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.

Bank transfers have been around for more than a century, and although they’ve got faster, they still typically aren’t instantaneous. 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 domestic and international transfers.

  • Domestic bank transfer speed: Usually within minutes, particularly for transfers between accounts at the same bank.
  • International bank transfer speed: Between one and five business days, perhaps longer depending on various factors.

When you send an international bank transfer through your bank, you should be provided with an expected delivery date – though this isn’t a guarantee of any sort. Bank 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 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’re 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 bank 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 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 30 September 2020.

Digital money transfer serviceCash transferBank transfer
Fee£0£3.90£20 + additional correspondent bank fees
Exchange rate1 GBP = 94.58 INR1 GBP = 93.37 INR1 GBP = 92.95 INR
Transfer speed1 dayMinutes2-5 days
Amount receivedINR 141,877INR 140,066INR 137,568
Verdict
  • Best value
  • Fastest
  • Slowest and most expensive

Using an international money transfer service can often deliver your money instantly, something that bank transfers can almost never achieve. On top of that, you’d end up sending 4,309 less rupees if you send through a bank transfer.

Bottom line

Using your bank to send an international bank transfer is hardly ever the cheapest or fastest option. Online money transfer providers almost always get your recipient more money and much more quickly.

Frequently asked questions

Finder survey: What aspects of an international money transfer service matter most to Brits when choosing one?

31% of people who would use a money transfer service said exchange rate was the most important aspect in choosing a brand.

ResponseMaleFemale
Exchange rate34.87%29.14%
Fees/commission31.03%27.97%
Speed of transfer29.12%20.05%
Don't know17.62%28.21%
Security23.75%24.48%
Overall amount recipient gets17.62%11.42%
Customer service16.86%12.35%
Range of payment methods13.79%15.38%
Provider reputation11.11%13.05%
Range of pick-up methods11.49%12.35%
Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of 690 Brits, December 2023

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4 Responses

    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
      JoshuaDecember 29, 2018Finder

      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

    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
      CharisseSeptember 12, 2018Finder

      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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