USAA International Wire Transfer: Fees, Rates, and Transfer Time
Wondering how to send money abroad with USAA? This article will cover everything you need to know about USAA international transfers: how much it costs, how long it takes, and what you need to know about the process.
Over 13 million U.S. military members, veterans, and their families rely on USAA for their financial services. Despite offering a range of products from insurance to banking to investment, it might not be the cheapest choice for international wire transfers.
Many USAA international money transfer alternatives are cheaper, faster, and easier to use, such as Wise and OFX. Read to find out more about how USAA compares to these other options.
USAA international money transfer comparison
The true cost of transferring money isn’t just the bank fee; you need to consider the total cost. Here’s what you need to take into account when calculating the total cost:
- Transfer fee (usually stated upfront, sometimes even “free”)
- Exchange rate markup
- Correspondent bank fees (incurred when other banks handle your money on its way to the recipient)
Before going into the details of USAA transfers, we’re going to take a look at how much it costs to send money abroad with USAA compared to some of the specialist providers we mentioned above.
The table below shows what it would cost you to transfer $1,000 from the U.S. to Canada.
|Provider||Total cost||Transfer time|
|USAA||$45 + exchange rate margin||Up to 15 calendar days|
|Wise||$9.08||Within 2 business days|
|Western Union||$0 + exchange rate margin||0 – 4 business days|
|OFX||No transfer fee + exchange rate margin||1 -5 business days|
In our example above, Wise is the only service that uses the mid-market exchange rate. This is the same rate you’ll find on Google, with no added margin.
The other providers, that specialize in international money transfers, add a margin to the mid-market rate. As the rates change frequently, you might not know the exact rate you’ll be charged until you’re ready to transfer.
USAA uses its own exchange rate for international payments, which includes a markup, plus they add a fixed fee, and the total cost might also include fees payable to other banks involved in the transaction.
USAA international transfer fees
USAA international wire transfer fees can be quite expensive. For all transfers, domestic or international, there’s a flat fee of $20. But if you’re sending money abroad, they add on an additional $25 to cover correspondent bank fees that may arise during a SWIFT transfer.
Your money passes through several banks on its way to the recipient. Each of these banks may charge a fee, so USAA charges you more upfront to be able to cover those fees.
|Outgoing transfer fee||$20|
|International wire service fee||$25|
USAA exchange rate
Since USAA functions only within the U.S., they use the Bank of New York Mellon to process international wire transfers. This means your money will pass through an additional bank before leaving the U.S., adding extra steps when processing your transfer. Extra steps mean extra costs and extra time. Because of this, USAA isn’t usually the cheapest or the fastest option for sending money abroad.
The USAA website doesn’t indicate which exchange rate they use. When you Google exchange rates, what you see is called the mid-market exchange rate. This is the rate banks use to transfer to each other. Most banks typically add a margin to the mid-market exchange rate, possibly as much as 3%. This markup is how many banks make money on currency conversions. Wise is the only provider that uses the mid-market exchange rate with no added margin when converting currency.
Here are some examples of how much a 3% markup would add up for a few different money transfer values:
- Sending 1,000 USD – the exchange rate margin adds 30 USD to the total
- Sending 5,000 USD – the exchange rate margin adds 150 USD to the total
- Sending 50,000 USD – the exchange rate margin adds 1,500 USD
So what does it really cost to make an international wire transfer? When you calculate the true cost, you have to consider the transfer fee plus the exchange rate margin. Here’s what those total cost comparisons should look like:
- USAA: $45 + exchange rate margin
- Wise: $9.18
- Western Union: $1.99 + exchange rate margin
- OFX: $0 + exchange rate margin
As you can see above, when you add a margin to the exchange rate, it can make a big difference when converting currency. This means your final total cost for an international wire transfer can be much higher than you anticipated. Even if a bank or transfer service offers an attractive fee, the exchange rate markup could cancel out any savings you might have had.
USAA additional fees
USAA charges an additional $25 for international wire transfers on top of the $20 fee they charge for making a wire transfer. This means that to make an international wire transfer with USAA, you will be charged a fixed fee of $45.
USAA does not charge a fee to receive a wire transfer. The recipient’s bank may charge a fee for them to receive your transfer.
Alternative international money transfer providers like Wise and OFX can help you to avoid these fees. These providers usually charge low transfer fees, if any, and use exchange rates based on mid-market rates.
How long does a USAA international money transfer take?
How long an international wire transfer will take depends on several factors such as the currency you’re sending to, the country, public holidays, or the time of day you initiate the transfer. An international wire transfer with USAA can take up to 15 days to arrive. This is significantly longer than most specialist providers. Imagine you have a time-sensitive situation – a family member needs money to pay school fees or a hospital bill. If you need money to get overseas fast, then USAA may not be your best option. You might want to consider an alternative. Here is a reminder of the transfer times for the providers we described in the sections above:
- USAA: up to 15 calendar days
- Wise: within – 2 business days
- Western Union: 0 – 4 business days
- OFX: 1 – 5 business days
When it comes to a domestic wire transfer, it generally takes between 1 to 2 business days to arrive.
Pros and cons of transferring money abroad with USAA
- Transfers via the SWIFT network are secure as SWIFT uses encryption and identity verification for both sender and receiver.
- If you don’t have easy access to the internet or your connection is unreliable, then you can request a transaction by phone.
- You can choose from which account you would like to send the money, either by checking or savings account.
- International transfers with USAA can take up to 15 calendar days.
- USAA charges $45 for international wire transfers plus additional fees like exchange rate markups or any fees charged by intermediary banks.
- Transfers can only be initiated over the phone Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. which may not be convenient.
There are many factors to consider when choosing an international money transfer provider that suits your needs. Alternative providers like OFX and Wise offer specialized international money transfer services that can be cheaper, quicker, and more convenient than traditional banks.
Alternatives to USAA for International Wire Transfers
International wire transfers with USAA can be slow and expensive and transfers are limited to 10,000 USD online. Other alternatives like OFX, Wise, Western Union, and others allow you to transfer money quickly and cheaply and let you transfer larger amounts than USAA. Some services don’t have limits on how much money you can send.
- OFX: OFX supports international money transfers from over 190 countries in more than 50 currencies. They offer a range of tools like targeting specific exchange rates and fixing future exchange rates. Customer support is available 24/7 where you can speak to a real person.
- Wise: Wise offers mid-market exchange rates with transparent fees, and most transfers arrive within 2 business days. They offer a multi-currency account that lets you hold various currencies and a linked debit card that you can use to send, spend and receive money in more than 170 countries.
- WorldRemit: WorldRemit lets you send money in more than 70 currencies to more than 130 countries. Fees are often fixed and some countries allow you to send money as cash pickups, home delivery, mobile , or airtime top-up.
- Remitly: Remitly lets you transfer money to more than 130 countries. They offer two ways to send money to some countries, economy or express. The Economy option is usually cheaper, but slower and Express tends to be more expensive, but faster. You can choose to have the money delivered to a bank account, mobile wallet, cash , or home delivery.
- Western Union: Western Union has an agent network covering almost every country in the world. You can make transfers online or in person at one of Western Union’s more than 50,000 US agent locations. Western Union also offers a cash-pickup option when sending money overseas.
|Fees||Exchange rate||Speed||Available countries|
|OFX||0 USD + exchange rate margin||Mid-market + markup||1 – 5 business days||190+|
|Wise||4.31 USD transfer fee + % variable fee||Mid-market||1 – 2 business days||50|
|WorldRemit||2.99 USD exchange rate margin||Mid-market + markup||1 – 2 business days||130+|
|1.99 USD + exchange rate margin||Mid-market + markup||3 – 5 business days||130+|
|Western Union||0 USD transfer fee + exchange rate margin||Mid-market + markup||0 – 8 business days||200+|
*Information, including transfer limits correct at time of research – 22 November 2022. Transfers based on sending USD to CAD
Summary: Many alternative wire transfer providers offer fast transfers to many countries for low fees at mid-market exchange rates. Which provider is better for you depends on your needs and the features each provider offers.
How to make an international transfer with USAA
USAA international wire transfers can only be done over the phone. Their phone line is open from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday. If you’re calling from overseas, remember to calculate the time difference correctly, or else you may have to wait to call another day.
When you call, make sure you have all your information on hand. You’ll have to be able to enter your information before the strict 3:30 p.m. cut-off time.
USAA international wire transfer phone number
To initiate your international wire transfer, call one of these two numbers:
What information do you need to make an international transfer with USAA?
You need to have the following information on hand to initiate a wire transfer. When you call, all information must be entered before 3:30 p.m. CT. If you fail to meet the deadline, you’ll have to call again the following business day.
- Amount you want to send
- Full name of the recipient
- Recipient’s physical address
- Recipient’s account number
- Recipient’s bank SWIFT code or other bank code
- Name of recipient’s international bank
- Address of international bank
- Purpose of payment*
*Not all banks require a purpose of payment, but USAA does. Without it, your transfer may be delayed or rejected by the recipient bank.
Transfer limits and available countries
There is no limit for USAA international wire transfers when requested over the phone.
If you want to know which countries and currencies USAA can send money to, you might need to call and ask.
Receiving money from abroad with USAA
Incoming wire transfers are usually processed on the same day if received Monday through Friday before 5 p.m. CT. If they are received after that time or on a weekend or holiday, they are generally processed on the following business day.
USAA doesn’t charge any fees for incoming international wire transfers. However, they do mention that parties outside USAA may issue fees for reconverting currency to USD or other charges.
Receiving wire transfers from outside the U.S. requires three sets of information. As USAA is not an international bank, transfers have to be sent first to the Bank of New York Mellon, then to USAA’s account within the Bank of New York Mellon, and then to your account with USAA.
Here are the three sets of information you need to provide the sender:
- SWIFT code: IRVTUS3NXXXThe Bank of New York Mellon225 Liberty St
New York, NY 10286
- Account number: 8900624744USAA Federal Savings Bank
10750 McDermott Freeway
San Antonio, TX 78288
- Your USAA checking or savings account number
Your full name and address
USAA SWIFT code
USAA doesn’t have its own SWIFT code. To process international wire transfers, USAA uses the Bank of New York Mellon as an intermediary. The SWIFT code you’ll need to initiate a wire transfer is IRVTUS3NXXX.
The SWIFT network is a global financial messaging system. Every participating bank or financial institution has its own unique code. This code functions like an address to make sure your funds end up in the right place. The SWIFT network is a secure way to send money, but it can be expensive. Usually, the sending bank charges a fee, and then each intermediary bank can also charge a fee for handling your money.
If you’re a member of USAA, they’re probably the first place you’d consider sending money abroad. After all, it’s a logical assumption as so many of their members are serving in the military and may be posted overseas.
However, their international wire transfers can be costly and slow, due to using many intermediaries during the process. Alternative providers like OFX and Wise limit the use of intermediaries by using their own networks. This allows them to send money quickly and at low fees.
USAA international bank transfer FAQs
How much does a USAA international transfer cost?
The USAA international wire transfer fee is $45 in addition to the margin on the exchange rate markup.
How long does a USAA international money transfer take?
Sending money abroad with USAA can be a lengthy process. International wire transfers can take up to 15 calendar days to arrive at their destination.
How to transfer money internationally with USAA?
An international wire transfer with USAA can only be initiated over the phone from Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m. CT. It is not possible to do it online.
Does USAA have international banking?
USAA is not an international bank so they don’t offer international banking services like many traditional banks. However, they do facilitate international wire online or by calling the service team.
Does USAA have a limit on wire transfers?
You can do wire transfers within the USA or internationally. Domestic wire transfers are limited to 5,000 USD when sending to another bank and up to your available balance for USAA to USAA transfers. International transfers are limited to 10,000 USD.