How long does it take to send money overseas?

A cash transfer is the quickest way to send money overseas — and the most expensive.

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When you send money overseas, the speed with which your transfer is processed is critical. Whether you’re paying off a debt or sending urgently needed funds to a friend or loved one, it’s important to know how long it will take for your recipient to get the money they need.

But the processing time for an international money transfer will vary depending on a range of factors, including the transfer provider you choose and where you send the funds. Let’s take a closer look at the average transfer speed when you send money overseas and how the specifics of your transaction can influence its processing time.

Compare transfer speeds from a range of providers

Table: sorted by a combination of service offering and the amount your recipient will receive

Check out how fast some of the most popular money transfer services can get your money to your recipient below.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
GBP 2,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
10,848
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction (conditions apply).
Get bank-beating exchange rates and no fees when you transfer with TorFX.
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GBP 5,000 Same day GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
10,848
Universal Partners FX offers competitive exchange rates and same-day transfers for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
GBP 2,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
10,848
Make transferring money abroad as simple and safe as possible with bank-beating exchange rates - online, via the app or over the phone. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
10,848
Take advantage of fee lock-ins and live bookable rates, helping you save up to 85% in hidden bank fees. Go to site Show details
GBP 2,500 Same day GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
10,848
Central FX’s dedicated private client team will guide you through the money transfer process from first call to final payment. Go to site Show details
GBP 1 Same day GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
10,848
Whatever amount you transfer, XE will not charge you a fee for using their service. Go to site Show details
GBP 3,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
10,848
Get no fees as a Finder customer when you transfer your money overseas with Global Reach. Go to site Show details
GBP 1 1 - 2 days GBP 1.99 1.075 EUR
10,748
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
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GBP 5 2 days EUR 3.00 1.084 EUR
10,837
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
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GBP 10 Within an hour GBP 2.00 1.083 EUR
10,832
First two transfers free for new customers.
Instant or 1 hour transfers to over 50 countries, send money directly to bank accounts or over 280,000 cash pickup points.
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GBP 50 Same day GBP 2.99 1.078 EUR
10,779
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

The average time it takes to send money overseas

How long does it take for an international money transfer to arrive in your recipient’s bank account or wallet? Well, that depends on a range of factors, but at the top of the list is the bank or money transfer company you choose to handle the transaction. The table below shows the processing times for some popular money transfer providers and banks.

As you can see, transfer times vary from a few minutes to up to five days, with some companies only offering an approximate range rather than a specific period of time, so it’s a little difficult to work out an accurate overall average transfer speed.

ServiceTransfer typeTransfer speed
Western UnionCash transferSame day
MoneyGramCash transferSame day
HSBC Multi-Currency AccountBank transferSame day
TorFXOnline transfer1 day
OFXOnline transfer1 day
Travelex WireOnline transfer1 - 2 days
WorldFirstOnline transfer1 - 2 days
CurrencyFairOnline transfer2 days
HiFXOnline transfer2 days
TransferWiseOnline transfer2 days
CurrencyFairOnline transfer2 days

Banks vs online transfer companies vs cash transfer providers: which is quickest?

Despite the variances in the services offered by individual providers, we can draw a few important conclusions from this table:

  • Cash transfer companies offer the fastest transfer times, with cash sometimes available for collection by your recipient within minutes. However, cash transfer companies typically do not offer the best exchange rates and also charge high fees.
  • Many online transfer companies can offer faster transfer times than the “Big Four” banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group).
  • It pays to shop around to find the quickest transfer processing time for your specific transaction.

What factors affect transfer times?

The table above clearly shows that transfer times can differ substantially depending on the transfer company you choose and the details of your transaction. In fact, there are several factors that affect the speed of an international money transfer including:

  • The money transfer provider you choose
    Processing times for international money transfers vary from one company to the next. Ask each provider for a guide to how long it will take them to transfer money to your chosen destination.
  • Where you are sending the money
    The destination of your transfer will also influence the transaction speed, as the banking structures in place in specific countries may result in longer processing times. Transfers to developed countries are usually much quicker than transfers to developing nations.
  • The type of transfer
    As the table shows, online transfers can take anywhere from one to five business days to process, and the same goes for bank transfers. However, if you’re sending a cash transfer through a company like Western Union, the money will often be available for collection by your recipient within minutes.
  • Inter-bank transfers
    If sending an international transfer to an overseas account held with the same bank, for example from a UK Citibank account to a Citibank account in the US, you may be able to enjoy faster than normal processing times.
  • The currency used
    Popular global currencies like the Pound sterling, Euro and the US Dollar are regularly traded on foreign exchange markets, which means transfers that include these currencies will typically be able to be completed very quickly. However, there may be an additional wait if you’re transferring to a lesser-traded currency.
  • The payment method
    Depending on the money transfer provider, the payment method used to fund your transaction could also affect transfer speed. For example, the time required for a bank transfer to clear will differ from the time required to process a credit card transaction and pay for your transfer.
  • When you lodge your transfer
    It’s important to consider public holidays and weekends in both the sending and receiving country, as this can add extra time to your transaction. It’s also worth pointing out that the transfer provider you choose will most likely have a cut-off time each business day for transfer requests; if you request a transfer after that time, the transaction won’t begin to be processed until the next business day.
  • Special arrangements
    Some providers offer the ability to send urgent transfers if you lodge a special request. However, be warned that you may be charged a high fee and also have to accept a low exchange rate.

What should I do if I need to send an urgent transfer?

Sometimes situations arise where you need to send money overseas as quickly as possible. For example, you may have an outstanding debt that was due to be paid off last week, or you may need to help out a cash-strapped loved one who is stranded on holiday on the other side of the world. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to expedite the transfer. If sending cash, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram allow processing times of as little as 10 minutes, allowing your recipient to pick up funds shortly after you initiate the transaction. In other cases, you may be able to ask your money transfer provider about the possibility of speeding up the transfer process. Some providers have systems in place to handle urgent transfers, but choosing this option will usually incur a higher fee and possibly mean you have to accept a lower exchange rate.

Other factors to consider when choosing a money transfer company

Transfer speed is just one of the factors you need to consider when choosing a money transfer provider. You should also compare:

  • Exchange rates
    Compare exchange rates between different providers for the currencies you will transfer regularly. Even a small difference in exchange rates can result in much more money making it into your recipient’s bank account.
  • Transfer fees
    You’ll need to look at a company’s exchange rates in line with the transaction fees it charges. Make sure you’re aware of any hidden fees and charges that apply to your transaction, and remember that some companies offer fee-free transactions when you transfer more than a specific amount.
  • Transfer options
    Does the provider allow you to place forward contracts or limit orders to get a better exchange rate? Can you schedule repeating transfers to save time?
  • Supported currencies
    It’s always a good idea to check exactly which currencies you are able to transfer with any one company. While some banks and providers support 100 currencies or more, others will only provide transfers in a much smaller selection of currencies.
  • Sending and receiving options
    How can you lodge a transfer request: online, through a mobile app, over the phone and/or by visiting a branch? It’s also important to compare how your recipient will receive the money: will it go to their bank account or to their account with the transfer provider, or will it be made available for cash pickup?
  • Customer support
    Finally, check out each company’s reputation for providing prompt and helpful customer support. During what hours is support available and how can you access it?

Compare the processing times and features of a range of leading money transfer providers to find a fast and affordable way to send money overseas.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    KonradDecember 27, 2018

    Hi. I would like to ask. My father sent a money (through the bank) from Finland to my banking account in UK 22.12.2018 (late afternoon). Before I was receiving that money within a few days (around 4 days I guess). This time however I don’t have the payment on my account yet and it’s already 27.12.2018. So how it’s possible. How long I must wait before that transfer will come through?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaDecember 29, 2018Staff

      Hi Konrad,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      The transfer speed depends on different factors. Usually, your father should know how fast the transfer should take place by confirming with the service provider he used. However, if after five business days and you still haven’t received your money, you would need to directly get in touch with your father and let him ask the service provider. If you have the contact details of the provider, you can also check.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  2. Default Gravatar
    MrSeptember 11, 2018

    How long does it take to transfer money from my current account to my friends current account in Russian from my Halifax bank.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      CharisseSeptember 12, 2018Staff

      Hi Mr. T Neil,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.

      If you were able to complete the bank transfer before Halifax bank’s cut-off time which is 3pm, generally, the receiver will be able to receive the fund on his bank account no later than four working days.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

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