Sending money across the country, or even abroad, is one of the daily trends in modern society. Whether sending money to friends and family, or using it to pay for goods to be delivered, or even as a way of paying bills, money transfers are an integral part of everyday life. And there is nothing easier when sending money that the original method, Wire Transfers.

Faster to wire than traditional transfers

Wiring money can be a lot faster than sending through traditional banking methods, such as fund transfers between accounts and direct deposits. While these can sometimes be convenient, there is no guarantee that it will be there today, and in some cases can take up to five working days. Wire transfers allow money to be sent almost instantly, across any distance, and even between different countries and continents. With bank transfers, the process is normally instant but often takes a few days. However, with a non-bank wire transfer, the process is almost instantaneous and rarely takes more than a few minutes.

The main providers of this service in the US are Western Union and MoneyGram. They allow you to move almost unlimited amounts of money anywhere in the world, either direct to bank accounts or as payments in cash from one of their local outlets. However, because the service is irrevocable and cash-based, the sender and receiver can remain almost anonymous. And wire transfer scams are relying on just that, so it is advisable never to send money to someone you do not know.

How does a wire transfer work?

So how does it work? If you are using your bank to make the transfer, you need to have the bank information of the other party to send it to. These details are part of the instruction to your bank to send the money. Once you are ready, you will need to have the following to hand:

– Government-issued ID

– Amount you want to send

– Your bank account number

– Recipient’s full name

– Recipient bank’s name, address and phone number

– Recipient bank’s transit number or equivalent (SWIFT code)

– Recipient’s bank account number

– Additional information based on your bank’s instructions.

Sometimes the recipient’s bank does not accept wire transfers, so they will need to use a go-between bank to process the transfer, and then forward the money to the correct account. You will also need the information about the intermediary bank being used from your other party’s bank.

In how many ways can you send a wire transfer

The method of transfer you use depends on what your own bank allows. Some banks will allow transfers in several ways, such as online, through a branch, phone banking, etc. Each method can also vary in cost, so it is advisable to ask about the amount of the fee before agreeing to the transfer. On average, the bank charges around 25 US dollars for a transfer domestically, and around 40 US dollars for international. Under federal law, you have the right to know exactly what conversion rate will be used for the transfer, and this rate is set for the conversion, as well as knowing what fees and taxes are charged by all parties in the transfer. This should all be on the receipt after transfer, so check to make sure it is.

Details are important in wire transfers

Making sure you provide the correct, accurate details is very important. If you make a mistake in filling out the form, the money may end up in some other person’s account, or in “limbo” with nowhere to land. Transfers are irrevocable, so once it has been processed, you cannot get a refund if you made a mistake. However, if the mistake is done by the wiring bank, then you can always make a claim for the funds going elsewhere, as long as you have the receipt and the original form details. Always ask for a copy of the sending form from the teller. It is your right to have it.

Under new rules on wire transfers, however, there is a way to stop it once it has been sent, as long as you are quick. According to the new Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, any consumer sending money internationally has the right to cancel the transaction with no fees or penalties within thirty minutes from the time of sending (the time stamp on the receipt).

History of wire transfers

Wire transfers worked originally through telegraph wires, hence the name “wire” transfer. These days, the modern transfer of money is done electronically through secure internet servers of international and domestic banks and credit unions. The term, wire transfer, is a pretty much catch-all phrase for any form of moving money through a transfer service. You can wire money domestically through the Federal Reserve Wire Network (Fedwire) or the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS). If you need to send money internationally, you can do so through CHIPS or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

Countries where wire transfers are fast

When you wire funds either domestic or international, the money does not actually go anywhere. With wire transfers being electronic, banks can process the transactions in minutes, as long as you have the specific information required by the bank on the recipient and their own accounts. Normally, funds are available within minutes after the wire transfer has been completed. The exception to this rule is generally with international transfers. While every bank in the world has a SWIFT code, very few are ready for instant international transfers and have not yet signed up to the internationally agreed system of identifying bank accounts across borders known as the International Bank Account Number (IBAN). There are still some countries that have not yet adopted the IBAN system, and this is the reason that wire transfers to certain places take several days. Currently, IBAN use is compulsory in only the following countries:









Czech Republic



Faeroe Islands






Great Britain







The Isle of Man


















Palestinian Territory





San Marino

Saudi Arabia








The United Arab Emirates

Costs can be immense in wire transfers

While wire transfers are a fast and efficient way to send money both domestically and internationally, there is a downside: the fee. Charges for incoming bank transfers are around 15-20 US dollars, and an outgoing domestic transfer can be as much as 30 US dollars. Internationally, incoming are charges at around 18 dollars for domestic transfers and 48 dollars for international, although these prices can all vary depending on the bank or institution used (MoneyGram or Western Union) and the transfer initiation method (online, in-bank, or phone banking). For just moving a few dollars around, this is an expensive method and is only worth doing if the sums are very large. For smaller amounts, or to get it done for free, you would be better off using a payment-app or mobile banking system.