Can a wire transfer be reversed?

Panna Kemenes
03.30.21
4 minute read

A wire transfer is an easy way to send money electronically.

Wire transfers are frequently used to move money quickly from one account to another or make large payments.

But what happens when you make a mistake? Can a wire transfer be reversed?

A slip of the finger as you enter the necessary details can result in a misdirected transfer. If your money didn’t arrive in the recipient’s account, you need to know if you can reverse it to reimburse your lost money.

If you need to send an international transfer, then check out Wise. You can save a lot of money compared to international wires. You also have some options to cancel your transfer before it is complete¹.

See how much you can save with Wise 🚀

📝 Table of contents
  • Can a wire transfer be returned?
  • How does a wire transfer work?
  • How do I get my money back from a wire transfer?
  • Reversing transfers with ACH or money transfer providers
  • How to avoid wire transfer errors
  • Save money on your next international transfer with Wise
  • Can a wire transfer be returned?

    Unfortunately, the odds of having your wire transfer returned are low.

    It isn’t possible to reverse a wire transfer if the recipient bank has already accepted it. But there are extenuating circumstances, which qualify you for a wire transfer reversal. These special circumstances are as follows:

    • Your bank made a mistake with the recipient’s account number.
    • The amount of money the recipient received is more than you intended to send.
    • The wire transfer was a duplicate.

    These circumstances are when the bank has made an error with the transfer. If you make a mistake on your end, it is unlikely that you can return a wire transfer.

    Can you cancel a bank wire transfer once it has been sent?

    The chances of canceling a wire transfer once it has been sent will depend on various factors.

    If the transfer was international, you may be able to cancel the wire transfer within the first 30 minutes if the recipient hasn’t already claimed it². The amount of time for cancellation will be in your transfer receipt.

    The other instance in which you might be able to cancel a wire transfer is if you sent a remittance transfer with a remittance transfer provider.

    A remittance transfer provider is any business that lets you transfer money. If this is the case for your transfer, you should have a time frame within which you can cancel the payment.

    Can you cancel a bank transfer

    How does a wire transfer work?

    A wire transfer is a convenient way of sending money without the hassle of handling cash or checks. It’s the type of transfer you can do from home and one which takes little time to reach the recipient’s account.

    The wire transfer uses SWIFT codes to communicate between banks across the globe. In some countries in Europe, it's an IBAN code you need, instead.

    Both individuals and businesses can do wire transfers, and you can send a small or large sum of money.

    You can find out more about wire transfers in this complete guide.

    How long does a wire transfer take?

    Most of the time, the speed of wire transfers is a blessing, except in the case that you make a mistake. In this instance, the instant transfer of money makes reversing the transfer complicated.

    If it’s a domestic transfer, it should take no more than three days, and if it’s within the same bank, less than 24 hours³. Delays are possible, either via the bank’s fault or due to holidays.

    International wire transfers can take longer, so you should check with your bank in this case. You can also read this article to find out more about international wire transfer times.

    How do I get my money back from a wire transfer?

    If you make an error or typo while entering information, and you’re afraid the money is heading to the wrong account, here’s what you can do.

    The first thing you should do is get in touch with the recipient bank as soon as possible.

    Have the wire transfer information handy, so you can forward these details. The success of this process will likely depend on the recipient’s willingness to reverse the transfer.

    In most cases, unfortunately, you won’t be able to reverse a wire transfer.

    If you need the money, filing a personal lawsuit might be your only course of action. To do so, you should reach out to an attorney. An attorney can guide you through the process and assess your chances of getting your money back.

    Get money back from wire transfer

    Reversing transfers with ACH or money transfer providers

    There are alternative options to wire transfers, such as ACH (Automated Clearing House) transactions.

    If you decide to use ACH, there are also conditions in which you can request to reverse a transfer, which are as follows:

    • The account number was wrong
    • The amount was incorrect
    • The transfer was a duplicate
    • The transfer date was incorrect⁴

    You can read this blog to find out about ACH payment.

    With money transfer providers, you have a good chance of avoiding error and the need for a reversal. This is because many transfer companies will only send the funds once they’re sure all the details match.

    With a remittance transfer provider, you will have a 30-minute window to reverse a transfer after processing it. This timeframe can vary, but you can find the information in the wire transfer receipt.

      💡 If you send an international transfer with Wise, you can cancel the transfer if it has not been completed yet⁵. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps:
    • Go to Home to see your activity list
    • Find the pending transfer you want to cancel
    • Click Cancel transfer (on Android, you’ll find this by clicking the 3 dots at the top right corner of the transfer page)

    How to avoid wire transfer errors

    The best way to avoid wire transfer errors is to double-check all the information you entered.

    Nobody is perfect, and when it comes to entering all kinds of digits and details, it’s possible to slip up. If you take the time to check over the information, you can minimize the risk of any issues.

    Here is a list of all the information you’re likely to need to make a wire transfer:

    • Account numbers for both parties
    • SWIFT or IBAN code for international transfers
    • Wire transfer routing number
    • Full name and address of the recipient
    • Name and address of recipient’s bank

    If you are doing a business-to-business wire transfer, it might be worth signing a wire transfer agreement to safeguard your money.

    Save money on your next international transfer with Wise

    If you’ve sent an international wire transfer before, you’ll know how the costs can add up. But did you know that there’s an easier and cheaper way to send money abroad?

    With Wise, you can still enjoy speedy transfers, but without the high costs that come with international wires.

    Get a Wise account for free!

    Since 2011, more than 9 million customers in 170 countries⁶ have used Wise. They're already getting a better deal, and you can start saving today.

    Sources

    1. Wise - Cancelling a transfer
    2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
    3. Wells Fargo - Wire transfer times
    4. NACHA - ACH reversal
    5. Wise - How to cancel a transfer
    6. Wise - Is Wise safe?

    All sources checked 30 March 2021


    This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

    Wise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

    Find out more

    Tips, news and updates for your location