5 Best Banks for International Money Transfers
If you need to send an international payment you may be considering using your normal bank as a secure and convenient option. Sending an international telegraphic transfer with your bank shouldn’t be too much of a headache - but it can be quite expensive, and because third party fees may creep in, your recipient might get less than you were intending in the end.
This guide walks through the pros and cons, features and fees of sending money overseas with some of the biggest banks in India.
Banks aren’t your only option for moving money overseas - an online specialist service like Wise may be able to offer a better exchange rate, a lower overall cost, and a faster delivery. We’ll touch on a few alternatives to regular banks later, to help you compare and choose.
What are the best international banks?
First, let’s take a look at an overview of the highlights of the fees charged by some major Indian banks for international telegraphic transfers:
- ICICI - 750 INR + exchange rate markup + agent or intermediary bank charges
HDFC - 500 to 1,000 INR + exchange rate markup + correspondent bank fees
- PNB - 500 to 1,000 INR transfer fee + 500 INR SWIFT fee + exchange rate markup + agent or intermediary bank charges
- SBI - variable fees based on account type, and payment details
Axis - 1,000 INR + exchange rate markup + 500 INR SWIFT charges
*These outbound telegraphic transfer fees do not take into account the exchange rates charged by the banks which almost always include additional costs and charges
Sending your international payment with your regular bank is a safe and familiar option. However, it can also be relatively slow and expensive, with fees which aren’t always transparent. Specialist services have developed their own payment systems and networks which cut out some of the costs, and can get your money moving quicker. You may find you’re better off with alternative services such as Wise for international transfers which are cheaper and faster.
Best Banks for International Wire Transfers in India
Looking for more detail? Let’s walk through the pros and cons, as well as a more thorough look at the telegraphic transfer fees, from the following banks:
Which bank is best for international transfers?
When it comes to sending a payment overseas, your bank may not actually be your best option. Alternative providers may be able to offer a cheaper service, with a quicker delivery time.
To illustrate, let’s look at the fees for sending 5,000 INR to the UK, with our selected banks listed above, compared to Wise.
|Provider||International transfer fee||Exchange rate|
|Wise International Transfers||230.24 INR||💡 Mid-market rate|
|ICICI International Transfers||750 INR + correspondent fees||Exchange rates include a markup|
|HDFC International Transfers||500 INR transfer fee + 500 INR SWIFT fee||Exchange rates include a markup|
|PNB International Transfers||500 INR transfer fee + correspondent fees||Exchange rates include a markup|
|SBI International Transfers||Variable fees||Exchange rates include a markup|
|Axis International Transfers||1,000 INR + exchange rate markup + 500 INR SWIFT charges.||Exchange rates include a markup|
As you can see, Wise can offer a much lower transfer fee than many of the big Indian banks we looked at. In addition to this, you’ll usually find you get a better exchange rate with a specialist service, with no intermediary fees to pay. That can mean you pay less, and your recipient gets more in the end.
You can send an ICICI international money transfer in around 20 different currencies, to a broad range of countries. There’s a different fee for payments made by NRI customers, compared to residents. If you’re an Indian resident, you’ll pay 750 INR for a transfer arranged online, or 1,000 INR for a payment set up in a branch. NRI customers with an eligible non resident account pay 500 INR no matter whether the transfer is arranged online or in person.
On top of the transfer fees, intermediary or correspondent bank fees may also apply. These are typically deducted from the payment amount as it’s processed, meaning the recipient may get less in the end.
ICICI Transfer fees
Online: 750 INR + exchange rate markup + agent or intermediary bank charges
In a branch: 1,000 INR + exchange rate markup + agent or intermediary bank charges
Payments from NRO or NRE accounts: 500 INR + exchange rate markup + agent or intermediary bank charges
ICICI Exchange rate
The ICICI exchange rate will include a variable markup added to the mid-market exchange rate.
ICICI International transfer limits
ICICI payments can be made up to FEMA limits. That means you can arrange international transfers to the applicable RBI maximum, which at the time of writing stands at 250,000 USD/year.
HDFC has international remittance options which mean you can send money within FEMA limits, in 19 currencies, to countries around the world. The fees you pay can vary based on the value of the transfer you’re sending, but it won’t be more costly to set up your payment in a branch if you’d prefer to get a face to face service.
As well as the HDFC international transfer fee you’ll pay an exchange rate markup which can vary by the currencies involved, and correspondent bank fees, as the transfer will be sent via the SWIFT network.
HDFC Transfer fees
HDFC has the same payment fee regardless of whether you set up your transfer online or in a branch. However, the full fee will depend on the value of the transfer you’re making:
Under the equivalent of 500 USD: 500 INR + exchange rate markup + correspondent bank fees
Over the equivalent of 500 USD: 1,000 INR + exchange rate markup + correspondent bank fees
HDFC Exchange rate
The exchange rate used by HDFC will usually include a variable markup on the Google exchange rate. Get the mid-market rate for your currency easily online, and compare it to the rate offered by HDFC to see this.
HDFC International transfer limits
HDFC international payments can usually be made under the LRS, to a maximum of the equivalent of 250,000 USD/year.
PNB international transfer supports 12 different currencies, with payments of up to 10,000 USD or the currency equivalent offered online. If you need to send a larger amount you can do so in a PNB branch, subject to RBI maximum limits. There’s also an annual cap on the amount you can send digitally online, which sits at the equivalent of 100,000 USD.
You’ll need to pay a few different fees when you send a telegraphic transfer with PNB. There’s a variable transfer fee, plus SWIFT fees, an exchange rate markup, and possible charges deducted by correspondent banks. Correspondent fees are deducted from the total amount of the transfer before it’s deposited, which means effectively that they’re paid by the recipient.
PNB Transfer fees
PNB’s transfer fees include a fee paid to PNB, SWIFT fees, an exchange rate markup and potential third party correspondent bank fees:
Payments valued at up to 20,000 INR: 500 INR transfer fee + 500 INR SWIFT fee + exchange rate markup
Payments valued at over 20,000 INR: 1,000 INR transfer fee + 500 INR SWIFT fee + exchange rate markup
Correspondent bank fees may also be applied - these will be added after the payment is successfully processed, and paid by the sender
PNB Exchange rate
The PNB exchange rate will include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate you find on Google. You can see the PNB exchange rates for the day on their desktop site, or by logging into your online banking service.
PNB International transfer limits
If you’re sending a PNB payment online you can send up to the equivalent of 10,000 USD per payment, to an annual maximum of 100,000 USD. For higher value transfers you can visit a branch, where you can send to RBI limits - currently set at 250,000 USD a year.
SBI customers can send outward remittances in 6 currencies, to 200 countries. Payments are subject to RBI limits, and SBI also has a per transfer limit of 25,000 USD or the equivalent, or lower when you’ve only recently added a beneficiary to your account.
SBI international transfer fees vary depending on the type of account you have and what the payment is for. In some cases, SBI’s fees are waived for individual customers, although out of pocket charges, such as SWIFT or correspondent bank fees will still apply.
SBI Transfer fees
Different SBI fees may apply based on your account type, and if you arrange your transfer in a branch. In some cases, transfer fees for individual customers may be waived entirely.
Online telegraphic transfer fees vary based on the currency + exchange rate markup + any relevant third party charges.
SBI Exchange rate
SBI’s exchange rate will include a markup which is added to the mid-market exchange rate you find on Google.
SBI International transfer limits
SBI allows customers to send up to the equivalent of 25,000 USD per transaction, to the RBI maximum of 250,000 USD/year.
It’s also helpful to know that you can only send up to a maximum of 500,000 INR to any beneficiary within the first 4 days of adding that beneficiary to your SBI account.
With Axis international transfer, customers can send payments in over 100 currencies to a range of countries, subject to RBI limits. Payments can be made online or in branch, with the same fees applying in either case.
For a regular transfer you’ll pay a 1,000 INR fee to Axis, plus 500 INR in SWIFT fees. Aside from this there’s likely to be another fee rolled into the exchange rate used to convert your funds, and additional charges - which are set by correspondent banks - may also be levied once the payment has begun processing.
Axis Transfer fees
Standard Axis transfer fees are 1,000 INR + exchange rate markup + 500 INR SWIFT charges.
Additional intermediary or beneficiary bank fees may apply.
Axis Exchange rate
The Axis exchange rate will include a markup which is added to the mid-market exchange rate you find on Google.
Axis International transfer limits
You can send payments overseas to RBI limits, which at the time of writing are set at the equivalent of 250,000 USD/year.
Types of Fees for International Wire Transfer with Banks
When you send a telegraphic transfer overseas with your normal bank, you’ll usually run into several different charges. Some are easy to spot - but others are harder to see, and may be unpredictable.
Bank telegraphic transfer fee: The bank will charge a fixed fee for each international money transfer that you make. This fee can vary depending on the type of account you have, how you’re making the transfer and the currency you send.
Exchange rate markup fee: A bank typically offers a worse exchange rate than the base exchange rate, often between two and four percent worse than you might get elsewhere. This is a hidden fee as the bank pockets the difference.
Correspondent bank fee: Third party charges which can be called agent fees, intermediary fees, SWIFT fees or correspondent bank fees. You may not be able to see the exact cost of these charges in advance of confirming your transfer.
Receiving bank fee: Finally, the beneficiary’s bank will probably charge a fee for them to receive the money into their account.
All of these fees do add up and can mean the beneficiary ends up receiving quite a bit less than you sent them.
Alternatives to International Wire Transfers with Banks
Sending your payment with a regular bank isn’t usually your cheapest or fastest option. Instead, it’s worth shopping around to see if a specialist alternative provider can help you. Not all specialist online services allow payments from India - but many support inward remittances coming into India, making this a smart option if you’re sending from India to another country, too.
If you can find a provider which supports the specific transfer you want to make, you may get a lower overall fee and a better exchange rate. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
Wise: Send from India to 40+ countries, with the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees. 50%+ of payments arrive instantly
WorldRemit: Send to India online and in app, with a good range of pay out methods*
OFX: Make payments in 50+ currencies online, in app and by phone. There’s no transfer fee and the rates offered can beat the banks*
Remitly: Send from a range of countries on popular remittance routes, and pick a faster Express fee or a cheaper Economy service*
*Remitly, WorldRemit and OFX can be used for international transfers to India, but currently they are not supporting international transfers overseas from India.
International Bank transfer Fees for banks in India
As well as the foreign telegraphic transfer fees we’ve looked at already, you’ll also find other foreign transaction fees apply when spending foreign currencies. These can apply when you shop online or when you travel. Here are a couple of other charges you’ll want to watch out for when transacting internationally.
Foreign transaction fees - these are extra costs added to the amount you pay when using your card to spend online or in person in a foreign currency. Amounts vary, but around 3% is common.
Foreign cash fees - these are extra costs added to the amount you pay when withdrawing cash from an ATM in a foreign currency. Amounts vary, but around 3% is common.
Cash advance fee - if you withdraw cash using a credit card, you’ll usually also pay a cash advance fee on top of all other applicable fees
How to avoid international transfer fees with banks
With charges added into the exchange rates and hard to spot intermediary bank fees, international wire transfers with traditional banks can be costly.
Here are some tips on how you could keep your costs down:
Sending money through your bank’s online or mobile banking service is almost always cheaper than visiting a branch
If you need to send someone a lot of money, using one larger payment can be cheaper than sending several small transfers, thanks to the fixed transfer fees that apply
If you can, use a specialist international payment provider. You’ll be able to make your payment online or in an app for convenience, and can often find lower costs and a better exchange rate compared to a regular bank
Compare some different transfer services to make sure you get the best value for your particular payment
Things to consider When Choosing an International Transfer Provider
Not sure how to arrange your international wire? Here are some factors to consider when you’re deciding:
Costs - before you get started make sure you’ve thoroughly read the payment fee schedule. The transfer fee you pay can vary widely depending on how you structure the payment.
Speed - international wires commonly take 3 to 5 days to arrive in the destination account when sent with a traditional bank. Check the delivery times when you arrange your payment.
Exchange rates - compare the exchange rate your bank offers against the mid-market rate you’ll find on Google. It’s common for banks to add extra fees here, so doing a bit of homework and looking at a few alternatives can save you money.
Convenience - check out the options for sending your payment - while many banks let you set things up online or in an app, some still require you to head into a branch in person.
Conclusion: What is the best bank to transfer money overseas?
Using banks for international wire transfers can be convenient and secure but is also often expensive thanks to complicated fees and poor exchange rates. It’s also not often the fastest option, with bank wires commonly taking several days to arrive, depending on the destination.
Specialist services like Wise are a good option for a faster payment which can be cheaper too. Compare a few alternatives to see which works best for you.
FAQs on best banks to transfer money internationally
There’s no single best way to send money internationally - but specialist digital providers like Wise can often offer a lower overall cost compared to your normal bank when sending money abroad from India. If you’re sending a payment to India, there are many popular remittance services - including Wise, WorldRemit and OFX - which may be able to help, depending on your location.
All of the Indian banks we looked at charge international telegraphic transfer fees. Sending money overseas does cost money - so you’ll usually find a fee to pay somewhere. Some operators may hide some of the charges you pay in the exchange rate applied - so if a service states there’s no commission to pay it’s worth bearing in mind that this is unlikely to mean it’s actually completely free to use.
Sending a payment with a specialist online service may work out cheaper than using your banks. Compare a few options - you can often get an instant, no obligation quote, so it’s easy to see which works best for you.
All of the Indian banks we looked at offer one or more ways to send international bank transfers. Usually you’ll be able to set up your payment online or in a branch - although branch fees may be higher than online services.