A bank transfer is one of the most popular ways to send and receive money around the world, but how does it actually work? In this article, we’re looking at how bank transfers work, their pros and cons, whether bank transfers are the cheapest way to send money, and potential alternatives to moving your money. Make sure to read our international transfers guide, if you want to learn more about international bank transfers.
Bank transfers are a means of transferring funds from one account to another account electronically, without having to physically move money between accounts. Also known as a wire transfer, bank transfers a popular for:
Bank transfers are popular because they’re a universally available payment method for banks around the world, so you should be able to easily transferring money internationally around the globe provided your recipient also has a bank account. You should note that once initiated, bank transfers cannot usually be reversed.
Depending on where you are on the world, bank transfers can be processed via a number of different networks. These include:
There are several ways you can send money with a bank transfer, and each will slightly change how a bank transfer actually works. What’s more, the way you make a bank transfer can affect how long your bank transfer takes, the fees incurred, and if you are sending money internationally, the exchange rate for your transfer.
You can elect to make a bank transfer with your bank. This is a convenient and easy way of sending money, although international bank transfer can take longer and have higher fees than some alternative methods. Our guide to wire transfer fees breakdowns the charges you might expect when sending money domestically and abroad. If you’re making a domestic transfer, check out our guide on free wire transfers to avoid paying unnecessary fees.
To make a bank transfer will your bank, you will usually need to have a few details to hand, including:
A transfer provider is another popular choice for making a bank transfer to send your money internationally. Some of the benefits of using a transfer provider for your bank transfer include:
You can learn more about the wire transfer times in our guide covering how long does a wire transfer take.
An additional benefit to transfer providers is that you have a wider range of payment and delivery options. For example, you can pay by bank transfer and have your funds delivered to your recipient via:
Alternatively, you could have your transfer paid into your recipient’s bank account but pay for the transfer by credit/debit card or cash. These options can all vary depending on the provider you go with, however, so make sure you’ve checked your payment options before locking in your transfer.
WorldRemit is one of our top recommendations for sending money internationally. Known for low fees and fast transfer times, WorldRemit covers over 150 countries and 90 currencies with options to sending bank-to-bank transfers, all well as a range of other payment and payout options.
One big selling point of WorldRemit is that 90% of transfers are authorised in minutes, making it a great option for sending fast bank transfers compared to using a traditional bank.
Whether you are making a bank transfer with your bank or with a specialist transfer operator, the steps remain fairly similar:
If you don’t want to make a bank transfer, you do have a few other options for sending money:
Paying to transfer money by debit card can have lower fees than a bank transfer and a faster transfer time, so this is a good option to consider. However, paying by credit card may come with more expensive fees.
Instead of a bank-to-bank transfer which can take longer to be processed, you can opt for your recipient to receive your transfer of funds as a cash pickup. This is often a much faster way of getting money urgently to your recipient. A good option for cash pickups is WorldRemit.
Another option is to have your transfer delivered to a mobile eWallet which can be sent up through your chosen money transfer provider if both parties have an account. This method usually supports faster transfer times and is easy to use.
Some bank transfers can be processed instantly, especially if you are sending a smaller sum within the same country. Equally, some international bank transfers are capable of being processed within minutes, but we’d recommend checking your transfer provider can facilitate this first as timings can vary depending on the provider and where you are sending money to.
On average, bank transfers will take anywhere between being delivered on the same day up to 3 working days.
Bank transfers are an excellent way to transfer money electronically, without physically having to handle cash yourself. This type of transfer is great for a range of uses, from businesses paying vendors and employees to migrants and expats looking to send money back home to family abroad.
If you’re looking to make a bank transfer, we’d always recommend comparing providers to find the best option for you in terms of cost, transfer time, and reliability. Use our comparison tool to find the right operator for your transfer needs.
Yasmin is the content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. With an English degree from the University of Nottingham and over 5 years’ experience freelancing in the personal finance niche, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers accessible and easy to understand for all. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Yasmin on her yoga mat or planning her next escape to the mountains.