How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?

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Not all wire transfers are created alike. A number of different variables can affect the speed of a wire transfer. Although some of these variables are beyond your control, others can be manipulated to make your wire transfer faster.

Here’s an overview of how long a wire transfer takes and how it works — from how to send and track one to how to speed up the process.

How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?

Most wire transfers between domestic U.S. bank accounts are completed within 24 hours. International wire transfers take a bit longer at one to five business days. You might wonder how this compares to other methods for sending money.

For instance, how long does a bank transfer take between different banks? If you’re transferring money between two accounts you hold at different banks, this type of ACH bank-to-bank transfer can take up to three days. Quite often, a domestic wire transfer is faster than a regular bank-to-bank transfer.

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If you’re sending cash from somewhere other than a bank, such as Western Union, to an overseas bank, the receiving bank can take up to five days to receive the money.

What Factors Affect the Speed of a Wire Transfer?

While most wire transfers don’t take long to complete, they don’t all move at the same speed. Why do some wire transfers take so long? It comes down to the time of the transfer, the location of the recipient and the wire transfer methods. Here is a closer look at the primary factors that affect the speed of a wire transfer.

Time the Transfer Was Made

The time of day you submit your wire transfer request is the variable you have the most control over in terms of speeding up the process. Each financial institution or financial services company sets its own cutoff time for wire transfers. For example:

  • Capital One Bank has a wire transfer cutoff of 2:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday for same-day transfers.
  • Citi® has a cutoff time of 6:00 p.m. EST for international transfers and 6:45 p.m. EST for domestic transfers.
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To ensure the fastest delivery of your funds, pay close attention to wire transfer cut-off times. Whether you’re initiating a wire transfer online or in person, cut-off times still apply.

Location of Recipient

Domestic wire transfers can usually be completed rapidly, especially if you’re sending funds within a single institution. International transfers typically take longer. This is partly because the receiving banks must convert the currency. Many banks are also taking extra steps to help guard against fraudulent transactions.

Additionally, some countries are labeled “slow-to-pay” since they take longer to process financial transactions. Some of the “slow-to-pay” countries include Cuba, Haiti, India, Mexico and Russia.

How the Bank Transfers Funds

There are different ways to send a wire transfer, and each can affect the speed of the process. Here are the three most commonly used wire transfer methods:

  • FedWire: FedWire only handles domestic transfers, and it is often the fastest method. Once a wire is sent by your bank through FedWire, it is available immediately on the receiving end, particularly if it is received by the same bank.
  • CHIPS: Multiple wire transfers are grouped into batches and sent in a large transaction with CHIPS. Since the wires are sent as a group rather than as individual transactions, there might be a slight delay.
  • SWIFT: SWIFT is the primary system used for international wire transfers. SWIFT transfers are sent via intermediate banks before reaching their final destinations. As a result, bank cutoff times and other administrative factors might delay transfers.
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What Do You Need To Send a Wire Transfer?

To successfully send a wire transfer, you’ll need to provide extensive information about the recipient. Typically, for a domestic wire transfer, this will include the following:

For international wire transfers, you may be asked for additional information. For instance, for a SWIFT transfer, you may need the bank’s SWIFT Business Code Identifier.

How Do You Check the Status of a Wire Transfer?

You can check the status of a wire transfer and track its progress by using the unique transaction identifier. This identifier will be provided to you when you request the transfer. The name of this identifier may depend on the bank and whether the wire transfer is domestic or international.

For instance, a Western Union wire transfer has a Money Transfer Control Number. To check an international transfer with Wells Fargo, you may be asked for the Sender Reference or the SWIFT UETR. A domestic wire transfer will have a Federal Reference Number.

The bank or company that sent the transfer may have a phone number you can call to track wire transfers or allow you to track transfers online. 

How Do You Cancel a Wire Transfer?

If a wire transfer still has a “pending” or “scheduled” status, you can cancel it. Wire transfers that have already started processing cannot be canceled. Depending on which financial institution or service you used for the money transfer, you can cancel a wire transfer online or by phone in most cases.

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Overall, a wire transfer is a speedy, secure way to send money to another bank account — particularly if it’s a large amount. Banks can vary in terms of the speed and cost of wire transfers, so shop around to find the best institution for your needs. Also, consider whether another money transfer method, such as a money transfer app or ACH transfer, might be a cheaper or more convenient option for you.

To avoid falling victim to wire transfer scams, never provide your bank account details to unfamiliar or suspicious individuals. You should also avoid wiring money to people or businesses that you are unfamiliar with, especially if you have been asked to do so by suspicious phone calls or emails.

John Csiszar contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of April 26, 2023. 

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Andrea Norris has been in the web publishing business for the past 15 years both as a content contributor and a copy editor specializing in personal finance, frugal living, home and auto topics. She writes both short and long-form content and is well-practiced in SEO keyword research and writing.
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