How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?

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Most wire transfers between domestic U.S. bank accounts are completed within 24 hours, while international wire transfers can take one to five business days. But 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 wire transfers work — from how to send and track them to how to speed up the process.

What Factors Affect the Speed of a Wire Transfer?

Wire transfers don’t all move at the same speed. Here are the three primary factors affecting the speed of a wire transfer:

Time the Transfer Was Made

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

Capital One American Express National Bank Personal Savings

Capital One Bank has a wire transfer cutoff of 2 p.m. ET Monday through Friday (except national holidays) for same-day transfers.

Citibank Best Online Savings Accounts

Citibank has a cutoff time of 5:15 p.m. ET for international transfers and 6 p.m ET for domestic transfers.

If you file your paperwork before the deadline, your wire transfer will go out the same day. If you fail to meet the deadline, your wire transfer typically won’t go out until the following business day.

Location of Recipient

Domestic wire transfers can usually be completed rapidly — particularly if you’re sending funds within a single institution. International transfers typically take longer, partly because the receiving banks often slow down the process to help guard against fraudulent transactions.

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Additionally, some countries are labeled “slow-to-pay” since they take longer to process financial transactions. Some of the “slow-to-pay” countries include Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Indonesia 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 is often the fastest method, but it is reserved for large amounts and time-sensitive transactions. This option is only available for domestic wire transfers, but they can often be processed immediately. You’ll still have to wait for all the paperwork to be in order and approved before the FedWire can be sent, however. Once a wire is sent by your bank through FedWire, it can be available immediately on the receiving end, particularly if it is received by the same bank.

CHIPS

CHIPS is the acronym for Clearing House Interbank Payments System. Under this system, multiple wire transfers are grouped into batches and sent in a large transaction. Since the wires are sent as a group rather than as individual transactions, there might be a slight delay compared with FedWire transfers.

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?

Wire transfers are a preferred method for sending large or important money transfers because they are secure.  To send a wire transfer, you’ll need to provide extensive information about the recipient to ensure proper delivery. Typically, this will include the following:

Some banks may request additional information, such as the reason for the transfer.

How To Track a Wire Transfer

One of the many benefits of a wire transfer is that you’re given a Federal Reference Number that uniquely identifies your transaction. You can use this reference number to track the status of your wire transfer and see if it went through. At any time, you also can see the current location of your funds or where they were deposited.

How To Cancel a Wire Transfer

Overall, a wire transfer is a speedy, secure way to send money to another bank account — particularly if it’s a large amount. Wire transfers are often used for real estate purchases and similar transactions that are time-sensitive and typically run into the tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Keep In Mind

In rare instances, a wire transfer will end up in the wrong account. This is usually due to incorrect information entered on the wire transfer paperwork. If need be, you can send a recall wire to get the money back if it was deposited into the wrong account. If you change your mind about the wire after it is sent, you can also contact your bank to cancel the process.

Banks can vary in terms of the speed and cost of wire transfers, so shop around to find the best institution for your needs.

Information is accurate as of Nov. 5, 2020.

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.

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?
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