Wire transfers are the best way to move money quickly, but they're not instantaneous, and they're usually not free.

Do you know where your bank ranks when it comes to wire transfer fees? Somewhat surprisingly, some banks offer wire rates that are 100% less than the competition.

On average, bank customers can expect to pay $20 to $25 for each outbound bank wire transfer. But that doesn't mean you can't get a better deal. Nor does it mean you'll get slapped with a higher fee if you're not paying attention.

TD Bank (TD) - Get Report , for example, only charges $15 per transfer. Some smaller banks may waive the fee altogether if you meet a minimum amount threshold ($10,000 is a common cut-off line).

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Foe incoming wires, the average price goes down, to about $15 per wire transaction. Some banks do better than the average. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report , for example, only charges $10 per incoming wire transaction. But Discover Bank (DFS) - Get Report , which usually offers some good interest rate deals for its customers, charges $20 per incoming money wire transaction.

has come up with a good list of bank wire transfer charges -- check it out.

So how can you set up your wire transfers for maximum effect and minimum hassle?

The best way to avoid extra fees and costly delays is to do your homework. You should know going in:

¿ How much money you're transferring, making sure, of course, that you have enough cash to cover the transfer and the fee (if not, you'll likely incur extra charges and your wire won't go through).

¿ The name of the recipient, along with his or her bank routing number (also called the "ABA" number, after the American Banking Association), and checking account number.

¿ The ABA number and routing number of your own bank, if you're the one sending the transfer.

Make sure to get that information to your bank clearly and accurately. Then request a confirmation number and receipt once the wire is complete (this is especially critical for overseas wire transfers).

If time is an issue, ask your bank what their daily deadline is for wire transfers. It might be 3 or 4 p.m., and that hour could mean the difference if you're wiring money on a tight deadline (for a down payment on a new house, for example).

Also, don't make the mistake of equating bank transfers with online payment services like PayPal or Google (GOOG) - Get Report Checkout. In most cases, money transferred via your bank hits the recipient's account that day. Online services such as PayPal have to wait for the funds to clear (which could take several days) before they are sent.

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