Bank wire transfers have been around for more than a century, and although they’ve gotten faster, they still typically aren’t instantaneous. Several factors come into play when transferring money through your bank. Understanding why transfers take time and what alternatives are available 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 wire transfer speed – Within 24 hours is possible, particularly for transfers between accounts at the same bank.
International wire transfer speed – Between two and five business days, perhaps longer depending on various factors like payment method and delivery destination.
What impacts wire transfer speed?
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 they 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. 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 are 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 faster.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like OFX and CurrencyTransfer specialize 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.
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 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 May 26, 2020.
Digital money transfer service
$25 + additional correspondent bank fees
1 USD = 73.179 INR
1 USD = 73.312 INR
1 USD = 70.213 INR
Slowest and most expensive
Using an international money transfer service can often deliver your money instantly, something that wire transfers can almost never achieve. On top of that, you’d end up sending 6,205 less rupees if you send through a wire transfer.
Compare ways to send money
Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Using your bank to send money domestically and internationally is hardly ever the cheapest or fastest option. To learn more about how to send money more efficiently, read our dedicated guide with hand-picked options that cover international transfers.
Frequently asked questions
It depends on how quickly the banks communicate with one another. Theoretically, the transfer could happen in the same business day, but more often than not it takes two or more business days.
Chase domestic wire transfers typically arrive within 1-2 business days, while Chase international wire transfers can take upwards of 4 business days to arrive in a foreign bank account.
Wells Fargo offers an ExpressSend option to expedite your money transfer, but it’s only available for select destinations. Standard Wells Fargo domestic transfers typically take less than two business days, while international wire transfers can take five business days or more.
Banks do not hold wire transfers. Unlike checks that need verification to clear, the moment an incoming wire transfer hits your bank account, it’s yours.
Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder who’s been specializing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology for four years — covering everything from ICO booms, crypto winters, memecoins and more. He’s mined and minted cryptocurrencies, and remembers the days when DOGE was just for fun. Zak’s focus is in breaking down technical concepts (like yellow papers) for the average folk to digest on their morning commute. Before diving into all things crypto, Zak contributed to Finder’s money transfers vertical.
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