Telegraphic money transfers: what they are and how they work

Canada By Mitchell Steiman May 27, 2021

One lesser-known method for sending money is via a telegraphic money transfer. In the simplest terms, a telegraphic money transfer (also referred to as “TT”) is a reliable way to send money around the world. In this blog, we take a deeper look at what this type of payment is, how it works, and what you need to know before sending or receiving this type of transfer.

What is a telegraphic money transfer?

Telegraphic money transfers are a method for sending money electronically and are primarily used when transferring money overseas.

How does a telegraphic money transfer work?

How telegraphic money transfers work depends on where the money is being transferred to and from. For example, for domestic transfers in the United States, the funds are transferred through the Federal Reserve System. But for international transfers, the funds are transferred through the SWIFT network.

In all scenarios, the sender instructs their bank to send money to the receiver, either online or in person. The sender’s bank transfers the money to the corresponding bank in the receiver’s country. If the receiver doesn’t have a bank account with the corresponding bank, the money will be transferred once more to the receiver’s bank account to complete the transfer.

Pros and cons of telegraphic money transfers

As with any method for sending money, telegraphic money transfers have pros and cons. Generally, these payments are a reliable form of money transfer since they are highly regulated. This can give you peace of mind, especially if you are sending large amounts of money to a loved one overseas. Making a telegraphic money transfer is user-friendly too, so long as you have the necessary information, (e.g., identification, routing numbers if applicable, and BIC).

On the downside, telegraphic money transfer fees can fluctuate, depending on where your money is headed. Currency exchange rates, extra handling fees from stops along the way, and banking fees are a few of the charges that may be applied. You may also have to pay if you cancel your money transfer.

And because fraud comes in shapes and sizes, it’s important to be aware of the potential scams associated with telegraphic money transfers and avoid using unfamiliar vendors. Once you send the money, you can’t get it back.

What’s the difference between a telegraphic money transfer and a wire transfer?

Did you know that in its earliest iterations, telegraphic money transfers were sent via morse code? This allowed funds to be transferred without physical currency. In modern times, “telegraphic money transfers” is often used to refer to several types of methods for sending money.

Such is the case with “wire transfers,” which tends to be a catch-all term for several types of methods for sending money. The main difference between the two is that international wire transfers are specifically made using the SWIFT network.

How do you make a telegraphic money transfer?

The telegraphic money transfer process varies from bank to bank, but the general steps are the same. Here’s what you’ll need to do to make a payment:

  1. Check your bank’s website: Your bank may or may not let you make telegraphic money transfers online. You should be able to check this on your bank’s website or by calling them.
  2. Log in to your bank account: If your bank allows you to make this type of payment online, log in to your bank account and navigate to the telegraphic money transfer section. This may be labeled as ‘Telegraphic money transfers,’ ‘Wire transfer,’ or a similar term. If your bank doesn’t allow you to make this type of payment online, visit your nearest branch.
  3. Check the fees and exchange rate: Since telegraphic money transfers require sending money through corresponding banks that are sometimes different than your own, be sure to check the fees before you send. While you may know your bank’s fees, be aware that you may also be responsible for corresponding bank fees. This is also a good time to check the exchange rate.
  4. Provide the necessary information: Provide the name of your receiver and, if necessary, their address. You’ll also need their basic banking details, such as a SWIFT/BIC code.

How much does it cost to make a telegraphic money transfer?

Costs vary depending on the provider.

Looking for more ways to send money? Western Union can help

Western Union is here to help the next time you need to send money from Canada. With convenient ways to send money online, with the money transfer app, or from hundreds of thousands of agent locations worldwide, we make money transfer easy.

If you need to send money quickly, it’s easy to initiate a transfer online in the send money form. You can send money directly to your receiver’s bank account or they can pick up the cash at a Western Union agent location.

Send money with the Western Union mobile app

Download the app

Use the most downloaded money transfer app to send money internationally for pick up in cash or to a bank account anytime, from anywhere.