How Long Does It Take To Transfer Money? (Answered)

The Financial term “Money Transfer” is quite popular these days and times. It simply has to do with sending or moving funds from one account to another. It refers to payment modes and systems. The transaction can be between accounts in the same financial institution or different ones. Commonly these transfer transactions come at some charges and fees. 

Whenever the term money transfer is mentioned, the mind of many rush to electronic and cashless money transfer options and methods; however, there are other cash based transfers. They may not be much in use, but it still doesn’t erase their existence. Even though this piece is focused more on cashless and electronic options, the non-cashless ones are going to still get a mention. 

Money Transfer Means Methods and Types

Cashless Money transfer Systems

  • Electronic fund transfer system (EFT):  Funds transfer using electronic means. They include; Direct deposit, Phone Payments, Internet Transactions, ATM Transactions, Card Transactions, Automated Clearing House (ACH) system. 
  • Wire transfer 
  • Money orders : Moneygram, Postal cheque, and so on

Cash Based Money Transfer System

  • Remittance: Money transfer by a foreigner to home country
  • Currency exchange has to do with the transfer of a currency to another, for example, USD to GBP.
  • Hawala; this is a money transfer means that can be tagged ‘honour based system’ the system originated from India, and it works via a network of broker agents in the system called hawaladars. With Hawala, money is transferred without actually moving it. The sender goes to a Hawalar agent and pay him the amount to be sent to the recipient and also gives him something that will be like a password which he will also have given to the person meant to receive the money. The Hawala broker then calls another broker in the receiver’s location and informs him about the amount to be paid out and the password agreed. The receiver, having gotten the password from the sender beforehand, provides it to the Hawala broker and gets paid the amount paid by the sender to the broker.

How Long Does It Take To Transfer Money?

The answer to this question can’t be one straightforward one. This is because are diverse methods of sending funds, and each has a standard completion time frame. Also, money transfer may experience delays due to some factors and circumstances beyond control. Such factors and circumstances may include but not limited to;

  • Technical error/glitches
  • Human error 
  • Mobile and internet network connection issues
  • Incorrect payment details
  • Fraud prevention protocols, procedures, (Especially for ACH transfers)
  • Difference in currencies and exchange rates
  • Natural disasters, global mishaps (such as tsunamis, hurricanes, Covid-19, and so on)
  • Bank holidays, weekend delays
  • Time zone differences, especially when it concerns international transfers

As stated at the beginning of this piece, the focus here will be more on electronic transfer means and methods. We will be focusing on the length of time it takes to complete money transfer using the electronic methods.

Most bank transfers are completed instantly. A transfer method such as ATM/Card transactions, internet transactions, Peer to peer app transactions and so on happens instantaneously, especially if the transfer is between accounts in the same financial institution. Some may be delayed for about 1 or 2 hours sometimes though.

Wire transfers can also happen within minutes, especially if the transaction is through a non-bank money transfer service. Unless there is a glitch, wire transfers happen within a maximum of 24 hours. However, if it’s an international transaction whereby it involves sending money to another country, the transfer may take up to five days before it is completed. 


For ACH transactions, it may take 3 to 4 business days for the transactions to be completed.

As for cash based money transfer systems the time frame for their completion may not really be predictable, as it depends on a lot of factors, the chief of them being the decisions of the parties handling each stage of the transaction at every point in time. 

In Summary

Hope this piece has answered your questions on how long it takes to transfer money. Please share so others can learn.


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