High-wire act: How to reduce the risk of wiring money

3 min read


If you want to move funds between two banks, not just two accounts, the process is usually done electronically.

Bank wire transfers are by far the fastest and safest method for moving money from one institution to another. There’s little risk involved if the process is done properly.

The term “wire transfer” stems from earlier times when banks would use telegraph wires to communicate a money transfer.

What type of wire transfer is right for you?

Several forms of wire transfer exist. A traditional wire transfer occurs between two banks. You can visit one branch and request to send money to another account at that bank or to a different bank.

The second type is through an electronic payment or money transfer service. These services allow you to transfer money in one of two ways.

If the account holds money in it at the time that you want to make a transfer, you can use these on-hand funds to send money to another person, business or account. These transfer services also can move money from bank accounts directly linked to the service to another bank account.

How do you send a wire transfer?

Whether at your bank or through an electronic service, it’s as simple as filling out the information in a form. Write in the name of the recipient and the name of her bank. Then add the account info, represented by the ABA number that identifies the bank, and the recipient’s unique bank account number. Finally, specify the amount you want to send.

International wire transfers require a little more information. Depending on the country you’re sending it to, you may need to know a different Bank Identifier Code, often called a SWIFT code. For the European Union, you’ll also need to know the International Bank Account Number (IBAN).

What do you need to complete a wire transfer?

When transferring funds from one bank account to another, you’ll need the routing number and account number for each financial institution. Additionally, having the full name on the accounts is helpful.

When utilizing a money transfer service, you may be able to transfer money to another person’s account using less information. For example, some transfer services allow you to transfer money from a physical location in one city to that transfer business’s location in another city. Then, your recipient can pick up the money in the other city.

Some services allow you to use just an email address to transfer funds. In other cases, you may be able to transfer funds using a phone number, address or other information that personally identifies you.

How long does a bank wire take?

Sending money electronically from one location to another using a transfer service may be done as fast as that same day. Using a traditional bank, the process may make longer — up to several days.

What fees are charged in a wire transfer?

Each type of organization establishes its own guidelines for fees for wire transfer. Once you learn how to wire money using the service, the next step is to inquire about fees. While fast, wire transfers are still some of the more expensive methods for moving money.

The fees are highest when you wire money through . There is likely a flat fee charge. Banks also charge higher fees when they wire funds overseas.

Domestic transfers typically cost less but are based on the provider’s terms, the destination, the type of use (whether it is for the purchase of goods or sending money to friends), and the payment method and delivery method used.

Is it safe to wire transfer money?

Once you learn about how to wire money, it’s easy to see how making such transfers can be risky. However, you can reduce risks in several ways:

  • Use a financial institution-to-institution method for safety. Choose a local bank to originate the process.
  • Use a trusted, long-established money transfer service instead of a newer company without a proven record.
  • Use a secure online connection to make money transfers.
  • For international wire transfers, use only a company that can send funds directly to another person’s bank account for more protection.
  • If you send money internationally, you have the right to cancel the transfer at no cost if the money has not been deposited or picked up by the recipient, and you paid for the transfer less than 30 minutes ago.


Wire transfer is generally a safe and secure process. Though there are several ways to transfer money, it is best to use a reputable service or a bank to do it.

You can’t initiate such a transfer from one account to the next without a bank or a third-party transfer service, but today there are several methods to choose from.