How To Wire Money

Recently, I had the necessity to wire money. I have never had the necessity to wire money before. I wanted to share with you what I learned through the process.

I was closing on my home. Yes, I have some good news to share. We closed on our home. As part of the closing process, my obligation was to provide the title company with the cash to close (basically my down payment and closing costs).




There were two options – (1) Give a cashier’s check to the title company Or (2) wire money to the title company.

Given my money was in an online bank that doesn’t have any brick and mortar branches, I chose to wire the money to the title company.

Here are a few things I learned going through the process.


Wiring Money – Recipient Information

#1 You need to know the Beneficiary Name (in my case it was the name of the title company)

#2 You need the routing number for the beneficiary’s bank / financial institution

#3 You need the bank account number for the beneficiary.

#4 Usually, there is a section for filling additional information. Here you need to enter exactly what the receiver asks you to put down. They may give you a file number or a string. It is very important to put this information correctly. The receiver would use this information to credit the receipt of funds to your file / account.

If you are going to be wiring money to a title company or any institution, always ask for their wiring instructions.


Wiring Money – Sender Information

Every bank is different. In my case, I was able to submit a wire transfer request using the online form that was available.

Your bank may require you to fill a form, sign, and fax it to them.

You could do it the old fashioned way of paying a visit to the bank and doing the wire transfer in person. You would need to take your government issued ID with you to submit and complete a wire transfer request.


Wiring Money – Things to Know

#1 Every bank has a cut off time for sending money. Call the bank and find out what the cut off time is for wiring money. You need to ask the receiver when their bank closes. You need to ensure that both banks are open when you initiate the wire transfer request.

#2 Ensure that both your bank and the recipient’s bank are open for at least 3 hours at the time when you submit the wire transfer request.

#3 Double check the recipient account details before submitting the wire transfer request. Once submitted, the money is gone. You will have no control and cannot cancel or reclaim the money.

#4 Depending on the amount of money being sent, your bank may call you to verify that the request came from you. Be available to answer and authorize when you receive a call from your bank.

#5 Never do a wire transfer to someone you don’t know. Do not become a victim of any scams.

#6 Your bank will charge you a fee for the outgoing wire transfer. I paid $20 for the wire transfer.


Wiring Money – What I learned

I did all of the above. Sarah and I were sitting at the title company. All the paper work was done. The lady handling the closing wasn’t able to hand the keys over to us because the wire transfer I had initiated hadn’t reached the title company yet.

I had submitted the wire transfer request to my bank about 90 minutes ago prior to signing all the closing paperwork.

The title company lady gave me a hint – here is what she said – “Call your bank, ask them if they have wired the money. If they say, yes, then ask them for the federal reference number. She also told me that the federal reference number would start out with the date and continue to be a long alpha numeric reference number. For example, if you wire money today, it would start with “20160525-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”.   

She also told me that banks tend to hold onto the money till end of their business day and wire the money right before they close.

This ticked me off. First, it is my money. The bank has no reason to hold on to it.

I called the bank and asked for a supervisor as soon as I spoke to the first customer service representative stating I had an urgent need regarding a wire transfer and needed to speak with their supervisor.

Then I asked the supervisor if the money had been wired. She said “Yes”. Then I asked for the federal reference number. She was like, it will be available in 3o minutes. Basically, the bank was still squatting on the request.

Here I what I said – “I need the federal reference number now. I am stuck at the title company because they haven’t received the money that I wired to them 90 minutes back.”

The supervisor kept me on the line, called the wiring department and had them transfer the money then and there and gave me the federal reference number.

Once you receive the federal reference number, it is a confirmation that the money has left your bank.

About 30 minutes later, the title company received the money.

It took about two hours for the wire transfer to complete.

I found one more thing that I can’t trust a bank with.

Sarah and I picked up the keys and left.



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10 thoughts on “How To Wire Money”

  1. Wow! Simply wow. Sorry to hear about your experience. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. Banks have a way of manipulating and infuriating the ‘customers’ they profess to be helping. I remember watching a documentary, ‘Spent: Looking for Change’ (available on YouTube) which describes how banks will juggle transactions to inflict overdraw fees. As an example, say your current balance is $100. On the same day, a charge of $40, a charge of $80 and a deposit of $25 are all scheduled to hit. The bank will process the charges first – resulting in a shortage of $20 and now an applicable fee – instead of processing the deposit first, giving you $125 – $120 = $5. And of course, when done the other way, the fee, which is probably more than $5, means your account is knocked back below $0.

    1. Hi James,

      Yes, indeed! Yet another reason you gotta keep your eyes on the bank :).

      Thanks for sharing. I will watch the documentary that you have shared. You are absolutely right, they are masters at charging fees. I ‘m very careful with my transactions and never allow an overdraft to occur. If at all, they try to hit me with a fee or a charge, I call them and escalate to the supervisor until I get the fees taken out.


  2. The Finance Dept at my employer requests wire transfers daily. I know there’s a cutoff time and it can take days for the funds to show up at the receiving end if it’s out of the country. But they provide a screenshot of the wire transfer confirmation. This banking policy of holding on to the money to do the transfer at the end of the day is very arbitrary. I wonder what would happen if you were able to go in person and request the transfer, and require them to provide the confirmation. I don’t think they’d get away with stringing you along. I agree with you that this is just another thing you can’t trust a bank with.

    1. Hi Mrs Groovy,

      Welcome to Stretch A Dime!

      Thank you for sharing the time it might take on international transfers. Mine was domestic. The key thing to ask when you do a wire transfer is the “Federal Reference Number” as I highlighted in the post. If you get that, the receiving bank / institution will see the wire coming through as soon as it goes through the Federal reserve. This is what I understand. Within 20 minutes of providing the Federal Reference Number to the title company, they were seeing an incoming wire with the reference number I had provided.

      Hope to see more of you here.


  3. Hi

    This is a strange experience but I am not surprised that such situation occurred with the bank during your wire transfer. I do wonder why banks want to hold on to peoples’ money; strange isn’t it.

    Thanks for sharing and revealing what a wire transfer is. Have a wonderful week. Take Care

    1. Yes, Ikechi! It is always good to know the right questions to ask when dealing with a bank on a transaction.


  4. Michael, my simple understanding is: Banks hold onto your money to invest it (including on overnight money markets) and loan it out while meeting requirements to have so much money on hand.

    You shouldn’t have had to face the problem of your money not being available for such an important transaction. But when you deposit money in a bank, it’s no longer yours – you are effectively loaning the money to the bank!

    I sold and bought a house a few years ago. The solicitors dealt with the final payment on the new place. Our solicitors sent it to the wrong vendor solicitor’s branch. Faced with huge fees for not settling on time, we had a 2 hour worrying drive to get it to the right place on time.

    1. Hi Sue,

      Wow, sorry to hear what you had to go through. Good to hear that you were able to sort it out.

      I understand that banks take a portion of our money and loan it out. The whole point of wiring money (electronically!) is to ensure prompt delivery. You are paying a fee to do the wire transfer. It just should be handled promptly. There is no excuse on this one for the bank.


  5. Hi Michael,
    This is interesting and good to know.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and explaining what wire transfer is.

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