4 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 Malaysia.
Banks aren’t your only option for moving money overseas - an online specialist service like Wise or WorldRemit 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 Malaysian banks for international telegraphic transfers:
- CIMB - 10 MYR fee for all telegraphic transfers arranged online through CIMB Clicks
- Hong Leong - 12 to 20 MYR fee for online telegraphic transfers, depending on destination
- Public Bank - total fees of 32 MYR per wire transfer sent overseas
- Maybank - 10 to 15 MYR for payments to Singapore, 30 MYR for all other destinations
*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 or WorldRemit for international transfers which are cheaper and faster.
Best Banks for International Wire Transfers in Malaysia
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 1,000 MYR to the UK, with our selected banks from above, compared to Wise and WorldRemit.
|International transfer fee
|Wise International Transfer
|WorldRemit International Transfer
|Exchange rates include a small markup
|CIMB International Transfer
|Exchange rates include a markup
|Hong Leong International Transfer
|Exchange rates include a markup
|Public Bank International Transfer
|Exchange rates include a markup
|Maybank International Transfer
|Exchange rates include a markup
As you can see, both Wise and WorldRemit can offer a much lower transfer fee than many of the big Malaysian 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.
CIMB offers customers the option to send payments to pretty much any country in the world, in over 25 currencies, via the SWIFT network. You can set up your payment online through the CIMB Clicks service for the lowest fee - 10 MYR for all transfers. However, if you’re sending more than 50,000 MYR in a single day, or if you’d prefer to transact in branch, you might find higher fees apply.
Because CIMB transfers are processed through SWIFT, intermediary fees - which can also be called agent charges - may be deducted as the payment passes through the SWIFT network. This could mean your recipient gets less than you expect in the end.
CIMB Transfer fees
All CIMB Clicks payments - arranged through the CIMB online banking service - have a flat 10 MYR fee. If you’d prefer to send your payment in a branch you can also do that. In this case, fees are 10 MYR when sending SGD, 20 MYR when sending IDR, and 30 MYR for all other currencies.
CIMB Exchange rate
The CIMB exchange rate will include a variable markup added to the mid-market exchange rate. Special rates and fee waivers are available for preferred customers, so it’s worth checking your options to see if you can get a discount on the rate markup.
CIMB International transfer limits
With CIMB Clicks, you can send up to 50,000 MYR per day online. If you need to send more than this you may still be able to do so, but you’ll need to visit a branch to get your payment set up.
Hong Leong customers can send payments online through HLB Connect, or in a branch if you’re looking for a face to face service. The fees vary somewhat, with lower costs for sending to Singapore compared to any other destination. Online transfers to Singapore cost 12 MYR plus any applicable additional fees, while any other online telegraphic transfer will set you back 20 MYR. Payments made in branch have the same fee structure, with transfers to Singapore coming in at a lower overall cost compared to transfers sent elsewhere.
It’s good to know that HLB’s exchange rates are likely to include a markup which is an extra fee added to the mid-market exchange rate - and that intermediary fees may also apply, depending on how the telegraphic transfer is processed.
Hong Leong Transfer fees
Hong Leong’s international transfer fees vary based on where you’re sending money to, the payment value, and whether you arrange your transfer online or in a branch:
Online to Singapore - 12 MYR + exchange rate markup + any applicable third party charges
Online elsewhere - 20 MYR + exchange rate markup + any applicable third party charges
In branch payment up to 5,000 MYR - 2 MYR fee + cable charges (12 MYR to Singapore, 30 to elsewhere) + exchange rate markup
In branch payment over 5,000 MYR - No HLB fee + cable charges (12 MYR to Singapore, 30 to elsewhere) + exchange rate markup
Hong Leong Exchange rate
The Hong Leong exchange rate is likely to include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate you’ll see on Google. The exact markup added can vary depending on the specific currencies involved.
Hong Leong International transfer limits
The Hong Leong daily limit for third party payments made online - which include telegraphic transfers - is set as a default at 50,000 MYR a day. If you want to send more than this, you’ll need to visit your branch and send in person.
Public Bank international transfer has a flat fee structure regardless of whether you set them up in person or online, which means you’ll pay the 30 MYR cable charge, plus up to 2 MYR commission per payment. In addition there will be an extra charge which is rolled up into the exchange rate applied to convert your funds, plus any applicable agent fees. Unless you specifically instruct the bank otherwise, agent fees are borne by the recipient, which means they’re deducted from the payment as it’s processed.
There is likely to be a limit to the value of payment you can send from your Public Bank account - however, these limits vary quite widely between customer and account types, so you’ll need to double check your own account to understand your options.
Public Bank Transfer fees
When you send a payment with Public Bank you’ll pay a 30 MYR cable charge, plus commission of 2 MYR on most transfers. For higher value payments, the 2 MYR commission fee might be waived, but the 30 MYR cable fee, plus any agent charges which are applicable still need to be paid.
Public Bank Exchange rate
The Public Bank exchange rate will include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate you find on Google. You can see the Public Bank exchange rates for the day on their desktop site, or by logging into your online banking service.
Public Bank International transfer limits
Public Bank has outward payment limits which cover all types of transfer, including your foreign telegraphic transfers. These limits can vary by account and customer - check your online banking service, or ask in a branch if you’re unsure what your own account limits are.
Maybank customers can send payments online or in a branch, to over 100 countries around the world. 24 currencies are supported, with fees which vary based on destination and where you’re based in Malaysia. Usually sending money to Singapore works out cheapest - 10 to 15 MYR, while all other destinations will cost 30 MYR. In addition, there will be an extra charge added to the exchange rate used to convert your MYR to the currency required, and agent charges may also creep in, which will be deducted from the transfer amount before it’s deposited in the recipient’s account.
Maybank international transfer cost will be the same whether you set up your payment online or in person in a branch.
Maybank Transfer fees
Maybanks’ telegraphic transfer fees can vary based on where you are, and where you’re sending money to. You’ll usually find that payments to Singapore are cheapest, at 10 MYR from Peninsular Malaysia, or 15 MYR from East Malaysia, with payments to all other countries from 30 MYR.
Maybank Exchange rate
Maybank’s exchange rate will include a markup which is added to the mid-market exchange rate you find on Google.
Maybank International transfer limits
You can send up to 49,999 MYR in a single transfer with Maybank’s online banking service. If you need to send a higher amount you’ll be able to make multiple transfers online, or you can send payments with no upper limit in person by visiting a branch.
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. If you can find one 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 to 70+ countries, with the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees. 50%+ of payments arrive instantly
WorldRemit: Online and in app payments to a range of countries around the world, 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 digitally on popular remittance routes, and pick a faster Express fee or a cheaper Economy service*
*Remitly and OFX can be used for international transfers to Malaysia, but currently they are not supporting international transfers overseas from Malaysia.
International Bank transfer Fees for banks in Malaysia
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 money 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 and WorldRemit 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 or WorldRemit can often offer a lower overall cost compared to your normal bank.
All of the Malaysian 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 Malaysian 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.