Wire Transfer Vs. Online Transfer: Key Differentiators


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Two of the most popular ways to transfer money electronically are wire transfer and online transfer (which can also be understood as “internet money transfers”).

Since the two methods are often confusing, we decided it was time to do something about it. 

We’ve showcased their differences and outline their pros and cons to help out.

What are they?

Wire transfers send money electronically through wire networks, such as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) or the Federal Reserve Wire Network (FEDWIRE).

A wire transfer is a direct bank-to-bank transaction, allowing you to move money directly from one account into another.

During the process it may get transmitted through multiple banks as it finds its way to the destination bank account.

Wire transfers are largely initiated with your bank directly, who in turn transmit it to the beneficiaries’ bank using a string of correspondent banks.

Online transfers are where the old-fashioned concept of wiring money converges with the modern technology of electronic funds transfer (EFT).

Online transfers allow people to send money simply by transferring it to another person.

It can be done online via any computer with Internet access, therefore it’s also known as Internet Money Transfer.

You require a reliable and trusted money transfer company in order to use Internet Money Transfer.


Wire transfers typically take around 3 business days to move money between bank accounts.

However, while sending money abroad, it may take upto 5 business days for the recipient to receive their funds.

We’ve even seen cases where it’s taken even longer, especially when sending to countries that do not have direct correspondent banking relationships with major banks or when sending payment in exotic currencies.

Online transfers are most commonly complete within one business day, however in some cases can be instant, depending upon the efficiency of the money transfer company.

This is the fastest way to send money internationally.


Wire transfers can cost a lot of money, especially when it comes to international payments. For example, some institutes can charge almost $40 to send $5000 to the United States.  

Most banks will even charge a small fee to receive funds by wire as their share of the service fees.

Hence, when a $5000 payment is sent to another country against an invoice of $5000, the seller may end up receiving $50 shy of $5k, because the beneficiary bank decides to appropriate its fees before crediting the proceeds.

Online transfers can be expensive too, with some online transfer companies charging an arm and a leg to make payments.

It is not uncommon to see some large global money transfer companies charging their fees as a percentage of the amount being sent.

Simultaneously they do not shy away from crying hoarse about unfair foreign exchange conversion rates charged by banks while they themselves disguise the fx rates cost into their fees.

However, if you look around you will find that some transfer companies offer a very low and favourable flat fee.


Wire transfers are a very secure method of payment.

However, if you are using a wire transfer to send a cash payment rather than paying directly into a bank account, there is a potential risk of fraud or theft.

It is easy to use fake identity on one end while doing a wire transfer , with a fraudster collecting the money.

Once the wire transfer turns into cash, it is difficult to trace or intercept the transfer.

Online transfers are also a very safe payment method, and transfers into accounts can be reversed in case of fraud.

This means that if there is fraudulent transfer out of your account, mistakes can be rectified.

Ofcourse, in that case, it is subject to exercising due diligence before initiating a refund request.

Fraud liability laws mean that if you pay for something that is damaged, or that does not get delivered using your credit card or other payment method, you are protected and can be refunded.

Using a cash wire transfer doesn’t protect you in the same way.

How to do them?

Wire transfers can involve physically going to a bank and filling out forms, especially for large payments.

An internet banking website or a company that processes payments can only execute wire transfers.

An internet banking website or a company that processes payments can also do wire transfers.

When sending a wire transfer you must provide your account information as well as the beneficiary’s.

You will need bank names, account numbers, SWIFT codes and/or routing numbers and of course the names of the account owners.

To receive a wire transfer, you need your account number and a wire transfer routing number. International wires require a SWIFT code instead of the wire transfer routing number.

Online transfers are quite simple to make, especially person to person.

With online transfers, there is no need to go to a money wiring office, telegraph station or even a bank.

Online transfers typically involve filling out a simple online form with some details of the person/organization you’re paying.

You can also set up automated transactions for regular bills, such as mobile or gym membership.

The Last Word

Overall, there’s no denying that sending money online is the quickest method of transferring funds.

It’s an especially convenient way to transfer money out of one account and into another.

It is also a great way to get money to someone who you may be unable to meet, or to do business with someone working in another country.  

You can make an online payment from anywhere at anytime.

Wire transfers are considerably more expensive to send than an online transfer.

Especially when it comes to large payments to a foreign bank account, wire transfers hurt the pocket more.

Use online transfer if you want funds transferred as quickly as possible and to save money while doing it.

Here at REMITR, our service allows for companies to send money to over 150 countries worldwide within 1 working day – all for as little as $5.

To avoid the unnecessary extra fees charged by banks, get in touch with us today.