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Updated: Aug 18

Curious why your international wires get smaller and smaller on their way to their recipient? Liquid explains Intermediary Bank Fees — and puts an end to them.

You know that saying "there’s more than meets the eye”? Yeah, when it comes to making an international payment to your contractors or vendors, the fees you pay to send money are just the tip of the iceberg.


But let’s back up a second. Let’s say you’ve hired a freelancer who works outside the US or received an invoice from an international supplier. To balance your books and get them paid, both sides have several steps to go through (and fees to pay).


First, you must use a bank or international wire transfer company to transfer money to the receiver’s account. Not only does the originating institution charge you fees for sending the money, but the onus is on you to get everything correct, from your recipient entity’s name to their account number to all the details of their financial institution. Getting something wrong can send mean wiring money into the void.


From there, your bank sends your payment to one or more intermediary banks. These banks help facilitate the transaction and charge a fee for the privilege. You and your institution won’t know the fee the intermediary bank charges, but it will be taken from the amount your vendor or contractor ultimately receives. That intermediary bank forwards the remaining funds to the receiving bank (also called the beneficiary bank), which then charges its own fees to the recipient (on top of any foreign currency conversion fees). And what your client ends up with can be hundreds of dollars less than their requested amount.


The Fee’s The Thing


Every time an intermediary bank is required for an international wire transfer, it collects a fee of $15-$30. Even though banks are supposed to use the most efficient route to transfer funds, it’s possible that up to five intermediary banks can be required to complete a transaction. Each, of course, imposes its fee, leaving the recipient out of pocket for these funds.


Since the person paying the invoice sees a wire transfer fee, they may think that fee covers the entire transfer cost. But intermediary banks collect their fee every time a contractor or vendor is paid by one of their international clients, and they add up quickly.


The bank that initiated the wire won’t be able to tell you ahead of time the number of banks, or the fees each charges, that will be required to complete your transfer. That means even when you’re trying to do right by your contractors and vendors, they still may not get paid the total amount they initially agreed to. Add beneficiary fees (fees charged by the receiving bank for collecting the money they give the account holder) and currency transaction fees to the mix, and you can see why your international workforce is eager for an alternative.

The Liquid Way


Liquid believes the best contractors are happy contractors, and that means making sure they keep every dollar, rupee, leu, and pound sterling in their invoice.


That’s why Liquid’s the first company to step up with free international wire transfers and currency exchanges to over 90 countries. That’s right – free. No outgoing wire fees for you, no intermediary or beneficiary bank charges for your contractors and vendors. And they get to collect in their local currency – without a currency exchange fee.


Liquid believes the future of work isn't a 9-5 job limited by the walls of an office — or a country. Instead, work is a collaborative effort that taps the best talent from around the world - and pays them accordingly. That means fast, secure international payments that are free for you and, we can't stress this enough, fee-free for your international workers and vendors.


Do you have an international invoice you need to pay and don't aren't interested in a monthly and per-transfer fee like other sites? Wire and exchange money now, for free, the easy way, with Liquid.




3 min read

What are Intermediary Bank Fees?

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