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I'm trying to understand how costs are calculated when making an international payment via SWIFT, as the whole system seems rather opaque.

If I understand correctly, an international payment might go directly from the sending to the receiving bank, or might involve one or more "correspondent" banks along the way. All of these banks can choose to levy a charge.

Is there any standard way to find out what the charges will be in advance of making a payment? In most cases banks just say things like "We have no control over the fees", e.g. here and here (page 8).

In the particular example I have in mind, I've tried asking the sending bank (of which I'm a customer) and they've claimed they don't know.

If I can't find out before making the payment, is there any way to find out afterwards? i.e. if I send X, and (X-K) arrives, can I find out who charged the K, and perhaps get a proper receipt/invoice for it?

  • What is the objective. This is routinely done for corporate clients. – Dheer Jun 24 '17 at 12:02
  • @Dheer for example to decide which of multiple possible recipient banks to use, or to figure out alternate arrangements if the price is too high. – Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 24 '17 at 12:16
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    The costs are like this: first you pay a lot. Then you pay a lot to someone else. After that, you pay a lot to someone else. Finally, when you get the funds, a large amount if subtracted and that's paid to someone. Then you pay a fee, which is taken from the gross. Finally, you pay a number of fees taken from the net. Honestly, it is such a rip off you just have to not worry about it. It's the biggest scam out there. You will never, ever, ever get a clear accounting of what you paid :/ – Fattie Jun 24 '17 at 20:39
  • Use transferwise instead...? – ollie299792458 Sep 19 '18 at 16:29
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    @ollie299792458 it's a restricted account that doesn't let me do very much. If Transferwise (or anyone else like Revolut) introduces personal IBANs in CHF associated directly with my name, like they have for EUR, it would also solve my actual problem. But I think the core question is more general than that and useful anyway. – Ganesh Sittampalam Sep 20 '18 at 10:03
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If I understand correctly, an international payment might go directly from the sending to the receiving bank, or might involve one or more "correspondent" banks along the way. All of these banks can choose to levy a charge.

Yes this is right. For a given currency pair, country, the chain of banks is known. More often on websites. For Example if I need to send money from India to UK, If I choose Citi in India, I know Citi's Correspondant is for UK. etc.

Is there any standard way to find out what the charges will be in advance of making a payment?

Only on standard remittance corridors, the price are upfront advised. On a normal SWIFT, few Banks do offer garunteed payment and advise the total fee. However this is slightly more that normal route.

if I send X, and (X-K) arrives, can I find out who charged the K,

Depending on currency pair, you can see who the correspondants are and indirectly find out. Most banks charge similar fee.

Corporate customer do negotiate the fees with some of the correspondant banks.

  • So how do I find this information for a given currency and pair of banks? – Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 24 '17 at 13:33
  • Individual Bank's Website. SWIFT provides paid service to members. – Dheer Jun 24 '17 at 13:42
  • Most/all banks I've looked at don't have this information on their websites. – Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 24 '17 at 13:46
  • Is this UK we are talking about? Because most Indian Banks have it up on the website. – Dheer Jun 24 '17 at 14:21
  • The UK and Switzerland are what I'm currently interested in, but it's a general question. – Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 24 '17 at 14:31

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