it would have been worth 5% less. And that's before any fees for your crypto transactions. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, which makes them a poor choice for transactions like this. Jan 12 at 1:22
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Crypto is completely unsuited for anything like this, since they're expensive to buy, expensive to sell, and highly volatile.

Banks have comparatively high fees, but there are much cheaper online transfer services available. I use Wise (other services are available†!), where you get a good exchange rate, pay a small fee proportional to the amount transferred (0.44% when I checked just now). If you find someone who uses Wise they can also offer you a referral code that reduces the fees you pay.


†Actually if you google "wise money transfer" then the top hits are adverts for competing services, so you can compare quickly and easily which is best for you.

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    I've actually compared a three services and my bank by making four transfers within an hour and looking at the total cost in dollars to receive €1,000. The best was Wise. Currencies Direct was the worst. Jan 11 at 18:09
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    There is also quite a bit of fraud going on with crypto-related services. I think there are/were two brothers in India opening a crypto exchange, then two billion dollars disappeared and the brothers disappeared. Nobody know exactly why the disappeared, but there are 2 billion reasons. :-)
    – gnasher729
    Jan 11 at 22:43

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