How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?

When you need to send money quickly and securely, a wire transfer is the way to go. This type of transfer is done between two banks rather than individuals, and it's one of the quickest ways to move money electronically. In most cases, the funds will be transferred within three days in the United States.

Wire transfers are often used for large sums of money or when transferring funds internationally. They're also relied on for their security - you can rest assured that your money will arrive at its destination without any problems.

What Are Wire Transfers?

Wire transfers are the movement of funds electronically between banks or financial institutions. While wire transfers are not the only means of fund transfers, they are generally recognized for their speed and convenience.

Wire transfers are usually the most preferred option when a business transaction is significant, urgent, or international. Although you can use them to perform any transaction, they are simply the best choice when you must send money quickly and efficiently. And lastly, wire transfers are also notably secure.

How Do Wire Transfers Work?

Wire transfer is essentially data exchanged between banks or financial institutions. The sender either uses a bank-to-bank transfer or a non-bank method to send money to a recipient without needing a physical cash exchange.

To transfer money, you will need to carry along the payment instructions for the transaction. And, of course, you must be sure of your recipient's details (full name, address, financial institution name, bank account number) to avoid sending money into the wrong account. Wire transfers are difficult to reverse once the action has been made. 

Once the receiving bank confirms your payment instructions from the initiating bank, they immediately begin depositing the money into the recipient's account from their reserve. 

How to Make Wire Transfers 

Bank Wire Transfers

Here are some things you need to do if you decide to use the bank-to-bank method of wire transfers.

  • Contact the bank and inquire about their policy regarding the type of transfer you would like to make.
  • Prepare details of your account, a valid means of identification, the recipient's account number and address, recipient bank's name and address. For international transfers, you also need the recipient bank's SWIFT code. 

Non-bank Money Transfers

Non-bank money transfers can be performed without a bank account. This is the best option when your recipient does not have a bank account in their current location or when you need to make a direct cash deposit into another account. Some popular options are Western Union and WorldRemit.

For non-bank wire transfers, the steps are pretty simple:

  • Register online or at an outlet close to you with a government-issued means of identification.
  • Provide recipient's name and address
  • Confirm the amount of cash, including charges and the destination of the money.

What are the Advantages of Wire Transfers?


One of the most significant advantages of the wire transfer process is that funds can't leave your account using this method without your knowledge. Extreme care is taken to confirm that you are the owner of the sender account. It is therefore essential to protect your details and be sure of the recipient's contact information before making any deposit. 

Unlike checks written from a sender without a sufficient amount in the account which leads to a bounced check, wire transfers are not done without confirmation of sufficient funds. 


Wire transfers within the United States are usually completed within 24 hours and sometimes less, especially when it is a transfer within the same bank. Transfers outside the US can take up to 2 - 5 days, depending on the country, bank hours, and transfer time. 

In some urgent cases where you need to wire money immediately, additional charges may be incurred. Such charges may vary from bank to bank, especially for international money transfers. 

It is also best to consider the time difference between you and the recipient when making an international transfer.

Efficient for Large Amounts of Money

Another benefit of wire transfers is that you can send large amounts of money in a single transaction. This method is best for big payments such as mortgages on apartments, cars, office space, foreign school fees, real estate, or to pay off huge debts.

It is common for banks to have restrictions on transaction amounts when going through standard transfer methods. For example, with a wire transfer, you can make up to $10,000 and, in some cases, as high as $25,000 per transaction. 

Immediate Access to Funds

Another perk of using wire transfers is the quick access to funds. Once you, as the sender, put down the necessary payment information, the initiating bank sends this information to the recipient bank. They, in turn, confirm the receiving account and make a quick deposit into the account. This can be checked by a few simple steps of the bank's employee, and it's especially useful in situations where the receiver of the money needs the funds urgently. In this case, many common bank hassles are automatically avoided, and all that is required on the recipient's end is a valid means of identification.

International Transfer

Regular bank operations are limited to the domestic transfer of funds. On the other hand, wire transfer allows you to transfer money anywhere in the world. 

You do not even need to have an account with your chosen bank. The important thing is to have a valid existing account, a means of identification, and accurate recipient's bank account details. 

Make sure that the bank or financial institution (if you are opting for a non-bank option) you have chosen for the transfer offers international wires to the recipient's country. Rest assured, most banks offer this service.

What are the Disadvantages of Wire Transfers?

There are a handful of disadvantages regarding wire transfers that are worth noting. These include:


Wire transfers, on a general level, are known to incur a significant amount of fees. It should be noted, however, that thanks to recent innovations in banking, wire transfer fees are starting to be lower than they used to be.

Ultimately, how much you pay for a wire transfer usually depends on a host of factors, the most important of which is the platform upon which you carry out your transfer.

While some traditional banks are known for higher transaction fees on wire transfers, some are known for being quite reasonably priced.

Difficult to Cancel

Wire transfers are irreversible, and once transactions have been initiated, they are almost impossible to cancel. For this reason, it is advisable that before you start a wire transfer, you are absolutely sure of the details and are willing to be patient until the transaction is successful, no matter how long that is.

You simply can't change your mind along the way to go with an alternative after a transaction has been successfully committed.

How Long Do Wire Transfers Take?

Domestic wire transfers within the US typically take less than 24 hours to get to the recipient's bank account. The same applies to transfers to another account within the same geographical location. It is usually even faster when the transaction is done within the same banking enterprise. 

International transfers take 2- 5 business days extra depending on factors such as time differences, varying banking systems, public holidays, currency exchange, and country policies. 

Always keep track of your transactions by requesting tracking codes from the bank.

Factors that Affect the Speed of Wire Transfers 

Naturally, some wire transfers may be executed faster than some. Below are a few reasons why this is so.

Country of Origin & Destination

The country where the wire transfer is initiated significantly affects how long the transfer takes. For instance, wire transfers originating from popular countries with a high volume of similar transactions tend to be faster than those occurring in less popular countries where such transactions are not as common.

For this reason, a wire transfer from the US to Europe, for example, might be successful in just one or two days, while one from Estonia to Mexico may take much longer.

Currencies in Question

The currencies in question also play a huge role in determining the speed of the transaction. The same logic as above applies here. Transactions involving popular currencies such as the Dollar, Pound, Yen, and Euros tend to be executed faster than those involving lesser-known currencies.


Along with the currency in question and the countries involved in the transaction, the volume of the transaction also plays a key role in determining how fast the transaction will be processed. A transaction involving lots of money will take a little longer to be fulfilled than one involving a relatively lower amount of money. 

One of the reasons for this is simply because large sums of money are subject to a greater level of security checks than those involving lesser volumes. Depending on how high the amount is, even more security checks may be triggered, thereby increasing the time needed to complete the transaction even further.

Payment Method

All wire transfers require funding by the party initiating the transaction. Typically, there are more than a couple of ways to initiate a transaction and make the payment. The method you choose to make this payment greatly influences how long your wire transfer will take.

For instance, paying with credit or debit cards is a fast way of initiating a transaction. They are almost instant so that the actual transfer process can begin faster. Paying directly from a bank is also regarded as fast and may lead to your wire transfer taking less time to be completed.

Mode of Reception

Just as the sender has a handful of ways to initiate a wire transfer and make the initial payment to be transferred, the receiver also has a few options regarding how exactly they want to receive their money.

Typically, many receivers of a wire transfer prefer to receive their money in their bank accounts (which is usually the fastest way to receive it). It is also possible, however, that they might want it delivered as cash for pick up or even cash delivered to their homes.

While these options are indeed available in many countries, they tend to take much longer than a simple bank deposit wire transfer.

Peculiar Days & Time for Transfers

Some days take longer for a wire transfer to be executed in them than others. Some of such days are those designated as bank holidays. 

As international wire transfers, for example, are only executed on business days, transactions initiated on these holidays are usually put on hold and thus take longer to complete.

Additionally, some banks also provide cut-off times for international wire transfers. If your transaction misses the cut-off, you will have to wait until the next day before the transfer process can begin. 

Obviously, this extends the time needed for the transfer to be successful.

Domestic & International Wire Transfers 

Generally, wire transfers fall into two broad categories, domestic and international wire transfers. Domestic wire transfers are localized within a particular country, while international wire transfers have different origins and destinations.

How long do International Wire Transfers Take?

The speed at which international wire transfers are executed tends to vary for several reasons, some of which we've already examined above. Additionally, the originating bank and transfer method also affect how long your international wire transfer will take.

For instance, international wire transfers with Wells Fargo take one to three business days, while those involving Chase Bank and Wise may take three to five days and one to four days, respectively.

How Long Do Domestic Wire Transfers Take? 

A domestic wire transfer will usually be faster than its international counterpart. For example, wire transfers occurring within the United States are typically completed within 24 hours.

Some banks, in fact, complete domestic wire transfers instantly, especially if they occur within the same banking institution.

How Much Do International Wire Transfers Cost? 

Like speed, the fees associated with international wire transfers also vary depending on various factors, including the originating bank and transfer method.

International wire transfers with Wells Fargo, for instance, attract fees of $30 to $45, while those of Chase Bank cost $40 to $50. However, Wise charges more dynamically, and their fees are relatively lower. For example, a $1000 transfer on the platform from the US to the UK may cost just $7.56.

OFX, another reasonably priced international wire transfer option, charges $5 but makes money on the exchange rate markups.

How Much Do Domestic Wire Transfers Cost?

Generally, domestic wire transfers cost less than international wire transfers. Some domestic transfers, in fact, may cost you nothing in fees, particularly if the transaction happens to be localized within the same financial institution.

Depending on the transaction volume and other variables, the most expensive domestic wire transfers may set you back as high as $30.

On average, however, the cost of domestic transfers is estimated to be in the $15 range.

Is there a Limit to How Much You Can Wire Transfer?

No standard, overarching law limits how much anyone can wire transfer. That said, banks and other financial institutions can set their own standards regarding transfer limits.

Some tend to set limits on a time-based level. For instance, certain banks have daily wire transfer limits as high as $3000. 

Some also set limits based on transaction origination. Transactions originating online, for example, may have a different limit than that originating from a local retail store.

ACH Transfers vs. Wire Transfers 

ACH transfers (short for automated clearing house transfers) are similar to wire transfers because they both involve bank-to-bank movement of funds. However, ACH transfers are known to incur lower fees and are more easily reversible.

How Long Does an ACH Transfer Take? 

The speed of ACH transfers has been on significant increase through the years. They can even be, in some cases, faster than wire transfers. Generally, however, you may expect an ACH transfer to be completed in 1 to 3 business days.

How to Track a Wire Transfer as a Sender 

In cases where your wire transfer is delayed for some reason, most banking platforms and financial institutions allow senders to track their transactions through a unique IMAD/OMAD identifier. 

These IDs apply for both domestic and international wire transfers. When the former takes more than 24 hours and the latter more than five days, you can simply ask your bank to help track the transaction using the IMAD/OMAD ID. 

How to Track a Wire Transfer as a Receiver 

A receiver can also track a wire transfer, but first, they must communicate with the sender and obtain some key details regarding the transfer. These include the reference number attached to the transfer, the SWIFT number of the sender's bank, the date of transfer, the originating currency, and the exact transfer amount.

The recipient's bank should be able to use this information to determine the status of a pending wire transfer.

Can Wire Transfers be Reversed? 

Sadly, wire transfers are considered to be highly irreversible. Once they are initiated, it is extremely difficult to cancel. Of course, this doesn't necessarily imply that all wire transfers are due to be a hundred percent successful.

Cancellations occur, but this only happens when the receiving bank gets an official cancellation notice from the originating bank, and this must happen before instructions are processed for completion of the transfer.

Mistakes or duplications in the transaction may also lead to a reversal.

Do Bank Report Wire Transfers to the IRS?

The IRS can access any and all wire transfers that occur through US banks or involve US citizens. Though most of these transactions go unreported, the IRS usually steps in when suspicious activities are flagged during wire transfers.

Additionally, there are a few particular situations wherein the IRS may be interested in obtaining further information. One such situation involves regular wire transfers, especially to individuals or businesses without bank accounts. Such transactions occurring in substantial amounts may also pique the interest of the IRS. 

Bottom Line 

Wire transfers are considered to be one of the fastest and most secure ways to send money, either domestically or internationally. Usually, this speed and efficiency come at a cost, but with better technology, the fees associated with wire transfers are becoming more and more reasonable.

To further optimize your wire transfers for faster speed and cheaper costs, ensure that you choose a fast wire transfer institution, pay using a credit/debit card, confirm all details of your recipient, and initiate your transfers before the specified bank's cut-off time.

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