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What is a Wire Transfer? Everything you need to know.

Updated on Apr 07, 2022
wire transfering on a phone

Wiring money is safe and secure, but it can be expensive so it is important to get your transference information scrupulously correct, to avoid further expense.

Wiring Money

When it comes to sending money to bank accounts in other countries, businesses often resort to bank or nonbank agencies such as Western Union or Wise (formerly known as Transferwise) for wiring funds.

Wire Transfer Process

What You Need

  • Your bank account number, which is the second set of 12-digits found on your check, bank statement, or online account.
  • Government issued id (such your driver's license)

You'll need the following from the person you're sending money to:

  • Recipient's full name.
  • Recipient bank's name, address and phone number.
  • Recipient bank's transit number also called the ABA or routing number. You may also want the SWIFT code, depending on which country you're wiring to. Some countries don't use the SWIFT, so recipients should ask their banks for the information.
  • Additional information based on your bank's instructions. You may want to have your recipient look into whether his bank uses an intermediary bank for the transfer. Smaller banks often use a go-between bank for international transfers.

How to Wire Money

Your bank or nonbank provider may let you wire the transfer in various ways, such as through your smartphone, online or at a bank branch. Costs and delivery times vary for each. Expect around $25 for transferring money within your country (a "domestic wire") and around $43 for transferring funds to a foreign country ("an international wire").

Advantages of Wiring Money

The process is fast. Domestic wiring can take as short as minutes; International wiring can take as short as 5-7 business days.

Your transaction, too, is secure. Government agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulate your transaction. You can be sure that your all of your money arrives.

Disadvantages of Wiring Money

Wiring is one of the most expensive ways of sending money, especially through banks. Aside from which it is very easy to run up recurring costs for even one missing or misspelled letter or digit. For that reason, make sure to get your numbers and spelling of the name of your recipient correct, you may need to pay extra to resend.

Finally, wire transfer are irrevocable they can never be reversed so you may want to confirm the identity of your recipient and learn how wire transfer scams work to avoid becoming one of so many victims.

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