Wire Transfers - What are they, and how long do they take?


In the United States, domestic transfers and direct deposits are often effortless. When navigating the international version of this process, things get more complicated, especially when funds require rapid or urgent transfer. The solution is a wire transfer. Below, we’ll dive into the details concerning wire transfers and how long they take to go through.

This article will cover the following topics:

  • What is a wire transfer?
  • What does a wire transfer require?
  • How much does a wire transfer cost?
  • How long does a wire transfer take?
  • The Future of Wire Transfers

What is a wire transfer?

A wire transfer is a method of electronic funds transfer made between persons or organizations. These transfers can be performed either domestically or internationally, between bank accounts and other transfer entities. Wire transfers are enabled internationally through Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, codes. In the business world, wire transfers account for 2% of the total B2B payment market.

What does a wire transfer require?

Wire transfers require some information on the part of both the sending and receiving parties before proceeding. The sending entity requests this information before authorizing the wire transfer. This required information includes the following:

  • ACH requires a US bank account
  • ACH allows for recurring/scheduled transfers
  • ACH can facilitate bill payment submissions
  • ACH does not support international payments
  • ACH doesn’t allow businesses to accrue reward points
  • ACH is cheaper than domestic wire transfers

How much does a wire transfer cost?

The cost of a wire transfer is calculated based on several factors. The first is whether or not the wire transfer will be domestic or international. International transfers cost more than domestic.

The second factor depends on the fees charged by the sending and receiving banks. Wire transfers are assessed on both ends of the process, meaning that both the sender and receiver need to pay. Unfortunately, there is no universal amount set, so the price heavily depends on the bank in question. Some banks have chosen to make their wire transfer services available free of charge, but others have not.

How long does a wire transfer take?

While there is no set time that a wire transfer can take, it most often takes between one and five days to go through internationally. Domestic transfers, on the other hand, do not usually take longer than a single day. However, the exact amount of time is dependent on banks’ internal processes on both sides of the transfer. Moreover, should time be of the essence, many banks offer expedited services for an additional fee.

The Future of Wire Transfers

Given the time it takes for a wire transfer to go through, it is not often the transfer method of choice for multinational businesses. Truthfully, any transfer time other than ‘Instant’ is too slow. Fortunately, there is a connected finance platform available that enables real-time funds transfers in over 130 currencies without incurring any nickel-and-diming. That platform is PayEm, and we’re here to revolutionize how your business manages its financial processes, including cross-border payments. Learn more about our platform and schedule a demo today.

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