Banks with low fees for incoming SWIFT transfers for foreign currencies?

Hi,

I will soon arrive in Taiwan and one of the first steps after arriving (and having finished quarantine) will be opening a bank account. I have read that “common” banks for foreigners seem to be Mega, Citi, HSBC, E-Sun, Cathay and Fubon.

As I will be sending over EUR to Taiwan regularly, I am wondering which of these banks have both low fees for incoming SWIFT money transfers and a good exchange rate for subsequently converting the foreign currency to TWD.

Any insight or experience?
I am not looking to make outgoing transfers and won’t be needing a local credit card at first, so the fees for incoming money are most important for me.

For reference, the bank in my home country charges EUR 12.50 per SWIFT transfer (both incoming and outgoing). So hoping to find a bank which charges less than 500 NTD per transfer, so my total fees would be below 1000 NTD per transfer.

Thanks!

In my experience the foreign fee is always much higher. It should only be a few hundred NT for up to 10,000US if I remember correctly.

I always wondered for general living expenses (say 20000 NT$ per withdrawal for 3 withdrawals) if this was even worth doing, or if it was around the same price doing it just through the ATM?

1 Like

Mhh, my plan would be to transfer living expenses and taxes once every 1-3 months. If that costs me NTD 1,000 each time in total (so around 350 per month maybe), but saves me a weekly trip to the ATM, I think it would be worth it.

What do you mean a “trip”? I bet there is one within 5 min walking, if not less, of where you will live. If you don’t want to do it its fine but it will be pretty easy.

1 Like

I was also thinking that it would be nice to have a list of fees for the various banks, although I agree with the above comment that the charges on the Taiwanese end generally seem pretty reasonable.

I actually asked about the fees at Standard Chartered today while opening an account there, and was told that they range between a minimum of NT$200 and a maximum of NT$800 for incoming transfers. I realize that’s a bit vague - there’s presumably a percentage involved there but the guy’s English wasn’t great (albeit better than my Chinese, obviously), and I was getting bored of being in the bank after two hours so had lost interest and didn’t press for more info. Still, should be pretty reasonable, especially for larger transfers every couple of months.

The post office bank’s fees are listed here. Similar pages might exist for other banks, but I get the impression that Taiwanese banks often don’t bother much with their English websites besides putting up a homepage about the history of the bank in SimSun.

1 Like

Thanks for all the replies!

Also for depositing the money to my local bank account? I don’t really want to keep the money in cash.

Sounds like I’ll have to try out a couple of options to find out the fees.

How about the exchange rates these banks offer from their foreign currency accounts? Are these inter-bank rates or “custom” rates including additional fees?

I think my home bank can send the money either in EUR or in TWD. So might also be another difference in fees…

@qwert_zuiop Depositing should be free, if I recall well. Just the hassle of going to the branch, waiting and of course limited opening hours.

Sometimes withdrawing from your EU bank account at the Taiwanese bank’s ATM and then going in to deposit the amount is faster and cheaper than transferring. Only thing to remember is the cap of 20,000 NTD per withdrawal.

Pity that TransferWise and other fintech companies are unlikely to ever include Taiwan. PayPal allows for direct transfer to a Taiwanese bank account, but 1. Hefty conversion rate; 2. Only E.Sun; 3. Back in the old days, E.Sun had some crappy policies that prevented ARC holders from receiving transfers from PayPal. Been there, argued and gave up. Not sure about now.

1 Like

Yeah, that’s the thing I’d like to avoid. And don’t really want to “pool” cash at home and only make one deposit per month or so.
But definitely a “fallback” solution if everything else fails.

Yeah - would make things so much easier…

So my plan for the moment would be opening a foreign currency account and a regular checking account and then a) transfer TWD to the regular checking account and b) transfer EUR to the foreign currency account and then change to TWD and compare the result against the “ATM”-way.

At the ATM, I should get VISA rates for currency exchange, right? But can’t rely on the same rates when exchanging money from a Taiwanese checking account to a Taiwanese foreign currency account, right? Any difference between banks in that aspect? Or do they all basically use the same exchange rate for conversion?

You could, but that also depends on whether your home bank applies any loading to the Visa/MasterCard rate. Would suggest shopping around for cards that don’t prior to leaving (so Starling, Monzo, Revolut, in that order IMO, for the UK - not sure for European cards).

I think most banks in Taiwan don’t charge for foreign ATM withdrawals (some do I believe, but I generally only use Cathay United ATMs with my foreign cards so I’m not sure).

The rate there seems to vary with the bank, and isn’t the Visa/MasterCard rate. I assume there could be some minor differences between banks, but the spread seemed pretty small when I saw it on the screen in a bank the other day (at least for major currencies - ASEAN currencies seem a bit of a ripoff though). BOT rates can be found here.

1 Like

Yes, I already have a card with no foreign transaction fee. And they also say that they will use “plain” VISA rates. Which, however, also seem to have some markup built in which I found during further research.

Thanks for the insight. I think I am starting to get it now - I need to look at the “buy spot rate”.

Let’s look at an example: Suppose I have €1000 and want to exchange it into NTD (on Sep 15th):

VISA: https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/travel-support/exchange-rate-calculator.html
1 Euro = 34.576827 New Taiwan Dollar

Bank of Taiwan: https://rate.bot.com.tw/xrt?Lang=en-US
1 Euro = 34.68 New Taiwan Dollar

Post office: https://ipost.post.gov.tw/pst/index.html
1 Euro = 34.7000 New Taiwan Dollar

Mega Bank: https://www.megabank.com.tw/personal
1 Euro = 34.4600 New Taiwan Dollar

Cathay Bank: https://www.cathaybk.com.tw/cathaybk/personal/deposit-exchange/charge-standard/fx/
1 Euro = 34.3800 New Taiwan Dollar

E Sun: https://www.esunbank.com.tw/bank/personal/deposit/rate/forex/foreign-exchange-rates
1 Euro = 34.42 New Taiwan Dollar
1 Euro = 34.55 New Taiwan Dollar (“Online Banking/App preferential exchange rate”)

For reference (Google):
1 Euro = 34.62 New Taiwan Dollar

Not sure how often they refresh their websites - but it appears that the “spread” between banks can be around 1% easily. So definitely something to look out for.

Better double-check with your bank on the exact rate. They usually apply a percentage that includes both Visa/Master rate and their own markup plus (sometimes) a fixed withdrawal fee, like 5 EUR each time. Not sure whether all together these fees are cheaper or more expensive than those of a wire transfer. Let’s say that when you deposit cash in a bank compared to receiving wires, the officers are happier because less trouble and paperwork for them, and less complications for you too. Unless you go in with a backpack full of blue 1,000 notes :rofl: :rofl:

1 Like

Yeah, banks are usually great at hiding their fees. Especially when it comes to international stuff. I remember once getting cash in the US with a “no fee” card and still paying more on the same day than using a card with a low fee but better exchange rates…

And probably most happy if I bring my money in genuine Roman gold coins… So much for technical progress… :upside_down_face:

Does Taiwan have ATM machines for deposits? Or do deposit always mean interacting with a human teller…?

I am not updated on proper banks because after leaving Taiwan I only kept an account with Chunghwa Post with a card that I was using when visiting. They do have ATMs that allow for deposits, though, and since CP is the most backwards of all banks I guess everyone else has it as well :laughing:

Taiwan banks are a bureaucratic nightmare :speak_no_evil:

1 Like

This is exactly why I was thinking of the just withdraw it at the ATM method. Do it once every week or two; no big deal. I looked into the fees (non-hidden) and it seemed to be around 0.5 -0.7%, depending on the exchange, for $20000. Now, there was no visible fee on the Taiwan side, so it is likely cooked into the exchange rate (but likely this varies based on the bank).