Bank transfers are a quick way to send or receive money electronically. Wire transfers use bank-to-bank connections to exchange money quickly and securely, regardless of your location. Companies often use wire transfers for large, important, or international transactions.
Unlike checks or deposits over $1,500, which can be held by banks for up to 10 days, large wire transfer recipients don’t have to wait for the funds to be cleared. They have instant access to the money transferred as soon as it is in their account.
Sending a bank transfer is also faster than an ACH wire transfer (short for Automated Clearing House). Both involve transferring money from bank to bank between accounts, but an ACH transfer generally takes 2-3 days. ACH transfers are also less expensive than electronic transfers.
Three factors that affect the speed of a wire transfer
1. When you initiate the transfer (time of day matters)
Federal Regulations: The Accelerated Funds Availability Act (EFAA) requires U.S. financial institutions to make wire transfers available to recipients within one business day. Banks and credit unions set their own cut-off times for receiving daily transfers, which can differ from branch cut-off times and even cut-off times for deposits.
Bank cut-off time: Here’s how the time of day and bank cut-off time affect the speed of your transfer: If your bank’s cut-off date for transfers is 3:00 PM. and initiate a transfer on Wednesday at 3.05am, the money will be recorded as received on Thursday, which could delay completion until Friday.
Weekends and Holidays: When calculating how long your transfer can take, keep in mind that transfers cannot be completed on weekends or holidays.
2. Where you’re sending or receiving funds
Domestic Money Transfer – Due to EFAA regulations, most transfers between US accounts are completed within 24 hours. Some banks make transferred funds immediately available to recipients, especially for transfers between accounts at the same institution.
International Bank Transfer – An international bank transfer between a US bank account and an account in another country (also known as wire transfer) takes approximately one to five business days, depending on differences in time zones, foreign currencies, and banking systems.
Slow pay countries: Countries with a slow pay designation can delay transfers for up to three weeks or lead to cancellation. If you’re sending or receiving money internationally, ask your bank for an up-to-date list of slow-paying countries so you know what to expect.
3. The method of bank transfer
FedWire Instant Transfer: For urgent or high-value transfers between US institutions, banks use the FedWire Real-time Gross Settlement (LBTR) system, which means the transfer is processed immediately.
CHIPS for batch transfer: Banks also use the Clearing House Interbank Payment System (CHIPS) for net settlement, which processes multiple transactions as part of a batch process. Some banks have multiple daily cut-off times for transfers and send multiple batches daily.
SWIFT for international transfers: While CHIPS can be used to process international transfers, more than 10,000 banks and other financial service providers also use a secure network operated by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT). When international transfers cannot be processed directly between two banks, SWIFT allows the money to pass through intermediary banks or correspondents.
What are the wire transfer cut-off times for popular US banks?
When a bank transfer is made, it is normally only processed and sent on business days and before the bank transfer cut-off time from the financial institution. Working days are from Monday to Friday. Bank transfer cut-off times vary depending on the type of transfer and from one institution to another.
Bank of America: The bank transfer limit for next business day and 3 business day transfers at Bank of America is 8:00 PM. ET. For same business day domestic outbound transfers and international outbound transfers, the bank transfer limit is 5:00 PM. ET.
Chase Bank: The transfer limit for Chase is at 4pm. M.ET for personal banking customers or at 5 p.m. M. ET for business customers on bank business days.
Citibank: Outgoing Citibank transfers for same business day transfers have a transfer limit at 5:15 PM. ET for international transfers and 6:00 pm ET for domestic transfers.
Wells Fargo: Domestic and international wire transfers are sent the same day if made before 5pm. ET in Wells Fargo.
Goldman Sachs: The bank transfer limit for same day domestic transfers with Marcus by Goldman Sachs is 4pm. ET on working days.
Information required to send a wire transfer
Before contacting your bank to initiate a wire transfer, collect the following information about your recipient and their bank to avoid delays:
Full name and address
Bank name, address and telephone number
Bank account number and type of account (e.g. current or savings account)
ABA Routing Number (for domestic transfers)
IBAN and BIC / SWIFT bank codes (for international transfers)
Also, be prepared with details about the dollar amount to be transferred, the currencies involved (for example, sending US dollars to receive them in euros), and the reason for your transfer.
How to track a wire transfer
Now that you know how long a transfer takes, what do you do if a transfer is late or has gone missing?
Any transfer to or from a US bank account goes through the Federal Reserve Bank, where the transaction is assigned a unique IMAD/OMAD ID. IMAD/OMAD stands for Inbound/Outbound Message Responsibility Data. The ID contains a combination of the date of the transaction, a source bank identifier (IMAD) or destination bank (OMAD) and a sequence number for the transaction.
If a transfer between US bank accounts takes more than 24 hours, or a transfer between a US and international account takes more than five days, ask your bank to track the transfer using the IMAD ID / OMAD assigned when the transfer was sent.
The tracker shows how and when the transfer was processed between the sending, receiving and intermediary banks and, most importantly, where it is now. In the unlikely event that your transfer goes to the wrong account, you can easily find it.
How long does an international wire transfer take?
An international bank transfer can take an average of one to five business days for the money to reach the recipient’s account. However, sometimes international cables take longer. The money will be debited from the sender’s account as soon as the transfer starts.
How to cancel a wire transfer
Once started, the transfer of funds is guaranteed. A transaction can only be terminated if the receiving bank has received a cancellation notice from the sending bank before the instructions to complete the transfer have been processed.
If the sending or receiving bank makes a mistake, including duplicating a previous order or transferring the wrong dollar amount, they will reverse or amend a completed transfer.
How much does a wire transfer cost?
Below is a comparison of wire transfer fees for the five largest banks in the US (according to Business Insider in 2019), including links to learn more about each bank’s processes, policies, and timelines for sending wire transfers.
Wire transfer fees vary depending on the type of account you have, whether you use online or branch services, and whether you transfer money in US dollars or foreign currencies. The sender pays to initiate the transaction and the receiver pays to receive it.
How to send a wire transfer with Divvy
At Divvy, wire transfers work as described. We automatically detect incoming transfers and apply the transfer as immediately as possible (actual time varies based on banking and federal regulations). We do not charge for bank transfers, although bank charges will still apply.
If you need to send a wire transfer through Divvy or have any questions about the wire transfer process, please contact Customer Service for assistance.