The survey of more than 500 small business decision makers found that more than 80 per cent didn’t know the true cost of their bank’s foreign exchange fees.
More than two fifths (43 per cent) of those surveyed said they would find international trade more attractive if the fees were more transparent.
This figure increases to nearly three fifths (58 per cent) for tech companies and 54 per cent for manufacturers.
Only one in four of those asked thought that banks “make it clear” how much their fees are.
Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of money transfer site TransferWise, which commissioned the research, said: “When even financial services firms don’t understand the true costs of international money transfers, what chance has the average entrepreneur got?
“Two years ago, the Office of Fair Trading told banks to make their fees for overseas transactions easier for consumers to understand by clearly showing them all the charges that apply.
“They need to do the same for small-business owners. Banks are making it almost impossible for small businesses to understand overseas money transfer costs.”
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