How Long Does A Money Transfer Take?

When looking to do a money transfer, time can often be a critical factor. Whether you're looking to buy something urgently or need the funds in your account as soon as possible, you may wonder how long the process will take.

In the majority of cases, money transfers from credit cards to current accounts will be completed on the next business day. In some cases, it will go through by the start of the business day while in others, it may arrive later on in the day.

As any other transaction type, money transfers are subject to a number of risk and fraud checks which can make the time it takes to go through longer. Different lenders have different processes which affect whether the money transfer will be in your account in a few hours or take a full business day to come.

What affects the time a money transfer takes?

There are 4 key factors that affect how long a money transfer takes:

  • The speed of processes and checks by your credit card company
  • Whether your transaction is flagged for additional fraud or risk checks
  • The payment method and timing used by your credit card provider
  • The processing of inbound payments by your current account provider

Let's break these down to explain what each of these steps entails.

1. The speed of money transfer checks

Not all credit card companies are equal when it comes to technology and processes used. While some may seem very modern and sophisticated on the surface, the back-end processes used can often be less slick than customers would like.

Some companies, such as MBNA, Lloyds or Bank of Scotland (notably all part of the Lloyds Banking Group) process money transfers by the next working day which means that all the checks required will take place instantly in order for the payment process to move quickly.

Other companies may take longer and have a larger proportion of money transfers going through manual review before being approved.

2. Requirement for manual review

While a manual review is not always the reason your money transfer is delayed, this is often the reason why it takes a few days for the money to arrive in your bank account.

Whether it's part of your credit card company's standard processing policy or if your particular transaction for any reason looked suspicious, it may require somebody in the operations centre to check it before it gets approved.

In most cases the checks will not involve you - the staff member will review your other transactions, check how and when the transaction was done and potentially run additional checks on the bank account the money is being sent to to make sure everything is in order.

In some exceptional circumstances, they may require to get in contact with you to confirm the money transfer details and ensure the transaction is genuine.

3. Payment process used by your credit card provider

This is something that can be the difference between transactions arriving within hours or even minutes or having to wait to the end of the next working day.

In the majority of cases, the payment made by your credit card company into your current account will be a simple bank to bank transfer. Your credit card company may choose to process this transaction immediately upon the completion of checks in which case your money will arrive fast.

In a lot of cases, these payments are batched and processed as part of the overnight account updates instead. In this case, you will have to wait until the following morning at the earliest to see your money.

4. Inbound payment processing by your current account provider

The last and very important factor in how long a money transfer takes actually has nothing to do with your credit card.

A lot of banks will not show your transaction or make the balance available when it first arrives. At best, customers may see the payment as a pending transaction with no ability to use the money.

In these cases, the pending transactions will usually go through overnight and appear in your bank account the next morning (and in some cases, depending on your bank, this may even have to be the next business day morning).

This means that even if your credit card provider has made the necessary payment promptly and your money was transferred immediately, your bank may make you wait until the next working day before you can access the funds.

What is the fastest way to do a money transfer?

The fastest way to do a money transfer is when all 4 of the above factors combine to your advantage. If speed is of the essence, pick a provider whose policy states that the money will be available by the next business day and use a modern bank as your current account - a number of challenger banks will make inbound transactions available to you immediately.

Here is a list of some credit card companies that offer money transfers and what they say about how long they take (ordered alphabetically):

Credit card companyHow long a money transfer takes
Bank of ScotlandBy the next business day
HalifaxBy the next business day
HSBCNo information provided
LloydsBy the next business day
MBNABy the next business day
Sainsburys BankNo information provided
Tesco BankUp to 2 working days
Virgin MoneyOn the next business day

The time it takes to process your money transfer doesn't end there. Some providers do not disclose the precise way their systems work, but to make sure the money arrives the following day, do the money transfer early in the day.

If you are lucky, and your receiving bank processes inbound transactions immediately, there is a chance you could receive the money that evening or overnight and a very good likelihood it will be in your account by the morning (if it's a working day).

Virgin Money require your money transfer to be completed by 4pm to guarantee the next working day timeline and others will also use 4pm to 5pm as the daily cut-off time.

This means that if you do a money transfer at 6pm on a Thursday afternoon, you will have to wait until Monday for it to go through!

When will a money transfer take longer to go through?

Although the majority of credit card companies will process your money transfers by or on the next business day, there are some circumstances where the process can take longer.

Before sending any money through a money transfer, there will be a number of fraud, anti-money laundering and credit risk checks carried out.

In some cases, these checks may require manual intervention, a review by an operations manager or data that is not available immediately. In those circumstances, the money transfer may take longer than one business day to complete.

Similar checks may also be done on the receiving end by your bank. These checks prevent money laundering and other money flows from suspect activities. If your transfer triggers any rules by your current account provider, you may also face a delay in getting your money.

Lastly, there are still a few providers that take longer to process money transfers due to systems and process constraints. For example, Virgin Money advise that they take 2-3 business days and Tesco Bank say money transfers will take up to 2 working days - check with your provider or the card you are looking to get to make sure.

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