telegraphic transfer


Are you in business with international clients?

Do you frequently deal with transactions from abroad?

Dealing with transactions internationally is much more complex than dealing with domestic transactions. There are many options to choose from. One of the most common ones is telegraphic transfers.

TT as telegraphic transfer, a way of fund transfer electronically. It is called telex. It is a faster and more effective way of transferring money and is popular with international wire transfers.

In this blog, we will be covering what telegraphic transfers are in detail, share the process and talk about the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision.

Telegraphic Transfers – What It Means and What It Does?


Meaning of Telegraphic Transfer (TT Payments)

Telegraphic transfers or TT Payments are a very popular mechanism to send money online. It is also known as “electronic funds transfer”, EFT for short, or simply called “wire transfer”. Even though it is mostly used in international transactions, it can also be used for domestic ones. There is no restriction in that case.

The name telegraphic transfer comes from the “telegram”. With time, technology has advanced and when in the past it would take days to send a telegram, telegraphic transactions are mostly completed in 2 to 4 business days.

Telegraphic transfer occurs between two banks. As it is mostly done internationally, there is a fee associated with it. The banks mostly charge a fee for conducting telegraphic transfers. This mode of payment is the most expensive. The reason is the safety and speed with which the transaction is completed.

Modes of TT Payment

Telegraphic transfers are done under a variety of different names. This form of payment is called different names by different banks. This can be confusing for some people. That is the reason why we always try to educate our readers. The following terms are used interchangeably with telegraphic transfer:

  • SWIFT transfer:

SWIFT is the short form of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It works to provide financial institutions and banks all over the world to receive and send information about transactions in a standardized and secure way.

  • Wire transfer
  • TT payment or transfer
  • Telex transfer
  • International money transfer
  • Telegraphic transfer

All these terms refer to the same thing; i.e. a telegraphic transfer. There are two ways to make such a payment. You can either directly set up the transaction through a local bank.

Your local bank will ensure that your money is transferred to the international (or other) bank. You can either visit in person or use internet banking to make the transfer. Calling the bank and asking for the transfer is also possible.

The second option you can avail of is special services like WISE. These services save individuals from the hassle of going through all the steps for making a telegraphic transfer. All they need to do is give a fee to the special services.

When Should You Use Telegraphic Transfer Method?

when should you use telegraphic transfer method

Telegraphic transfers are best for international transactions. When it comes to international transactions, there are many other options available. So, why should you go for telegraphic payments?

These payments are best in the following circumstances.

I. When you are looking for ways to make safe and secure payments to suppliers globally. Mostly, wire transfers and telegraphic transfers are done when dealing with Chinese supplies on E-commerce websites like Alibaba and AliExpress.

II. When the amount you are transferring is of a significant number. Usually, it is done for larger payments that involve a lot of money.

III. When you want to work long-term with wholesale manufacturers and suppliers for import/export business. They prefer to work with telegraphic transfers as they are quick, prompt and secure.

IV. When you and the suppliers are looking for a quick way to send payments. As already mentioned, telegraphic transfers are mostly completed in a maximum of 3, or 4 days. That is why it is the most preferred international payment method in the market. In fact, most Chinese suppliers/manufacturers request wire transfers.

How to Execute TT Payments?

Making a TT payment is not a complex process. All you need to do is go to a bank or financial institution that you trust and want to make the payment on your behalf. Mostly, this is the bank with which you already have an account.

To complete the TT payment, you will have to provide the following information to the bank/financial institution.

I. The number of your bank account. This is essential because otherwise, you will not be able to continue with the transaction

II. The account number of the person/company to whom you want to make the payment. This should be valid and it is better to check and cross-check the number.

III. The information about the corresponding bank or financial institution in which the money has to be transferred.

This is all that is required from your side. Making the actual payment is the duty of the bank/financial institution.

Apart from this, any information that the institution requires from you, should be provided. They can ask for personal information too for verification. Providing that is essential to build the trust level.

How to Use TT Payments to Pay Chinese Suppliers?

TT paymens for suppliers

The best way to complete a telegraphic transfer is to go with the SWIFT method. The process is very simple. The payment is initiated when the company/supplier/manufacturer you are dealing with sends you a “Pro Forma” invoice. Their account number will be on the form and the process of payment will start from there.

To ensure that the payment process is safe, secure, accurate and quick, you should go by the following steps.

Contact Your Bank Officials in Advance

Bank Officials in Advance

The biggest mistake most people make while making telegraphic transfers is that they go to their bank/financial institutions after they receive the “Pro Forma” invoice. There are some sections on the form that can be confusing for first-time TT payers or new buyers.

So, going to your bank BEFORE you go ahead and get the pro forma invoice from the supplier is a good idea. You can go to the bank and get information about how to make a telegraphic transfer and talk about the basics with them. This will give you more insight into the matter and it will become easier to fill the form. This will save you time, effort and even money and make the transaction smoother.

Give Them the Right Name and Pay the Right Company

Most Chinese suppliers are not good with the English language. You should make it clear what your company name is. To be sure you can give them your English name and hire a translator for converting it into Chinese. In this way, you will be sure that they get the right company name.

If they or you get the company name wrong, it can confuse and prolong the process unnecessarily.

Avoid Any Type of Spelling Mistakes

The key lies in checking and rechecking for details. All numbers, names, initials and details you put down should be checked. Even a single digit entered incorrectly can end up withholding the transaction for an indefinite time and can even become null and void.

As you are not a Chinese native, it can become a little difficult to check. To make sure that the transaction is completed, you should spend a little money and hire a professional translator.

This will help you be sure that everything is correct and that there are no spelling mistakes. No one will want to waste their time filling and refilling forms again and again. Moreover, it will create a bad reputation.


Do the Transaction and Save the Receipt

Making transactions through financial institutions and banks is one of the safest modes of payment there is. Still, you must do the transaction and save the receipt. Make a few copies. In case the supplier/manufacturer tries to scam you into making a duplicate payment, you can always show the receipt as proof of payment made.

This is something that should be done when dealing with any type of transaction and not only telegraphic transactions. You should have a record of every transaction that you make, both internationally and domestically.

Address Can Be Used in Place of Long Names

Do you have a long business name? Is it not fitting in the name field? If that is the case, you should not panic.

You can always complete the name of the business in the address field. Your business name is very important. It is recommended to use the address field to complete your business name.

Time It Takes to Complete TT Transactions

TT Transacions

For international payments, a telegraphic transfer is quick. Using the SWIFT system, funds are easily transferred from one bank to another.

Generally, a TT can take anywhere from one to five business days to complete. Giving one final date or time frame in which a telegraphic transfer will be complete is not possible.

Many factors determine how quickly it happens. The two major factors that influence how long it will take to make a telegraphic payment are the bank and the country of destination. Other factors are:

Country of Destination:

It depends on the country you are transferring funds to. The banking and finance system of some counties is stronger and vice versa. For instance, in China, there is so much import/export going on that their financial institutions and banks are very good with telegraphic transfers.

Different Time Zones:

When you are dealing with different time zones, it can take a longer time to execute the telegraphic transfer. Some countries have a large time difference.

When it is daytime in one country, it might be night in the other. This greatly affects the working days and hours. If you send money during the day, it might be night there. The bank hours will hardly coincide with each other. So, be mentally prepared.

Currency Difference:

Not all banks deal in the same currency. When you send money from your country, it will need to be converted to the currency of the recipient country. This can prolong the time to complete the telegraphic transfer.

Separate Business Days:

At times, the business days of different countries are not the same. In most countries, the business days are from Monday to Friday but that is not necessary.

In most Muslim countries, Friday is a holiday while Saturday is a business day. If this is the case between your country and the destination country, it might prolong the time of completion.


There are many national holidays in different countries. If you are sending money and it falls in the holidays of the destination country, your payment may take longer to process.

In China, many religious and cultural holidays last for days. These include the Chinese New Year and many more.


Telegraphic transfers are one of the most secure international transaction methods in the world. This is why financial institutions and banks are very strict when it comes to TT payments.

At times, the banks/institutions can stop the transaction whenever they want to conduct verification. This can cause a delay in payment.

Mode of Payment:

Depending on what mode of payment you are using, it can speed up or slow down the process.

Charges for Telegraphic Transfer

costs Price

The fee is not the same for everyone. Again, multiple factors influence the final fee that you will pay for a telegraphic transfer.

There are two ways in which you can pay. Either you can ask the bank to take the fee upfront and separately. This is very transparent and you pay before the transaction is made.

The other method is when you ask the bank/financial institution to deduct the fee when they will process your telegraphic transfer. That amount is added to the total funds and you are told how much you have to pay.

As soon as the transaction is made, the money is deducted. You don’t need to pay anything in advance. In different countries, the charges may vary. Even in China and U.S.A, there might be some fluctuations in the fee for telegraphic transfers.

We have given a general fee breakdown and the fee associated with each element.

Sender’s Bank Charges

The first fee that you have to pay is the fee that will be charged by your (local) bank. Generally, it can cost a minimum of $6 and a maximum of $30 depending on the bank you have your account in.

Bank Fees for Receiver

The next fee that you have to pay is the fee that the receiver’s bank will charge. This is variable and depends on how much the particular bank charges in which country. It can be the same as your bank fee or can be much higher or lower. It is best to do your homework before and see how much it is.

Other Banks Fees

On the front, you are dealing with just two banks, the receivers’ bank and the sender’s bank. But, there are corresponding banks involved in the process too. You need to check which banks these are and how much they are charging as this fee is added in the total transaction too.

Exchange Rate Margins

Exchange rate margins

Telegraphic transfers are not made in the same currency as you send the money in. There are some universal currencies in which trade is done like the dollar or Euro, but Chinese suppliers mostly deal in their local currency.

That is the reason why you should be aware of the exchange rate margins when making a telegraphic transfer.

All these prices can vary. However, you need to understand that it is expensive to send a TT Payment. There are other hidden costs that you need to look out for, include: 

  1. Your bank can also charge you a one-time charge when making a transaction on your behalf.
  2. The exchange rate in your country might not have a fee associated with it. Meanwhile, it might have a fee associated with it in the country you are sending the money. This might be an extra fee that you will end up paying.
  3. Most of the TT payments are now done through SWIFT. It is a standardized and quick method to make payments. Some banks might also charge a SWIFT fee from you.
  4. Inter Bank Exchange Rate:
    The rate at which a layman exchanges currency is known as the “Market” exchange rate. Banks and other financial institutions exchange currency at different rates.

That rate is known as a “Mid-market” exchange rate. This is mostly lower than the market exchange rate. But, that does not benefit the consumer. A percentage is added to the mid-market rate and that is charged from us for the banks to make a profit.

Benefits of Telegraphic Transfer Payments

benefits of telegraphic transfer payments

There is a reason why TT payments have become so popular across the world. There are many benefits they offer but we will be talking about the three important ones below.

High Limitations

The biggest benefit it offers is that you can send huge amounts of funds in one go. You don’t need to make multiple payments again and again. The limitation is very high and in most cases, it is sufficient for huge transactions.

We advise always checking the authenticity of the receiver before you make such huge payments. If it is your first time doing business with them, it is better to send a smaller (portion) of the payment first. It is better to divide the TT payment fee twice than to get scammed into losing all your money.

Convenient and Effective

It is one of the most convenient and effective ways to make a transaction. You don’t even need to visit the bank to complete a TT payment.

If you are confident enough and have done it multiple times, you can even use a banking app to make the payment or can call your bank to do it on your behalf. No more running around!

Secure Platform

As you are dealing with proper financial institutions at both the sender and receiver’s end, it is one of the most secure forms of payment. Banks don’t scam people.

All you need to be careful of while making the payment is to check the authenticity of the receiver’s bank. This security is the reason why  TT Payments are preferred even when you are dealing with thousands and millions of dollars.

Downsides of TT Payments

downside of TT payments

Nothing is perfect. Similarly, we can’t say that telegraphic transfers are the only method of making international transactions that are perfect and has no disadvantages.

The biggest disadvantages of the method have been discussed below.

Not the Fastest Method

We mostly get to hear that TT transactions are the quickest way to make a payment. On paper they are. Funds are transferred from one bank to another and that is it. It is not as simple as that.

At times, currency exchange is also included in it. That can take time. Moreover, the number of funds also influences the time it takes for the funds to go from the sender’s account to the receiver’s account.

At times, corresponding banks are also involved in between. The funds might go through different banks and financial institutions to reach the final destination. All these steps add extra time to the payment and the overall time to execute it increases.

Transferring Costs Can Be Higher

There are many fees associated with completing telegraphic payments as explained above. The method is on the expensive side alone. Add in these costs and you can get a hefty price tag on your TT payments.

Are There Any Alternatives to TT Payments?

Telegraphic transfers are not the only used method to make international payments safely and securely.

With such a large volume of international trade going on worldwide, many companies are offering their services to help in sending/receiving money from around the world. The best alternatives for TT Payments are discussed below.

Western Union

western Union

One of the biggest names in international transactions is Western Union. It has operations in more than 199 countries and deals with more than 130 different types of currencies. Some key characteristics of Western Union are:

  1. Reduced fee when you are sending money from one Western Union to another. It charges a very nominal fee of $5 when you use a credit/debit card to make a payment.
  2. It can directly deal in more than 130 currencies.
  3. It charges $10 for bank transfers
  4. When it comes to speed, it is not the fastest. It can take anywhere from 4 to 9 business days, on average, for a TT Payment to be made.


As compared to the other market players, Zelle is relatively new. Privately owned and launched in 2017, it is owned by Early Warning Services.

It is a U.S.A-based company which is why the users need to have a registered U.S.A mobile number to use the application. Zelle works in the following way:

  1. The recipient sends their Zelle account number and email address to the sender.
  2. Once the sender gets this Zelle account number, they send the TT payment over this platform.
  3. Zelle charges zero fees for telegraphic transactions. This does not mean the sender does not have to pay anything. The banks involved have their fee.

Wise (Formally TransferWise)

wise formally transferwise

If you want to avoid bank charges, you can opt for Transfer Wise (now known as “Wise” only). Even though they offer to carry out your telegraphic transfers for a very minimal cost, you might end up getting higher exchange rates. Because you get the market exchange rate and not the mid-market one that banks and other financial institutions offer.

The reason for this cost-cutting is that Wire does not use international banking to transfer money. They rely on regional banking only. That is why the upfront fee they charge is very low as compared to the other ways of making TT payments.


The biggest platform in the world to deal with Chinese suppliers, manufacturers and producers is Alibaba. There are hundreds and thousands of suppliers on the platform and you can find any product you are looking for. It caters to every range, every buyer and every product you can think of.

Alibaba offers payment options to users for their convenience. Many exporters and importers use Alipay to carry out business. There are many payment methods you can avail and it is best to choose from them depending on your transaction type.

Negotiate Good TT Payment Terms- How to Do That?


It is not necessary that everyone has to pay the same TT payments. The terms and conditions are always decided between the buyer and the seller.  

There are multiple ways in which you can negotiate with your supplier to get the best terms on telegraphic payments. Use one or a combination of the below-discussed methods.

Get a Purchasing Office in China

The best way is to be physically present when making a deal and deciding on payments. This is not possible for the majority of buyers.  Not everyone can go to China and visit the supplier in person. The best alternative for this is to contact a purchasing office in China.

When you have local representation, it makes a huge impact on the seller. Moreover, you can ask them to go and visit to seal the deal in person. In case of nonpayment, pressure can be built by visiting the supplier in person to pressurize them in making payments and sending materials where required.

Collaborate with Brands and Manufacturers

Getting your hands and collaborating with big manufacturers and brands is good. The bigger the reputation of the manufacturer and brand, the lower chance there is for that brand/manufacturer to default. This is not true every time but it is a very accurate assumption.

It takes years and a lot of business to build your reputation. Big manufacturers don’t gain from scamming others. These are the shady, smaller manufacturers who don’t have a good reputation or who offer very low prices that can end up scamming people.

Find a China Business Parnter Like Equator Supply Chain

Hiring professional help is always a good idea. Sourcing agents and sourcing companies are excellent for conducting business on your behalf.

Companies like Equator Shipping have a long history of doing business with international clients. Based in China, they have the extensive market knowledge and can assist you in all your business matters.

From sourcing your products to helping you find the best and most reliable suppliers to making all the payments and quality checks on your behalf, these companies are a lifesaver when it comes to international trade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions.jpg

What is the Meaning of TT Payments?

TT is the short form of telegraphic transfer. These types of payments come with many names.

Mostly, these are called TT payments, telegraphic payments, wire transfers and SWIFT payments. Whenever you hear one of these, it means the electronic transfer of money globally and even domestically.

What’s the differene between LC Payments and TT Payments?

LC is the short form of a Letter of Credit. This is issued by a bank on the buyer’s behalf. It is issued by the buyer to the receiver. The bank issues this letter after making sure that the buyer will be able to make the promised payment. In case of the buyer defaults, the bank makes the payment to the seller.

TT payments are simply wire transfers or telegraphic payments. These are payments sent from the buyer to the seller. The only role the bank has is to transfer the money from the buyer’s account and send it to the seller. In this case, the bank does not hold any liability to the seller if the buyer’s account does not have sufficient funds or he/she defaults.

When it comes to TT payments, there is almost zero chance that the payment will default. The bank will not approve the payment if there are insufficient funds in the account. LC payments, are riskier than and not as secure as TT payments.

Which one is better? Wire Transfers or TT Transfers?

TT payments and Wire Transfers are used interchangeably. They are the same modes of payment but are named differently. So, neither is better than the other because they are the same things.

Can you pay Chinese suppliers using TT Payments?

Yes, it is possible to pay Chinese Suppliers using TT Payments. Nowadays, most Chinese suppliers demand to be paid via a telegraphic transfer payment. The reason is the security, accuracy and speed attached to the transfer.

What to do if something goes sideways with TT Payments?

When it comes to wire transfers and TT payments, there is a very slim chance that they can be wrong.  We have hardly come across a case in which the payment was made to the wrong account.

The reason is that you need to get a lot of things wrong. The name of the company, the receiver’s number, address, bank account number etc. Getting all this wrong and writing the information of another company is not possible.

There is a huge chance that you make mistakes when entering your or the receiver’s information. You might misspell a name, write the wrong digit in the account number or even give the wrong mailing address.

If this happens, the transaction will be put on hold and once the verification is completed, it will be rejected. You will have to go through the entire process again.


All that you need to know about how a telegraphic transfer works have been discussed in this blog. To make things easier, it is always best to contact professionals like Equator Shipping to help you with it.

As we are situated in China and have years of experience and contact dealing with Chinese suppliers and international buyers, we can make your sourcing and payment process much easier, smoother, reliable and cost-effective.

So, leave all your business worries to us and contact us today by leaving a message on our website. We are looking forward to serving and doing business with you!

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