While the main concern in regards to transferring money abroad is cost and reliability, there has been an increasingly large number of reader inquiries about the topic of speed. Many readers are concerned with questions like “how long will it take for my money to get from country A to country B” or “which is the fastest money transfer provider”. We will try to address these questions to our best ability but firstly, we feel you need to read our piece on How Wire Transfer Work just for the process to be clear to you.


Speed of online money transfers

With an ever-growing number of online money transfer services and mobile apps as well as online money transfer functionality by online banks, it is safe to believe the vast majority of transactions are done electronically online nowadays.

As rule of thumb, most online transfers will be a “same-day” transfer as long as you finish your order and fund the transaction until noontime. After that, they may be delayed for the next days. This is true money transfer companies as well as it does for banks. Does this mean that the money will be in its destination within 24h in all cases? Of course not.

Some particular destinations (particularly less developed and rich countries) may have a cumbersome banking system. This means that although the money has been sent overseas, there may be a delay of a few days until it is actually visible in the recipient account.

Additionaly, some banks or FX companies can withhold a transaction for a variety a reasons. It could be that the details are incorrect or unclear, it could be that it looks suspicious and requires more documents,  or it was simply at the end of a long queue.

The bottom line is that no company nor bank would be willing to guarantee you an exact hour in which the money will be received by the recipient party. They can give you a rough estimate on how long it takes (some companies like Transferwise or Azimo are very clear in presenting it online), but no one will be willing to compensate you if the money has not been received by the time you specified.

Thus, my best tip on this topic, whether you want a quick international money transfer or need to receive money from abroad in a hurry, is to be aware of the fact it may be delayed for one reason or another and allow yourself at least 4 days to get the money to its destinations. Whether you are transferring money abroad for the purpose of property acquisition, mortgage payments, buying a car, or any other reason – make sure you tell the opposite party that you will try to make the payment instantly but based on your experience it may take up to 4 days to arrive. Better safe than sorry.


Speed of remittances (immigrants sending money home)

The World Bank Remittances Data can give you a pretty good idea about the speed of several remittances services per location. The data you will find there is specifically tailored for the transfer of money home by immigrants and thus the locations you will be able to choose are countries like China, Romania, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and so on.

From an analysis of the data we have reached a conclusion that the fastest way to send small amount of remittances abroad would be via agents of companies like Western Union, Moneygram, and Xpress Money (cash payment). It is also very clear to see that this method is always the most expensive one in terms of fees but sometimes, speed plays a bigger role than price.

Thus, my best tip would be to use expensive but ultra-quick services only when in dire need for a quick international money transfer, and in most cases – use an online provider.

Additional questions?

Read our comprehensive FAQ and get answers to questions like

  • How do fx money transfers work?
  • What type of Premium features are available?
  • How did money transfer services first come about?


We hoped this guide has helped you comprehend how long does it take international money transfers to go through and arrive its destination. If you liked it, please share it with others!


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