There are multiple ways to send money. In the past, you may have written a check. But these days, you can transfer money electronically through various payment systems, including apps like PayPal and Venmo. You could also wire money to a checking account. Wire transfers are fast, typically done within three days in the U.S., and secure. These institution-to-institution transfers are often used for large amounts of money or to send funds abroad.
If you want some help managing your money, a financial advisor can work with you to create a financial plan for your short- and long-term goals.
How Wire Transfers Work
Back in the day, wire transfers happened through telegraph wires. That’s where the phrase wire transfer comes from. These days, wire transfers involve the electronic movement of funds between different banks and credit unions. Since the term wire transfer is essentially a catch-all phrase, it may also refer to the wiring of money through a non-bank transfer service such as MoneyGram or Western Union (instead of just bank-to-bank transfers).
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).
When you wire funds, you’re not transferring actual cash from one financial institution to another. Since wire transfers are electronic, a bank can complete the transaction if it has specific information regarding who the recipient is and how much money he or she can expect to receive. After the transfer takes place, the funds are available fairly quickly.
How to Wire Money
To wire money to another person through a bank-to-bank transfer, you’ll need certain details, including your bank account number and the recipient’s name, bank account number and routing number. You’ll also need information about the recipient’s bank, such as its name and address. If you’re sending money internationally, you may need to ask the recipient for a SWIFT code. If you need assistance, you and your recipient may need to contact representatives from your respective banks.
Generally, you can wire money to a bank online, over the phone or in person. Be prepared to provide your bank with specific instructions, including how much money you want the recipient to receive. Since you or the bank teller will likely need to complete a form in order for the transfer to occur, you’ll need to ensure that the information you’re providing is correct. After all, you want to make sure your money is successfully transferred to the right person!
If you’re transferring money through a non-bank money transfer service like MoneyGram, you’ll need to find out how the wiring process works. In some cases you may not need a bank account in order to complete the transfer. Generally, using these types of services involves paying cash in person. Once the transaction is complete, the recipient typically gets to walk away with money he or she received.
How to Have Funds Wired to Your Bank
If you’re the recipient in a wire transfer, you’ll need to make sure the person sending you money has your bank account number and routing number. It’s also a good idea to contact someone who works at your bank or credit union or check online. You may need to follow a specific set of instructions or provide the payee with additional details.
How Long Do Wire Transfers Take?
Transfers typically happen quickly. Generally, domestic bank wires are completed in three days, at most. If transfers occur between accounts at the same financial institution, they can take less than 24 hours. Wire transfers via a non-bank money transfer service may happen within minutes.
If you’re sending money to another country, however, it may take as many as five days for the recipient to receive their funds. To find out exactly how long it’ll take to receive funds from a wire transfer, you’ll need to check with your bank or credit union. If you’re in a rush, you can find out if there’s a way to expedite the process.
Occasionally, there are delays. If the bank sending the funds makes a mistake, a wire transfer may take longer than expected. Holidays can also disrupt wire transfers. Prepare for delays if you’re receiving money from a slow-to-pay country such as Afghanistan or Cuba.
Can You Cancel a Wire Transfer?
Wire transfers are normally final. Once the recipient’s bank accepts the transfer and receives the funds, that’s it. At that point, you likely won’t be able to get your money back. There are a few exceptions, however.
Your wire transfer may be reversible if the bank that initiated the transfer made a mistake. For example, if the recipient received more money than he or she was supposed to, that issue may be resolved.
If you begin a wire transfer but change your mind about sending someone money, you may be able to cancel the transaction. But you’ll need to act quickly. A relatively new rule under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act says that consumers sending money internationally usually have the right to cancel their wire transfers for free within a 30-minute period.
You can also reverse a wire transfer if the money is taking a long time to reach its destination or goes to the wrong account. For international wire transfers, note that you may also loose money if the currency exchange is lower on the date of the reversal. In either case, make sure to consult your bank for additional fees or terms before sending money.
Wire transfers provide a fast and secure method of sending money electronically. But the downside is that senders and recipients likely both have to pay a fee. Outbound wire fees can typically range from $20 to $40, while inbound fees are usually much cheaper at below $10. For a lower cost electronic transfer method, you may be better off using a payment app or mobile banking system.
Tips for Finding a Bank Account
- If you have financial questions beyond wire transfers, a financial advisor could help you set up a plan for your savings needs and investment goals. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Both traditional and online banks offer a wide range of options for deposit accounts, with various savings, checking and money market accounts available. Some accounts may earn below the average rate while still offering some handy savings perks. It’s up to you to decide which features benefit you most.
- If you’re not happy by the low-earning accounts at brick-and-mortar banks, consider whether you’d be comfortable with an online bank. You won’t have access to physical branches, but you’ll typically still have access to ATMs and mobile apps. Online banks are more likely to offer the highest rates to boost your savings.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/svetikd, ©iStock.com/m-imagephotography, ©iStock.com/imtmphoto