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When you send money overseas, the speed with which your transfer is processed is critical. Whether you're paying off a debt or sending an urgent transfer to a friend or loved one, it's important to know how long it will take for your funds to arrive.
But the processing time for an international money transfer will vary depending on a range of factors, including the transfer provider you choose and where you send the funds. Let's take a closer look at the average transfer speed when you send money overseas and how the specifics of your transaction can influence its processing time.
How long does an international money transfer take?
At best, expect the following transfer times for domestic and international transfers.
Domestic transfer speed - Within 24 hours is possible, particularly for transfers between accounts at the same bank.
International transfer speed - Between two and five business days, perhaps longer depending on various factors.
When you send an international money transfer through your bank, you should be provided with an expected delivery date, though this isn't a guarantee of any sort. Settlement time varies based on many factors, some that are in your control and some that aren't:
Your bank - Smaller banks may take longer for international transfers, as they may not have an International Bank Account Number (IBAN).
Receiving bank - If you're sending an international money transfer to a bank other than your own, the banks have to communicate which can take time.
Time of transfer - Sending transfers earlier in the day is better. If you send it at the end of the day, it has to wait until the next business day to start processing. The same goes for the end of the week, or right before a bank holiday.
Type of transfer - Some banks offer expedited international money transfer services, but beware of high fees added to your transfer total.
How to have international money transfer funds available immediately
When you are in a rush, or you just don't feel like waiting, there are ways to expedite the speed at which your money is transferred. By default, almost no international money transferred funds are available immediately, so use these alternatives to get your money faster.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like OFX and CurrencyTransfer specialize in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient's bank account, often in as little as a day.
Services like WorldRemit allow you to transfer cash for nearly instant pickup. While it's a fast way to send money, you may pay more in fees than you would with a digital money transfer service.
Let's crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 to Indonesia
Let's say you need to send $1,000 AUD to IDR, to family in Indonesia. Here's what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 10 November 2020.
Digital money transfer service
$10 + additional correspondent bank fees
1 AUD = 10,218 IDR
1 AUD = 9,940 IDR
1 AUD = 9,883 IDR
Slowest and most expensive
The bank option ends up being both the slowest and gets the smallest amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with IDR 379,317 more than the bank offers. If speed is crucial, a cash transfer can typically have your transfer to Indonesia in as little as 15 minutes.
Compare ways to send money
Use our comparison table to see more ways to have your money there faster. Enter the amount you want to send, select your destination and click Calculate.
Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
Using your bank to send money domestically and internationally is hardly ever the cheapest or fastest option. To learn more about how to send money more efficiently, read our dedicated guide with hand-picked options that covers both domestic and international transfers.
Frequently asked questions
It depends on how quickly the banks communicate with one another. Theoretically, the transfer could happen in the same business day, but more often than not it takes two or more business days.
Banks do not hold international money transfers. Unlike checks that need verification to clear, the moment an incoming international money transfer hits your bank account, it's yours.
Tim Falk is a writer for Finder, writing across a diverse range of topics. Over the course of his 15-year writing career, Tim has reported on everything from travel and personal finance to pets and TV soap operas. When he’s not staring at his computer, you can usually find him exploring the great outdoors.
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