What is a Wire Transfer?

Updated on: 2022-12-23 - 2 mins read

There are many ways to send money, like checks, mobile apps, and electronic transfers, which are suitable for different situations. Wire transfers may be an excellent way to send money when speed and ease of use are essential.

A wire transfer is a way to send money electronically from one person or business to another or between two companies. No cash is exchanged. The sender gives all the instructions for the transfer, which may include the recipient's name, bank, account number, amount, and sometimes even a place where one can pick up the money. A bank or a company that is not a bank can handle the wire transfer, sometimes called a "bank wire."

When do I need to send money by wire?

Wire transfers are a common way to send money in the U.S. and worldwide. They are often used for international transfers because changing them into a different currency is accessible if necessary.

Also, they are a good choice if:

  • You need to transfer money right away. Most domestic transfers are processed on the same day, and most international transfers are finished within a few days (depending on the country).
  • You have a lot of money to move. Limits vary by money transfer service, but they are usually high. Because of this, wire transfers are often used to pay bills, send money to family, or buy or sell real estate.

Where can a wire transfer be sent?

You can send wire transfers to people in the same country and people in other countries, but the fees depend on the provider, the destination, and the amount of money sent.

Whether you are using a bank or a nonbank provider, the information you need to give will be different:

  • When sending a domestic bank wire, you must give the recipient's name, address, bank account number, and ABA number.
  • When sending an international bank wire, you must include the recipient's name, address, bank's SWIFT BIC, bank account number, and, for some countries, the International Payments System Routing Code.
  • You may not need a bank account number for a transfer made through a service other than a bank, but the benefit will need the recipient's name and where to pick up the money.
  • In terms of security, these methods are the same.

The best ways to send a wire transfer from one country to another

There are four main ways to ship a wire transfer internationally:

Method 1: You can use your bank's online services to send money by wire.

Many banks will ask you to come in to make an international money transfer, but several have now made it possible to do so online. Here are the quick steps to sending a transfer this way:

1. Find the page for the wire transfer.

If you have online banking set up, log into your account, and find the wire transfer section of your bank's website. It is often in the toolbar at the top of their homepage. You can also Google "wire transfer" and look for your bank in the results. Last, call customer service if you still need to figure it out.

2. Check how much you can send online.

The bank may ask you to limit how much you can transfer online. This limit is usually $5,000. Sometimes, they set a limit on their own. You must call the bank and ask for permission if you need to send more than the daily limit.

Sometimes, the bank might ask you some additional security questions to ensure it's really you on the phone. It can be anything from a secure email to a unique code sent to your phone.

3. Provide bank details

For a SWIFT transaction to go through, you'll need to give specific information about the recipient. Among these are:

  • Name and address of the bank of the Payee.
  • Name, address, and type of account of the receiver (checking, savings, etc.)
  • IBAN or Payee bank account number (international bank account number).
  • Recipient's BIC/SWIFT code.

4. Type in the amount and type of money.

When you put the Payee's information into the wire transfer form, the currency is usually set to that country's currency. If not, choose the currency and type in the amount you want to send. In most cases, the currency of a foreign country's bank account is that country's currency.

But it's common for foreign banks to offer accounts in more than one currency. When it comes to U.S. dollars, in particular, make sure that you are sending the money in the correct currency. One could turn down the transfer if you send the money in the wrong currency.

5. Pay the fee to process it.

The bank will tell you how much it will cost to send money and how much it will be worth in the new currency. U.S. banks have fixed fees that range from $30 to $50. Most of the time, you'll pay 5-7% more than you would with a specialist provider. Once you know how much you owe, you must confirm how you want to pay. Most of the time, this comes right out of your bank account.

Sometimes, the bank that gets the money may also charge a fee. It can cost between $10 and $20. It would help if you remembered that up to three banks in the middle could also charge you a price. It can get pricey, so plan.

6. Ask how long it will take to get there.

After you fill out the form to transfer, the website should give you an idea of how long it will take. Your bank will track how things are going and let you know through a web portal. Most transfers take between one and three business days, but this depends on many things.

For example, if the bank you want to send money to is in a very different time zone, it may be open on other days. Also, the money usually moves between three to five banks, so keep this in mind. To know how much a bank wire costs, you should call the bank first and give them your name.

Method 2: You can go to the branch of your bank to get help with the transfer in person.

Your bank may need you to be there in person for an international wire transfer. You will need to bring the same information as when you do it online, so it's the same.

1. Bring all of your bank information with you to the branch.

Among these are:

  • Your name and the name of the U.S. bank account you want to use
  • The recipient's bank's name and address.
  • Payee's name, address, and account type (checking, savings, etc.)
  • Account number or IBAN of the recipient
  • BIC or SWIFT ID of the recipient

2. Choose the amount and currency of the transfer.

Before you choose the currency option, it's always best to check with the person you're sending the money. People who regularly transact with international companies usually have a multi-currency account.

3. Pay the fee for sending money abroad

All banks charge a processing fee between $40 and $50, but it can sometimes be as high as $80. The bank that gets the money may also charge a fee, usually between $9 and $20 (€9–€18). The clerk will tell you how long the transfer should take after you have paid.

Method 3: You can transfer money by calling your bank and talking to a representative.

Your international transfer can be taken care of by the bank's call center, which works much like a branch. Just gather all the information you need for a visit to the unit, and the customer service representative will help you with the rest. Ultimately, they will tell you how long the transfer will take.

Method 4: You can also use a service that helps people send money.

Using a service specializing in international currency exchange is one of the easiest ways to send money to another country. These companies' primary goal is to help you send money overseas safely, cheaply, and quickly by using the internet's speed and ease of use.

It's easy to get going. You make an account with the chosen provider and send your first transfer within 24 hours. Most of the time, there are a few ways to pay with this method. You can pay with your bank account, credit or debit card, or cash. Specialist providers are always fully regulated; most of the time, the money goes straight into the recipient's bank account.

You don't have to use a bank. There are many other services you can use instead. Even though they might not have as long of a history as a well-known bank, don't let that scare you. If you want to save money on transfer fees, this is just as safe as a bank but costs much less. On the other hand, this way can take longer than just going to the bank.

What else should I know about transferring money by wire?

Make sure a wire transfer is valid and appropriate before sending it. Once a wire transfer has started, one cannot stop it.

Before you start a wire transfer, you should find out how much it will cost. The amount varies depending on the provider, destination, method of sending money, and amount of money being sent. If you send a wire in a foreign currency, you should also pay attention to the exchange rate, as it can vary from provider to provider.