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How to receive a wire transfer

The best way to move your money at home or abroad.

Banks, online transfer specialist and money stores all can help you get a wire transfer. How quickly and how much your transfer will cost depends on the method you use and how it’s delivered.

How can I receive a wire transfer?

What do I need to receive a wire transfer?

Depending on the sender’s preferred wire transfer service, you may need to submit personal details to receive your money, including:

  • Your name, address and contact information.
  • Your bank account information, including routing and account numbers, for bank-to-bank transfers.
  • Your bank’s SWIFT, BIC or IBAN codes, if an international wire.
  • The amount and reason for the transfer.
  • Your email address for wire transfers using PayPal and similar services.
  • For in-office cash pickups, a branch or storefront location and a tracking number.

Is a bank account necessary to receive a wire transfer?

No. Bank-to-bank transactions require depositing your money directly to your bank account. But if you don’t have a bank account, online and storefront money specialists allow your loved ones to send money for cash pickup.

Companies like Western Union allow for cash pickups, while PayPal and similar sites provide intermediary accounts for deposits. To receive a wire transfer, you’ll need to provide the details of these accounts.

What methods can I use for a wire transfer?

How to get a wire transfer depends on how it is sent — a bank, online or in-office transfers.

Bank-to-bank wire transfers

Once the transfer is completed, your account should reflect a transaction with the sender’s bank and the amount you’re expecting. Depending on your bank, you might pay a fee to receive your wire transfer, typically automatically withdrawn from your account balance.

In-office wire transfers

For wire transfers through Western Union, MoneyGram or a similar service, your sender typically receives a tracking or money transfer control number (MTCN).

You can use this number to track the progress of your wire transfer to delivery. If you plan to pick up cash at a storefront, you’ll likely need this number to complete a form and receive your money.

Online transfers

If your sender wires money through an online service, you’ll receive an email when the money is credited to your account. Open your account to confirm you received your money.

How long does it take to receive a wire transfer?

How long you’ll wait depends on the wire transfer delivery option your sender chose.

For bank-to-bank accounts, wire transfers can take from one to three days, with delays over weekends or holidays.

In-office wire transfers allow for money transfer deposits or cash pickup in minutes, as do online payment systems like PayPal.

How can I track a wire transfer?

Most money transfer services and online specialists offer end-to-end tracking of your transfers so that you can monitor the progress of your payments.

For in-office wire transfers, the service typically emails notification that your money is ready for pickup or withdrawal. You can often track the transfer using a transaction number provided by the sender.

For online transfers, email notifications are sent to both parties after the money is available in the recipient’s account.

Bank-to-bank wire transfers can often only be tracked from the sender’s online banking account. You can check your bank account from time to time to check if the money is already available in your account.

What are potential drawbacks to a wire transfer with a bank?

You have choices when you need a wire transfer. You don’t have to settle with just a bank — choose from online specialist and in-office transfers. Here’s why you might consider weighing your bank against online specialists:

  • Speed. Banks have layers of networks and bureaucracy that can take up to five days for a typical wire transfer.
  • Limited delivery. Wire transfers are typically bank to bank. If you don’t have an account, some online specialists offer intermediary accounts for delivery from a bank.
  • Cost. Fees can range from $20 to $60 a transfer, sometimes on both ends. If you’re receiving money internationally, you’ll often see high markups on the exchange rate to boot.
  • Limited transfer amounts. Maximum transfer amounts vary widely among domestic and international accounts.
  • Details. ID, forms, in-store requirements — banks simply don’t offer the intuitive process you’ll find with most online specialists.

Bottom line

Wire transfers are a dependable, secure and fast option for getting money from point A to point B. While bank-to-bank wire transfers typically require fees on both ends, money transfer specialists — both in store and online — tend to offer lower fees, faster transactions and tracking for peace of mind.

Learn more about providers in our guide to international money transfer services.

Compare providers that can help you send money transfers

Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Name Product Offer Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
24 hours
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Within minutes
From $0
Use code HELLO to get $20 off on first two transfers on a min transfer of $250. Valid until November 30, 2023.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Within minutes
From $0
Send money in CAD to Africa on this blockchain and P2P powered provider.
Finder Award
Within minutes
From $0
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Finder Award
Within minutes
From $4.99
For a limited time, get $0 fees on your first money transfer from Canada. Conditions apply.
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Finder Award
24 hours
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.

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