Guide to international money transfer charges in Singapore
One of the most popular payment methods for cross-border B2B payments is international money transfer.
Singapore has a number of service providers that enable you to do these international money transfers, often also called SWIFT transfers.
While international money transfer is considered a reliable cross-border payment method, the downside is that they can be quite costly.
With several fees, including some hidden ones, involved in the process, they can easily add up. You want to make sure that you’re aware of what the international money transfer charges are before you commit to them.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS for short, is the institution responsible for regulating payments from or within Singapore.
Their electronic payment system, often referred to as MEPS+, is the system that SWIFT payments operate under. MAS is responsible for the SWIFT network for international money transfers.
As with every other payment method, there is a risk of financial terrorism when dealing with international money transfers.
Payments that are above USD 1500 are monitored by MAS to prevent this. You are required to provide certain documents when making payments of large amounts. These documents include proof of residential address and identification documents.
Other policies that you should keep in mind regarding international money transfers from Singapore are tax regulations. Ensure that you are fully aware of any tax that you are liable for when sending or receiving money from overseas.
You may also need to make tax declarations to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, or IRAS, for international money transfers with purposes such as investment opportunities.
There is no present information available on regulations or limitations regarding international bank transfer charges imposed by MAS. However, on average, international bank transfer fees for payments of USD 1000 are around USD 40.
Most major banks in Singapore will offer services that enable you to do international money transfers. Some names that you may come across when looking at cross-border payments include DBS, OCBC, UOB, and Maybank.
However, the international money transfer charges associated with traditional banks are often costly. You can be paying up to over a hundred dollars per international transfer.
Aside from banks, however, there are other international money transfer service providers that you can opt for in Singapore.
Wallex, Wise, and Spenmo are some other names that are commonly associated with international money transfers. Alternative services such as these may offer more competitive international money transfer rates.
• Handling charge: Handling charges are the international bank transfer fees that your bank charges to cover administrative fees.
Typically, handling charges for transfers done at a bank branch are more expensive than those sent through online banking.
• Cable charge: When your bank sends money to an overseas bank account, there’s a charge for wiring the money. This is called a cable charge.
The cable charge portion of your international money transfer charges will always be a fixed amount set by your bank or transfer service provider.
• Agent bank charge: While international transfer fees are often associated with the outgoing transfer, receiving banks will also charge a fee.
The receiving bank, or the agent bank, will need to process and complete the transfer. These efforts come with the agent bank charge.
A hidden fee that you should be aware of when looking at international money transfer charges is the markup on the foreign exchange rate. Most if not all banks will charge a higher exchange rate compared to the true market rate.
This is how banks make money from international money transfers. Banks are only required to pay the true market rate when processing foreign currency exchanges, meaning that the markup margin will be considered profit.
However, many businesses aren’t aware of this markup and don’t realize that they’re paying expensive international money transfer rates.
While there isn’t a standardized rate for these markups, international money transfer from Singapore charges related to the FX margin are typically 0.7% to 1.5% of the amount of money transferred.
The exchange rate margin for transfers of smaller accounts is also higher, meaning that when you do a lot of small transfers, you’ll end up paying a considerably higher amount than you expected as international money transfer charges.
The SWIFT network, which is the network used when doing international money transfers, will come with a charge when used to make cross-border payments. When an international money transfer happens, there are multiple banks involved in the process.
Other than the bank accounts that send and receive the money, also known as the originator and beneficiary banks, there can be up to 3 intermediary banks in between.
Each bank often has its own international money transfer charges, which can be anywhere between USD 10 to USD 30.
Considering that the total amount of exchange fees you pay at the end is spread out between all the different banks, they may seem like a small flat fee per bank. But when added up, it’s no surprise that the total is quite a considerable amount.
DBS Remit enables you to send money overseas for free. However, not all countries have supported this feature.
International payments made on the DBS Digibank app or web dashboard come with international money transfer charges consisting of a fixed fee of SGD 25.
Along with handling commission fees that can be anywhere between SGD to SGD 35 depending on the amount you’re transferring.
If you opt for making an international money transfer at a DBS branch with the assistance of a banker, you’ll have to pay the fixed SGD 20 fee along with a handling commission fee of 0.125% of your transfer amount.
International bank transfer fees based on this commission rate are charged at a minimum of SGD 10 and a maximum of SGD 125. Any incoming international transfer into a DBS account has a fixed fee of SGD 10.
OCBC has a fixed international money transfer fee of SGD 20. There are additional international money transfer rates at 0.125% for your transfers.These fees come at a minimum of SGD 10 and a maximum of SGD 100.
You can pay up to SGD 120 in international money transfer charges for outgoing transfers with OCBC. Incoming international money transfer charges with OCBC are fixed at SGD 10.
Similar to DBS and OCBC, UOB also has different fee components that make up your international money transfer charges. There is a fixed fee of SGD 20 for transfers to Malaysia, while transfers to other countries are charged SGD 30.
If you make your international money transfer through UOB online banking, you’ll be charged a commission of 0.0625% of your transfer amount.
If you make your transfer at a UOB branch instead, the commission rate will be 0.125% of the amount transferred. These commission fees have a minimum of SGD 10 and a maximum of SGD 100.
Incoming international transfers are subjected to a fixed SGD 10 service fee.
Maybank has different international bank transfer fees depending on whether you send your transfers online or through a Maybank branch.
For online international money transfers, you’ll be subjected to a fixed fee of SGD 20. Transfers at a Maybank branch have an SGD 30 fee.
On top of the fixed fee, Maybank also charges a 0.125% commission fee for your transfer amount. This fee is subject to a minimum of SGD 20 and a maximum of SGD 100.
Considering transfer fees and FX markups, it’s clear that international money transfer charges will be costly for your business.
If you conduct a lot of business internationally and rely on foreign vendors, these international bank transfer fees will add up fast. Chances are you’ll have to set aside a lot of money to budget for the extra charges.
While the reliability and security provided by international money transfers for cross-border payments are worth it, spending thousands of dollars a month to process all your foreign transactions is never going to be a pleasant experience.
The ideal alternative is an international B2B payment method that is fast, secure, and inexpensive.
Volopay offers a reliable and convenient method that won’t cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. With business accounts and multi-currency wallets, international money transfer charges from Singapore don’t have to break the bank.
Load, hold, and spend in multiple currencies to bypass expensive FX charges and long delays from intermediary banks in international money transfers.
Use your multi-currency wallets to your advantage by leveraging exchange rates. You don’t have to convert from one currency to another until the rates work in your favor.
When you make foreign transfers, skip through the intermediary banks and their individual international bank transfer charges.
The foreign currency payment from your Volopay account can flow directly into your vendors’ accounts, simplifying international transactions. Save money and time with Volopay.