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What US banks let me do the following:

% Send and receive international wire transfers for free

% Send wire transfers online

% Pay no monthly fees

% (optional) Apply for an account online.

Accounts requiring a minimum balance of up to $50K are fine, but I'm not a student, senior, etc.

I've googled this, but everything I found is obsolete.

I realize I'm asking a lot, but:

http://www.shallowaterbank.com/no_1_cust_chking_accnt.asp

has much of what I want (and is my fallback), so I don't think my requirement list is unreasonable.

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  • 3
    BTW, the bank account you linked to is kinda of weird in my opinion. Lots of small fees for things that are usually free like ATM withdrawals and then they claim free wire transfers (maybe they mean ACH transfers which are only between US banks and not international?) Why would a small local bank offer this? Also, the $12 monthly fee is only waived for the first year. All in all doesn't look like a very good deal to me.
    – user1175
    Nov 30, 2010 at 16:21
  • I agree. I use Compass Bank for local banking (incl ATM usage), but they charge for both outgoing AND incoming wire transfers. I also use ING Direct for high interest rates on checking accounts, but ING doesn't send any wires, and doesn't accept international wires. Shallow Water would be my 3rd bank, and a stopgap until I found a better solution.
    – user1731
    Nov 30, 2010 at 21:16
  • frostbank.com has free incoming international wires, so that's a partial solution. I confirmed this works by depositing $1 (no min deposit requirement) and wiring $100 from a non-US bank. Worked great, no fees, and ACH'd it to my main back, no problems/fees. Now... free outgoing international wire transfers...
    – user1731
    Jan 18, 2011 at 18:53
  • There are many ways to transfer money internationally. Why use wire transfers? Jul 25, 2013 at 21:22
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    Frostbank no longer offers free incoming wires ($12/wire). Also, why was this question closed; it's entirely fact-based.
    – lid
    Jul 17, 2014 at 18:25

6 Answers 6

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I doubt you're going to find anywhere that will give you free outgoing wires unless you're depositing a huge amount of money like $500K or more. An alternative would be to find a bank that offers everything else you want and use XETrade for very low cost online wires. I've used them in the past and can recommend their services. Most banks won't charge for incoming wires.

I have accounts at E*Trade Bank that don't charge any fees and I can do everything online. You might want to check them out. E*Trade also offers global trading accounts which allow you to have accounts denominated in a few foreign currencies (EUR, JPY, GBP, CAD and HKD I think). I don't think there is a fee for moving money between the different currencies. If your goal is simply to diversify your money into different currencies, you could deposit money there instead of wiring it to other banks.

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  • I trade FOREX w/ saxobank.com (the ONLY bank that trades FX spot options w/ retail customers as far as I know), and they will only send/receive money via wire. They don't charge for it, but other banks do.
    – user1731
    Nov 30, 2010 at 21:17
  • I just noticed that E*Trade also offers outgoing wires that you can request online or by phone. The cost is $25. Incoming wires are free.
    – user1175
    Nov 30, 2010 at 22:39
  • I pinged XETrade, and their service is converting money from one currency to another. If I want to wire US dollars from the USA to Denmark (w/ turning them into Danish kroners), they'll still charge me at least a $75 "conversion fee", much higher than my bank charges for wires ($25 outgoing, $15 incoming).
    – user1731
    Nov 30, 2010 at 22:54
  • I don't know where you're getting the $75 figure from, but I just logged into my account and they are quoting $22 for an outgoing wire transfer. They can withdraw funds for free from US bank accounts (using ACH) so your only fee is for the wire plus the spread. You can also request a foreign currency demoniated check for free, but in my experience these can be a pain to deposit in non-US banks.
    – user1175
    Nov 30, 2010 at 23:40
  • "Most banks won't charge for incoming wires." totally wrong
    – Fattie
    Jul 13, 2016 at 17:07
2

Check out CitiGold from Citibank. Not sure about incoming international wires but everything else seems to be covered.

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    If you have over $50K it says "Discounts on online outgoing wire transfers...". To get "these fees10 are also waived: [...] Outgoing online wire transfers (domestic and international)", you need $500K. A little steep :(
    – user1731
    Nov 29, 2010 at 19:42
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    oh, so many zeroes, i guess i got confused... :)
    – Vitalik
    Nov 29, 2010 at 19:59
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frostbank.com is the closest thing I've found, so accepting this (my own) answer :)

EDIT: editing from my comment earlier:

frostbank.com has free incoming international wires, so that's a partial solution. I confirmed this works by depositing $1 (no min deposit requirement) and wiring $100 from a non-US bank. Worked great, no fees, and ACH'd it to my main back, no problems/fees. No outgoing international wires, alas.

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    This would be a better answer if you clarified why frostbank met your needs and why it is lacking.
    – Alex B
    Mar 25, 2011 at 16:47
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    This +1. Also, do they have a swift code (that they mention on their site and not a 3rd part site). How long does the transfer take and do they allow zero balance accounts? Jan 21, 2012 at 2:28
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TDAmeritrade, an online stock broker, provides banking services within their brokerage accounts. The service offers all of what you are looking for. HOWEVER, this service is only available for free with their "Apex" qualification. Here is a tariff of their fees and services.

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Since I am having the same question so I made couple of phone calls based on some answers above. The 1st one was TD Amertrade: They don't directly accept money from China. The 2nd one was Charles Schwab: NO FEES to accept the money from China whatsoever! Open an account is free with ACH function and more. Hope it helps for anyone who needed.

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The reason banks charge fees for wires, is because the Federal Reserve charges banks to send the wires. The Fed charges the banks a hefty fee, so the banks have to charge you a hefty fee to make up for it.

Any time any business gives you a service for free, its because they think they can make more money off of some other service or product they are selling you. So the question becomes, How can I make myself valuable enough to a bank that they will waive my wire fees?

The account you linked to is a good example of this: the monthly service charge, along with the $0.50 charge every time you use your debit card, would make up for the number of wires most people send.

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  • Agreed. The trick is to find a bank that assumes you'll ending up spending more than it costs them, but then cleverly avoid doing so. That's why I have 4 bank accounts: each does something for free that the others can't. Sort of like not falling for grocery store "loss leaders". You're effectively letting other customers subsidize you :)
    – user1731
    Mar 25, 2011 at 16:57