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Are Wire Transfers Instant?

Many of our readers want to know how fast their money will reach their recipient, albeit for a domestic or international wire transfer. This guide will provide insight into the typical transfer speeds of wire transfers, explaining how the delivery is affected by intermediary banks and financial institutions, in order to help you choose the best money transfer service for your requirements.

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What is a wire transfer?

Wire transfers are a popular way of sending money because they are safe, widely accessible, and available. However, the modern money transfer landscape has become increasingly competitive due to alternative services offering fast and free transfers.

Learn more by reading our Complete Guide to Wire Transfers

How does a wire transfer work?

Original wire transfers were designed to communicate financial instructions through telegraph wires, and this is where the name comes from. Nowadays, wire transfers are sent electronically between banks and credit unions. Wire transfers may also refer to non-bank transfers such as transactions arranged through long-standing global remittance providers like Western Union or MoneyGram.

The sender will be asked to specify the recipient’s banking details - bank name, address, SWIFT/BIC code, IBAN - to ensure the money is disbursed to the correct bank account.

The fee is determined by the sender’s bank and is typically displayed before having to confirm the transaction. It is possible to execute wire transfers through online banking making it a very convenient option.

For those who do not use online banking or do not have a bank account, money transfer providers such as Wise offer wire transfers with more flexibility. Customers who choose to use Wise for their next wire transfer will benefit from total transparency when it comes to the transfer speed and fees associated with the transaction. In addition to this, specialist companies such as Wise will notify customers when the money has arrived in the recipient account.

Want to learn more about Wise? Read our full money transfer review

How long do wire transfers take?

In most cases, wire transfers are not instant. Domestic wire transfers usually take 1 - 3 working days depending on the financial institutions involved in the transaction.

Transfers sent between the same bank or company may also be processed instantly because the institutions involved have full access and can move money easily between customer accounts, without going through regulatory protocols. In such cases the bank simply redistributes funds between customer accounts and the fee tends to be lower than regular wire transfers.

International wire transfers can take anywhere between 1 - 5 business days. The exact transfer time funds take to arrive with the recipient largely depends on the currencies used, the banks involved, origin, and destination countries. Normally customers will be able to discover the expected delivery window by getting in touch with the service provider or bank.

It is possible that wire transfers can be delayed if a mistake has been made by you or the bank. Incorrect transaction details can lead to cancellation without a refund of transfer fees.

Our guide How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take goes into even further detail

Things to consider when choosing a wire transfer service

Choosing the right service for your transfer needs will help you save money and time when moving money from A to B. Here we will outline the key factors to consider before arranging payment.

  • Avoid scams: Make sure that the service you use has a solid reputation to avoid scams. You can check websites like TrustPilot to see what other customers think of a money transfer service. If you are looking for a highly rated money transfer service, then consider sending money with Wise. It has a TrustPilot score of 4.6 out of 5.

  • Fees: You are unlikely to receive free wire transfers from a bank or money transfer service. Wire transfers cost around $25-30 for domestic transactions and $45-50 for international transactions. However, the fee may be reduced if you are sending a transfer to another customer of the same bank.

  • Mobile transfers: Check to see if the bank or service offers mobile internet banking. Sending wire transfers from the convenience of your mobile device should be expected from a competitive money transfer service.

  • Transfer time: Find out if they offer instant transfers to your desired recipient. You may achieve faster transfer times if you use the same bank as your recipient.

How to send a wire transfer

This section outlines the process of sending a wire transfer. Each money transfer service may have unique steps, but this general outline will familiarize you with the process. The process is the same whether you are sending an instant or regular wire transfer.

1.Step 1 Choose the best service provider
2.Step 2 Deposit your funds
3.Step 3 Gather recipient details
4.Step 4 Enter details
5.Step 5 Review and confirm

Top 3 wire transfer services

In this section, we will present the top 3 services that can be used when executing a wire transfer. Note that you will need a bank account as the funding source for the wire transfer.

Xe Money Transfer

You can use the Xe website or mobile app to send money using wire transfers. There are no transfer limits. Xe claims the transfer time will be the same or next day, but it depends on the currencies involved in the transfer. Xe is an excellent service for wire transfers because they support over 170 countries and offer transparent mid-market rates.

Wise Money Transfer

It is possible to set up a wire transfer using your Wise account which can take up to 24 hours. However, once the money is in your Wise account, you can send money instantly depending on the transfer method. For instance, balance transfer to other Wise customers is instant.

TorFX Money Transfer

Sending money with TorFX is simple and there are no transfer fees. Also, they offer high quality support that is available Monday to Saturday. TorFX is used by many business customers because of their flexible payment options and good terms for larger transfers.

Bottom line

Instant wire transfers do exist, but the number of operators that provide this service is limited and fees typically apply. To benefit from instant transfers most often sender and recipient will need to have accounts with the same bank or financial institution. Ordinarily, most wire transfers take anywhere between 1 - 5 business days and may come with fees ranging from $25 to $50.

Customers hoping to secure an instant money transfer should consider one of the top remittance companies in the industry, as they offer the most competitive services around. It used to be the case that bank wire transfers were the only way of sending money internationally, but thanks to the introduction of specialist providers like Wise, TorFX, and Xe, cross-border transfers are accessible, affordable, and easy.

Compare money transfer providers today

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April Summers
April Summers
April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she's not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.