Payset prespective
April 5, 2024

Telegraphic Transfers: What Are They?

If you have a bank account with any major financial institution, you probably have the option to transfer funds to another recipient electronically. There are many ways to do this, some of which are more affordable and convenient than others. 

In this article, we’ll examine a type of electronic transfer known as a telegraphic transfer and explain how you can make the most of this transaction method.

Key Takeaways

You should know that telegraphic transfers (or TT transfers):

  • Include certain electronic bank transfers
  • Are also referred to as wire transfers or electronic funds transfers (EFTs)
  • Involve CHAPS in the UK and SWIFT in the US
  • Can be international or domestic
  • Take a few days to complete
  • Vary in costs and fees

What Are Telegraphic Transfers? 

Telegraphic transfers are a way of sending or receiving funds via an electronic bank transfer. These transfers move funds domestically, or, more often, internationally.

TT payments are equivalent to wire transfers and electronic fund transfers (EFTs). In the US, the term “telegraphic transfer” often refers to SWIFT transfers, and in the UK, the term generally refers to CHAPS transfers or international SWIFT transfers. 

However, the term can also be applied to a variety of other similar services worldwide.

The Evolution of Telegraphic Transfers

Telegraphic transfers originated in early interbank transfers that relied on telegrams for communications. As telegrams became obsolete, this method was replaced by telex, or telephone network-based communications, which have in turn become obsolete.

As detailed in the previous section, TT payments now rely on modern communication methods — especially dedicated banking networks like SWIFT and CHAPS.

What Is TT?

Telegraphic transfers are often abbreviated as “TT” or “T/T.” 

You might see this abbreviation used if your bank or service provider provides telegraphic transfer services. Some banks may advertise “TT accounts.”

The Mechanics of Telegraphic Transfers

The Process Explained

Telegraphic transfers are carried out through a multi-step process.

  1. Transfer request: First, the sender must request a transfer by providing certain information, including the transaction amount and the recipient’s details.
  2. Transmission: The sending bank begins the transaction by sending a request through the relevant network such as SWIFT or CHAPS; other banks, including the receiving bank, eventually receive this request.
  3. Security steps: Banks and networks involved in the transaction apply security measures to protect data and funds.
  4. Fees and exchange rates: Each bank involved in the transfer may apply a fee to cover its role in the transaction; those banks may also apply an exchange rate if the transaction amount is converted to a foreign currency at any point in time.
  5. Transfer finalized: The recipient’s bank accepts the transfer and applies a credit to the recipient’s account for the relevant amount.

Role of SWIFT in Telegraphic Transfers

SWIFT — short for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication — is the largest international bank messaging network. As such, it plays a key role in telegraphic transfers, wire transfers, and international banking.

In the context of telegraphic transfers, SWIFT handles messages between banks that might not otherwise have a standardized way to communicate. 

In addition to being necessary to send and receive data, SWIFT allows banks to examine the status of a TT transfer throughout the entire process. Though SWIFT does not handle money in its own right, it ultimately allows each bank to handle its side of a transfer.

Timing of Telegraphic Transfers

Telegraphic transfers take two to four business days to complete. Each transaction’s speed may be affected by its origin and destination. Transfers involving countries with less robust financial systems could take longer than expected. If a transfer involves multiple currencies, it may once again take longer to complete, as participants may need to spend time converting between the relevant currencies.

Costs Involved in Telegraphic Transfers

There are several costs involved in telegraphic transfers. 

This includes fees from sending banks, receiving banks, and other banks that act as intermediaries. Typically, wire transfers or SWIFT transfers carry a flat rate of £10 to £40 through banks, though Payset charges a custom rate based on risk levels.

Telegraphic transfers might also involve currency conversion fees. However, this only applies to international TT payments in which more than one foreign currency is involved.

Information Required for a Telegraphic Transfer

Necessary Details for Sending Funds

You’ll need to provide details when sending a TT payment, including:

  • Your own name and bank account details
  • The recipient’s name, address, and contact information
  • The recipient’s bank account number
  • The name of the recipient’s bank
  • Routing information such as an IBAN or SWIFT code

Uses for Telegraphic Transfers

Ideal Scenarios for Telegraphic Transfers

Telegraphic transfers are usually carried out in the form of wire transfers, meaning that all of the same advantages apply. As such, this type of transfer is typically useful for:

  • Large transactions: TT transfers often have high limits or zero limits on the amount that you can send, making them ideal for high-value transactions

  • Urgent transactions: TT transfers are one of the fastest ways to send large amounts of funds, as they are typically settled within a matter of days

  • International transactions: TT transfers can be sent across borders and overseas because they rely on global settlement and messaging systems

Telegraphic transfers and wire transfers aren’t always useful. They often have high flat fees, so they aren’t especially ideal when you need to make a small transaction.

Small amounts of money can be transferred more quickly — and often more cheaply — on popular consumer-oriented financial services such as Payset, PayPal, or Venmo.

Alternatives to Telegraphic Transfers

We’ve largely emphasized SWIFT’s role in the telegraphic transfer process. However, there are various other forms of international bank transfer that you might find useful.

Please note that Payset fees and transfer times for each service may differ from the general estimates described below. You can see our fee page for more details.


The Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) is a UK settlement system intended for high-value transactions. CHAPS offers same-day settlements and is comparable in price to SWIFT, with various banks and services setting their own flat fee.


The Faster Payment System (FPS) is another UK-based payment system. It offers same-day transactions, usually completed within minutes or hours, at a cost of about £2.50 each.

FPS is intended as a faster alternative to the UK’s older BACS system. BACS can be used for similar transfers, and it is generally slower and less expensive than FPS.


Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments are ideal for billing transactions, business-to-business payments, paychecks, and other forms of recurring payment.

ACH transfers typically take one to three business days and are generally cheaper than SWIFT transfers. “ACH” usually refers to the United States Nacha ACH network, which can be used in the US and internationally. Various other countries also have their own ACH networks.


SEPA payments allow transfers anywhere within the Single Euro Payments Area’s 36 member countries. This option is available for euro-denominated transactions.

SEPA transactions usually settle within a single business day. This method is usually very affordable, as costs are typically free or comparable to local bank fees. 

Regional Differences in Telegraphic Transfers

As we’ve explained, TT transfers typically refer to wire transfers and SWIFT transfers. However, the exact activities thatthe term refers to may vary by region. 

In the UK, the term “telegraphic transfer” may be used to refer to local CHAPS transfers as well as international SWIFT transfers — and, less accurately, other types of electronic transfers. 

It’s important to note that some countries use the term “telegraphic transfer” for entirely different purposes. In Japan, for example, the term refers to retail exchange rate quotes. Awareness of these nuances will help you send funds with ease when transacting internationally.


Telegraphic transfers broadly describe electronic transactions. They’re a way to send and receive funds domestically or internationally. In practice, the term typically refers to wire transfers and electronic fund transfers (EFTs), especially SWIFT transfers.  

However, TT payments are not the sole domestic and overseas transaction method. You should always consider other possible transaction methods that suit you best.

How Payset Can Help

To learn more about telegraphic transfers, consider contacting a bank or another financial professional for the latest information on the practice. 

If you want to make international payments in general, consider using Payset. We support several major payment networks including SWIFT, SEPA, and more. Contact us for more information and or to sign up for an account.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a multi-currency account/virtual IBAN?

A Payset multi-currency account allows you to receive money in 34 different currencies and send money in up to 38 currencies, all within the same account.

You can deposit and withdraw funds, convert currencies at competitive exchange rates, and hold your chosen currencies to capitalize on market movements.

A Payset multi-currency account allows startups and business owners to receive payments from clients virtually anywhere in the world and pay suppliers, staff, and contractors quickly and affordably in their chosen currency.

  • Funds can be deposited and withdrawn from the account for a small fee.
  • Account holders can send and receive money with other Payset users for free.
  • Depending on your region, you can use various payment networks from your Payset account, including SWIFT, SEPA, ACH, Fedwire, Faster Payments, BACS, and CHAPS. 
  • Once you register an account, you will be provided with a Virtual IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which makes all of these transfers easy.
  • We provide you with local payments and collections. For example, transactions in USD, EUR, CAD, and GBP are processed through the local payment networks, which is far cheaper and takes minutes as opposed to days

Are there limits on the amount of money I can send and receive?

No, there are no transaction limits on Payset multi-currency accounts.

However, higher-volume transactions may require additional anti-fraud verification. If you plan to make a large transaction, contact us in advance to avoid verification delays.

How is Payset regulated?

Payset is regulated as an authorized Electronic Money Institution by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. Our activities are also regulated by the Payment Services Regulation 2017 and the Electronic Money Regulation 2011 (SI 2011/99).

How do I send money from my account?

Once you have opened your verified IBAN account and added money to a balance, transferring funds is simple.

Simply log in into your account and add a beneficiary, then simply “make a transfer” in your preferred currency to that beneficiary.

Information contained in this publication is provided for general education and information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, investment or other professional advice or recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions or any other actions (or refraining therefrom); This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s financial objectives or situation. We make no warranty, guarantee or representation, whether express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or fitness thereof for a particular purpose; Use of images and symbols is made for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or advice to take or refraining from any action; Use of brand logos does not necessarily imply a contractual relationship between us and the entities owning the logos, nor does it represent an endorsement of any such entity by Pay Set Limited, or vice versa; Market information is made available to you only as a service, and we do not endorse or approve it; Any reference to past performance, predicted returns, or likelihood performance scenarios may not reflect actual future performance and certainly do not guarantee future outcomes.

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