International Wire Transfers: A Definitive Guide 

International Wire Transfers: A Definitive Guide 

International wire transfers are becoming increasingly popular among those who need to quickly and securely send money overseas. Whether you’re making a purchase, paying for services, or sending a gift, wire transfers make it easy to transfer money from one country to another.

However, it pays to do your research before committing to a wire transfer, as there are important things to consider, such as fees and service limitations. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of international wire transfers, including the advantages and disadvantages, the types of money transfer services available, and how to make an international wire transfer easily. 

What Is an International Wire Transfer?

An international wire transfer is a type of money transfer that allows you to send money to someone in another country. Wire transfers are a convenient and fast way to send money internationally, and they can be done online or in person at a bank. 

When you make an international wire transfer, the funds are typically transferred from your bank account to the recipient’s bank account. The process usually takes a few days for the funds to arrive in the recipient’s account. 

Types of Money Transfer Services

There are several different types of money transfer services available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Banks and money transfer services are the most common types of money transfer organizations

Banks are the most traditional way to send money overseas. They usually offer competitive rates and offer a range of services, such as foreign exchange and international payments. However, they may also charge high fees and have long processing times. 

Money transfer services are another popular option. These services are usually faster and more cost-effective than banks, but they may not offer the same level of customer service. 

Advantages of Making an International Wire Transfer 

One of the main advantages of an international wire transfer is its speed. The money can be sent and received in a matter of minutes, meaning it can be used immediately. This is especially useful for those who need to make a purchase or pay for services quickly. 

Another advantage of an international wire transfer is its security. The money is transferred electronically, meaning it is much less likely to be intercepted or stolen. The sender also has the added benefit of tracking the money, so they know when it has been sent and received. 

Finally, international wire transfers are convenient. The sender can send money from the comfort of their own home without having to travel or visit a bank. This makes it much easier for those who are short on time or located in a different country. 

Common Reasons to Use an International Wire Transfer 

There are many reasons why you might need to send money internationally. Perhaps you’re paying for goods or services from a foreign supplier or sending money to family or friends overseas. Whatever the reason, international wire transfers can be a quick and convenient way to send money around the world. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons people use international wire transfers: 

  • Paying for goods or services

If you’re buying goods or services from a company based in another country, you’ll usually need to pay by wire transfer. This is because other payment methods, such as credit cards or PayPal, may not be available or may be subject to additional fees. 

  • Sending money to family and friends

If you have relatives or friends living overseas, you may need to send them money from time to time. A wire transfer is often the quickest and easiest way to ensure that the money arrives safely. 

  • Paying taxes or other bills

If you own property or invest in businesses overseas, you may need to pay taxes or other bills in foreign currency. A wire transfer is a simple way to make these payments without converting your currency first. 

  • Making charitable donations

Many charities accept donations from individuals all over the world. If you want to donate money to a cause that’s important to you, a wire transfer is usually the best way to do it. 

How to Make an International Wire Transfer?

There are a few different ways to send money internationally, but the most common way is through a bank. You can typically initiate a wire transfer through your online banking portal or by visiting your local branch.  

When sending money internationally, you will need the following information: 

  • The name of the bank or financial institution you are sending the money to 
  • The bank or financial institution’s address 
  • The account number you are sending the money to 
  • The SWIFT code of the bank or financial institution (this is used to identify banks internationally) 
  • The name of the person or company you are sending the money to 
  • The address of the person or company you are sending the money to (if applicable) 
  • The amount of money you are sending 
  • The currency you are sending (US dollars, Euros, etc.) 

How Much Does It Cost to Send Money Internationally?  

The cost of an international wire transfer varies depending on the bank or financial institution you use, as well as the country you’re sending money to. However, there are a few general fees typically associated with international wire transfers. 

First, most banks will charge a fee for outgoing international wire transfers. This fee is usually around $30-35. In addition, the receiving bank may also charge a fee for incoming international wires. These fees can range from $10-20. 

Furthermore, there may also be currency conversion fees if the sender and receiver use different currencies. These fees are typically around 3% of the total transaction amount. Finally, some banks may also charge a “correspondent bank fee” for processing the transfer. This fee is usually passed on to the sender by their own bank. 

All in all, the total cost of an international wire transfer can range from $50-100 or more, depending on the specific circumstances. 

Is It Possible to Wire Money for Free? 

Yes, it is possible to wire money for free if you use the right service. There are a few companies that will allow you to send money internationally without charging any fees. These services typically use either the ACH network or the SWIFT network to send money. 

If you use an ACH network service, your bank may still charge a small fee for sending the money. However, this fee is usually much less than what you would pay for an international wire transfer.

The SWIFT network is used by banks all over the world and is typically the quickest way to send money internationally. However, because it’s such a widely used system, banks will often charge high fees when using it. If you need to send money quickly, you may not have any other choice but to pay these fees. 

There are also a few peer-to-peer payment services that allow you to send money internationally for free. These services match you up with someone who wants to send money in the same direction as you, and then they cancel each other out, so neither of you pays any fees. This can be a great option if you’re sending a relatively small amount of money and don’t mind waiting a few days for the transaction to go through. 

How Long Do International Wire Transfers Take? 

It’s important to know how long your international wire transfer will take to arrive. Depending on the country you’re sending money to, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. 

Here are some factors that affect transfer times: 

  • The receiving bank’s business hours

If you’re sending a wire transfer on a Friday afternoon to a bank in Europe that’s closed for the weekend, your transfer won’t be processed until Monday morning. 

  • The time difference between countries

This can affect the receiving bank processing time and the exact time you’ll see the funds in your account. 

  • How far away the receiving bank is located

Wires sent internationally tend to take longer than domestic wires because they have to travel further. 

  • Whether or not all the required information is included in the transfer

If any of the details are missing or incorrect, it can delay processing. 

Here are some average processing times for common international wire transfer destinations: 

  • USA: 1-2 business days 
  • Canada: 1-2 business days 
  • Europe: 2-3 business days 
  • Australia: 2-3 business days 
  • Asia: 3-4 business days 

These are just averages, though, so it’s always best to check with your bank for an estimate of how long your specific transfer will take. 

What Is the Limit for Wiring Money Internationally?

The limit for international wire transfers varies depending on the country and financial institution. However, there are some general guidelines that you can follow. For example, most banks have a limit of $10,000 per day for outgoing international wire transfers. This limit may be higher or lower depending on the bank and its policies. 

There are also limits on how much money can be sent in a single transaction. Again, this limit may be higher or lower depending on the country and financial institution. 

It’s important to note that these limits are typically based on the total amount of money being sent. So, if you’re sending multiple transactions totalling more than the limit, you may need to split up the payments into multiple transactions to stay within the limit. 

Additionally, there may be fees associated with international wire transfers. These fees can vary depending on the bank and type of transfer (outgoing or incoming). For example, the Bank of America charges $30 for outgoing international wire transfers and $45 for incoming international wire transfers. 

When sending money internationally, it’s important to research the rules and regulations ahead of time so you’re aware of any potential limits or fees. This will help ensure that your transfer goes smoothly and that you don’t run into any unexpected issues. 

Is It Safe to Transfer Money Internationally? 

When sending money abroad, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind to ensure your transaction’s safety. 

First, be sure to research the exchange rate and fees associated with your transfer before initiating the transaction. This will help you avoid any unexpected charges and ensure you get the most for your money. 

Next, consider the method of transfer. When sending money internationally, you can choose between a wire transfer, ACH transfer, or cash pickup. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to select the one that best suits your needs. 

Wire transfers are typically the most secure option, as they move funds directly from one bank account to another. ACH transfers are also generally safe, though they may take a few days longer to process than a wire transfer. Cash pickups are the least secure option, as they involve physically exchanging cash between sender and receiver. 

Finally, be sure to keep track of your transaction by requesting a receipt or confirmation number from your bank or financial institution. This will help you track the status of your money and confirm that it has been received by the intended recipient. 

What Is a SWIFT / BIC Code? 

A SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code is a unique identifier assigned to financial institutions worldwide. The code is often used when transferring money between banks, particularly when sending money internationally. 

A Bank Identification Code (BIC) is a unique identifier used to identify financial institutions on an international level. A BIC consists of 8 or 11 characters, comprising a Bank Code, Country Code, Location Code, and Branch Code. 

When sending or receiving an international wire transfer, you will need to provide the sender with your bank’s SWIFT code. 

What Is an IBAN Number? 

An IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, is a unique identifier for your bank account. It’s used to facilitate international money transfers and to ensure that payments are processed smoothly. 

Your IBAN number consists of up to 34 characters, including letters and numbers. The first two characters are your country code, followed by your bank’s identification code and account number. 

For example, if you have a bank account in Germany, your IBAN might look something like this: DE12 3456 7890 1234 5678 9012. 

If you’re sending or receiving an international wire transfer, you’ll need to provide your IBAN to the sender or recipient. Providing an IBAC instead of an IBAN can result in delays or even returned payments. 

IBAN numbers are used for a few different purposes: 

  • To help process international payments seamlessly 
  • To reduce the risk of errors when entering account information 
  • To make it easier for automated systems (like payroll services) to send payments directly to accounts 

How Do I Find My IBAN Number?

If you’re not sure what your IBAN number is, there are a few ways to find it: 

  • Look at any recent statement from your bank. It should be listed prominently near the top. 
  • Log into your online banking portal and navigate to the section where you can view account details. Your IBAN should be listed there. 
  • Contact your bank directly and ask a customer service representative for help finding your IBAN number. 

Wire Transfer vs ACH Payment 

There are a few key differences between wire transfers and ACH payments. With wire transfers, the funds are typically transferred immediately, while ACH payments may take a few days to process. Wire transfers also tend to be more expensive than ACH payments. 

Wire transfers are typically used for high-value transactions, while ACH payments are more commonly used for smaller transactions. Wire transfers are also often used when the timing is critical, such as when sending a down payment for a house or paying tuition fees. 

Another difference between wire transfers and ACH payments is that wire transfers can be made internationally, while ACH payments are typically only domestic. When making an international wire transfer, you will need to provide the recipient’s SWIFT code in addition to their account number and routing number

Wire Transfer vs Direct Deposit 

When deciding how to send or receive payments internationally, there are two main options: wire transfer and direct deposit. So, what’s the difference between the two? 

Wire transfers are typically faster than direct deposits but can also be more expensive. With a wire transfer, you’re essentially sending money from one bank account to another. The funds are transferred almost immediately, but you may have to pay a fee for the service. 

Direct deposit is a bit different. With this method, you’re simply transferring funds from one account to another, but the process can take a few days. There are usually no direct deposit fees, making it a more budget-friendly option. 

Can Wire Transfers Be Easily Cancelled?

There are a few things to keep in mind when cancelling a wire transfer. First, it’s important to know that once a wire transfer is sent, it cannot be easily reversed or cancelled. This is because the funds are typically transferred immediately from one bank to another. If you need to cancel a wire transfer, you will need to contact your bank as soon as possible and request that they stop the payment. 

There are a few reasons why you might need to cancel a wire transfer. Perhaps you sent the wrong amount of money or made a mistake with the recipient’s account information. In these cases, it’s important to act quickly and contact your bank right away. 

They may be able to stop the payment before the funds are transferred. However, this is not always possible, so it’s important to be aware that there is a chance that the funds may not be recoverable if you do make a mistake when sending a wire transfer. 

Another reason you might need to cancel a wire transfer is if the recipient never receives the funds. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as if their bank account was closed or if they provided incorrect account information. If this happens, you should again contact your bank as soon as possible and request that they stop the payment and refund your money. 

Generally speaking, cancelling a wire transfer can be difficult, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to get your money back. That being said, it’s still worth contacting your bank as soon as possible if you do need to cancel a wire transfer for any reason. 

Tips for Making International Wire Transfers Easily 

Making an international wire transfer can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to help you make the process easier. 

First, make sure to research the different money transfer services. This will help you to find the best option for your needs and budget. 

Second, compare the fees and speed of the different services. This will help you to find the most cost-effective and fastest option.

Third, double-check the recipient’s details before sending the money. This will help to ensure that the money arrives safely and quickly. 

Finally, make sure to keep track of your transfers. This will help you monitor the transfer’s progress and ensure it arrives safely. 

Best International Wire Transfer Services

Currencies Direct
  • Bank-beating Exchange Rates
  • Zero Transfer Fees
  • Personal Currency Expert Advice
  • Bespoke Currency Solutions
  • The Most Trusted Money Transfer Service
  • 5-Star Trustpilot Rating from over 8,000 Reviews
Clear Currency
  • Highly-competitive exchange rates
  • Zero Transfer Fees
  • Dedicated Currency Strategy
  • Personal Currency Support
  • FX Strategy Tools
  • FCA Regulated 
Key Currency
  • Excellent Exchange Rates
  • Zero Transfer Fees
  • No Hidden Fees
  • Award-Winning Service
  • 5-Star Trustpilot Rating from over 1,000 Reviews

Currencies Direct 

Currencies Direct

Providing money transfer services for many years, Currencies Direct is one of the best money transfer companies. On TrustPilot, they have a 4.9-star rating, one of the highest.   


  • Customer service is of the highest standard 
  • No fee will be charged 
  • The website or mobile app make it easy to create an account 


  • The availability of exotic African currencies is limited 

Clear Currency 

Clear Currency

A worldwide payments specialist, Clear Currency is based in London and Dublin and regulated by FCA. It takes minutes to register online or by phone, and once you complete the onboarding process, you’ll be assigned an account manager. 

No matter how unpredictable the currency markets are, the platform processes your payments quickly and securely.  


  • Fast and efficient payment processing 
  • International transfers can be made same-day or next-day 
  • A free FX risk mitigation expert offers currency advice and strategies to minimise exposure to FX risk 
  • A total of 130 countries and 35 currencies are supported for payment 
  • There are no hidden fees or costs 
  • Secure, easy, and safe online payments 


  • A credit card can’t be used to make a payment 

Key Currency 

Key Currency

A fee-free international money transfer service, Key Currency offers lower costs than banks and other currency brokers. A Key Currency representative will assist each customer with choosing the best transfer service, exchange rate, and payment method for them. 

Key Currency doesn’t provide live foreign exchange rates. Even though financial markets lack transparency, Key Currency provides customers with customised, one-on-one service.  


  • Experienced representatives provide personalised customer service 
  • Competitive rates 
  • Business and individual transfers are free of charge 


  • It’s not available to U.S. customers 
  • Bank transfers are required for payments  



Another excellent international transfer option is TorFX, a provider with numerous awards, including a Moneyfacts Consumer Award for the best customer service.  TorFX also has a Level One rating by Dun & Bradstreet, a leading UK rating agency. 

The service charges no transfer fees, which doesn’t diminish its competitiveness in the least. 


  • Mobile phones, credit cards, and bank transfers are all options for customers to transfer money 
  • Excellent customer service 


  • Compared to Currencies Direct, the exchange rate is higher in some cases 
  • There is no regulation of TorFX in Canada or the United States  



The money transfer service OFX is also quite well-known. In addition to supporting more than 55 currencies, they have offices in more than ten countries. Due to their experience over the past two decades and state-of-the-art systems, they can handle transactions with ease. 

Moreover, they provide 24-hour customer service and protect customers from sudden fluctuations in exchange rates through hedges. 


  • No transfer fees are charged to clients 
  • Global operations offer currency flexibility 
  • A wire transfer can be made with a debit card or a bank account 
  • Global presence allows customers to experience exceptional customer service worldwide


  • Transfers must be at least $1,000 
  • Payments can only be made by bank wire transfers, not by cash 
  • OFX doesn’t offer same-day services 


Making an international wire transfer is a great way to quickly and securely send money overseas. However, it pays to do your research before committing to a transfer, as there are important things to consider, such as fees and service limitations. 

by Matt Woodley
Matt Woodley is the Founder of Money Transfer Expert and is a recognised expert on international money transfers. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History from the University of Auckland.