A wire transfer is a swift and convenient way to send money across state lines or overseas. So, whether you’ve got a big, important bill to pay or want to support a loved one at home, on vacation or for a special occasion, wire transfers can help you move large amounts of money quickly.
However, there’s more than one way to send a wire transfer and several factors to consider before setting one up. This guide takes you through all the necessary steps, from how to set up a wire transfer to where to go and what to bring with you.
In this article
- What is a wire transfer?
- Types of wire transfers
- How to send a wire transfer
- Where can I do a wire transfer?
- FAQs and guides
A wire transfer is a method for sending money electronically, usually between two banks. You can make them domestically or internationally, and you can often send up to tens of thousands of Canadian dollars in one transfer. Wire transfers are also considered one of the fastest ways to move money.
People tend to use wire transfers for their reliability. This means they can be useful for sending large amounts of money, such as to buy a house or pay tuition fees.
They can sometimes be faster than a standard money transfer – depending on the amount, receiving destination and sending circumstances. Therefore, sometimes they’re used to cover last minute bills or send money to loved ones virtually anywhere.
There are two main types of wire transfers you can make in Canada. The one right for you will depend on the reason behind your transfer and any transfer fees1 to consider.
Bank-to-bank wire transfers
The main type of wire transfer is when you move money from one bank account to another. You can set up a bank-to-bank wire transfer by visiting your local branch or using online banking. To complete the transfer, you’ll need to provide details of the receiver, including their name, contact details, and bank account.
The cost for bank-to-bank transfers is usually around $25 to $30 for home transfers, and up to $50 for international transfers. Wire transfers overseas may also take a few extra days to clear.
Wire transfer services
A wire transfer service allows you to move money without going through your bank. Instead, you contact the service provider directly and supply them with the necessary information, including your receiver’s name and account details. You can still wire money from bank-to-bank this way, as well as send money for cash pickup or to a mobile wallet – depending on the service provider.
You’ll usually need to pay for the wire transfer upfront, as well as any transfer fees. Once the wire transfer is complete, the service provider will notify your receiver to let them know the money is available.
Now you know the different types, the next step is understanding how to set up a wire transfer. The whole process, from initial request to completion, is relatively straightforward, and most providers use a similar system to handle wire transfers. Follow our step-by-step guide and learn how to send a wire transfer.
Choose a provider
Firstly, decide whether you want to make a bank-to-bank wire transfer or use a money transfer service. There are positives and considerations for both.
Banks often offer more transparency on fees and delivery times, as they tend to use a set process for wire transfers. You may also be able to send more money in a single transfer with a bank without confirming your identity. Meanwhile, wire transfer services provide more flexibility on how to pay and send your money.
Check the costs
Whatever provider you use, you’ll still have to pay a transfer fee1. This varies between banks and services, so reading the fine print before agreeing to send your wire transfer is important.
For bank-to-bank transfers, this usually comes straight out of your account once the wire transfer has been processed. With wire transfer services, this can be charged to your credit or debit card.
In both cases, it usually costs more to send money overseas. Your receiver may also have to pay a fee to receive the money.
Collect all required details
To save time setting up your wire transfer, it’s a good idea to get all the information you need about the receiver ahead of time. This includes their:
- Full name, contact information, and current address
- Bank account details
- Branch or institution number and address
- Swift Code, BIC, or IBAN code (for international transfers)
- Routing Number (for international transfers)
You may also need to prove your identity with:
- Government-issued ID
- Full name and contact details
- Bank account information and Routing Number
Complete the transfer form
You can either complete a wire transfer in person (at a bank or service counter) or online. Check the information provided, including your receiver’s account details and the amount you want to send.
It can be difficult to cancel a wire transfer once confirmed. A simple mistake could mean the money goes to the wrong person or is delayed if your details fail to match a bank or transfer service’s records.
Also make sure you’re happy with any current exchange rates and transfer fees1 before agreeing to the wire transfer.
Keep your receipt
Once your wire transfer is confirmed, you should receive a receipt (either on paper or electronically). Keep hold of this as it contains your unique transfer number. You can often use this number to track your transfer, as well as give evidence if you encounter any issues. Your receiver may also need it to receive their money.
Many domestic wire transfers will be in your receiver’s bank account within 24 hours, while international transfers can take around one to five days.
Where you can do a wire transfer depends on your chosen provider. However, the most popular ways include:
- In person – visit your local bank branch or nearest money transfer service location to set up a wire transfer face-to-face. This can be helpful if it’s your first time and you want some extra guidance from the experts.
- Online – set up a wire transfer on the move or at home via your online banking app or service account for added convenience.
- Over the phone – if you have telephone banking, your bank may allow you to process a wire transfer over the phone.
How much does a wire transfer cost?
The cost of your wire transfer will depend on where your money is going and your chosen provider. However, most banks and service providers tend to charge between $25 to $30 for domestic transfers, and $45 to $50 for international transfers.
Can I wire money from home?
Yes, most banks and service providers will have an online option, so you can set up a wire transfer on your phone or computer at home. This is usually through your online banking service or by setting up an account with your chosen service provider.
How much can you wire at one time?
How much you can send in a single wire transfer depends on your chosen provider. Some banks allow you to send tens of thousands of dollars per day, while most providers typically grant between $1,000 and $10,000 per transfer.
Learn more about wire transfers for moving money with our guide to what a wire transfer is.
1 Western Union also makes money from currency exchange. When choosing a money transmitter, carefully compare both transfer fees and exchange rates. Fees, foreign exchange rates and taxes may vary by brand, channel, and location based on a number of factors. Fees and rates subject to change without notice.
*Western Union also makes money from FX rate.