How to Wire Money

January 11, 2021 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How to Wire Money

When people want to move big sums quickly and securely or send money abroad, a wire transfer can be just the ticket.

No matter where people are, they can use wire transfer services to send and receive money all over the globe.

What Is a Wire Transfer?

A wire transfer is an electronic transfer of funds by banks or nonbank money transfer providers like Western Union and MoneyGram.

The term lingers from the era when transferring money—$2.5 million a year by 1877—occurred via coded pulses of electric current through dedicated wires. (A sender would take money to a telegraph office, and an operator would use codes and passwords to “wire” the money to the telegraph office of the recipient.)

These days, a certain amount of money from your bank account can be sent electronically to a recipient’s bank account, anywhere, or vice versa.

How Wire Transfers Work

Banks and transfer service providers wire money for retail customers. They have varying processes and fees, so looking into the choices may save some money.

Banks require account numbers in order to process wire transfers; transfer service providers do not.

Wire transfers can include a person’s name and other contact information or, for a cash-based transfer, be anonymous.

The banks and transfer providers will have different processing times, so money could be sent within hours if it’s a domestic transaction or a few days if it’s an international transaction.

Wire transfers are much like cashier’s checks. When someone is receiving money, the bank will treat the payment like cleared money, so as soon as the recipient’s account is credited, they can withdraw or spend the money.

When someone is sending money, the funds must be in their account before the bank will initiate the transaction. The money will be removed immediately after the wire transfer.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1% APY on your cash!

How Long Does it Take to Wire Money?

A wire transfer can be set up in minutes at a bank or wire transfer service. Then, once it’s sent, wire transfers will take up to two days to arrive at the intended destination. If it takes longer, it’s not a real wire transfer.

Domestic transfers typically are done within one day.

International transfers usually arrive within two days, but transfers made to or from a “slow-to-pay country” may add to that.

How to Wire Money in 5 Steps

Anyone interested in how to wire transfer money can follow these step-by-step directions to do it in an efficient and safe manner.

1. Make sure the money is there. Ensure that the money is in the sender’s account. Wire transfers cannot be sent if the money isn’t there.

2. Pick a provider. The sender can transfer the money online or go to providers in person and use cash or a bank account, depending on the service.

3. Fill out the forms and/or sign up for an account. When sending money through a bank, senders will need to fill out forms and include their bank account information, their bank’s contact information, and the recipient’s bank account information, including the account number and contact information for the bank. They will also need to provide a government-issued ID and/or their online login information for the bank.

When sending through a wire transfer service, they may have to log in online or go to the service in person and link their bank account or take cash, choose the recipient’s country, delivery method, and account information, and fill out any other information that’s required.

Senders have to be careful that the account numbers they provide are accurate, or the money will not get to the recipient.

4. Include the fees in the amount being sent. Banks and wire transfer services should be able to tell users what the fees are going to be upfront, and users will add those fees to the amount they are sending.

5. Ask for a receipt. A receipt ensures that senders have a record of the transaction. If something goes wrong and no receipt exists, they have nothing to show that they sent the wire transfer correctly.

Recommended: How to Transfer Money From One Bank to Another

Pros of Wiring Money

Reasons that people might want to wire money include the following.

They Need to Move a Big Amount

Limits tend to be high, so wire transfers are common for real estate transactions and sending money to and from family members.

The Money Is There

With checks and debit cards, payment can bounce or an account can go into overdraft. With a wire transfer, that’s not possible, since the money must be there in order to be sent. A wire transfer request will be declined if someone has limited funds.

It’s Safer Than Checks

While checks are typically safe, mailing them is not necessarily. People could open mail that isn’t theirs and take checks out and cash them. Wire transfers offer a safer alternative.

Money Can Be Sent Internationally

Let’s say a person goes to work in another country but wants to send money to family members back home every month. With a wire transfer, that’s easily done.

Cons of Wiring Money

Wire transfers have a few possible drawbacks.


Expect to pay about $25 for an outgoing bank transfer within the United States, $15 for a domestic incoming payment, and $45 for an international outgoing payment.

Juxtapose that with free or low-fee peer-to-peer payments or using a credit card and paying the balance when it’s due.

No Do-Overs

Wire transfers are typically irrevocable, so both sender and recipient should be sure that all of the required information is correct.

Potential Scams

Scammers may ask unsuspecting people to wire them money for a good or service and then never follow through, so it’s best to avoid wire transfers unless the sender and receiver know each other.

Unlike with a credit card, where someone could dispute the charge, the money may be gone forever once it’s sent.

An Alternative to Wiring Money

P2P payments usually can be made from a linked bank account or directly from the P2P account for free.

Some providers do charge 2% or 3% to process payments drawn from a credit or debit card.

Your smartphone becomes a digital wallet for splitting bills and paying personal debts. Payments are sent using another app user’s phone number, email address, or account handle.

With an online bank account with SoFi, P2P transfers are instant between SoFi account holders. If the recipient doesn’t have a SoFi account, no problem. SoFi Checking and Savings® users can send money to anybody, anywhere, at any time.

There are no account fees and no service charges.

Recommended: 8 Ways to Pay Your Friends Without Cash

The Takeaway

Wiring money isn’t the cheapest way to move money from one bank account to another, but if you’re sending a lot of money or need a speedy and secure transfer, it may be a good choice.

Looking for another way to send money? Check out P2P transfers with SoFi Checking and Savings.

3 Great Benefits of Direct Deposit

  1. It’s Faster
  2. As opposed to a physical check that can take time to clear, you don’t have to wait days to access a direct deposit. Usually, you can use the money the day it is sent. What’s more, you don’t have to remember to go to the bank or use your app to deposit your check.

  3. It’s Like Clockwork
  4. Whether your check comes the first Wednesday of the month or every other Friday, if you sign up for direct deposit, you know when the money will hit your account. This is especially helpful for scheduling the payment of regular bills. No more guessing when you’ll have sufficient funds.

  5. It’s Secure
  6. While checks can get lost in the mail — or even stolen, there is no chance of that happening with a direct deposit. Also, if it’s your paycheck, you won’t have to worry about your or your employer’s info ending up in the wrong hands.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender