Telegraphic Transfers: A Complete Guide

Telegraphic transfers, or wire transfers, are a secure and efficient way of transferring funds from one bank account to another. They are commonly used for international payments but can also be used for domestic payments. With the rise of digital banking, telegraphic transfers are becoming more and more popular. 

This article will take you through the basics of telegraphic transfers and provide useful tips and advice so that you can make the most of them. From explaining the benefits of using a telegraphic transfer to providing useful information on fees and exchange rates, this guide has you covered.

You’ll also get an insight into the process of setting up a telegraphic transfer and what to consider when choosing a provider. 

Keep on reading to find out more.

What Is a Telegraphic Transfer?

Telegraphic transfers have a long and storied history, dating back to the mid-19th century. The first telegraphic transfer system was developed in 1872, allowing customers to transfer money quickly and easily via telegram. This system was later expanded to include other countries, making it the first international money transfer service.

In the early 20th century, banks began offering their own telegraphic transfer services. These services were typically used for large sums of money or time-sensitive transactions. 

Today, telegraphic transfers are still used for international payments, but they have been supplemented by newer electronic systems, such as SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication).

How Do Telegraphic Transfers Work?

Telegraphic transfers are a type of electronic funds transfer (EFT). They are typically used for international payments and involve sending money between bank accounts

To make a payment, you will need the recipient’s bank account number and routing number (or SWIFT code), as well as any other required information depending on the country involved. The payment is then processed through an intermediary bank before being deposited into the recipient’s account.

One of the main advantages of using a telegraphic transfer is that it is a relatively quick and easy way to send money internationally. Payments can be made in just a few minutes, and there is no need to physically send cash or checks. 

Additionally, telegraphic transfers are considered to be very secure since they require specific banking information that is not readily available to scammers or thieves. Finally, telegraphic transfers offer great flexibility and convenience, as they can be initiated online or over the phone with most banks or financial institutions.

While telegraphic transfers are a convenient and secure way of sending money, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. One of the main disadvantages is that telegraphic transfers can be expensive, as they typically involve fees charged by both the sending and receiving bank, as well as any intermediary banks involved. 

Additionally, exchange rates can also affect the cost of a telegraphic transfer, as the value of the currency being sent may fluctuate between the time the payment is initiated and the time it’s finally processed.

Common Reasons Why People Use Telegraphic Transfers

There are many reasons why people might choose to use a telegraphic transfer. Some common reasons include:


  • In order to transfer funds quickly

Telegraphic transfers are among the fastest ways to transfer funds internationally. The funds will usually be transferred within 1-2 business days.


  • To send a large amount of money

There is usually no limit on the amount of money that can be sent via a telegraphic transfer. This makes it an ideal option for those who wish to transfer a large sum of money overseas.


  • To avoid expensive fees

Many banks and financial institutions charge high fees for international wire transfers. However, some companies specialize in telegraphic transfers and offer more competitive rates.


  • To make a purchase

Some businesses only accept payment via telegraphic transfer. This is often the case with international transactions.


  • To transfer funds to family or friends overseas
  • To receive payments from overseas customers or clients

How Are Telegraphic Transfers Different From Bank Transfers?

Telegraphic transfers and bank transfers are both methods of sending money across accounts. However, there are some key differences between the two:

  • Telegraphic transfers are typically used for international payments, while bank transfers are commonly used for domestic or international payments.
  • Telegraphic transfers usually take place within 1-2 days, while bank transfers can take 3-5 days.
  • Telegraphic transfer fees are typically higher than bank transfer fees.
  • You will usually need the recipient’s SWIFT code in order to send a telegraphic transfer, while you only need the recipient’s IBAN for a bank transfer.

The Costs of Using Telegraphic Transfers


Fees associated with sending a telegraphic transfer can vary depending on the provider you use as well as the amount of money being transferred. 

For smaller transfers, the fee is usually a flat rate, while larger transfers may be charged a percentage of the total amount being sent. There may also be additional fees for currency conversion or sending money to an account in a different country.

In general, there are three main types of fees:

Sending fees – typically charged by the sending bank and can range from $0 to $50.

Receiving fees – typically charged by the receiving bank and can range from $0 to $35.

Foreign exchange fees – charged by the sending or receiving bank; range from 0% to 3% of the total transaction amount.

For example, let’s say you’re sending $1,000 from the United States to Canada. If your sending bank charges a $30 fee, your receiving bank charges a $15 fee, and there is a 2% foreign exchange fee, the total cost of your transfer would be $60 ($30 + $15 + $60).

To get an accurate estimate of how much your telegraphic transfer will cost, it’s best to contact your financial institution directly.

Exchange Rates

When sending money overseas, it is important to keep in mind that there may be differences in the exchange rate offered by your bank or provider compared to the current market rate. 

This can affect how much money your recipient will ultimately receive. To avoid any surprises, it is best to check the current exchange rate and compare it to what your bank or provider is offering before transferring funds.

Some providers offer tools to help you track changes in exchange rates so you can time your transfer to get the best rate possible.

How Fast Are Telegraphic Transfers?

Telegraphic transfers are generally very fast, with most banks and transfer services able to send the funds within 1-2 business days. However, there can be some delays depending on the bank or service you use and how much money you send.

For smaller amounts of money, it is often possible to send the funds almost immediately. This is because the banks have already pre-approved the transfer, and they simply need to process it. For larger amounts of money, it can take slightly longer as the banks will need to verify the funds before sending them.

Overall, though, telegraphic transfers are a very quick and efficient way to transfer funds abroad.

How to Send a Telegraphic Transfer?

In order to send a telegraphic transfer, you will need the following information from your recipient:

  • The name of the bank and branch where the recipient holds their account
  • The bank routing number
  • The recipient’s account number
  • The SWIFT code for the bank
  • An IBAN number

Once you have gathered all of the necessary information from your recipient, you will need to visit your local bank branch or log in to your online banking portal. 

From there, you will follow these steps:

Step 1: Enter the amount of money you wish to send in the designated field. There may be a limit on how much money you can send in one transaction.

Step 2: In the next field, enter the currency type you’re sending. This is typically done by selecting the currency from a drop-down menu.

Step 3: Enter the name of your recipient’s bank as well as any other required information, such as routing numbers and account numbers.

Step 4: Indicate whether this is a one-time transaction or a recurring one.

If it’s a one-time transaction, select “Send Money Now” or something similar, indicating you’d like to initiate the transfer immediately. Review all of the information entered for accuracy and then confirm the transaction.

If it’s a recurring transaction, select “Send Money Later” or something similar, indicating you’d like to schedule future transfers. Enter how often you would like this payment to recur (weekly, monthly, etc.) and review all of the information entered for accuracy before confirming the transaction.

Step 5: You will then be prompted to enter your banking login information to authorize the transfer.

Step 6: After you have logged in, review the transaction details one final time and confirm the payment.

You will then be given a confirmation number for your records. Keep this number in case you need to cancel or track the status of your transaction.

Tips for Using Telegraphic Transfers

  • Be aware of all fees and currency exchange rates

When sending or receiving money via telegraphic transfer, it’s important to be aware of the fees that may be involved as well as the current exchange rate. The sender should always confirm with their bank what the fee will be for sending the transfer, and the recipient should be aware of any fees charged by their bank for receiving the funds. It’s also important to keep track of changes in the exchange rate, as this can affect the final sum.


  • Use a reputable and trustworthy provider

There are many companies that offer telegraphic transfer services, so it’s important to choose a reputable and trustworthy provider. When selecting a provider, it’s helpful to read online reviews and compare pricing and features. It’s also important to make sure that the company is properly licensed and insured.


  • Keep documentation and records

Whenever you send or receive a telegraphic transfer, it’s important to keep documentation and records of the transaction. This documentation can come in handy if there are any questions or issues that arise later on down the road.

The Benefits of Using Telegraphic Transfers


  • Speed and ease of use

A telegraphic transfer is a fast, efficient, and convenient electronic method of transferring funds. The sender initiates the transfer, and the funds are transferred almost instantaneously between banks, making it a very speedy way to send or receive payments.

Telegraphic transfers are also very easy to use. The sender simply needs to provide the recipient’s bank details (including account number, SWIFT code, and IBAN) and the amount of money they wish to send. Once this information has been entered into the system, the transfer will be processed automatically – there is no need for any paperwork or cheques.


  • Security and safety

Telegraphic transfers are a very safe and secure way to send or receive payments. The funds are transferred directly between banks, so there is no risk of them being lost or stolen in transit. And because the sender needs to provide the recipient’s bank details, there is little chance of fraud or error.

In addition, most banks offer some form of protection against fraudulent telegraphic transfer requests, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your money is safe.


  • Flexibility and convenience

Telegraphic transfers offer greater flexibility and convenience than other payment methods, such as cheques or bank drafts. For example, if you need to make an urgent payment, a telegraphic transfer can be initiated immediately – you don’t have to wait for a cheque to clear or for funds to be transferred from your account.

Additionally, telegraphic transfers can be made in any currency – so if you’re doing business internationally, it’s easy to make or receive payments in another country’s currency.

The Disadvantages of the Telegraphic Transfers

  • Exchange rates

Exchange rates may vary depending on the bank and market conditions. The sender and recipient may also be charged a fee for currency conversion, which can affect the final sum.


  • Fees

The fees for telegraphic transfers can be quite high, especially if you’re sending a large amount of money.


  • Cancelation of the transfer

It can be difficult to cancel or reverse a telegraphic transfer once it’s been initiated.


What are SWIFT codes?

SWIFT codes are eight or eleven-digit bank identification codes that are used to identify banks in international financial transactions.

What is an IBAN?

An IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, is a standard numbering system used to identify bank accounts globally. It consists of up to 34 characters, including both letters and numbers.

What is an intermediary bank?

An intermediary bank is a financial institution that acts as a middleman between two banks in an international transaction. In most cases, the sender’s bank will have a relationship with an intermediary bank, which will then have a relationship with the recipient’s bank. This allows for the funds to be transferred between banks without having to go through the traditional banking system.

What are the benefits of using an intermediary bank?

The benefits of using an intermediary bank include accessing more favorable exchange rates and ensuring that the recipient’s bank accepts foreign transfers.

Telegraphic Transfer Alternatives

There are a number of methods you can use to make an international money transfer, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your specific needs, one of the following methods may be a better choice than a telegraphic transfer:

  • SEPA transfers are a popular alternative to telegraphic transfers. These transfers are often cheaper and faster than telegraphic transfers and can be completed by a bank or an online money transfer service. However, they can only be sent within the European Union and are not valid for UK residents. 
  • EFT transfers are another popular alternative to telegraphic transfers. They can be conducted in a similar way to an online transfer and can be completed in just a few hours. 
  • FX transfers are another alternative to telegraphic transfers. They may be a good choice if you want to get a better exchange rate than you would with a telegraphic transfer.


A telegraphic transfer is a fast, safe, and convenient way to send or receive money internationally. Although there are some costs associated with using this service, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. 

To get the most out of a telegraphic transfer, it is important to use a reputable and trustworthy provider, stay informed about fees and exchange rates, and keep documentation and records.