So if I can press a button and in milliseconds be video chatting face-to-face with someone on the other side of the world, why is it so hard (and expensive) to transfer funds to another country? In this day in age, it's all ones and zeros, isn't it? (Boy, I really sound old there - very sad for me.)
I spent an hour and a half on Saturday at my bank (Bank of America) - only for them to tell me at the end that they couldn't do a wire that day because their wire office is closed (they have a special office for it??). And it also took them that long to tell me the exchange rate - and when it was a good bit less than the going rate, they couldn't tell me what exchange fees they were charging. Oh, and they didn't even know that - according to their website at least - wiring money in a foreign currency was a different rate. Overall, they were charging 7% between their exchange and wire fees. Just not acceptable.
So then I did some more research online - after spending a couple weeks on and off looking at this. I was thoroughly confused. Exchange rates and transfer fees; wire, ACH (and all the different brands of these transfer mechanisms); who deposits in foreign currency, and who doesn't; etc. etc. etc. (That MBA in finance really didn't help!)
I settled on Xoom - it's a product by PayPal, but if you take funds from your bank account the fees are minimal and the exchange rate pretty good. I signed up and initiated a transfer - this was too easy - and immediately my transfer was cancelled by their system. I asked why, and got the vaguest of answers basically saying they couldn't verify my profile (though didn't ask for documentation - isn't that against some regulation?), and couldn't verify the purpose of the funds (though they didn't ask that either). Go find another service - literally, they said that. Great customer service, huh?
When you sign up you'll need to send them some identification documents for verification, then call them for a phone screen. Seems like a lot, but the banks need to basically do the same thing - so it was somewhat reassuring. Then your account will be activated within 24 hours.
Just initiated my first transfer - so far so good!
(And no, I'm not a paid endorser of Xe - just wanted to pass along what I found in the hopes that others don't have to spend many hours on this when there are far more important things to worry about!)