What happens if money is transferred and not received?

person doing international money transfers online

Sending money overseas is generally straightforward, whether you use a bank or an international money transfer (IMT) specialist. However, delays can occur, similar to regular postage issues. If your payment isn't received on time, follow these three simple steps to address the situation:

Step 1: Check your confirmation details

As soon as you complete a transfer, you should receive a confirmation number or transaction ID. Keep this safe because you’ll need it to track your transfer, which you can usually do online or over the phone.

Step 2: Contact your provider

If you can’t find your confirmation number, or you didn’t have any luck tracking your transfer, a quick call with your bank or IMT specialist can usually sort everything out. They can use your personal details to locate the transfer and give you an update on its status.

Step 3: Consider cancelling your transfer

If your transfer hasn’t arrived, you might still have a chance to cancel, especially if the funds haven't yet been converted into the destination currency. While this becomes increasingly unlikely over time, it's worth checking if the money is still in a stage where cancellation is feasible.

Step 4: Lodge a dispute

If your money still hasn’t arrived and you’re not getting any answers from your provider, you may have to lodge a dispute. These processes differ from institution to institution so make sure you read the fine print.

While there shouldn't typically be fees associated with a legitimate dispute, if it’s determined that there was an error at your end, you could face additional fees related to tracking, investigating or amending the transaction. 

Why might there be a delay in receiving my funds?

Depending on the provider you choose, an international money transfer can take up to five business days to arrive in your account. But there are legitimate reasons for this to be delayed, including:

  • Incorrect name. Make sure the recipient's name is correct to avoid any hiccups or rejection in receiving the transfer.
  • Incorrect bank details. Likewise, it’s important to provide accurate bank details to avoid transfer mishaps.
  • Transfer timing. Remember that weekends and public holidays (in either country) are non-working days and can impact the timing of your transfer.
  • Security checks. Banks and IMT specialists conduct security checks to keep your funds safe and prevent fraud, and these could cause temporary delays.

In other words, before you start panicking, realise that there may be a valid reason for the delay and a quick call can sort you out.

What happens if I cancel an international money transfer?

When you successfully cancel an international money transfer, generally you should receive a refund of the full amount that you transferred. Keep in mind though, it’s usually only possible to cancel a transaction before the funds have been converted to the new currency.

If the funds have been converted but not yet deposited into the destination bank account, or not yet picked up by the recipient in the case of a cash pick-up, the situation becomes trickier. In these cases, you should immediately contact your provider. They might still be able to help you, but you’ll likely end up with less cash than before - since you’ll be stuck converting the cash twice, and possibly incurring double the fees.

If the money has already reached the destination bank account, or collected by the recipient, you’re out of luck and won’t be able to cancel at all. But hey, the money’s been received, and that’s the goal here right?

Do you need to send money overseas? Check out our IMT comparison table or get all the info you need from our in depth guides and expert tips.

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Can money get lost in transfer between banks?

Money can occasionally be delayed or misrouted during a bank transfer, though it is relatively rare for it to get ‘lost.’ This issue can arise from incorrect details being provided or bank errors. If your money doesn't arrive as expected, contact your bank. They can usually trace the funds and resolve the issue. 

What happens if a bank transfer goes missing?

If your bank transfer doesn't go through, your bank will likely notice when it bounces back. They'll let you know there’s an issue and will begin working out what went wrong—maybe checking if you mistyped an account number or coordinating with other banks if it's an international transfer. They'll reach out to you to fix any errors and get your money moving again.

Make sure you keep in touch with your bank and keep your transaction info handy. This will help them sort everything out more quickly and make sure your money ends up where it should.

Can international bank transfers take longer than 5 working days?

Yes, international bank transfers can sometimes take longer than 5 working days. Several factors can stretch out the process, including different banking systems, currency conversion and security checks. 

Don’t forget that weekends and holidays aren’t considered working days and can delay things further. If your transfer seems slower than normal, just reach out to your bank; they can help you understand any hold-ups and give you a clearer timeline.

What happens if a wire transfer fails?

If your wire transfer doesn't go through, start by double-checking the account numbers and other details you entered. Mistakes here are often the reason for a hiccup. If everything checks out, give your bank a call. They can let you know exactly what went wrong and help you sort it out, whether it's a technical glitch or a rule that's blocking the transfer. They'll also guide you on what to do next to get your money where it needs to go.