In all kingdoms of life, ATP Binding Cassette (ABC) transporters participate in many physiological and pathological processes. Despite the diversity of their functions, they have been considered to operate by a largely conserved mechanism. One deviant is the vitamin B12 transporter BtuCD that has been shown to operate by a distinct mechanism. However, it is unknown if this deviation is an exotic example, perhaps arising from the nature of the transported moiety. Here we compared two ABC importers of identical substrate specificity (molybdate/tungstate), and find that their interactions with their substrate binding proteins are utterly different. One system forms a high-affinity, slow-dissociating complex that is destabilized by nucleotide and substrate binding. The other forms a low-affinity, transient complex that is stabilized by ligands. The results highlight significant mechanistic divergence among ABC transporters, even when they share the same substrate specificity. We propose that these differences are correlated with the different folds of the transmembrane domains of ABC transporters.