How to Wire Money

Choose a provider and transfer method, research the costs and collect the necessary information. Don't forget to save the receipt.

Spencer TierneyNovember 6, 2020
How to Wire Money

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Wiring money can be a fast way to move large amounts of money within the U.S. and abroad. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to wire money.

1. Decide which provider to use. Banks and money transfer companies offer wire transfers. 2. Gather the information. You’ll need your recipient’s name, location and bank account information to start. 3. Check costs and choose the transfer method. You might be charged different amounts for sending online and in person. 4. Know the fine print. You have the legal right to ask for details. 5. Fill out the form carefully. Mistakes could derail your transfer. 6. Save the receipt. It has helpful information in case there’s trouble with the transfer.

1. Decide which provider to use

Banks and nonbank money transfer providers can help you send wire transfers.

With bank wire transfers, both the sender’s and receiver’s financial institutions are involved. Transfers within the U.S. may be processed the same day, but expect international ones to take at least a few days.

Companies such as Western Union allow you to move funds in the U.S. or internationally. You can transfer money between bank accounts, send cash for pickup and, in some cases, pay bills via wire transfers. The transfers can take minutes to several days, depending on the service and delivery method.

A wire transfer is irrevocable and a cash-based one can be anonymous, so never send funds to anyone you don’t know well. The Federal Trade Commission has tips on how to avoid wire transfer scams.

» For the cheapest wire transfers, see our guide to how much they cost by bank

If you're in the market for a new checking account from which to set up wire transfers, here's a look at some competitive options.

2. Gather the information

If you’re using your bank to transfer money, be sure to have your:

  • Government-issued ID and/or online account access.

  • Account funded with at least the amount you want to send.

  • Bank account number (found on a bank statement, a check or your online account).

  • Recipient’s full name and contact information.

  • Recipient bank’s name, address and phone number.

  • Recipient bank's transit number or equivalent.

  • Within the U.S., this is a nine-digit code called the American Banking Association routing transit number, which can be found here or by asking the recipient.

  • Abroad, this is a bank identification code, such as a SWIFT code. SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, uses an eight- or 11-character code that identifies specific banks internationally and is in the standard bank identification code format. Ask the recipient for this code, or look it up online.

  • Recipient's bank account number.

  • Additional information based on your bank’s instructions.

Nonbank providers might not require bank account information, depending on which delivery option you choose, but they will require the recipient’s name and location.

3. Check costs and choose the transfer method

Your bank or nonbank provider may let you send a wire transfer in several ways, such as online, through telephone banking or at a bank branch. The methods can vary in cost, so compare prices before making a decision.

The median cost at banks is $25 for sending wires domestically and $45 internationally. Many nonbank providers have online tools that let you estimate the cost of a wire transfer before sending.

» Not sure if you need a wire transfer? Check out other ways to send money

4. Know the fine print

Before sending international wires, you have the right under federal law to ask for details about the exchange rate, total fees and taxes collected by all parties, the delivery date and the amount expected to be delivered abroad (separate from fees). If you made the transfer through your bank, your bank can provide a receipt.

5. Fill out the form carefully

Whether you speak with a bank teller or fill out a form online, be precise while providing the information needed. A misspelled name or a missing digit can prevent the recipient from getting the money.

6. Save the receipt

Financial institutions provide confirmation, such as a transaction number, in a receipt so you can save it and refer to the specific transfer if any issues arise.

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