GOBankingRates

How To Wire Money in 6 Easy Steps

sorbetto / Getty Images

In a world of digital wallets and payment apps, initiating a wire transfer may sound cumbersome and old-fashioned. After all, the concept of wiring money was first introduced almost 150 years ago by Western Union. But there’s a reason this form of payment has stood the test of time: It’s quick, easy, reliable and relatively safe — as long as you do your due diligence.

Wire transfers may cost a bit more than other methods of payment, but when you need to send money to someone quickly, inside or outside the U.S., they are hard to beat.

Here’s a quick preview of what you’ll find as you learn more about the ins and outs of wire transfers.

How to Wire Money

You can send money bank-to-bank via a wire transfer. A wire transfer electronically connects the sender’s account directly to the recipient’s account to transfer funds. There is no movement of physical cash in a wire transfer. Two types of wire transfers exist: domestic and international.

A Better Way to Bank

Domestic Wire Transfer

Domestic wire transfers can be sent to individuals or businesses within the country of origin. Because most domestic transfers are completed within the same day, they’re a good option for moving large amounts of money, such as when settling real estate transactions or paying invoices.

International Wire Transfer

International wire transfers can also be sent to individuals or businesses. They’re different from domestic wire transfers, however, because they are sent in a foreign currency via the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication network, otherwise known as the SWIFT network — an international messaging network used by banks to send information.

Pros and Cons of Wire Transfers

Like all payment methods, wire transfers have their benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few to consider:

Pros

Cons

Methods of How to Wire Money

Services like Western Union aren’t your only option for wire transfers. Banks complete them, too. Here are the details on how to wire money:

A Better Way to Bank

Steps To Wire Transfer Money

When you need to send a large sum of money quickly, a wire transfer can be an ideal solution. Here are the steps to take.

1. Decide What Provider You Want To Use

Before sending a wire transfer, you’ll need to choose a provider. If you’re planning to send the wire transfer directly from your bank account, you’ll need to check with your bank to see if it offers online transfers or if you need to initiate the transfer in person.

Your other option is to use a retail wire transfer service provider such as Western Union or MoneyGram to send the transfer. Check with the service provider to find out if they offer both online and in-person transfers, so you’ll know your options.

2. Gather the Required Information

When you transfer money, you’ll need to provide the following information:

A Better Way to Bank

3. Understand the Fees

Most bank wire transfers cost between $6-$30. Some banks — like BMO Harris and Discover — don’t charge any fees for wire transfers. And banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank waive the fee if you have a qualifying account.

4. Fill Out the Form Carefully

It’s important to take the time to fill out the wire transfer form completely and carefully. Because you are providing banking information and contact information, the money could be lost or sent to the wrong person if you make a mistake.

5. Verify the Wire Transfer Details

Make sure to get a tracking, confirmation or authorization number. To verify delivery, contact your initiating bank or provider with the details of your wire.

6. Keep Your Receipt and Follow Up

After you’ve made your wire transfer, you will get a receipt of the transaction. If you don’t get a receipt, ask the bank or provider for confirmation that the transaction took place.

Safety Tips and Common Wire Transfer Scams

You might have concerns about the safety of money transfers — especially if made online. In the United States, federal regulations require both sender and recipient to verify their identity and provide their physical address to use the wire transfer service. But that doesn’t mean that wire transfer scams can’t and don’t happen.

A Better Way to Bank

Scammers are notorious for putting pressure on people to complete a wire transfer immediately. Then, the transfer can complete before anyone realizes its a fraud. Because wire transfers involve cash, once the transfer is complete, the money is gone.

Common Wire Transfer Scams

There are a variety of wire transfer scams to be on the lookout for. Here are some of the more common ones.

A Better Way to Bank

Wire Transfer Safety Tips

Just because wire safety transfers are a secure form of payment does not mean that fraudsters won’t try to find a way to cheat you out of your money. Here are some precautionary steps you can take to avoid falling victim to a wire transfer scam.

When sending money online:

You should never wire money to someone under any of these circumstances, according to the Federal Trade Commission:

A good rule of thumb to heed: If a transaction involving a wire transfer seems sketchy, then it probably is.

A Better Way to Bank

Alternatives to Wire Transfers

If you don’t want to wire money, you may want to consider one of the following alternatives.

Final Step To Wire Money

Wire transfers are a quick and secure way to send money across the U.S. or around the globe. Although higher fees are often associated with wire transfers than other forms of payment, they are helpful for certain types of transactions. Some examples are sending money to relatives overseas, paying rent on a vacation house or conducting a business transaction involving thousands of dollars. Essentially, all wire transfer methods provide you with the same service, but the exact cost you’ll pay will vary on provider, destination and amount of money you send.

More From GOBankingRates: