5 Ways To Transfer Money From One Bank to Another

Transferring money is a prevalent need in the digital age. Keep reading for five different ways that you can accomplish this task.

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Adam Moelis
Nov 16, 2022
9 min read

Most Americans have access to a bank account in the modern age. The benefits of having a bank account are just too good to miss out on. One of these benefits is the ability to manage your money effortlessly. You can quickly deposit money to keep it safe or withdraw some as needed.

Another key feature of having a bank account is the ability to transfer funds. It’s a question of time before you’ll need to transfer money. 

It might be making a payment for something, lending money to a family member in need, putting some cash from your personal account into a new account for your business, or simply moving some funds into another one of your own accounts

Whatever the reason for the transfer, here are the five best ways that you can move money from one account to another: 

1. Electronic Transfer

The easiest method is electronically requesting that your bank transfer the money to a different account. Many different banks and financial institutions offer online banking options. 

Whether it’s the bank’s website or a mobile app, you can manage your credit cards and personal finances and even transfer funds with mobile banking just as you would at a physical bank branch.

With electronic transfers, you’re essentially writing an electronic check requesting and authorizing the bank to send the money. Removing the physical paper from the equation will cut out the middleman and help to save some time. 

You’ll need a few pieces of vital information to complete the transfer, including the following:

  • The routing number, sometimes known as the American Bankers Association (ABA) code, is a nine-digit code that indicates the account’s location. Some banks have multiple routing numbers designed for different types of transfers. Ensure that the recipient account's routing number is correct for an electronic transfer. 
  • The account number usually ranges from eight to 12 digits and determines the account the money transfers into. It’s common for someone to have multiple accounts (checking accounts, savings accounts, or money market accounts) at the same bank. The account number will differ for each, so it’s crucial to ensure the money gets transferred to the correct one. 

In most cases, requesting an electronic transfer of your funds is free of charge. Some banks might charge a fee depending on the nature of the transfer. However, it’s usually rare because the nature of the transfer might be challenging to achieve. 

You should check with your bank to ensure that you won’t incur any penalties for this financial service. 

Here is a quick summary of how to request an electronic transfer online:

  1. Log into your account through the bank's app or website. 
  2. Select the transfer feature and choose the “transfer to another bank” option. 
  3. Type in the recipient account’s banking information (routing number and account number). 
  4. Enter any additional information as necessary and choose the “submit” option.

It will usually take an online transfer of fewer than 24 hours to process, as long as it doesn't occur on a weekend or bank holiday. Some banks require additional verification from the owner of the recipient account. In that case, it might take another one to two business days or processing before the transfer is complete and the funds are available.  

2. Cash

Cash might eventually go the way of the dinosaur, but it’s still a valuable tool for financial exchanges. The other options on this list are probably more convenient. However, using cash is one of the only ways to guarantee no attached fees and have instant access to the deposited funds. 

Naturally, you won’t want to use cash to transfer a considerable amount of money. Too many things can go wrong as they could be lost, damaged, or stolen. 

Also, most banks have a daily limit on cash withdrawals ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Anything above the limits might require a report to the federal government. 

The process of using cash is a bit inconvenient but is relatively simple:

  1. Go to your local branch or an ATM.
  2. Access your account and withdraw the amount that you need.
  3. Give the cash to the other person or hold it if you move it into another account.
  4. The other person (or yourself) will go to the bank or ATM where you need to transfer the money. 
  5. The cash is handed over to a teller or inserted into the ATM, where the funds will be instantly available.

The most significant downside to this method (other than the inconvenience) is that it’s not a viable option for all accounts. Some banks are “online-only” and don’t provide the opportunity for a cash deposit. You’ll only be able to use cash if the recipient account features a physical branch or is partnered with an ATM. 

3. Wire Transfer

Wire transfers are very similar to the electronic transfers listed above, but there are critical differences between the two transfer methods. 

The electronic transfers discussed previously are considered Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers which utilize an electronic network to process transactions in bunches. Wire transfers are individually processed, which offers a few benefits. 

For example, you can generally expect a wire transfer to arrive within a few hours of being sent. You might have to wait several days before the funds are accessible when using an ACH transfer. 

Additionally, the limit for a wire transfer is often much higher than an ACH transfer. The bank usually caps the limit by transaction, day, or month. Wire transfers typically have no such limitations. 

You can request a wire transfer at the local branch of your bank, online through their website, or use a third-party wire transfer such as Western Union, Wise, or Xe. You’ll need to provide the routing and account number of the recipient account, the same as an ACH transfer. 

For international wire transfers, you’ll need to include the recipient bank's SWIFT code, National ID, or IBAN. You might be required to provide the name and registered address of the recipient as well. 

You can also use wire transfers for bank-to-bank transfers, another benefit. You simply use the other bank’s routing number and external account number to do these external transfers.

The biggest downside of using a wire transfer is that you’ll almost certainly be charged a fee. The exact amount can vary depending on the details of the transfer.

For instance, an international wire transfer will likely result in a much higher processing fee. Even worse, the fee usually gets split between the sender and receiver. So if you’re using a wire transfer to send money to yourself, you’ll be paying twice. 

A wire transfer is an excellent option for moving a lot of money when you need it quickly. However, it’s usually not worth the steep fees if you have the extra time to wait on the money. 

Besides, wire transfers also have deadlines and aren’t transferred on weekends or bank holidays anyway. You might have to pay a fee for the wire transfer and wait just as long as you would for a free ACH transfer. 

4. Peer-to-Peer Transfer

Using a third-party app to make a peer-to-peer transfer has rapidly become one of the most popular ways to transfer money. Most U.S. banks partner with Zelle to quickly transfer money from one account to another instead of using an ACH transfer. 

All you would need to provide is the recipient's name, phone number, or email address. If they have a Zelle account linked to this information, the transfer will go through within a few minutes and free of charge. 

Zelle is hardly the only option that you’ll have for making a peer-to-peer transfer. Popular options include Paypal, Venmo, Cash App, Google Pay, MoneyGram, Popmoney, and Samsung Pay. The easiest way to transfer money is to use the same app for both parties. 

However, it’s possible to transfer money from one app to another. It’s usually easier to download the same app and create an account.

The variety of peer-to-peer payment options means you can have a significantly different user experience. Most apps are free to download, but some fees can be attached when making a transfer. For example, you may get charged international and exchange rate fees if you transfer money into a foreign currency. 

Depending on when you want to access the received funds, there can also be a fee. You might have to pay extra to access the funds instantly, but it’s usually free if you wait for one to three business days. 

Another potential issue is that some apps and banks set transfer limits. Chase Bank uses Zelle and only permits $2,000 in a single transaction/day and $16,000 in a single month. 

Google Pay and Samsung Pay have a maximum of $2,000 in a single transaction and $2,500 in a single day. Venmo has a weekly transfer limit of $19,999.99. You need to check the limits established by the app or your bank before transferring a large sum. 

The last difference is that most apps won’t transfer the money into the linked bank account of the recipient. PayPal has a feature that sweeps the funds in your account every 24 hours and automatically deposits them into your connected account. 

However, this feature is infrequent, and most apps won’t do that. The recipient would need to manually request that the money be transferred, as it will simply stay within the app.  

5. Check 

The traditional way of transferring money is a bit of a relic, but it can be an effective and free way to move funds. The best part about using a check is that there are usually no limits for the transfer amount. 

If you need to make a large transfer, it’s probably the best option on this list. However, writing a check leaves you vulnerable to over-drawing your account. You should double-check that you currently have the funds in your account before you write it. 

Checks are the analog version of an electronic transfer. The check you write will include the routing number and account number on the bottom. When the check is deposited into another bank, the information is used to request a transfer from your bank. Your signature on the check implies authorized consent, and the transfer will be complete within a few days. 

You might need a money order or cashier’s check to initiate the transfer. The difference is that these options are paid for upfront to prevent the possibility of the check bouncing. 

A fee is also attached, usually a percentage of the amount being transferred. The only upside of using this method is that the funds are generally available much earlier than a traditional check. 

Transfer Money the Easy and Free Way

Money is pointless if you can’t exchange it for goods and services. Transferring money from your bank account is a relatively simple experience, no matter what kind of account you have

You have a lot of different methods to choose from when trying to transfer money from one account to another. The best options will largely depend on the nature of the transaction. 

Are you moving a small amount from one bank account to another? Make an electronic transfer. A large amount during an emergency? Request a wire transfer. A transfer when you don’t know the banking information of the other person? Use a third-party app. Are you making a large payment or transferring it into another account? Write a check. 

In most cases, transferring money will be free if you don’t mind waiting a few days. Make sure you understand the rules for money transfer established by the bank, third-party app, or transfer service you’re using. 

There’s no need to pay for something that can be free using a different method. 

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