Wire transfer or credit transfer is a method of transferring money from one person or institution (entity) to another. A wire transfer can be made from one bank account to another bank account or through a transfer of cash at a cash office.
Bank wire transfers often the most expedient method for transferring funds between bank accounts. A bank wire transfer is effected as follows:
Banks collect payment for the service from the sender as well as from the recipient. The sending bank typically collects a fee separate from the funds being transferred, while the receiving bank and intermediate banks through which the transfer travels deduct fees from the money being transferred so that the recipient receives less than when the sender sent.
As an example of the cost, Bank Of America as of February 2010 charged $25 to send a wire and $12 to receive one within the US. For international transfer, it charged $35–$45 outgoing, $16 incoming. However, fees may vary from bank to bank.
In the United States, domestic wire transfers are governed by Federal Regulation J and by Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code.
In Europe, bank transfer is the most common payment method, with several million transactions processed each day. Debit cards are used extensively to pay in stores, while monthly bills are usually paid with a direct transfer (by cellular phone or Internet, or at the bank or an ATM). In 2002, the European Commission relegated the regulation of the fees that a bank may charge for payments in euros between European Union member countries down to the domestic level, resulting in very low or no fees for electronic transfers within the Eurozone. Wire transfers between the Eurozone and external areas can be expensive.
In 2005, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway joined the EU regulation on electronic transfers. However, this regulation is intended to be superseded by the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), consisting of 32 European countries.
In 2009 EC published a new regulation (EC) No 924/2009  on cross-border payments in the Community and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 (the text of which is no longer available). The new regulation (EC) No 924/2009 Article 1 (q.v., Ref.4) states that an IBAN/BIC transfer within SEPA must not cost more than a national transfer - no matter which currency is used. But receiving bank can charge for exchanging to local currency. However, according to Article 7 any current arrangements (made between payment services before November 1, 2009) can be honored up to November 1, 2012.
Bank-to-bank wire transfer is considered the safest international payment method.[by whom?] Each account holder must have a proven identity. Chargeback is unlikely, although wires can be recalled. Information contained in wires is transmitted securely through encrypted communications methods. The price of bank wire transfers varies greatly, depending on the bank and its location; in some countries, the fee associated with the service can be costly.
Wire transfers done through cash offices are essentially anonymous and are designed for transfer between persons who trust each other. It is unsafe to send money by wire to an unknown person to collect at a cash office: the receiver of the money may, after collecting it, simply disappear. This scam has been used often, especially in the so-called 419 scam.
International transfers involving the United States are subject to monitoring by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which monitors information provided in the text of the wire to ascertain whether money is being transferred to terrorist organizations or countries or entities under sanction by the United States government. If a financial institution suspects that funds are being sent from or to one of these entities, it must block the transfer and freeze the funds.
IBAN wire transfers are not completely free of vulnerabilities. Every intermediate bank that handles a wire transaction can take a fee directly out of the wire payload (the assets being transferred) without the account holders knowledge or consent. There is no legislation or technical means to protect customers from this practice. If bank S is the sending bank (or brokerage), and bank R is the receiving bank (or brokerage), and bank I1, I2, and I3 are intermediary banks, the client may only have a contract with bank S and/or R, but banks I1, I2, and I3 can (and often do) take money from the wire without any direct arrangement with the client. Clients are sometimes taken by surprise when less money arrives at bank R. Contrast this with cheques, the amount transferred is guaranteed in full, and fees (if there are any) can be charged only at endpoint banks.
European privacy law may be breached by some USA operators such as SWIFT, so EU users are sometimes required by their service provider to make an explicit declaration that seeks to circumvent EU privacy regulations.
The price comparison site Send Money Home allows consumers access to a range of alternative products and rates available when transferring money worldwide. It provides impartial advice and help for those looking to send money overseas.
The key to low cost is the exchange rate offered. When you transfer funds, you are selling one currency and buying another. Currency dealers mark up the exchange rate by adding a spread: this is the difference between the price at which you can sell your primary currency and what you have to pay to buy the delivery currency.
Online Money Transfers, such as peerTransfer  or Xoom , provide services for individuals transferring money internationally as an alternative to banks wire transfers, typically at lower costs since they don't need physical branches or locations. They require their customers to access their services through internet.
One of the largest companies that offer wire transfer is Western Union, which allows individuals to transfer or receive money without an account with Western Union or any financial institution. Concern and controversy about Western Union transfers have increased in recent years, because of the increased monitoring of money-laundering transactions, as well as concern about terrorist groups using the service, particularly in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Although Western Union keeps information about senders and receivers, some transactions can be done essentially anonymously, for the receiver is not always required to show identification.
Most international transfers are executed through SWIFT, a co-operative society, founded in 1974 by seven international banks, which operate a global network to facilitate the transfer of financial messages. Using these messages, banks can exchange data for funds transfer between financial institutions. SWIFT's headquarters are in La Hulpe, on the outskirts of Brussels, Belgium. The society also acts as a United Nations–sanctioned international-standards body, for the creation and maintenance of financial-messaging standards. See SWIFT Standards.
Each financial institution is provided an ISO 9362 code, also called a Bank Identifier Code (BIC) or SWIFT Code. These codes generally are eight characters long. For example: Deutsche Bank is an international bank, with its head office in Frankfurt, Germany, the SWIFT Code for which is DEUTDEFF:
Using an extended code of 11 digits (if the receiving bank has assigned extended codes to branches or to processing areas) allows the payment to be directed to a specific office. For example: DEUTDEFF500 would direct the payment to an office of Deutsche Bank in Bad Homburg.
European banks making transfers within the European Union also use the International Bank Account Number, or IBAN.
Banks in the United States use SWIFT to make payments to banks in other countries.
Domestic bank-to-bank transfers are conducted through the Fedwire system, which uses the Federal Reserve System and its assignment of routing transit number, which uniquely identify each bank.
Some US banks allow you to make the transfer of funds on-line. For example, JP Morgan Chase Bank allows wire transfers both domestically and internationally to be set up on-line.
There are forms of electronic transfer that are distinct from wire transfer. Electronic Funds Transfer System (EFTS) is one such system. This is the system you use when you give your bank account number and routing information to someone you owe money and that party transfers the money from your account. It is also the system used in some payments made via a bank's online bill payment service. EFTS transfers differ from wire transfers in important legal ways. An EFTS payment is essentially an electronic personal check, whereas a wire transfer is more like an electronic cashier's check.
Telegraphic Transfer or Telex Transfer, often abbreviated to TT, is an electronic means of transferring funds overseas. A transfer charge is collected while sending money.
A banking term commonly called "T/T," meaning a cable message from one bank to another in order to effect the transfer of money.
It is most often used in UK Banking to refer to a CHAPS transfer; that is a payment made via the Clearing House Automated Payments System.
The term is also used to describe other electronic funds transfer methods and, incorrectly, BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing Services) and AFTS (Automated Funds Transfer System) payments.