How to make a wire transfer

United States By Christy Lowry April 14, 2022

Find out how to transfer money within the US and overseas.

Money transfers are electronic payments that transfer funds between bank accounts. To make one, you need to know what information is required, how much it costs and how it works.

Read on to learn what you need to do before making a domestic or international money transfer, where the service is available, and alternative methods of sending money, whether it be a small or large amount, that may work better for you and your circumstances.

 How to transfer money

Here, we explain the various ways to send money, including banks and alternative services, including Western Union.

Through a bank

Transferring money from one bank account to another is the most common way to send money. This can be done either in person at your bank or via your online banking, and both the sender’s and the receiver’s banks are involved in the process.. A money transfer within the United States is usually processed the same day but an international transfer can take longer. It could be a few days, so bear that in mind if and when you decide to go ahead with this method.

Through money transfer services

Banks aren’t the only specialists in moving money. Money transfer service providers also allow you to move funds domestically and internationally.

See how you can send money through Western Union, which has been sending money globally and securely for 150 years. You can transfer between bank accounts, send cash for pickup, and pay bills. You can do this via an online payment, using our app or in person with a Western Union agent.

Send money online

Depending on which service you need, transfers can happen in a matter of minutes, or they can take several days.

Via online services and apps

In recent years, online money transfer services have provided simple and secure ways to send money via the internet, either on desktops or through smartphone apps. Rates vary, so check the app or website first.

Information needed for a money transfer

To make a domestic money transfer through your bank, you need:

  • Government issued ID and/or an online account you can access.
  • Account funds – the amount you need to send must be there.
  • Bank account number – check a bank statement or online account.
  • Recipient’s full name and contact information.
  • Recipient bank’s name, address and phone number.
  • Recipient bank’s transit number, or equivalent.
  • Recipient’s bank account number.
  • Additional information based on your bank’s instructions.

You’ll need the above for an international money transfer, but instead of the bank’s transit number, you require its BIC (Business Identifier Code). Most have unique Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) codes.

However, several European nations use the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) system instead. While the US and Canada don’t use IBAN, but do recognize it and process payments.

You’ll need to select the amount and the currency. Usually when sending abroad, you send in the local currency, but some international banks do take US dollars. Check which applies in your instance first.

How to do a money transfer: step by step


  1. Log into your online bank account.
  2. Make sure you have all the information listed above.
  3. Enter the recipient’s bank details. If it’s an international money transfer, don’t forget the SWIFT or IBAN codes.
  4. Enter the amount you want to send and if it’s international, choose the correct currency. Sometimes the currency sets automatically after you’ve entered the recipient’s details.
  5. Double-check all the details and confirm.
  6. Make a note of the transaction number.

There may be an online transfer limit, so you might need to head to your bank in person instead.

In person

  1. Make an appointment with your bank, either in person, online or over the phone.
  2. Make sure you have all the relevant information.
  3. Be aware of what your bank charges to make a money transfer.
  4. Check the fine print with a bank teller. For example, if you’re sending internationally, ask about the exchange rate, fees and taxes.
  5. Fill out the form carefully, whether yourself or by giving the details to a teller.
  6. Save the receipt in case issues arise.

You may, however, prefer to do a money transfer through your bank’s telephone banking service.

Over the phone

  1. Make sure you have all the relevant information.
  2. Make sure your bank supports telephone transfers and if there is a charge.
  3. Call your bank’s telephone banking number.
  4. You’ll be talked through the process either by a customer service representative or an automated voice recording.

Money transfer: fees

Sending a money transfer is a useful way to send a large amount of money, fast. However, be aware that many banks charge a fee. This covers the cost of receiving or sending the transfer.

The average incoming domestic fee is $15, and outgoing fees are $25. International transfers are more expensive as they take longer and involve more parties, including a US bank, a foreign bank and processing systems in both countries.

When filling in the form, take care to fill it in accurately to ensure the recipient receives the money. Then, you won’t be charged twice for the same transfer.

Find out more about money transfer fees.

 Is transferring money the best method?

Before deciding to send money, be aware of the potential problems, and that there are alternatives.

Scammers often ask potential victims to send money via digital transfers and claim that it’s the only method. They do this because it can be difficult for the sender to get the money back. It’s also difficult to identify or trace the recipient. So, it’s best to avoid sending money to someone you don’t know.

Despite what scammers claim, there are alternative methods of sending money, without going through your bank. Western Union and other providers offer money transfers, which are similar to  money transfers completed by your bank.

Like bank transfers, money transfers transmit financial information. They don’t transport physical money. Unlike some transfers, they don’t use the SWIFT system, and can be sent online, usually on any day, at any time.

FAQs and guides

Send money with Western Union

Use the most downloaded money transfer app to send money internationally for pick up in cash or to a bank account anytime, from anywhere. You can also go online to send money transfers or in person at an 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.