MUST READ: 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 Depending on your bank, you might pay a fee to receive your wire transfer, typically automatically withdrawn from your account balance.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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Nothing. When you send an international bank transfer, your bank is sending your money as a telegraphic transfer. Wire transfer is the name used most often in the US, whereas telegraphic transfer is more often used in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Yes. Most banks offer online account management, from which you can check whether the money you’re expecting is available in your account. For in-office and online wire transfers, you can often track the money through the brand’s site using a transaction number from the sender.
Ask your provider about tracking options available for your specific transfer.
No. Never send anyone your bank account details online, even if you know the person requesting it. This information can be used to steal your identity or hook you into a money transfer scam.
In a typical scam, you’re notified that you’ve won a prize or the lottery, but that you need to first send your bank details to receive it. When in doubt, research online to see if others have received such an offer. If you confirm a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-382-4357 or ftc.gov/complaint.
Julius Hernandez, a software development manager for a commercial bank in a past life, works full time as a freelance finance writer and dabbles in software development. Jules is coauthor of an introductory book on Python programming.
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