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Follow These Steps to Wire Money the Right Way



Imagine you need to pay money to a title company to
wrap up a home purchase. Or perhaps you need to send cash to your grandmother in Mexico. In both of these cases, and many others, you might use a wire transfer.

A wire transfer enables you to electronically send money from one bank account to another. Wire transfers can be either domestic or international.

A domestic wire transfer could involve two banks in the U.S., while an international wire transfer could involve one bank in the U.S. and another bank in Canada.

The money goes directly from an account at one bank, credit union or financial services company to another. You may be charged a fee to carry out a wire transfer. Keep reading to learn the steps to follow to wire money.

How to Do a Wire Transfer

Making a wire transfer involves several steps. If you have any questions about your transfer, contact the bank, credit union or financial services company you’re using for the transaction.

1. Choose the Account

The first step when doing a wire transfer is deciding which account you’ll use to send the money. You might pick the bank where your main checking account is, for instance, or a financial services provider (such as Western Union or a similar remittance service) that offers low- or no-cost transfers.

2. Review the Fees

Be sure you know how much the fee is before executing a wire transfer, and keep in mind that the fee for an international transfer may be higher than the fee for a domestic transfer. Typically, a wire transfer fee ranges from $0 to $50.

In the U.S., federal law does not put a cap on wire transfer fees. Rather, financial institutions set their own fees according to state laws.

Make sure you’ve given yourself enough time for the transfer to go through. Domestic transfers are usually completed on the same day, while international transfers can take up to five days. Also confirm with your financial institution what its transfer maximum is.

3. Assemble the Recipient’s Information

To send a wire transfer, you’ll need to gather certain pieces of information. Depending on the financial institutions that are part of the transfer and whether it’s a domestic or international transfer, this information may include:

  • How much money you plan to send.
  • The name of the recipient.
  • The address of the recipient.
  • The phone number of the recipient.
  • The bank account number for the recipient.
  • The bank routing number for the recipient.
  • The address of the recipient’s financial institution.

In addition, you may need to confirm your identity with a driver’s license or government-issued ID card.

4. Decide Where to Do the Transfer

You typically can do a wire transfer at a financial institution’s branch or office, or you can do it online or through an app. If you need help with the transfer, consider doing it in person.

5. Transfer the Money

At this point, it’s time to send the money.

Of course, you’ll need to make sure you have enough money in your account to cover the transfer. And you’ll need to figure out what type of currency to send if you’re making an international transfer. For instance, Bank of America recommends sending only U.S. dollars in a wire transfer to someone in countries including Colombia, Nigeria and Venezuela.

Also, you’ll want to alert the recipient that the money is on the way and track the progress of the wire transfer.

Make sure you keep the paper or electronic receipt confirming the transfer in case a problem arises with the transaction.

6. Look Out for Wire Transfer Scams

Unfortunately, scammers use wire transfers as a vehicle for stealing money.

For example, a scammer may send a phony request by email seeking money to close the purchase of a home. Before wiring money to anyone, double-check that it’s being routed to the right person or business and that all of the details (such as the recipient’s bank account number) are correct.

You could lose thousands of dollars in a wire transfer scam.

“Scammers pressure you to wire money to them because it’s easy to take your money and disappear,” the Federal Trade Commission warns. “Wiring money is like sending cash – once it’s gone, you probably can’t get it back. Never wire money to a stranger – no matter the reason they give.”

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a wire transfer scam, contact your financial institution right away. In addition, report the incident to the FTC.



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