Wire transfers -- also known as a bank wires -- are a relatively hassle-free way to send money online. They're transfers of money from one bank account to another, and all you need is your and your recipient's account and routing numbers. When compared to the fees associated with other methods of online money transfers, wire transfers are kind of pricy. Or free. It all depends.
There's usually no cost for transfers between account holders at the same bank, though a few do charge for the service (be sure to check with your financial institution of choice). The process starts getting more expensive when you're transferring funds between accounts at different banks. The fees average around $20 to $25, but we've seen some that cost as much as $50. Not surprisingly, the recipient also often has to pay a fee, though the cost is lower -- usually between $5 and $15. There's typically no fee for recipients of transfers from the same bank [source: MyBankTracker].
Also, even though it's online, the process isn't instant. It takes several hours for a wire transfer to go through -- especially if the funds are going to a different bank -- as all the information has to be verified before the transaction can take place.
We know, $25 doesn't sound like such a large price to pay for transferring funds between banks on your computer, and it's not if you're moving numbers with multiple zeros or need the transfer completed in hours, not days. But if you're only sending a few hundred dollars -- and the recipient doesn't mind waiting a day or two -- there are much cheaper options out there, one of which we'll discuss on the next page.