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How long will my money transfer take and why?

With the rise of ultra-fast payment technologies like bitcoin, timing is becoming a chief differentiator of money transfer services. Today, we know that we shouldn't have to wait much longer than 24 hours to send £10,000 from London to Cannes, or $100,000 from Boston to Lisbon. But how can we figure out how long any money transfer will take?

When you're sending money overseas, it's useful to know the principles behind the transfer time you're quoted. This gives you more control over your transactions, and helps you avoid situations where you miss out on purchases because the money didn't get there quickly enough. 

The two key factors that affect the speed of your transfer are the currencies you're trading and the provider you're using. Mainstream currencies, like sterling, US dollars and euros can all be sent within a day. Less common ones, like Thai baht and UAE dirham can take around three days to transfer. Some money transfer providers give you the option of paying more to speed things up, but the cheapest way to send money quickly will usually be through a broker. 

That's because international money transfers are the core of brokers' businesses. For banks, it's just one part of their operations, and so even major currencies can take up to five days to transfer. With specialist foreign exchange brokers transfers should never take longer than four days, no matter how niche the currency is. 

There's also a couple of practical obstacles that determine the speed of your transfer: time zones and banking hours. Say you're transferring your deposit for a villa in Madrid from England at 13:30 GMT. Because Spain's an hour ahead, and most of its banks close at 14:00 GMT+1, you'd already be half an hour late. This can work in your favour if you're transferring money west; making the transfer at the same time to Washington DC will get you five hours ahead. 

If you're looking for the fastest way to send money overseas, compare the best brokers with banks using our simple comparison tool. It'll show you how long your transfer will take, catering for 144 currencies. Knowing the reasons behind the standard timeframes will help you plan ahead, letting you tailor your transfer to your schedule, rather than having to work around it.

Comparison tool

Chloe Rogers

Your site is top, thank you. I was going to use my bank and but came across you on Forbes site, I am glad I did. I went on and used Torfx very good service got the rate right, saved me money compared to many others you list, they even helped me get an aussie bank account. Once again thank you for help!

R.H

I am extremely impressed with the Investec currency exchange team service levels, they are fast and efficient. Excellent trading rates and straight talking, what more do you need.
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