Can Money Transfers be Reversed?

United States By Christy Lowry June 3, 2021

Can you reverse a money transfer?

Thanks to technological advances, you can easily send money to friends, family, and professional connections in several ways. As such, money transfers play an important role in sending and receiving funds.

Sometimes, though, you may need to cancel or reverse a money transfer because the information is incorrect, or the transfer amount changes. But can you reverse it? It’s a common question and an important one to answer before you send money, so keep reading to get the basics on what money transfers are and when they can be reversed.

Money transfers explained

A money transfer is an electronic transfer of money, typically from one bank or credit union to another. With a traditional money transfer, funds are transferred from one bank or credit union to another via a network such as the Society for Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

There are also remittance transfers. These are international money transfers where someone in, say, Sydney, sends money to their friend in Paris. In these cases, the payments are processed using bank identifier codes, or BICs. This is a unique code assigned to each bank involved in international money transfers. It’s typically between 8 and 11 digits long with a mix of letters and numbers. To initiate a money transfer, you’ll usually need both the sender’s and recipient’s BIC.

Money transfers aren’t only handled by banks, either. Some credit unions and financial services institutions also process money transfers. It’s important to know what institution you’ll be sending money to when you process your money transfer, as it may affect whether or not the funds can be reversed.

Can money transfers be reversed?

So, can you reverse a money transfer? The answer is usually no. The major benefit of money transfers is speed. Funds can typically be made available to the recipient soon after initiating the transfer, so reversing it is uncommon.

There are some cases where you might be able to recall a money transfer if you act fast and meet the necessary criteria (we’ll cover those in the next section). It’s safe to assume, though, that if the recipient’s bank has already accepted the transfer, you won’t be allowed to recall the funds. If you let your bank know that you want to cancel the money transfer while it’s still in transit, the chances of a recall are much better.

Either way, there’s a very small window of time to try and reverse a money transfer. As soon as you notice the mistake, or decide that you need to reverse the funds, contact the institution you used to initiate the transfer right away. The more time they have to work with, the more likely the recall will be successful.

Can you reverse a money transfer in special cases?

The good news is there are specific instances where a money transfer can be reversed. These cases are important to note, especially as you decide which financial institution to use to make your money transfers. You want to ensure you have as many options available to you as possible.

The most common special circumstances in which a money transfer can be reversed include:

  • If the bank that initiated the money transfer made a mistake with the account number of your recipient.
  • If a duplicate money transfer was sent, one of the payments can be recalled. This does not mean both will be recalled.
  • If the amount received by the recipient was more than the amount they were entitled to, you can reverse the money transfer.

If you find yourself in one of these special circumstances, notify your bank as soon as possible to ensure that the right funds are returned to your account. Remember, these special circumstances are not universal. Some financial services institutions offer different options. Be sure to ask what options are available to you before you start your money transfer.

How to reverse a money transfer: potential recovery options

Mistakes happen to all of us. Sometimes an incorrect money transfer goes through and you want to recover your funds. While it may be challenging to reverse the money transfer, there are a couple of options you can pursue.

First, try contacting the recipient directly. If you’re transferring money to a friend or family member, this option is the most viable. You can either have them return the received funds or initiate another money transfer to return your money.

For businesses, it might be difficult to contact the recipient directly, especially if you’re trying to work quickly. The customer service team, for example, may not have access to the financial information you need to reverse a money transfer. In these cases, your bank may be able to talk to the recipient’s bank on your behalf. They may be able to work together to reverse the transaction before the funds clear.

Again, be sure to ask questions of your bank, credit union or financial services institution before you send funds via money transfer. The more you know upfront, the better prepared you’ll be to make the right decision for your next money transfer.

Important details to remember for every money transfer

While reversing money transfers can be a challenge, they are still a preferred option for people sending money electronically, both domestically and internationally. They can be cost-effective, quick, and convenient. If you’re interested in sending a money transfer, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Fees: Both your bank and the recipient’s bank will likely charge some kind of processing fee for each money transfer. Remember to account for those added costs and include them in your total before you initiate the money transfer.
  • Timelines are flexible: Although some money transfers can clear within 24 hours, international money transfers may take longer. An agent will be able to help you understand the best time to send each money transfer.
  • Double check all the account information is correct: If you’re unsure, call ahead to ask an agent exactly what bank account details you’ll need for a successful transfer. They’re there to help you.

Taking these steps will ensure the right amount is delivered quickly and securely. That way, you won’t have to wonder if a money transfer can be reversed.

Explore other options for sending money quickly<

The good news is, you have plenty of options when it comes to sending money fast, whether domestic or internationally. With Western Union, can send money quickly in the method that’s most convenient for you: online, in person, or with our mobile app.

If you choose to send in person, your local Western Union® agent can help you find the send method that works best for your receiver including cash pick up and more. Visit an agent location closest to you to get the help you need to make sending money quick and convenient.


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