Fact Checked

What is a Bank Wire Transfer?

Tiffany Manley
Tiffany Manley

A bank wire transfer is a way for banks to transfer money between accounts without customers ever handling any cash. The transfer might take place between accounts at the same bank or might take place between two accounts at two separate banks. It differs from money wiring services provided by individual businesses, because instead of an individual bringing cash in to be wired to someone else, the money is verified to be in the account of the wire initiator and then deposited by the bank into the account of the recipient.

Because a bank wire transfer is handled by the banking institution, many people feel that it is a safe way to transfer money between accounts. A bank will not allow an individual to wire money that he or she do not have in his or her account, which means that the individual who receives the wire transfer can be assured of the availability of the funds to be wired to him or her. In addition, anonymity is not a factor in wire transfers, because each party must be identified and verified by the bank.

Records of an international wire transfer.
Records of an international wire transfer.

To initiate a wire transfer, an individual will need to provide his or her banking institution with certain information. The bank will need the recipient’s name; account number; bank routing number; bank name, address, and phone number; and bank contact person. A confirmation number and estimated deposit date for the funds should be given to the individual making the bank wire transfer. The recipient of the funds might use this information to ensure that the correct amount of money is received at the designated time and to notify his or her bank if a problem is suspected.

It is important to keep in mind that while clearing of the funds might be close to immediate, the availability of the funds might not. Many banking institutions have safeguards and checks and balances in place to ensure that mistakes do not happen. When a bank wire transfer is initiated, the information might go through several people to verify that all necessary information is recorded, funds are in fact available, and funds are being sent to the right place. This takes time, but generally no more than five business days. It might be helpful for one to keep this information in mind when deciding when to make a bank wire transfer if time is of the essence.

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    • Records of an international wire transfer.
      By: Alterfalter
      Records of an international wire transfer.