Here’s what to expect when waiting on money from a loved one or business.
Everything is done online nowadays — including the ability to get financial help from friends and fast payments for your services or goods.
With a wire transfer, you can safely receive money from a bank account to your own, for pickup at a money store or to an intermediary account through an online money transfer specialist.
Many banks and specialists offer fast turnaround, but your wire transfer can take days to clear depending on where it’s coming from and how it’s delivered. We break down what to expect when you’re expecting a payment.
How can I receive a wire transfer?
The steps to receive a transfer depend on whether your money is wired through a bank, an in-office money transfer service or an online specialist.
Bank-to-bank wire transfers
To receive money to an account through a bank, you need only check your account for a successful transfer.
Your account should reflect a transaction involving 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 Depending on your bank, you might pay a fee to receive your wire transfer, typically automatically withdrawn from your account balance.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.
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 receipt of the money.
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.
- 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, it’s as easy as providing the details of these accounts.
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 the rise of online money transfer specialists, you’ve many options for receiving money outside of the big-name bank down the block.
Here’s what to look out for when weighing your bank against online specialists:
- Banks aren’t fast. Layers of networks and bureaucracy can result in up to five days of processing for a typical wire transfer at your bank.
- Banks offer 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.
- Banks are expensive. 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.
- Banks limit transfer amounts. And maximum transfers can vary widely among domestic and international accounts, not to mention the banks themselves.
- Banks require the details. ID, forms, in-store requirements — banks simply don’t offer the intuitive process you’ll find with most online specialists.
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.