What Is a SWIFT Code?

Here’s how to find it and how to save on transaction costs. HINT: Don’t use your bank.

SWIFT codes are 8 to 11 characters long and made of both letters and numbers. You can typically find them on a bank statement or on your bank’s website.
Man on a laptop holding a credit card

What Is a SWIFT Code Anyway?

The SWIFT code is a format of your BIC (Bank Identification Code), and the two terms are used interchangeably. SWIFTs or BICs are unique identification codes for the particular bank that holds your account. The SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) system allows banks and financial institutions to send and receive secure messages regarding payment instructions. These 8-11 digit codes are often used for sending money overseas.

Established in 1973, SWIFT was the only way banks could communicate with each other securely, and it became popular due to its heightened security. These days, SWIFT normally takes between 2-3 business days to complete an overseas transfer and costs around $4 per delivery.

At OFX, we use our network of 115 global bank accounts to tap into the power of local payment processing networks. We call it Global By Local (GBL). Our GBL network typically takes 24 business hours and costs under $1. That’s part of why our rates are so competitive and why our transfers often arrive faster.

What You Need To Know

If you need to send money abroad, your bank may be your most expensive option. Banks often charge as much as a 5% margin on your foreign exchange transaction plus fees. Depending on the size of your payment, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars by swapping to OFX for your international money transfers. And when your bank is closed, our friendly customer service agents are on-hand 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about our service, your savings, or SWIFT. 

Lady in an aqua dress walking

SWIFT, Swifter, Swiftest

These days, SWIFT normally takes between 2-3 business days to complete an overseas transfer and financial institutions pay around $4 per delivery. At OFX, we use our network of 115 global bank accounts to tap into the power of local payment processing networks. So for your global transfers, you can use our local network which typically takes 24 business hours and generally reduces delivery costs compared to the SWIFT system. That’s part of why our rates are so competitive and why our transfers often arrive sooner.

Better yet, when you send money with us, you may not even need to ask the recipient to search high and low for a SWIFT or IBAN. You just request their regular account details, and our local bank account in the destination country will do the rest.

What About The IBAN?

Many banks, especially European banks, also use IBANs (International Bank Account Numbers). These are unique codes that identify a given bank account and provide a standardised way of recognising and locating bank accounts throughout the world. Started in Europe during the 1990s, this method of bank account identification for international transfers has been adopted by more than 60 countries worldwide.

Still not sure?

There’s no doubt that international payments can be tricky, confusing and sometimes, time consuming. When you register with OFX, we’ll try to make the initial sign-up as painless as possible, and you’ll get the peace of mind of knowing that you can transfer at our great low rates—no matter which currency you choose or when.

If you’re tired of banks being banks, register with us and keep more of the money you earned.

You might also like: