How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?

When looking to send money quickly, many businesses immediately turn to wire transfers. Wire transfers have long held the crown as the fastest way to transfer money from one financial institution to another. Even today, amongst the rise of digital payments, sending a wire is still often the fastest mode of moving money internationally. That said, companies pay a price for this speed in the high cost of processing that comes with a wire transfer.

How fast, exactly, is a wire transfer? There are several factors that can determine the exact length of time it takes to move funds from one account to another. That said, it won’t take long in any case. Here’s what you can expect from a wire transfer in terms of speedy relocation of funds.

Domestic wire transfers

Domestic wire transfers are incredibly fast. Most times, you can expect to see funds landed within 24 hours. This is because domestic wire transfers tend to process same-day, with landed funds arriving next day as the bank opens. For example, if you process a domestic wire transfer at 9am EST on Monday, those funds will likely be available to the recipient by 9am EST on Tuesday.

Depending on the banking institution and the amount, some domestic wire transfers may be available same-day. That said, it’s generally best to plan for next-day funds availability.

International wire transfers

International wire transfers go through a more robust transaction process as the funds move across the globe. That means they tend to take just a little bit longer than domestic wires. While most banks will process funds within 24 hours, it could be a day or two before they arrive in the recipient’s account. Most banks will advise 24 to 72 hours before funds land and are available. This means that if you send funds 9am EST on Monday to Germany, those funds may not be available until 9am EST Wednesday (local time).

Some countries may take longer to process wire transfers than others. It generally depends on how robust the banking system is and the relationship between the currencies of the sender and recipient (and whether they need conversion).

Cancelled wire transfers

One of the biggest questions most businesses have when it comes to wire transfers is whether they’re able to be cancelled after executed. The answer is sometimes. Because they process almost immediately, wires are difficult to cancel. A business may successfully cancel a wire right after placing it—provided they can contact the bank quick enough. The longer you wait to try and cancel, the less chance there is to prevent those funds from going through.

It’s also important to realize that even if a bank can cancel a wire, there’s likely a fee that’ll accompany it. This is why it’s important to check and double-check payee information before executing the transfer.

Cutoff times and delays

Outside of the general processing times and the time it takes funds to actually land, there are several factors that could influence the rate of funds transfer using a wire:

  • National and bank holidays may delay wire transfers by as much as a full day
  • Federal regulations regarding wire amounts may put a brief hold on the transfer
  • Weekends will add time to the wire processing, since banks are often closed
  • The recipient banking institution’s processing protocols can further delay funds

The good news is that most banking institutions will provide an estimated landing date for wire transfers before a company executes them. This makes it easy to provide recipients with a more concrete payment date.

Finally, it’s also important to consider bank cutoff times for wire transfers. This is the time by which wires need to be submitted for the bank to file them same-day. For example, if the bank’s wire cutoff is 5pm EST, all wire transfers submitted after this time will execute at bank open the following day.

Fast processing takes planning

While wire transfers are undoubtedly the fastest way to send and receive money, they still take a small amount of planning to coordinate. Companies need to account for holidays, cutoff times and the destination of funds to ensure they’re selecting the right payment option—and so funds get processed in a timely manner.

Wires are great for infrequent transfers to known recipients, when quickness and security are the most important variables. For all other types of funds transfer, many businesses rely on digital payments, which offer some quickness, without the many stipulations that come alongside a wire transfer.

* This blog provides general information and discussion about global business payments and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.