- Discover the cheaper ways to transfer USD to ILS (Israeli New Shekel)
- Compare money transfer specialists vs banks
- Learn what to look for when choosing the best way to transfer money
Do you need to send money to Israel from the USA? Read through this brief guide on the topic to understand the transaction process and how to do it for the cheapest, safest and fastest.
In this guide
Common reasons people transfer money overseas to Israel
From 1985 to 2020, over $700 million a year in remittances were sent to Israel. Money is sent to Israel everyday and for a variety of reasons, including:
- Supporting family financially.
- Purchasing property in Israel.
- Settling business cash flow expenses.
- Covering university costs.
- Paying for a marriage ceremony.
- Sending a charitable donation.
Why you shouldn't send money overseas using your bank
Using a bank for the transaction is the most expensive way to send money overseas. You'll end up paying a fortune in transaction fees and secondary costs compared to other methods.
Banks charge you on both ends of the transaction. The sender pays from $25 to $65 in fees, while the recipient also pays $15 to $30 in transaction costs. The sender also must pay the margin costs on the exchange (we'll talk about that in a minute).
Banks also have the longest transaction times. Financial institutions use the SWIFT and IBAN system to process international transactions, which can take up to five days for the funds to reflect in the recipient's nominated bank account.
Is it safe to use a money transfer company?
Using retail money exchangers to send money from the US to Israel is a far better option than using your bank. This strategy saves you money and minimizes transaction times.
Provided you're using one of the recommended exchanges on our list, you won't have any issues with your transaction. Finty only recommends proven, reputable money exchanges you can trust. Our top choices have the lowest fees and the fastest processing times in the industry.
USD / ILS exchange rates
If you're sending money from the United States to Israel, you'll see that the bank and retail exchanges might offer different rates. That's because they both charge you a "margin" rate on top of the current "spot" rate for the currency pair.
For instance, if the price is 1USD to 3ILS, this is the spot rate, otherwise known as the interbank rate. The spot rate is not available to the retail market and you'll need to pay extra to cover the bank or exchange fees. The merchant takes the additional money as a fee for processing the transaction. As a result, you could end up receiving a rate of 1USD = 2.90ILS, with the bank or transfer company taking a 3% margin.
What are the fees?
While the margin rate can vary between banks and retail exchanges, you'll also have to foot other costs when sending money from the US to Israel.
What is a typical fee?
If you're sending money to Israel with a wire transfer, you could end up paying 5% of the total transaction in fees. Typically, this works out to between $25 to $65, depending on the transfer amount. These fees are on top of the exchange rate margin discussed earlier. The recipient will also be charged a fee of around $15 to $30 on the transaction.
If you're using retail money exchanges like Western Union or Wise, you'll pay less in fees, but you can expect the transaction costs to be around 3%, on top of the exchange fees.
Can they be avoided?
You can avoid paying these expensive charges on sending money from the US to Israel using cryptocurrency or e-wallets. These vehicles have much lower fees, but they don't have a large user base.
In addition, the recipient might not have an e-wallet or crypto address or understand how to use the services.
Minimum and maximum transfer amounts
When sending money from the United States to Israel, the most expensive method is through the bank. However, it might be the only option if you want to send large amounts of $10,000 or more in a single transaction.
Retail exchanges like Western Union and Wise have limits of around $7,000 to $10,000 per transaction, depending on the company. Minimum limits of between $500 to $1,000 may also apply, depending on the service.
Alternative ways to send money to Israel
If the sender or recipient doesn't have a bank account or can't get to a retail exchange, you have other options. E-wallets like PayPal and Venmo offer you alternatives, as does cryptocurrency.
E-wallet fees are affordable, but you'll need to comply with KYC and verify your account before sending or receiving amounts over $1,000.
Cryptocurrency offers you a way to send money to Israel by circumventing the traditional financial system. However, many people don't know how to use crypto or are not comfortable using it.
Business vs. personal
If you're sending money to Israel, you'll need to comply with international money laundering laws and Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols adhered to by the banks, retail exchanges, and e-wallets.
It's impossible to send money internationally without verifying your identity with the third party conducting the transaction. Even if you're sending the money to a business, if the recipient receives cash on the other end of the deal, they'll need to leave a copy of their ID or passport. Some institutions also require proof of residence.
A retail exchange won't release the funds into a business bank account; they need a nominated person who must comply with KYC protocols to collect the cash.
How can I fund my money transfer?
You can use a bank wire transfer, a retail currency exchange, e-wallets, or cryptocurrency to send money from the United States to Israel.
How fast can my money transfer be sent to Israel?
Bank wires are the slowest option, with transfers taking up to 5 days to reflect in the account. Retail money exchanges work faster, with transactions concluding in one to three days. E-wallets and crypto offer you near-instant transfer times, depending on the service or currency.
What are the money collection options?
If you're sending money using a bank, the recipient gets the deposit directly to their bank account. However, if you're using a retail money exchange like Wise or WorldRemit, the recipient will have to collect from partner locations in Israel.
Are there any tax considerations?
If you're sending money to Israel from the United States, make sure you're within the annual gift tax limits. For 2021, the IRS allows individuals to send up to $15,000 tax-free, $30,000 for couples. However, going over these limits exposes you to tax issues so speak to a CPA for advice.