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SWIFT Transfer or Transferwise? (USA to TH)


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Hi, I am looking for feedback about the best way to transfer money from the USA to Thailand. In 2018/2019 I did two transfers using the Bangkok Bank New York ACH method, which is no longer allowed. I’m now looking for the best alternative.

 

In my current scenario I want to transfer $49,000 USD to Thailand (Immigration money, vehicle purchase, living expenses). later I would do smaller amounts maybe two times a year, for living expenses.

 

It seems to come down to two main ways to transfer the money:

1. SWIFT Wire transfer from my USA credit union to my Bangkok Bank account in Thailand. There is a $25 USD wire transfer fee and a 500 baht receiving fee at Bangkok Bank. It is sent in dollars and converted to baht upon arrival in Thailand, at the exchange rate offered at that moment.

2. ACH wire transfer from my USA bank to Transferwise, which will deposit baht into my Bangkok Bank account. They use the agreed exchange rate on their site. Their fee is $288. There is a 30 baht receiving fee from Bangkok Bank. There is a $25 transfer fee from my USA credit union.

On it’s face, the SWIFT Transfer from my credit union seems cheaper. Am I missing something? Transferwise claims to be cheaper than banks. Could the difference be in the exchange rate? Maybe it's not even true, at least in my case? 

 

Yesterday I read an article by an American blogger in Europe. He said that for him, Transferwise was less expensive amounts under about 875 Euro. Otherwise, a regular bank transfer was cheaper. I wonder if that would generalize to the USA and Thailand using a SWIFT transfer?

 

I’m looking for feedback from anyone who has knowledge of any of that and can educate me. My assumptions might not be correct. I am trying to learn.

 

(For smaller amounts of money it seems easy to use my USA debit card to send money to Transferwise, which then puts it in my Thailand bank account. I did that as a test two days ago, with $50 and it worked.)

 

Thanks very much!

Edited by Goldbear
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"Am I missing someting?"

 

Yes, you are. You mention the direct expenses/charges you will experiance with each method. That is only half of the solution.

 

 Equal or more important is the appicable exchange rate for the respective transfer. With Transferwise, you get a middle rate between ask/buy, eg. far better than with any banks. You have to ask for the applicable exchange rate from the involved banks. A bad rate could cost you easily some hundert dollars.

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Thanks for the detailed responses, Pib. You answered my questions and a few that I hadn't considered like repatriating the money.

 

I located Bangkok Bank's TT buying rate, online.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Pib said:

In many cases depending on the exchange rate and currency pairs involved you can be better off using SWIFT than using Transferwise.   Although Transferwise has a better exchange rate that higher rate can not always offset the impact of their fees which increase for higher amount sent.   You need to do a cost analysis which includes exchange rate and fees.

 

Whereas with a SWIFT transfer direct from your bank the sending fee is the same for a small or large amount and on the Thailand receiving end the fee is going to usually fall within Bt200 minimum to Bt500 maximum.

 

If you use Transferwise.  And below snapshot does not reflect the Wire fee from your US bank to Transferwise to fund the transfer.  So be sure to include that fee in your cost analysis (i.e., a correction factor) by substracting that fee (you said $25 which is around Bt781 using the Transferwise exchange rate) from the bottom line baht figure below and you end up with Bt1,520,298.

image.png.54a3c22b690213a7f5d72b9033d8c414.png

 

 

If you use SWIFT from your US bank to your Thai bank...and let's say your sending it to Bangkok Bank.  The Bangkok Bank TT Buying Rate used for incoming international SWIFT/ACH transfers is 31.05 right now in comparison to Transferwise's 31.23 above.  And lets just assume these two rates stay pretty stable over next few days.   $49,000 times 31.05 equals Bt1,521,450.  For that amount the receiving Thai bank will apply a Bt500 receiving fee so you are now down to Bt1.520,950. And lets apply a correction factor for the $25 SWIFT Wire fee...$25 is approx Bt776 using the Bangkok Bank exchange rate...which means you end up with Bt1,520,174 which is only Bt124 less than the Transferwise amount, but without the extra hassle of using Transferwise as a middleman.    Now, your US bank may end up having to use an intermediary bank which may result in another $20 or so being sliced off as it flows to the Thai bank....you just don't know if that will occur or not until completing the transfer...or having experience from previous like transfers.

 

Bottomline is you need to do a cost analysis that considers "both exchange rate and fees"....not just fees only...not just exchange rate only.   Then make your decision.

 

Personally, I would just use SWIFT direct from your US bank to your Thai bank...not use Transferwise as a middle man in this case.  Using a middle man to save Bt124 wouldn't be worth it to me....just one less issue to worry about.

The way I read it, transferwise charges a fee of US$288.94, but I don't see it in your calculations. What am I missing?

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I also use a USA credit union with Kbank in Thailand.  My last SWIFT was for $4000. I paid the credit union US$25 and Kbank deposited 125,203 into my account on a Monday (the money was in my account as soon as the bank opened the day after the credit union called me to confirm).  The XE conversion rate on that day was 31.29 but the amount deposited was equal to an exchange rate of 31.3, but I do not know what rate Kbank was using, but it seems to be a better deal than I would get with transferwise.  The rate for the previous Friday was 31.56 baht to the dollar which would have made the deposit amount 126,240, so Kbank charged me about B1000 or about $31, so I paid about $56 for the fee and the forex.

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1 hour ago, caughtintheact said:

The way I read it, transferwise charges a fee of US$288.94, but I don't see it in your calculations. What am I missing?

Their fee is shown in the Transferwise snapshot so I didn't mention it again....only needed to verbalize the fee not shown which would be the Domestic Wire fee from the OP's bank to Transferwise to fund the Transferwise transfer.

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52 minutes ago, Knick said:

I us navy fed credit union

1 transfer to bangkok bank in ny by domestic transfer $14. The ny bank sends it to my local bangkok bank takes 1 day

Just to add some more detail, you are doing a Domestic "Wire" which NFCU charges $14 for.  As it flows thru the Bangkok Bank "NY" branch that branch will slice off their fee which is identical to the fee they charged for ACH Transfer when you could still do ACH transfers thru the NY branch.  The NY branch fee is shown below.  After slicing off their fee they relay the remaining about to your in-Thailand Bangkok Bank branch end who then use their TT Buying Rate to accomplish the exchange and then substract/apply their 0.25% (Bt200 min, Bt500 max) receiving fee.   Then the funds are posted to your acct.   See fee schedule at bottom. 

 

The two above mentioned Bangkok Bank fees are applied "before posting to your acct," therefore, they will not be shown anywhere on your ibanking statement or passbook.  This fools some folks into thinking no Bangkok Bank fees were applied but indeed the fees were applied.  Folks trying to use personal math to determine the exchange rate can never seem to find an exact exchange rate match on the Bangkok Bank exchange rate page because the fees were not considered/applied in the right order.   

 

However a person can signup for the Bangkok Bank free SMS Remittance Alert which will show the amount of funds arriving your in-Thailand branch (minus the NY branch fee), the exchange rate used, the receiving fee, and the final amount posting to your acct. 

 

 

image.png.9391d0d2e04d54b9775654991c109a46.png

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11 minutes ago, Jeffrey346 said:

Take a look at Western Union. I use them all the time. You can only send $5000 per transfer. Their exchange rate is competitive and they charge $2.99 per transfer if you use your debit card.

You know I tried them twice about 6 months ago for some small amounts and it was a pain.  Each time shortly after initiating the transfer online I got an email form them that I needed to call them within X-hours to confirm the transfer otherwise the transfer would be cancelled.   So, I called...did the confirmation and the funds arrived OK days later.  I used the ACH funding method where funds are pulled from my bank and WU took 4 business days to complete the transfer to my Thai bank acct...both times.  Yeap....low sending fee....pretty good exchange rate....but slow when using the ACH funding method.    The slowness and having to call both times to keep the transfer going turned me off. 

Edited by Pib
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I think that it is no longer possible to transfer money to your local Bangkok Bank account using a USA domestic ACH to the NY branch of Bangkok Bank.  It is only possible if your bank supplies the additional information required for an International ACH.  There was a thread about this last year. You must now use a SWIFT transfer.

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1 hour ago, caughtintheact said:

I also use a USA credit union with Kbank in Thailand.  My last SWIFT was for $4000. I paid the credit union US$25 and Kbank deposited 125,203 into my account on a Monday (the money was in my account as soon as the bank opened the day after the credit union called me to confirm).  The XE conversion rate on that day was 31.29 but the amount deposited was equal to an exchange rate of 31.3, but I do not know what rate Kbank was using, but it seems to be a better deal than I would get with transferwise.  The rate for the previous Friday was 31.56 baht to the dollar which would have made the deposit amount 126,240, so Kbank charged me about B1000 or about $31, so I paid about $56 for the fee and the forex.

What Monday and Friday (i.e., specific date) are you talking about....are you talking 12 Oct Monday and 9 Oct Friday or some other date?  I expect not based on the exchange rate/amounts you talked.

 

Kbank uses "their "TT Buying Rate" (they call it their Telex Transfer) for the exchange...most likely their opening rate for the day.  Their rates typically change a few times each day but for international transfers which typically arrive the bank during the O-dark early pre-open hours the Thai bank will then utilize their opening/1st rate for the day to accomplish the exchange and then post to your acct after they apply their 0.25% (Bt200 min, Bt500 max) receiving fee.

 

https://kasikornbank.com/en/Rate/Pages/Foreign-Exchange.aspx

 

 

 

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