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How Long Does It Take to Transfer Money? Thumbnail

How Long Does It Take to Transfer Money?

Today you can transfer money internationally in as little as one day, and sometimes even instantly. Technology and today's apps make it much easier to make wire transfers or bank transfers even abroad.

The platform you use to transfer money will answer the question 'how long does it take to transfer money?'

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How International Money Transfers Work

International money transfers operate similarly to connecting flights. You have a destination, but there aren't any direct flights, so you take multiple flights to get there. Sending money abroad works the same way, you direct your money transfer to a specific destination, but corresponding banks may help along the way.

Your money transfer uses a SWIFT code, which is like a postal address for the money. Much like you address an envelope, you address the transfer for its final destination.

The Top 5 Ways to Transfer Money

Bank Online

To send money abroad through your online baking program, you'll need the SWIFT code, and to know the sending limits your bank has in place. This may differ for international transfers, so read the fine print.

After navigating to the bank's money transfer section, you'll enter the recipient's information including the bank name and address, recipient's name and bank account number, the recipient's account type, and the SWIFT or BIC code for the account.

Most banks charge a fee for an online transfer, check with your bank to learn what they charge before setting up the transfer.

Bank transfers usually take a few business days, unless you wire the funds, which can speed up the process.

Bank In-Person

If you feel better about doing bank transactions in person, you can go to a bank teller to do the same thing. Check with your bank before you choose this option, though, as many banks charge a higher fee for in-person transactions than online transfers.

You'll provide the same information including your bank account information, proof of your identity, the recipient's name and address, and the recipient's bank account number along with the SWIFT/BIC code for the transaction. 

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RIA is an international money transfer service that helps speed up the money transfer process. If you're in a hurry to get money to family or friends abroad, RIA is a good choice. If you pay for the transfer via credit or debit card, the money can arrive the same day in some cases, versus the several days recipients must wait with bank transfers.

How RIA Works

RIA has over 447,000 locations where you can send or receive money. Recipients can walk into any location and pick up their funds, most of which are 7-Eleven stores. Many transfers are available on the same day you send them. They charge low transfer fees but check out their exchange rates because they tend to be on the higher end.

RIA has a mobile app that makes it easy to send money in minutes. RIA gives you options to transfer the money too, aside from how you pay for it (credit card, debit card, bank transfer) you can also choose how the recipient receives it. You can have the money deposited in the recipient's bank account, have the cash available for pick-up at a local 7-Eleven, or in some cases, have the money delivered to their home.

Wise (Formerly TransferWise)

Wise transfers money to over 80 countries. Their speed is a bit slower than other transfer services, but their costs are about the lowest in the industry. Wise charges the standard exchange rate to transfer money, which could save you quite a bit of money depending on how much you're transferring.

How Wise Works

You can set up a transfer with Wise on their website or mobile app, whichever you prefer. It's free to sign up and all you need is an email address. You can pay for the transfer via a bank transfer, debit card, credit card, Google, or Apple Pay.

Wise has high daily sending limits, which is $15,000 in most ACH transfers and $1 million for wire transfers. Each country also has a minimum transfer requirement, but some countries' minimums are less than $1.

Wise has fewer physical locations for recipients to pick up their money, but it is an option in certain countries. Otherwise, bank transfers go to the recipient's bank account and can take a few days to clear.


Remitly allows consumers to send money to around 85 countries from the United States, Canada, Australia, the U.K., and Europe. Remitly offers money transfers via their website or free mobile app. Money transfers with Remitly sometimes complete within minutes or can take up to two business days depending on the method of transfer.

How Remitly Works

Remitly has a strong network of more than 150,000 locations where your recipient can pick up their money, which they can do within minutes of you transferring the funds. You also have the option to send money directly to your recipient's bank account, to their mobile money account, or home delivery, which takes 1 - 2 business days.

Remitly offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and two ways to send the money:

  • Economy - Transfers take up to five business days, but cost much less than an Express transfer.
  • Express - Transfers are almost instant but cost more than economy transfers.

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How Long It Takes to Transfer Money FAQ

What Is the Cheapest Way to Transfer Money Internationally? 

If speed isn't an issue, sending money via ACH transfer usually costs the least amount of money. Your recipients may have to wait up to five business days to receive the funds, but it saves you money on the cost of the transfer. 

Each bank charges different fees, so always read the fine print as the speed, destination, method of pickup, and method of payment all determine the total cost.

How Much Do Banks Charge for an International Money Transfer?

Every bank and money transfer service charges different fees for an international money transfer. The exact fee depends on the location, exchange rate, and method you're sending the money. For example, if you want the money available for pick-up instantly or you want the money delivered to the recipient's home, it increases the costs.

Can You Send Money Abroad Without a Swift Code?

No, you need the bank's SWIFT code as it's like the bank's address, otherwise, your bank or the money transfer service won't know where to send it. If you don't know the bank's SWIFT code, but know the name, you can use a SWIFT code finder online.

Are International Bank Transfers Instant?

Some companies, like Wise, Remitly, and RIA offer instant money transfers, but be prepared because they cost more money. Usually, you have to fund the transfer with a debit card or credit card to make an instant transfer.

How Long Does It Take to Transfer Money - The Bottom Line

Think about how fast your recipient needs the money you're transferring before setting it up. If you need an instant transfer, make sure the company you're using can manage it and deliver the funds the way your recipient needs them, whether in their bank account, available for pick-up or delivered to their home.

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