How Long Does It Take To Wire Money?

Updated on October 12, 2023
At a Glance: Wire transfer speeds can vary depending on various factors. Domestic transfers to retailers or businesses typically take up to three days, while transfers within the same organization can be completed within 24 hours. International transfers may take five days or more. Cut-off times, bank holidays, and weekends can affect processing times. Geographical location and the recipient’s bank location also play a role. The transfer method used by your bank, such as Fedwire or SWIFT, can impact the speed. You can track wire transfers using a unique transaction identifier provided by your bank.

Transferring money electronically is easy. However, when you are sending money to someone, there’s always the worry about whether they received it or not. Even though wire transfers are relatively fast in terms of electronic transactions within the U.S., it’s good to know how quickly you can transfer money to others.

How Long Do Wire Transfers Take?

Typically, wire transfers can happen pretty quickly. If you are sending money to retailers or businesses domestically, it should be completed within three days, in the worst case. If you are sending money to an account within the same organization, it should be completed within 24 hours. You can utilize nonfinancial or banking organizations that provide money transfer services, as these services are able to complete transactions within minutes.

Sending money to another country could take a little bit longer. The funds might take five days or more to reach the recipient. You should consult your bank to understand how long it will take to complete an international wire transfer. There might be ways to speed up the process if you speak to the bank directly.

In some cases, it could take more time to complete the transactions. There might be a mistake from your side which could delay the wire transaction. Wire transactions are also impacted by public holidays. It could also depend on your geographical location. If you are in a country where wire transferring is slow due to political or other situations, it could take even longer.

How Wire Transfers Work

The name wire transfer comes from the olden days when people sent money through telegraph wires. Today, it occurs electronically between financial organizations like banks and credit unions, but the term has prevailed through time and remains the prevalent phrase used for most money transfers.

When you wire transfer money domestically, it goes through the Federal Reserve Wire Network (Fedwire) or the Clearing House Interbank Payment System (CHIPS). Money sent to international recipients goes through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

When initiating a wire transfer, you are not sending real money from your bank to the recipient’s bank. The bank completes the transaction once they have received all the information required to process it. Once the transfer has been completed, the funds are dispersed to the account of the recipient.

How To Wire Money

To send money through a bank transfer, you need the personal details of the recipient. It requires your bank account number, the name of the recipient, and the recipient’s bank account and routing numbers.

You might also need additional information, such as the name and address of the recipient’s bank. To send money internationally, you have to know the bank’s SWIFT code as well. If you are unsure how to initiate a wire transfer or what information you need, you can call your bank and ask for more details.

If you are initiating a wire transfer through nonbank services like MoneyGram, you might not need the recipient’s bank account number to initiate or complete the transaction. In these types of services, you can pay cash in person. Once you have completed the transaction, the recipient can collect the money from the bank.

Factors That Affect Wire Transfer Speeds

The speed of a wire transfer depends on many different factors. Even seemingly unrelated details like your geographical location or the recipient’s bank location can completely change the transfer duration.

Time of Day

Financial organizations usually have a cut-off time each day. For example, some banks have a cut-off time at 3:00 p.m. for wire transfers. So, if you start a new wire transaction at 4:00 p.m., your funds will be processed the next day, whereas if you start the transaction at 2:00 p.m., it will be processed the same day.

The Expedited Funds Availability Act in the United States calls for wire transfers to be completed within one business day. However, it could still coincide with the bank’s cut-off time, which could be different from the federal cut-off time for deposits.

Also, remember that bank holidays and weekends will also delay your financial transactions. You can initiate financial transactions on these days, only to have them processed on the bank’s next business day.

Where Your Transfer Is Going

Geographical location matters when you are transferring money. There are federal regulations that require banks to complete all transactions within the United States within 24 hours. Some banks can do it pretty much instantaneously, whereas others take a few hours. Internationally, funds can take anywhere between one and five business days to be credited to the recipient bank.

However, if you live in a country where wire transactions are slow, it could take up to three weeks or even result in cancellation, depending on the current situation. You should ask your bank for a list of such countries so you understand how long it could take to get the money credited. If your transaction is canceled, the money should automatically revert to your account.

How Your Bank Transfers Funds

Banks can utilize the Fedwire system to transfer money through the Real-Time Gross Settlement method (RTGS) instantaneously.

If your bank is using CHIPS, it has a window of several days for transferring money.

The SWIFT mode for international transfers could take longer because money cannot be transferred directly between each bank and must be exchanged through other financial intermediaries before it gets to the recipient.

How To Track a Wire Transfer

You can track every wire transfer you initiate with its unique IMAD/OMAD number. This number is a combination of the date of transaction, a unique identifier for the source and destination banks, and a sequence number that designates the transaction ID. Your bank can provide you this ID, which is created once the wire is sent. The tracer will see how and when the money transfer was processed and where it is now with this unique identifier.

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A Wire transfer is one of the fastest and most secure ways of sending money from your bank account. You might have to pay a fee, but rest assured, the transaction will be completed successfully. If it gets reversed or canceled, the money will be credited back to your account.

While it is quick and convenient, the only downside is that both the sender and recipient might have to pay a transaction fee. If you are looking for less expensive ways of transferring money to another account, you can look into mobile banking, eWallet, and other payment apps that offer the same security of electronic transactions with lower fees. However, these payment methods must be available to both you and your recipient.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.