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Wells Fargo International Wire Transfer still stinks

Before coming to Japan I mentioned how unsatisfied I was with my Foreign Wire Transfer through Wells Fargo Bank. I sent yen to Japan from my U.S. account which had dollars in it.

After that unfortunate transaction I received a feedback survey from Wells Fargo asking how I enjoyed their service. I gave them my honest opinion. More than one employee of Wells Fargo then called me to apologize and get more information about why I was unhappy and how they can improve. They both seemed rather shocked that their rates were so poor and that someone in the know could get a better rate simply by asking.

Fast forward more than seven months to my next need to wire money from my US$ Wells Fargo account to a Japanese account in yen. I was hoping things would be better this go around. They weren’t.

On a day when the yen traded between .01108 and .01095 (when I called the bid was .01097 and the ask was .01098) Wells Fargo quoted me a rate of .01134. Plus they would charge me a wire transfer fee of $25 on the transaction. The lady on the phone tried to get me to agree to the transaction immediately. I asked if she could give me a better rate. She responded that she would call exchange services and check. Exchange services offered a slightly better rate of .011323. I declined.

I can pull money (yen) out of ATMs in Japan for the market rate. This is the exact same money I was trying to wire. Wells Fargo charges me $5 per transaction (or 1%) on a $500 withdrawal. So instead of wiring money and paying $25 + 3-5% I will just withdraw $500 a day in yen. How much will I save compared to using Wells Fargo “exchange services” in so doing? I will save almost $400, even after considering the $5 per transaction I will have to pay over 20 times, to get the amount I need.

Again, you will not get the best foreign wire transfer rate if you go with the first one they give you. They will not give you a good rate even after you talk them down. Foreign wire transfers cost not $25 but $25 + several percent of the amount transfered.

3 Responses to “Wells Fargo International Wire Transfer still stinks”

  1. 1

    Good to know, thank you. By the way, I live in Aomori and have enjoyed following your blog. Excellent photography! 🙂

  2. 2
    New Currency Trader:

    Hi Hi (^_^)!

    I read the first post you did on this topic and initially agreed with Old Currency Trader. There is an issue of wholesale vs. retail. But after some light net research, it is more complicated than that.

    There is an extra party in ATM transactions. The actual dealer in ATM transactions is not your bank, but Visa or MasterCard. All ATM currency conversions using a card with a Visa or Mastercard logo go through either Visa or MC’s global currency exchange network. (It seems that Visa and MC charge 1% on all of their currency conversion transactions. This is why the TC fee is the same the ATM fee.) So, when you use an ATM, your individual transaction is aggregated into a much larger pool of funds for currency conversion. This allows users of Visa and MC debit/credit cards to receive a price closer to the wholesale/interbank market.

    Visa and MC, who actually do the currency exchange, are always going to charge 1%. But, the bank fee ($5 in your case) isn’t the same for different banks. I found this that compares the total currency conversion fees at different banks. I hope you find it useful and can save more money (so you can eat more tan tan men <– my fav!).


  3. 3
    New Currency Trader:

    OOPS. Here’s the link: