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How long does an international bank transfer take?

Bank transfers are convenient, but using a money transfer service will almost always get your money there faster.


Wise (TransferWise)

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  • Supports 45+ currencies
  • Uses the mid-market rate
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Bank transfers have been around for more than a century, and although they’ve become faster they’re still slower than other options. Several factors come into play when making an international bank transfer. Understanding why it takes time and what alternatives are available can help you avoid delays when you’re in a hurry.

How long does a bank transfer take?

At best, expect the following transfer times for a domestic and an international bank transfer.

  • Domestic bank transfer speed – Usually within 24 hours, particularly for transfers between accounts at the same bank.
  • International bank transfer speed – generally it will take between one to five working days, perhaps longer depending on various factors.

When you send an international bank transfer, you should be provided with an expected delivery date – though this isn’t a guarantee of any sort. Bank transfer times vary 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 they may not have an International Bank Account Number (IBAN).
  • Receiving bank – If you’re sending a 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. 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 faster transfer services, but beware of high fees added to your transfer total.

How to have bank transfer funds available immediately

When you are in a rush, or you just don’t feel like waiting, there are trustworthy ways to speed up how your money is transferred. By default, almost no wire transferred funds are available immediately, so use these alternatives to get your money 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 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 the US

Let’s say you need to send €1,500 to family in the US. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 16 November 2020.

Digital money transfer serviceCash transferWire transfer
Fee€0€2.90€20 + additional correspondent bank fees
Exchange rate1 EUR = 1.178 USD1 EUR = 1.169 USD1 EUR = 1.146 USD
Transfer speed1 dayMinutes2-5 days
Amount receivedUSD 1,767USD 1,751USD 1,673
  • Best value
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Using an international money transfer service can often deliver your money instantly, something that an international bank transfer can almost never achieve. On top of that, you’d end up sending 94 fewer dollars if you send through a wire transfer.

Compare ways to send money

1 - 11 of 11
Name Product Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Offer
Wise (TransferWise)
24 hours
From 0.41%
Within minutes
From €3
New customers get unlimited fee-free transfers for their first 3 months. T&Cs apply.
XE Money Transfers
Within minutes
From €0
Atlantic Money
Atlantic Money
Within minutes
Currencies Direct
2 days
Within minutes
From 0.3%
Within minutes
From €0
24 hours
417 days
24 hours
From €0
Within an hour
From $2.99

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.

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