How to Send an International Wire Transfer Guide: Pros, Cons, and Choices

How to Send an International Wire Transfer Guide: Pros, Cons, and Choices

January 9, 2024 12 min read

In today’s interconnected world, international transactions have become an integral part of global business and personal finance. Sending money across borders efficiently and securely is crucial, and one of the widely used methods is through international wire transfers.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of international wire transfers, covering everything from the basics to the specific steps involved.

What is a Wire Transfer?

A wire transfer is a method of electronically moving money from one party to another.

Today, the global economy relies heavily on the seamless movement of money, and wire transfers have become the backbone of international financial transactions.

Whether it’s multinational corporations conducting business deals or individuals supporting family members abroad, the ability to send funds across borders efficiently is a fundamental requirement.

Can I Send a Wire Transfer Internationally?

Yes, it is possible to send a wire transfer internationally. International wire transfers enable individuals and businesses to move money across borders, facilitating cross-border trade, investments, and personal transactions.

There are two main ways to execute an international wire transfer:

  • Through a bank

If you’re using a bank to make a wire transfer, the process requires specific information such as the recipient’s bank account details and the receiving bank’s name and SWIFT code. The funds are then routed through a series of intermediary banks before reaching the recipient’s bank account. While most major banks offer this service, smaller banks or savings accounts may not provide this option.

  • Through money transfer companies

Utilizing a third-party money transfer company—like Ria Money Transfer—is another avenue for executing online wire transfers. These companies transfer money from your online profile to the recipient, utilizing funds from your personal credit or debit card, or bank account. Online transfers through these companies can be directed to the recipient’s bank account, mobile wallet, or designated for cash pickup. The progress of the funds can often be tracked, providing assurance to both you and the recipient about the exact arrival time.

Selecting the right method for your online wire transfer depends on your preferences, the recipient’s convenience, and the specific features offered by each option.

Are Wire Transfers the Best Way to Send Money Internationally?

Choosing to send money internationally through a wire transfer depends on individual preferences and needs, and factors such as speed, cost, convenience, and recipient accessibility.

For those seeking alternatives to traditional wire transfers, online money transfer services like Ria can be worth considering. Ria is a global money transfer company that provides services such as bank transfers, cash pickups, and mobile wallet transfers. It operates in over 165 countries, offering competitive exchange rates and lower fees compared to some traditional banks.

It’s advisable to compare the features, fees, and exchange rates of various services, including Ria, against your specific requirements. Additionally, consider reading reviews and customer feedback to ensure that the chosen service aligns with your expectations for reliability and customer satisfaction. Always be mindful of factors such as transfer speed, destination options, and the ease with which the recipient can access the funds.

What Do I Need to Send a Wire Transfer Through a Bank?

When initiating a wire transfer from a bank, it’s essential to be well-informed about the required steps and documentation. Whether you’re sending funds domestically or internationally, the process typically involves specific details to ensure a smooth and secure transaction:

Information Required for Bank Wire Transfers

  • Sender’s Details:
    • Full legal name and address of the person initiating the wire transfer.
    • Identification details, which may include a government-issued ID or passport.
    • Contact information, such as a phone number and email address.
  • Receiver’s Details:
    • Complete legal name and address of the recipient.
    • Receiver’s bank account details, including the account number and type (checking or savings).
    • Identification information for the recipient.
  • Bank Account Information:
    • The full name and address of the recipient’s bank.
    • SWIFT/BIC code or routing number of the recipient’s bank.
    • Clear instructions on the purpose of the wire transfer, if required.

What Are SWIFT Payments and How Are They Related to International Money Transfers?

SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) payments are a type of international financial messaging system used by banks and financial institutions to securely and efficiently exchange information about financial transactions.

The SWIFT network does not transfer funds directly, nor is it a banking system, Rather, it sends payment orders between banks using SWIFT codes.

SWIFT codes, also known as Business Identifier Codes (BIC), are unique alphanumeric codes assigned to each bank within the SWIFT network. These codes help identify the banks involved in a transaction and ensure that messages are routed accurately.

While SWIFT has been a standard for international money transfers, there are also emerging alternatives and technologies that aim to provide faster and more cost-effective cross-border transactions.

What Do I Need to Send a Wire Transfer Through a Money Transfer Company?

Sending a wire transfer through a money transfer company offers a convenient and efficient way to move funds locally or internationally. However, to navigate this process smoothly, it’s crucial to understand the specific requirements and information needed:

Information Required for Money Transfer Companies

  • User Profile Details:
    • User’s full legal name and contact details.
    • Verification documents, such as a government-issued ID or proof of address, depending on the amount of the transaction.
    • Registration or sign-up on the money transfer company’s platform to create a user profile.
  • Recipient Information:
    • Recipient’s full name and contact details.
    • Depending on the company, the recipient may need to create a profile on the platform.
    • Verification documents for the recipient, especially for larger transactions or in adherence to regulatory requirements.
  • General Information
    • Verification of the funding source to comply with anti-fraud measures and regulatory standards. Information on the funding source can include bank account details or credit/debit card information.

This comprehensive set of information ensures that both bank wire transfers and transactions through money transfer companies are initiated smoothly and securely.

Pros and Cons of Using Banks for International Wire Transfers


  • Security

The involvement of established financial institutions adds layers of protection to the transaction. Encryption protocols safeguard sensitive information, and banks adhere to stringent international regulations to combat fraud and money laundering.

  • Large Transaction Amounts

Banks are suitable for handling significant sums of money in wire transfers because of regulatory compliance. Banks are subject to strict regulatory oversight, especially in the realm of international finance. Compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations is a fundamental part of the banking process. For large transactions, these compliance procedures help ensure the legitimacy of the funds and contribute to the overall security of the transfer.

Additionally, banks employ sophisticated risk management practices that are essential for handling large transaction amounts. These practices involve assessing and mitigating various types of risks, including currency fluctuations, market volatility, and operational risks.

  • Global Reach

Banks have extensive global networks, enabling the transfer of funds to almost any location worldwide. This global reach makes bank wire transfers a versatile option for individuals and businesses engaging in international transactions.


  • High Fees

One of the primary concerns for individuals or businesses sending money internationally is the cost involved. Banks typically charge fees for initiating wire transfers, and these fees can vary widely depending on the bank and the specific services offered. For smaller transactions or frequent transfers, the cumulative impact of high fees becomes a notable financial burden for the sender.

Additionally, high fees result in a reduction in the total value received by the recipient. When a significant portion of the transferred amount is deducted as fees, the recipient ultimately receives less money than originally intended.

In scenarios involving micropayments or transactions of very small amounts, the high fees associated with bank wire transfers can render such transactions impractical. The fixed or percentage-based fees may overshadow the value of the funds being transferred, making alternative methods more suitable for these situations.

  • Complex Process

The complexity associated with international bank wire transfers stems from a series of intricate steps that the funds must navigate through, involving various entities and processes. The inclusion of multiple intermediary banks is a fundamental aspect of the process. As funds traverse across borders, they often pass through several financial institutions before reaching their final destination. Each intermediary bank introduces an additional layer to the transaction, potentially contributing to delays and making the process more intricate.

Furthermore, the multifaceted nature of the process heightens the likelihood of errors or misunderstandings. With numerous steps, each involving meticulous attention to detail, there is an increased potential for data inaccuracies, miscommunications, or procedural errors. Such discrepancies can result in the need for additional clarifications, further contributing to delays and potentially causing frustration for both the sender and the recipient.

  • Delays

The involvement of intermediary banks stands out as a pivotal factor contributing to delays. As funds traverse international boundaries, they typically pass through multiple financial institutions before reaching the intended recipient. Each intermediary bank introduces an additional layer to the transfer process, potentially leading to extended processing times as the transaction progresses through various checkpoints. The coordination and communication among these intermediary banks add complexity, amplifying the likelihood of delays at each stage of the transfer.

Time zone differences further exacerbate the potential for delays in international bank wire transfers. The global nature of financial transactions means that parties involved may operate in different time zones, leading to asynchronies in processing timelines. This temporal misalignment can introduce lags in communication, verification, and transaction processing, especially when critical steps in the transfer require real-time or near-real-time interactions. Consequently, the intricate dance of financial transactions across various time zones can contribute to delays that impact the overall speed of the wire transfer.

Pros and Cons of Using Money Transfer Companies for International Wire Transfers


  • Competitive Exchange Rates

Money transfer companies provide competitive exchange rates. Unlike traditional banks that may apply less favorable rates due to factors such as overhead costs and profit margins, money transfer services can offer better currency conversion rates.

This means the recipient stands to receive a higher amount in their local currency for the same transferred funds. This is a crucial consideration for individuals and businesses alike, as it directly impacts the overall value and purchasing power of the transferred funds.

Individuals sending remittances to family members or friends abroad also benefit significantly from competitive exchange rates offered by money transfer companies. A higher amount in the recipient’s local currency means greater financial support for essential needs, whether it’s education, healthcare, or daily living expenses.

  • Lower Fees

Many money transfer companies offer transparent fee structures, often resulting in lower fees compared to traditional banks. This emphasis on clear and understandable pricing mechanisms aligns with the growing demand among users for financial transparency and cost-efficiency.

The advantage of lower fees is particularly evident in scenarios involving individuals who engage in frequent or smaller transactions. Whether it’s a freelance professional receiving payments from international clients or an individual sending regular remittances to family members abroad, the cumulative effect of reduced fees contributes to substantial savings over time.

This cost-effectiveness aligns with the financial goals of users seeking to minimize overheads and enhance the overall efficiency of their cross-border financial activities.

  • Quick Transfer Speed

Money transfer companies are known for their swift processing times. International transfers through these services can often be completed within a few business days, making them a faster alternative to traditional bank transfers.

The prompt completion of transactions aligns with the modern expectation for seamless and expeditious financial services, while also addressing the diverse and time-sensitive needs of users, ranging from businesses engaged in global trade to individuals supporting loved ones abroad.

  • User-Friendly Platforms

Money transfer companies typically offer user-friendly online platforms and mobile apps, making it convenient for users to initiate and track their transfers.

Money transfer companies prioritize the development of platforms that are intuitive and easily navigable. This user-centric approach ensures that individuals, regardless of their level of familiarity with financial technology, can initiate and track their transfers seamlessly. The interfaces are designed with clarity and simplicity in mind, allowing users to navigate through the various steps of the transaction process with confidence and ease.

The convenience extends to mobile applications, allowing users to manage their money transfers on-the-go. Mobile apps developed by money transfer companies are designed to be responsive and feature-rich, providing users with the flexibility to initiate, track, and manage their transactions from the convenience of their smartphones.

See for yourself just how user-friendly the Ria Money Transfer App is by downloading it for Android or iOS.


  • Limited Banking Services

Money transfer companies may not offer the full suite of banking services that traditional banks provide. This limitation could be a drawback for those who require additional financial services beyond simple fund transfers.

Traditional banks provide a broad array of financial services, including savings and checking accounts, loans, investment products, and various credit facilities. In contrast, money transfer companies primarily focus on the efficiency and convenience of transferring funds across borders. This specialization might pose a challenge for users who value the convenience of having all their financial needs met under one umbrella, as they would with a traditional bank.

  • Accessibility

The availability of money transfer companies might be more limited, compared to the ubiquity of traditional banks, particularly in certain developing regions or areas with less-developed financial infrastructure.

 This discrepancy in accessibility could be attributed to factors such as regulatory complexities, varying degrees of technological adoption, or the evolving nature of the financial services landscape in different parts of the world.

However, it’s important to note that advancements in technology are progressively mitigating this challenge. Most money transfer companies have embraced digital platforms, allowing users to initiate transactions online or through mobile applications.

But if you still feel more comfortable with a brick-and-mortar establishment, Ria has the second largest retail network with 500,000+ locations. Find a Ria location near you here.

  • Dependency on Technology

While the integration of technology has revolutionized the financial industry, it also introduces a unique challenge—dependency on technology. Disruptions, such as server outages or technical glitches, have the potential to significantly impact the operations of money transfer services.

However, it’s essential to recognize that disruptions in technology are inherent to the digital landscape and not exclusive to money transfer services. Financial institutions, including traditional banks, also encounter technological challenges. The key lies in how swiftly and effectively these disruptions are addressed and resolved. Money transfer companies often invest in robust technology infrastructure and employ dedicated teams to ensure the prompt resolution of any technical issues, minimizing the impact on users.

Ready to Make an Informed Decision?

Users have a choice in the methods they employ. Traditional banks, with their extensive networks and global reach, offer reliability but come with the trade-off of higher fees and potential delays.

On the other hand, money transfer companies present a modern and streamlined alternative, providing competitive exchange rates, lower fees, and quicker processing times.

If you’re seeking a balance between efficiency and cost-effectiveness, explore Ria Money Transfer. We’re committed to competitive exchange rates, transparent fee structures, and have a user-friendly platform available on both Android and iOS. Our goal is to support informed decisions and empower users to navigate the international financial landscape with confidence.

The information on or through this site is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be relied on as a substitute for specific advice about laws, regulations, taxes, finances, immigration or travel. For specific advice, contact a licensed attorney, financial advisor or other professional.

We disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on this site. We do not warrant the accuracy or usefulness of this information. This site may contain links to other sites and information provided by third parties for your convenience. We do not endorse nor make any guarantees with respect to these sites, their accessibility, the information they contain or the way they treat any information you provide to them.

About the author

Lisa Hong

Lisa Hong is Ria’s Web Content Specialist. Born in the U.S. with relatives in South Korea, she enjoys helping others connect with their loved ones through education on remittances and tech.

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