USAA International Wire Transfer: Fees, Rates and Transfer Time

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.

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.

There are many USAA international money transfer alternatives that are cheaper, faster, and easier to use, such as Wise, OFX, and WU. 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.

ProviderTotal costTransfer time
USAA$45 + exchange rate marginUp to 15 calendar days
Wise$9.18Instant - 2 business days
Western Union$1.99 + exchange rate margin0 - 8 business days
OFXNo transfer fee + exchange rate margin1 -2 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 or XE.com, with no added margin.

The other providers, that specialise 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 is not the cheapest or the fastest way to send an international wire 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 in order to be able to cover those fees.

Outgoing transfer fee$20
International wire service fee$25
Total fees$45

 

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 
  • WU: $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 in order 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.

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:

Here’s a recap of the delivery times you may expect from the providers we profiled earlier:

  • USAA: up to 15 calendar days
  • Wise: instantly - 2 business days
  • Western Union: 0 - 8 business days
  • OFX:  1 - 2 business days

 

When it comes to a domestic wire transfer, USAA says the transfer time can generally take 1 to 2 days to process.

Pros and cons of transferring money abroad with USAA

 

Pros:

  • Secure
  • SWIFT network transfers are secure as they use encryption and identity verification for both sender and receiver.
  • Request by phone
  • If you don’t have easy access to the internet or your connection is unreliable, the phone is a good option to have. Just make sure you call within the specified time window.
  • Send from either Checking or Savings
  • You can choose which account you would like to send money from.

 

Cons:

  • Slow
  • International transfers with USAA can take up to 15 calendar days. The speed of the transfer depends on the correspondent banks that handle your money before it arrives at its final destination.
  • Expensive
  • USAA charges $45 for international wire transfers. This fee doesn’t include the mid-market exchange rate markup or any fees charged by intermediary banks, so the total cost of your transfer could be much higher.
  • Inconvenient
  • Transfers can only be initiated over the phone Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It’s a very restrictive time limit, and there are no online options

You’ll have to consider your own unique situation when deciding on the best option for sending money overseas. Providers specializing in money transfers, such as Wise or Western Union, might be a better option as you can access their platform online, 24/7, and see all fees and the exchange rate up front. USAA doesn’t really offer this convenience or transparency.

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 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday. 

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.

To initiate your international wire transfer, call one of these two numbers:

  • 210-531-USAA(8722)
  • 800-531-USAA(8722)

What information do you need to make an international transfer with USAA?

You need to have the following information on hand when you call to initiate a wire transfer. All the information must be entered before 3:30 p.m. CT.

  • 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.

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 they are 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’s the three sets of information you need to provide for incoming wire transfers that require a SWIFT code:

Wire to receiving bank:

  • SWIFT code: IRVTUS3NXXX
  • The Bank of New York Mellon
  • 225 Liberty St
  • New York, NY 10286

Credit to beneficiary bank:

  • Account number: 8900624744
  • USAA Federal Savings Bank
  • 10750 McDermott Freeway
  • San Antonio, TX 78288

Final credit to recipient:

  • 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.

Conclusion

 

If you’re a member of USAA, they’re probably the first place you’d consider for 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, USAA is not an international bank. Their international wire transfers can be costly and slow, and their window for accepting wire transfers is limited. 

It makes sense to consider other specialist providers who can transfer money quickly and at a much lower cost. For example, with Wise you can initiate a wire transfer online at a time that’s convenient for you, not just during the work day. Plus, your money will arrive almost instantaneously or up to two business days at the most. The $45 fee USAA charges is also much higher compared to Wise, which charges a lower fee and uses the mid-market exchange rate with no added margin.

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.

Sending money abroad? Compare exchange rates and fees

By Ileana Ionescu Updated December 23rd, 2021