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International money transfer duration

Money transfers are convenient, but using a money transfer service can almost always have your money there faster.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked

Bank transfers have been around for more than a century, and although they have become faster, they’re still not instant. There are a lot of factors that come into play when transferring money through your bank. Understanding why transfers take time and what your alternatives are can help you avoid delays when you’re in a hurry.

How long does a wire transfer take?

At best, expect the following transfer times for domestic and international transfers.

  • Domestic bank transfer speed – More than one day is standard, usually when you make a payment online before your bank’s daily cut off point. It may be faster for transfers between accounts at the same bank.
  • International wire transfer speed – Between 2-5 business days, perhaps longer depending on one or more of the factors listed below.

When you send a wire transfer through your bank you should be provided with an expected delivery date, though this isn’t a guarantee of any sort. Wire transfer time varies based on many factors, some that are in your control and some that aren’t:

  • Your bank – Smaller banks may take longer for international transfers as these may not have an International Bank Account Number (IBAN).
  • Receiving bank – If you’re sending a wire transfer to a bank other than your own, the banks have to communicate, which can take time.
  • Time of transfer – Sending transfers earlier in the day is better, because if you send it at the end of the day it has to wait until the next business day to start processing. The same goes for the end of the week, or right before a bank holiday.
  • Type of transfer – Some banks offer expedited wire transfer services, but beware of high fees added to your transfer total.

How to have wire transfer funds available immediately

When you’re in a rush, or you just don’t feel like waiting, there are ways to expedite the speed at which your money is transferred. By default, almost no wire-transferred funds are available immediately, so use these alternatives to get your money to your recipient faster.

Blue icon representing money transfers Image: Infogram

Digital money transfer services

Companies like OFX and CurrencyTransfer specialise in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient’s bank account, often in as little as a day.

Picture not described: BlueCoinsCashIcon_Infogram_94x62.png Image: Infogram

Cash transfers

Services like WorldRemit, Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to transfer cash for nearly instant pickup. While it’s a fast way to send money, you may pay more in fees than you would with a digital money transfer service.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending €1,500 to India

Let’s say you need to send €1,500 to family in India. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 9 July 2020.

Digital money transfer serviceCash transfer
Fee€3.75€1.90
Exchange rate1 EUR = 83.25659 INR1 EUR = 83.9860 INR
Transfer speed1 dayMinutes
Amount receivedINR 124,572INR 125,819
Verdict
  • Better and faster than a bank
  • Fastest and best value

Using an international money transfer service can often deliver your money instantly, something that wire transfers can almost never achieve.

Compare ways to send money

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum Transfer Transfer Time Transfer Fee
Azimo - Ireland
GBP 10
Instant
Varies
TransferWise - Ireland
EUR 1
1-2 days
Varies
Remitly - Ireland
EUR 0
1-5 days
EUR 2.99
Skrill - Ireland
EUR 50
1 day
None
XE Money Transfers - Ireland
EUR 1
Same day
EUR 0
WorldRemit - Ireland
EUR 1
Same day
Varies
CurrencyFair - Ireland
EUR 5
1-2 days
Varies
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Using your bank to send money internationally is hardly ever the cheapest or fastest option. To learn more about how to send international money transfers, read our dedicated guide.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to transfer funds from one bank to another?
It depends on how quickly the banks communicate with one another. Theoretically, the transfer could happen in just over one business day, but more often than not it takes two or more business days.

How long can a bank hold a wire transfer?
Banks do not hold wire transfers. Unlike cheques that need verification to clear, the moment an incoming wire transfer hits your bank account it is yours to spend.

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