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A wire transfer (also known as a “remittance”) is a transfer of money from one person to another, done through a bank or credit union or through a business such as Western Union or MoneyGram. These businesses may offer money transfer services at payday lender businesses, Canada Post outlets, grocery or other kinds of stores and at banks (all of which act as agents for the money transfer business).
Wire transfers are fast and usually have no hold period, letting you receive money quickly. However, they can be expensive for both the person sending the money and the person receiving it.
Shop around and compare fees. Some service providers charge a flat rate for wire transfers, while others’ rates depend on how much money is being sent. There might be extra fees for wire transfers done with a credit card or for ones that are sent to another country.
Financial institutions that are regulated by the federal government (such as banks) must tell you how much it will cost to send a wire transfer. If you are sending money to another country, keep in mind that this fee will not include any extra fees that might be charged in the country where the money is going.
A cheaper option might be a money order (from a Canada Post outlet — can be done in Canadian or US funds), an e-transfer or a bank draft cheque, available through your bank or credit union. For any of these options, you should first ask what the cost would be before deciding on what option may work best for you.
Borrower Beware – Wire Transfers/Remittances
Beware of scams using wire transfers/remittances.
In recent years, elderly persons have been targeted and asked to transfer money for a family member in dire need. More information on how to protect yourself from financial scams is available through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Before giving your money to a wire transfer service provider:
- Ask friends and family about their experiences doing wire transfers
- Check with Consumer Protection BC or the Better Business Bureau for any complaints or investigations of the service provider
Who can I talk to if I have Concerns about a Wire Transfer Service Provider?
Banks are regulated by the federal government. Information on filing a complaint about a bank is available on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website. You can also send your complaint to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.
B.C. credit unions are regulated by the Province of British Columbia. If you have a concern about a credit union, the BC Financial Services Authority may be able to help. As provincial credit unions are member-owned, you are also encouraged to contact your credit union directly.