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How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?

illustration of flying money leaving a bank to illustrate how long does a wire transfer take

Domestic wire transfers can take as little as a day, while international transfers may take as long as five days.

If your business needs a fast and safe way to send money, a wire transfer is one of the best options available. These transfers are secure and allow you to send a large amount of money relatively quickly. 

But just how long does a wire transfer take? Turns out, there are a couple of factors to consider — we've covered them all here, as well as answers to common wire transfer questions.

Are Wire Transfers Instant?

Wire transfers are not instant, but they are much faster than sending a check or some of the other methods of transferring money.

Depending on where the sender and receiver are located, most money transfers take between one and five days.

How Long Does a Domestic Wire Transfer Take?

Sending a domestic wire transfer is the fastest kind of wire transfer. In most countries, a domestic wire transfer takes one day, meaning the receiver will be able to access the funds after a day.

Many banks in the United States make the funds from a wire transfer available to the recipient on the same day.

How Long Does It Take for an International Wire Transfer?

Depending on the country where the wire transfer is initiated and where it’s sent, an international wire transfer can take up to five business days.

But in most cases, the money is available within two days. Make sure you’re aware of any national or bank holidays in the country to which you’re sending the money.

Factors That Can Delay a Wire Transfer

Icons of a clock, paper money, a globe, and a postcard that says Hong Kong illustrating common causes of wire transfer delays including when the transfer is initiated, payment problems, how payment is made, and the destination of the funds

Although wire transfer systems continue to get faster, there are some factors that can slow down the process of transferring funds.

Below are some of the most common factors that can delay a wire transfer, but you should also check with your financial institution to ensure you’re meeting all of their requirements to prevent any delays.

The Time the Transfer is Initiated 

Many banks have cutoff times for when a transaction can be completed within the same business day. If you submit your wire transfer at that cutoff time, it will be completed on the next business day.

If you need to get a transfer to its destination as quickly as possible, find out your bank's cutoff time before sending funds.

Those cutoff times are generally earlier than the close of business, ranging from noon until 3 p.m.

Payment Problems

Payment errors can also slow down a wire transfer, including:

  • Insufficient funds: If the originating account has insufficient funds or there isn’t enough to cover the transfer plus the fees for the transfer, it may not go through.
  • Incorrect account numbers: Double-checking account numbers and requirements before sending can save you a lot of time and prevent delays.
  • Different currencies: If money is being sent in one currency and accepted in another, it can slow down the transfer.

The Method of Payment 

If you’re sending money internationally, your bank will rely on the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network.

This network is fast, but if there are any delays that make it impossible to process the wire transfer directly, SWIFT will route the funds through a series of intermediary banks. 

💡Example: In the US, most transfers are sent using the Fedwire system through the Federal Reserve. Payments sent through Fedwire are almost instantaneous. 

The Destination

Banks across the world are all different. Not all banks have the same hours, technology, or regulations to make wire transfers as fast as possible.

Holidays in different countries can also affect how quickly money is transferred.

How Do I Track a Wire Transfer?

For international wire transfers, the SWIFT system will assign a SWIFT number that can be used to track the progress of the money.

Both the sender and receiver can provide their banks with this number to learn about the status of a transfer. 

When you send money to or from a bank in the United States, it is assigned an input/output message accountability data number (IMAD/OMAD).

This string of characters contains information about the send date, information about the sending and receiving banks, and a unique sequence number. 

With that number, the sender can check the transfer status with their bank if it has been more than a day for a domestic U.S. transfer or more than five days for an international transfer.

💡Tips: If you’re curious about how to track a wire transfer as a receiver, communicate with the sender to receive the IMAD/OMAD numbers so you can track the transfer. 

Wire Transfer Alternatives

icons of money transfer app, money order, a check, and a bank to illustrate the pros and cons of wire transfer alternatives

A wire transfer is one of the best options for sending large amounts of money quickly, but it does have a few drawbacks.

Because wire transfers require a decent amount of work from the bank, they charge service fees that can get expensive.

If you have a longer timeline or need to save money on fees, there are alternatives to wire transfers.

Pros Cons
Secure Expensive
Faster than sending a check May take longer to send than newer options like apps
Pay for business expenses Pay personal expenses
Can be sent nearly anywhere on Earth Difficult to stop a transfer once processed
  • Money transfer apps like PayPal and Cash App: These apps are easy for your business to set up and configure. If the person or company you’re paying for also has the same app, you can send them the money directly and it will be available to them almost instantly.

    Both parties must have an account to use these apps, so if you are paying a supplier in another country, this may not be possible.

    Some apps may also place a limit on the amount of money you can send each day.
  • Money orders and cashier’s checks: These are slower than a wire transfer or an app, but they are a reliable way for businesses to make payments.

    Because money orders and cashier’s checks need to be sent by mail or courier, there is a risk that they won’t arrive or will be delayed, though tracking and using a reliable carrier makes that unlikely.
  • Business checks: If you aren’t able to send a wire transfer or money order, you can always send a business check.

    You’ll need to check with the recipient to learn about any special requirements if they’re located in another country.

    Having the check delivered by a reputable courier reduces the risk of loss or theft.
  • Bank transfer: When sending money domestically, a bank transfer is one of the easiest and most affordable methods available.

    The Automated Clearing House (ACH) system can initiate transfers quickly, though it can take up to three days for those funds to arrive.

Now that we’ve answered the question of how long wire transfers take, it might be worth exploring alternatives to wire or telegraphic transfers to ensure you're opting for the fastest and most secure method of moving money internationally. 

If you are a business incorporated in Hong Kong, Singapore, or the BVI, that frequently needs to make wire transfers, you should check out what Statrys can offer you.

Open a Multi-Currency Business Account in Hong Kong


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