International Wire Transfers

I have received payments in euros via check in the past, and I have never had any issues, which is why I accepted a wire transfer payment from Europe without thinking too much about it. Well, I can now say, that they are two completely different beasts.

First of all, I had to fax (or email) all my bank information. I sat down with my banker to make sure that I had all of the ABA, routing numbers and other necessary codes for the transfer. Once I had everything, I had to send it to the client. Even though I do online banking and even shop online occasionally, I was quite nervous about actually having to send them my bank information. I trusted the client completely but you just never know who might get their hands on it and I have yet to learn how to encrypt emails. I tried calling them so I could avoid having to send the information, but in the course of an entire week we were unable to connect, so I sucked it up and used an online fax service to send them my info. (Who still owns a fax machine?!)

Secondly, my invoice was in dollars and we had not agreed upon an exchange rate beforehand. I, regardless of the change in currency, expected to see the amount of the invoice reflected in my bank account  (or at least close to my invoice). When this did not happen and I saw that my total was way off, I spent several hours investigating what had gone wrong. I came to the conclusion that the client had used one exchange rate to calculate the outgoing amount, and my bank used a different exchange rate to convert the incoming funds. This unfortunately created a pretty significant discrepancy between what was due and what I actually ended up receiving. I lost nearly 10% of my total, and this could have been avoided if I had set the rules and chosen the rate. They also failed to disclose that they had outgoing transfer fees.

If an international client cannot write a check or use paypal, it is probably best to just send the invoice in their currency and make note of the date and the exchange rate for that day. This way, everyone is on the same page and you will have control over the rate being used, not them. It is also essential to confirm what the client’s bank fees are, if any, and ensure that they cover them.

How do you deal with international wire transfers?

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2 thoughts on “International Wire Transfers

  1. Hi Jen,

    I regularly receive wire transfers from my clients abroad, notably in the UK (I live in France), and I never had a problem, yet. Things are pretty clear from the start: my invoices are in euros, my clients have to pay me in this currency and all banking fees are at their charge (this is clearly stated in my terms of service). It shouldn’t be otherwise: when any client buy something abroad (say for example on Amazon.co.uk when you live in France), they pay in the provider currency and their own bank may charge them international payment fees.

    Your client had the option of sending the exact amount of your invoice in your currency (say $500) and to pay for all associated fees, so it would have paid $500 converted into its currency + conversion fees + transfer fees.

    You should make that clear from the start next time. Alternatively, you can accept payment in your client’s currency, but it is more complicated on your side and you will probably end up receiving less than what your invoice states, because you will have associated banking fees.

    Best,
    Jérémy.

    • Yes, you live and you learn! You are probably right about accepting payments in your own currency. And I will be sure to clarify everything in my invoice next time around in terms of fees and exchange rates. Thanks so much for your feedback.

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