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The Leiners moved overseas two years ago and were still establishing themselves financially. Now they were making a wedding.

“We’ll need another $12,000,” Mr. Leiner said to his wife. “Interest rates are relatively high, though, and I’d prefer not to take a loan from the bank.”


“How about turning to our former neighbors, the Blums,” suggested Mrs. Leiner. “When we said goodbye, they offered us help if we should ever need it.”

“That’s a good idea,” replied Mr. Leiner. “We should have no problem returning $1,000 a month, so that the entire loan will be repaid in a year.”

Mr. Leiner called Mr. Blum. “B’ezras Hashem, we’re making a chasana in another month,” he said. “You offered help before we left. Could we borrow $12,000 and return $1,000 a month?”

Mazel tov! Certainly!” exclaimed Mr. Blum. “I’m happy to share in your simcha in this way. How can I get the money to you?”

“The simplest way is to make an international wire transfer to our account,” said Mr. Leiner. “Can you do that?”

“Yes, I can,” said Mr. Blum.

“Does your bank charge an international wire fee?” asked Mr. Leiner. “I’m happy to pay it, if there is.”

“There usually is a $40 wire fee,” replied Mr. Blum. “You can add it to the first payment.”

Mr. Blum arranged the wire transfer. When he checked the bank statement a few days later, though, he noticed that no fee had been charged. He notified Mr. Leiner.

“But I agreed to pay the fee,” said Mr. Leiner. “If the bank waived it, it’s your gain!”

“I’m not sure I can take the $40 from you,” replied Mr. Blum. He called Rabbi Dayan and asked:

“Can Mr. Leiner pay me for the waived fee?”

“We mentioned (BHI No. 607/ May 4, 2022) that reimbursing a lender’s fees and expenses in granting a loan is not ribbis,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “This is not considered repaying more than the amount borrowed but rather covering the lender’s associated loss. Thus, had the bank not waived the wire fee, Mr. Blum could have asked for reimbursement (Bris Yehudah 9:1).

“However, if the bank waived the fee and never charged the lender this amount, he cannot ask the borrower for it, even if the borrower initially agreed to cover the fee. In this case, the lender suffered no loss to reimburse, and the borrower is not allowed to agree to pay the lender extra.

“This would seemingly apply even if, for accounting purposes, the bank listed the fee as having been charged and a credit was automatically applied, such as if the account features allow a certain amount of transfers for free, or if the lender has a VIP profile of waived fees. We would not view this as a gift from the bank to the lender himself but rather as negating the fee.

“However, if the account features do not include a waiver of fees, and the fee was charged regularly but afterwards the lender called the customer service department of the bank and requested a credit/waiver of the fee – the halacha is apparently different.

“Although one could argue that here, too, the refund retroactively waives the fee, so that the expense was never incurred, here the fee was in fact charged, and it seems that the lender is entitled to reimbursement for it. We can view the refund of the fee as a gift to the lender in this specific instance, resulting from his own efforts in obtaining the refund because of his good standing, etc.

“Clearly,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “the bank has no interest in refunding the fee for the benefit of the wire recipient but rather gave the refund to the lender.”

Verdict: If the bank waives the wire fee or credits it automatically due to the lender’s account features, he cannot collect it from the borrower. However, if he afterwards requested and was granted a one-time waiver, this would seem to be a credit granted to him, so that he can collect from the borrower the fee that was initially charged.


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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to [email protected]. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail [email protected].