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Last updated: 11th December, 2020

Is money transfer instant?

Want to send money but not sure how long it will take? Read our guide to find out the fastest ways to make an international money transfer, and understand how long transfers can take – from signing up, to the money arriving with your recipient.

Money transfers are not always instant, with the time it takes often depending on where you send your money, when you send it and the method you’re using.

How long does a bank transfer take?

When you’re transferring money overseas you want the transaction to be as speedy and secure as possible. While banks have you covered when it comes to security, they’re not always the fastest.


If you send euros, for example, through a bank transfer to a destination in a SEPA (Single European Payments Area) in the EU, typically payments will arrive the same or following day depending on the cut-off time for making the payment as dictated by your bank . However, should you wish to transfer a sum of money through your bank in a currency other than euros, your transaction may take up to five working days.

You should also factor in that the bank may charge you a transfer fee, and some banks may not give you the most transparent or up-to-date exchange rate. The rate itself is also only one part of the equation when calculating whether you are getting a good deal or not. Hidden fees can sometimes confuse what otherwise seems like a good decision.

International money transfer services offered by banks to their customers vary widely, but some such as Santander Spain offer newer generation money transfer services such as One Pay FX, which allows Santander customers to send money abroad quickly and with low fees when compared with standard bank international transfer services. Bear in mind that registering for new services may take time and may require additional account validation steps – important to take into account if you need to make your transfer quickly.

Weekend bank transfers

Your international money transfer will be affected by bank holidays and weekends. Even if your payment is processed on a Friday, the debit won’t show up in your account until Monday. Your transfer will also be affected by any bank holidays. This doesn’t only apply to Spain. If you need to send money urgently at the weekend, read our guide on transferring money on a weekend.

At one time, a wire exchange was the fastest and most secure method of making an international money transfer. However, with the rise of the fintech (financial technology) sector and international money transfer services allowing you to send money to another person or account abroad more conveniently, the wire transfer method can be expensive, and the service could take longer than a day.

Wire transfers

However, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) process used in international wire transfers is connected to 200 countries and used by over 10,000 banks, meaning you can send your money almost anywhere. This is a secure method, and exchange rates can vary.

Money transfer apps

International money transfer apps or digital payments services offer quick transactions – often instant or same-day. This will depend on the app you choose, so it is worth conducting some research to find the right one for you. You should always check that your money transfer app supports the currencies into which you want to convert your funds. It’s also a good idea to check that there aren’t any limits to the amount you want to transfer. If you want to find out more about how money transfer apps work and if they’re right for you, read our guide.


With PagoFX, the international money transfer service backed by Santander, payments can arrive as fast as within minutes, if sent on a business day before our cut-off points and for certain destinations. And with quick and easy sign up you can be ready to send your payment in minutes. We process transactions the same day, unless the transaction is submitted after the cut-off point (which means after a given time, your payment will be credited the next business day). Cut-off points vary depending on the currency you are sending. For more information on our cut-off times, visit

Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information purposes only, and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topic. We recommend that you take professional and specialised advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the content of this publication, as this article is not intended to constitute expert advice. We do not guarantee, explicitly or implicitly, that the content of this article is accurate, complete or up-to-date. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from PagoFX or its affiliates.