Here’s how to get your money where it needs to go — quickly, easily and securely.
You’ve transformed your cash into a transfer to a friend, a family member or a business across town or around the world. But how can you know exactly where your funds have gone once they’re out of your hands?
Most banks, money transfer services and online specialists offer end-to-end tracking so that you can monitor the progress of your payments from send to receipt, coupled with safeguards for peace of mind.
Will I receive a confirmation number?
Depending on the service you choose to transfer your money overseas — whether a bank or independent money transfer specialist — your transaction should come with a confirmation number or a record of your transaction.
Confirmation numbers come by many different names: tracking numbers, transaction IDs, payment notifications and more. In general, look for a highlighted number in your receipt that refers to your specific transaction. Or if you’re on the phone or in a store, ask the representative you’re speaking with how you can track your transfer once you hang up or walk out.
What is an MTCN?
Every brand wants points for originality — and money transfer providers are no exception. An MTCN is what Western Union calls its transfer confirmation number. It stands for Money Transfer Control Number, a unique reference number assigned to your specific transfer.
If you’ve ordered a cash pickup, your recipient will need to submit the MTCN before Western Union will release your funds.
How can I track my transfer?
With most companies, you can track your transfer using the confirmation number that came with your receipt. You should be able to view the steps of your progress, from send to receipt. A few transfer services also offer the option of text or email notification at each stage of your transaction.
Online, in store or by phone, you’ll typically receive a confirmation number or receipt by email immediately after your transaction is approved. Most banks and services allow you to use this information to track your transfer online or by calling a representative.
Many online money transfer providers allow you to type your confirmation number into their site for up-to-the-minute tracking, though you might be able to log in to your online account to view the progress of your funds in real time. Still others allow you to opt in to text updates that keep you in the loop of your transfer’s status from send to receipt.
Sample tracking page for online provider.
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What if I don’t have a tracking number?
If you didn’t receive a tracking number soon after initiating your money transfer, call your provider to find out how you’ll be notified if your transaction is successful.
Or log in to your online account to see if you have the option of reviewing your transfer’s status without the need for a call. Once you’re logged in, look for a Tracking tab or button or visit your provider’s FAQ for guidance.
Can I track a transfer using a SWIFT code?
Yes. If your transfer isn’t delivered within the window you were promised, you can request a trace on your transaction using the bank’s SWIFT code. A SWIFT code is an ID that banks use when sending wire transfers. With this number, your bank can determine whether the deposit is on hold or in progress.
How can “on hold” be an option? One drawback of SWIFT transfers is that banks can hold on to your money until they’re able to get an exchange rate that better favors their bottom line. If your money needs to reach your recipient by a specific deadline, be sure to specify that exact date or time to avoid any bank delay.
Knowing your money is secure during a transfer is important. But if your transfer will be picked up at a store, it’s just as vital that you’re safe when retrieving your cash.
No matter where you are in the world, exercise caution with our safety tips:
- Call ahead. Learn the company’s business hours, and choose a safe time to pick up your cash. Daylight hours are best.
- Avoid high-crime areas. If you have the option of choosing a pickup location, find one in a neighborhood you know.
- Bring along a friend. Carrying money alone can makes you more vulnerable to theft.
- Keep your cash hidden. To avoid being a target, put your money in a wallet or purse before leaving the office.
- Deposit your money immediately. The likelihood of losing your money to theft or simple carelessness grows the longer you have it with you. Go straight to a bank to deposit your cash.
What are my rights when transferring money internationally?
For first-timers, transferring money out of the country can be intimidating. However, your money is protected even after it leaves the US.
Since 2013 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has enforced rules to keep US citizens safer when making a money transfer overseas. Federal law now requires many banks, credit unions and money transfer providers to disclose information both before and after a transfer. These rules apply to all international transfers of $15 or more. Before an international transfer, you have the right to know:
- The exact exchange rate you will pay.
- Fees and taxes collected from you.
- Fees charged by agents overseas and others involved in the process.
- The amount your recipient is expected to receive (excluding foreign taxes and any pickup fees).
You should also be provided details on:
- Your right to cancel the transfer. Unless the transfer has been picked up or deposited, you have 30 minutes (and sometimes more) to cancel at no charge.
- The bank or company’s process to investigate and fix any errors. It generally has 90 days to resolve any problems.
How do I cancel a money transfer?
Nearly all banks and money transfer providers offer some way of canceling your transaction after you’ve set it in motion — especially if your money hasn’t yet been delivered. If you need to cancel your transfer within 30 minutes, federal law guarantees a refund without penalty. Simply call or visit — in person or online — the provider you used to send your transfer. If you can log in to your online account, you may have the option of canceling there.
If you initiated the transfer more than 30 minutes before, search your provider’s website for information on canceling or stopping a money transfer. Or call a representative to learn how you can start the process of halting your transaction.
Can I get a refund for a money transfer?
If you’re able to cancel your money transfer, you should see a refund for the total you paid for it. In the rare case, a provider may deduct a cancellation fee from your refund — which might be another factor to weigh when choosing the company you ultimately go with.
If your transfer is not yet picked up or deposited into your recipient’s account, you may be able to log in to your account to cancel the transfer yourself. Otherwise, call, visit or live chat with your provider to discuss its refund process and how much you can expect to get back.
Can I change my recipient’s information if I entered it incorrectly?
Unfortunately, you’ll find that changing your recipient’s name or address is tricker after you’ve initiated a transfer. But if you haven’t entered your recipient’s details correctly, they may not be able to receive their funds at all.
If you’ve found an error with your recipient’s information, call, visit or live chat with your provider immediately. Keep any confirmation number or receipt handy to help in pulling up your transfer.
Your provider should be able to correct or modify your recipient’s details for you, even if it means adding a few more days to your delivery window as the system updates.
If you’ve discovered the error outside business hours, try logging in to your account — you may be able to make the changes yourself if your transfer isn’t yet complete.
Closing the deal
An international money transfer is a safe way to get money to loved ones and businesses worldwide quickly and easily. And with most providers, you can track your cash every step of the way to its ultimate destination.
The Internet’s opened up a world of options beyond your local bank or corner financial stores — options that typically come with stronger exchange rates, low or no fees and flexible tools that help you lock in deals on regular transfers.
Compare fees, rates and more to find a money transfer specialist that’s best for your needs.
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Frequently asked questions