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Wire transfers?

I need to transfer $300 to a bank acct. in Sicily to make a down payment on a week tour in Sicily ( not worried about scam, high trip advisor ratings for years) however, they don't take Visa. Any thoughts on the least expensive way to get money overseas? My bank charges an arm and a leg and I'd rather buy gelato ;)

Posted by
6543 posts

There are online funds transfer companies in Europe that can wire funds in Euros and charge your credit card. The last time I had to pay the City of Venice's checking account for a speeding ticket, I used one. Their rates were not too bad, but it was easy.
You'll need to Google European payment services.

Posted by
306 posts

I paid for my rental in Provence using Xoom.com. It was easy and inexpensive.

Posted by
2811 posts

I think I used Xoom years ago. I see that their web site now says: "A PayPal Service." There's also Paypal itself, which I recently used for a deposit in France.

Posted by
3259 posts

There have been lots of posts in this forum about the European Chip and PIN credit cards versus the American magnetic strip swipe credit cards (and now American card companies are starting to issue cards with chips, but they're mostly still not Chip and PIN), and the wire transfer situation seems to be another case of a different financial process in Europe than in the USA. It appears that wire transfers are common and cheap in Europe, but our bank in Colorado also used to charge an arm and a leg -- now it's an arm and both legs!

We've lucked out twice. A kayak tour company in France wanted a wire deposit for our adventure this coming July, and we offered to give them our VISA number or mail them some Euros we brought back with us from our last trip - risky and not preferred, but we didn't want to pay the exorbitant wire transfer fees. They said no problem - just pay us in cash when you get to France.

A few years earlier, a British couple who own a rental cottage in Ireland wanted us to wire our deposit. Their cottage rental was listed in euros on the rental website, but they had a British bank that dealt in pounds, and we had dollars to spend. They couldn't take a credit card online at the time, and we wound up (risky) mailing them a prepaid VISA debit card we got at AAA, loaded with dollars but spendable in whatever currency is in force where it's used, worldwide. It's intended for travelers to use as they go from country to country, and mailing it was about like mailing cash, which could get lost in the mail. The couple was away in Ireland when the UK Royal Mail tried to deliver our card, and it got returned to sender (us) but we didn't get it back until after we'd come home from Ireland. We wound up paying their agent in euros when we arrived in Dingle, Ireland, and cashed in the debit card after it got returned in the mail.

Your Sicilian tour operator might not be willing to wait for you to show up with cash, but perhaps they can accept your good faith promise - or could you send them a check in dollars that they could just hold, understanding that wiring funds in the US is not a simple, common, affordable option? The US banking industry is slowly getting on board with the Chip and PIN credit cards so common in Europe, and maybe the wire transfer industry will change in the future, too -- but the banks would lose getting those lucrative fees!

Posted by
8889 posts

I agree with Cyn, why is this so difficult for US-Americans?
If I want to send money to a bank account in another country I just need to know the recipients IBAN (International Bank Account Number), I go to my online banking, enter the IBAN, currency and amount and it works.
Except they don't use IBAN's in the USA.
The tour company in Sicily is probably used to receiving payments using this simple IBAN system, and can't understand why it is a problem.

Posted by
250 posts

Thank you all for your replies! I have checked into several options and I was all set to use PayPal thinking a $6 fee, when I read online that there is a 2.5% currency conversion fee, tacking on another $7.50. It beats the $50 my bank charges, but so annoying! Why can't they be upfront, have a transaction calculator on the home page so you can see the bottom line. This process is ridiculous! I realize they need to charge fees, but quit being sneaky! I'm just going to pull the trigger on this to be done with it, especially since I am sick of trying to discover all of the hidden charges on all of my options. Sheesh, I need a vacation after this. Again, thank you all for your input!

Posted by
3259 posts

Hi Kathi - I think our bank is charging something like $80 now for a wire transfer, so even $50 would be a deal.

At least the Euro-dollar exchange rate is better for Americans than it was a couple of years ago, so if the rates don't change appreciably before your trip, you should enjoy some relative savings there. Have a great time in Sicilia!

Posted by
4011 posts

Kathi, wire transfers are hideously expensive, even here in the US. The reason I opened a PayPal account was for long distance purchases in Europe, where the vendor would not take our US credit cards. We've had no trouble with PayPal. Yes, you do pay an extra fee (grump!) but the purchase will go through.