U.S. Translators: What is the most cost-effective way to receive payments from overseas?
Thread poster: Jessica Klingberg

Jessica Klingberg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
May 17, 2004

I have not worked a whole lot for overseas agencies / companies, but the few times I have I was paid through wire transfers into my bank account, which cost me about $38 a piece. Looking through existing forum postings I can see numerous payment methods being suggested, but a lot of these are suggested by translators living in other countries, and I am assuming that some methods work better in some countries than in others. This is why I'd appreciate feedback from translators in the U.S. as to which methods would be the most cost-effective.

I am also wondering, has anyone ever avoided taking on translation work from overseas simply because the fees incurred were too high? I am putting myself in a hypothetical situation: Say that I get a job from an overseas agency to translate 1000 words at 10 cents per word. Total payment would be of $100. If I have to pay $38 for a wire transfer, my remaining pay would be of $62. This means I would have worked in reality for 6.2 cents per word rather than 10...

I admit that I am seriously uninformed on this topic, I don't even know how much paypal would charge for a similar money transfer from overseas. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.


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Atenea Acevedo  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
transfer fees... May 17, 2004

Hi, Jessica,

Not being based in the US, I can't help you with this question. Just wanted to tell you that there is no reason why you should pay to get paid... that's your client's obligation. If they refuse to cover the cost of their transaction, then you should increase your rate to make it cost-effective for you to have overseas clients. I've never paid for getting paid.

Cheers,
Atenea


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xxx00000000
English to French
+ ...
Through a Canadian bank account May 17, 2004

Hi Jessica --

What you're really up against is the unrestrained, unregulated greed of the American banking system.

When I received a check in euros a few months ago, my U.S. bank wanted to charge me $25 to take it in. So I mailed it to my Canadian bank. Not only did I get a far better exchange rate, but there were no fees whatsoever -- only a 20-day freeze on the amount to allow the check to clear.

In the likely event that opening a Canadian bank account is not an option for you, try to get the client to mail you a check. It would still cost you, but $25 is an improvement over $38.

Good luck!
Esther


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Jessica Klingberg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It was out of the hands of the translation agency... May 17, 2004

Hi Atenea,

When I got paid in the past, a wire transfer was made directly into my US bank account. My bank then charged me $38 at the time of receipt of the wire transfer. The $38 was withdrawn directly from my account. Therefore, this particular charge was out of the hands of the translation agency, who paid my invoice in full. I have never considered tacking on an extra $38 to the amount of my invoice for the agency to pay, or do people actually do this? This is why I'm so curious to know what methods other translators use...


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Sherey Gould  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:06
German to English
shop the banks in your area May 17, 2004

When I moved back to the US after 12 years in Germany, I faced the same problem. I went around to a number of different banks and all told me some sort of variation on the $40-fee-plus-up-to-3-months clearing time. Even my own California-based branch of Wells Fargo. But as we are right on the border between CA and Nevada, I also checked in with the closest Nevada branch of my bank. They take my Euro checks from Germany and deposit them overnight and charge me just $1.50 per check. So I think it pays to shop around the banks (and talk to the manager; not just the tellers!) I WISH the Germans felt more comfortable with PayPal (so darn easy!)- some of my clients DO pay me that way, but most seem scared of it and will just send checks. Good luck!

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Sherey Gould  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:06
German to English
P.S. specifically wire transfer May 17, 2004

... and if a client DEMANDS to pay by wire transfer, I indicate it is my *least* preferred method of payment "because the fees charged both sides are so incredibly high" - that way I sort of "cut them off at the pass" and they realize I do not expect to be paying for their fees (i.e. no deductions are to be made from my invoice) should it be their decision to go this route of payment.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 07:06
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You could open an account in a euro-country May 17, 2004

In Europe we have online banking, at least in Scandinavia and Germany and Benelux, so you can send the money from your account to your paypal-account by yourself. All transactions in the EU are free of charge.
I used to have a German account when they still charged for transfers bewtween EU-countries, but last automn I closed it, because I didn't need it anymore.
Hope you'll find a solution. There should be branche offices of German banks in the US, perhaps they are more user friendly and up to date than geniuine US-banks?


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fsa
Indonesia
Local time: 12:06
English to Indonesian
+ ...
It's the Correspondent Bank May 18, 2004

I'm no banking expert but when I was recently charged $40 (or more) each on several transfers I hit the roof. After checking, I found it was not even the receiving bank - where the money is being sent - that deducts the fee.

It's the "correspondent bank" that takes that money. The correspondent bank is the one *between* the sending bank and the receiving bank. The correspondent banks are authorized to act as go-betweens between foreign banks and those in the USA.

It's a flat fee I believe. So no matter how much or how little money is transfered, you'll end up paying about $40 each time.

It's an outrage and someone should be made to justify why that much money is required for a transfer.

Worse, on a percentage basis, Western Union charges for sending money are just about as expensive, if I'm not wrong.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:06
English to German
+ ...
Possibly, but not necessarily May 18, 2004

Hi 'changes',
It's the "correspondent bank" that takes that money.

That may be the case, but not necessarily so. The charges incurred on international cross-border payments (outside the eurozone) depend on the type and amount of payment, and on the instructions issued.

The correspondent bank is the one *between* the sending bank and the receiving bank.

There can be several banks, depending on the countries and currencies involved.

The correspondent banks are authorized to act as go-betweens between foreign banks and those in the USA.

'Authorised' is not quite the correct term - they are instructed by other banks to execute payments on their behalf. This is not only a US concept: correspondent banking networks are used around the globe. It's worth noting that a handful global banks (such as Citigroup or HSBC) transfer money within their own network, which should normally mean that their commissions are lower. Yet we recently discussed a case where one of these two deducted 30 pounds sterling for a European payment. And why? Because the agency insisted on sending a fax to their bank, which needed to be handled manually... so you see, it's not always that straightforward.

It's a flat fee I believe.

Sorry - it isn't.

So no matter how much or how little money is transfered, you'll end up paying about $40 each time.

Now that would depend on the banks involved: having to pay USD 40 with one bank doesn't mean that there are no cheaper alternatives.

It's an outrage and someone should be made to justify why that much money is required for a transfer.

Mostly, this is caused by archaic payment systems, such as cheques used to execute cross-border transfers... As a rule of thumb, the more manual handling is involved, the more expensive the transfer.

Worse, on a percentage basis, Western Union charges for sending money are just about as expensive, if I'm not wrong.

Now that would depend on the amount, right?

Unfortunately, there are no "hard" rules which payment route is cheaper or faster. What the discussion clearly shows is that you need to make sure to agree, prior to starting work, how payment is going to take place, and who's going to pay for it (or alternative, how costs are going to be shared).

HTH, Ralf


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ntext  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:06
Member
German to English
+ ...
Receiving international bank transfers ... May 18, 2004

... is free for www.netbank.com account holders. (Of course this doesn't mean that there is no fee to the remitter.)

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Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:06
German to English
+ ...
Talk to your bank May 18, 2004

Talk to your bank about fees they charge for clearing checks in Euro, depending on the country the check is from they will simply convert it without charging a fee and deposit it to your account. I used to work for Bank of America and for many European countries that was how we handled the checks. Another option is for your customer to purchase a US dollar check and send that to you, much cheaper and no fees on your end.
It does take a little longer than a wire, but even an international wire can take several days.


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judith ryan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:06
Member (2005)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Try PayPal May 18, 2004

I find that PayPal works well. There is a fee, but it is a safe and easy transaction for both parties. You can sign up at www.paypal.com.

Judith


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Jessica Klingberg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How much does PayPal charge for international transactions? May 18, 2004

It has been my experience that there was a small fee to pay ($1.50 or so)when withdrawing funds. However, this was for domestic transactions. Are fees higher for international transactions? Do they charge anything similar to the $38 I have to pay my bank for wire transfers?

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ntext  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:06
Member
German to English
+ ...
Paypal May 18, 2004

Jessica Klingberg wrote:

It has been my experience that there was a small fee to pay ($1.50 or so)when withdrawing funds. However, this was for domestic transactions. Are fees higher for international transactions? Do they charge anything similar to the $38 I have to pay my bank for wire transfers?


AFAIK, if you have a Personal Account, receiving Paypal payments is free IF they come from another Paypal account (which could be a bit complicated for the payer to set up) and IF you withdraw the funds electronically. You can't receive credit card payments this way. There may be some limits on how much you can receive too, I'm not sure.

If you have a Premier/Business Account, you can receive credit card payments, but there are fees involved (for you, not for the payer); for payments from Europe, the fee is 3.9% + $0.30 USD. If the payment is not in USD but you want to withdraw the money in USD, there will be an additional 2.5% fee for the currency conversion.

In other words, depending on the amount, it's not necessarily cheaper than bank transfers, but it can be.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_help-ext&source_page=_help-ext


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U.S. Translators: What is the most cost-effective way to receive payments from overseas?

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