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How to transfer money to a bank account

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From old-fashioned checks to tech-savvy apps, we explore all of the ways to send money to a bank account.

Banks are catching up with online technology and creating more ways to connect to your cash. Between websites and mobile apps, you have more access to your finances than ever. You can even easily transfer money to a bank account from the comfort of your own home.

How to transfer money within the same bank

Estimated time: Less than one business day

Fee: None

With today’s technology, it’s easy to make transfers to other accounts within the same bank. Whether you’re transferring money between your own accounts or sending money to someone else at the same bank, the transaction is made on the bank’s internal network and servers.

Since transfers within the same bank don’t require any external resources, they’re usually free and quick. Transactions are usually completed overnight — but in the meantime, your account will be debited for the amount you send and the recipient will be credited for that amount.

Ways to make transfers within the same bank:

  • Check
  • Mobile banking app
  • ATM to your own linked account
  • Third-party mobile payment
  • Bank or wire transfer in person, by phone or online

Information you might need:

  • Recipient’s name
  • Recipient’s bank account number
  • Transfer amount
  • Memo

How to transfer money to other banks

Estimated time: Up to five business days

Fee: Usually

Transferring money to other banks is still straightforward, but the process is a little different than making transfers within the same bank. This is because the transaction is completed on external networks and needs to go through additional security measures.

Most banks use the Automatic Clearing House (ACH) network for electronic bank transfers, which is a quick and secure way to transfer money. Here’s how it works:

  1. Initiation. Sender initiates a direct deposit or direct payment transaction with their bank and the bank makes an ACH entry of the request.
  2. Bundling. Requests are bundled together into batches, which are transmitted to an ACH operator at intervals throughout the day.
  3. Sorting. ACH operators — known as the Federal Reserve or the Clearing House — receive batches of ACH entries, which they sort into one of three categories: individual, business or other. They then make them available to the receiving institutions.
  4. Completion. Receiving institutions complete the transaction and credit the recipient’s account.

While this may sound more complicated than making a transfer within the same bank, the transaction isn’t much different from the sender’s perspective.

Ways to transfer money to other banks:

  • Check
  • Bank or wire transfer in person, by phone or online
  • Mobile banking app
  • Third-party mobile payment
  • Direct deposit
  • Direct payment for bills, mortgage payments and the like

Information you might need:

  • Recipient’s name
  • Recipient’s account number
  • Institution, routing and branch number of recipient’s bank
  • Transfer amount
  • Memo

Domestic transfers

Estimated time: Up to five business days

Fee: Sometimes

It’s easy to send money anywhere in the country, and in some cases it can even be done for free. Domestic bank transfers usually fall into two categories: transfers within the same bank and transfers to another bank. The process is different depending on the method you use to send money, but here are a few of the most popular.

Bank or wire transfer

Bank or wire transfers are among the most common ways of sending money domestically. These types of transfers can be done at a branch, by phone or online and will generally require the recipient’s bank account number and possibly their bank’s institution and routing numbers.

Sending money with this method is easy and often takes less than 24 hours to complete, but there’s usually a fee for both the sender and recipient.

Mobile banking app

Depending on which institution you bank with, you may be able to make domestic transfers through your mobile banking app. In most cases, you’ll open the app, log on to your account and select the “transfers” option. From there, you’ll select the type of transfer you’d like to use and enter all necessary information. Depending on the method you use, here’s what you might need:

  • Recipient’s email
  • Recipients phone number
  • Recipient’s bank account number, bank routing number and institution number

Check

Checks are one of the oldest and easiest ways to transfer money, and all you’ll need is the recipient’s name and the amount. Most checks can be deposited at any bank in the country, regardless of which institution the sender banks with.

In most cases, there are no fees for sending or receiving a check, although you’ll have to purchase checks if you don’t already have them. Checks can be deposited in person, at an ATM, by mail and even with some mobile banking apps. The funds won’t be taken from the sender’s account until the check is deposited, so it’s important to ensure there’s enough money in your account to avoid bounced checks or overdraft fees.
Read up on how to write a check

Venmo

Whether you’re splitting a restaurant or utility bill, paying back a friend or even making a purchase, Venmo is a simple way to transfer money. Venmo is a peer-to-peer money transfer service that allows users to send money anywhere in the country. You can send money directly using the recipient’s username, phone number or email address. Once you sign up for an account and link your debit or credit card, you’ll be able to send or request money to and from anyone in the US.

Zelle

Zelle is another peer-to-peer payment service that’s available through a number of mobile banking apps and as a standalone app. If both the sender and recipient have accounts with banks that Zelle supports, transfers can be made instantly using an email or phone number.

However, if either party isn’t a member of a participating financial institution, transfers need to be completed through the standalone Zelle app. Doing so can make the transaction take up to three days to complete.

What bank account details do I need to send a domestic transfer?

You only need minimal details to transfer money to someone else’s bank account, including:

  • Your recipient’s routing and account number
  • Your recipient’s name as it appears on the account

Although the exact process for sending a domestic transfer will vary slightly from one bank to the next, you’ll typically have the option to either send a one-time transfer or save your recipient’s details for future transactions.

Why might I want to send a domestic transfer?

There are plenty of reasons why you might need to transfer money to another US bank account. These include:

  • Transferring money to a friend or loved one
  • Buying goods or services
  • Paying a bill
  • Paying rent
  • Paying off your credit card
  • Transferring funds from your checking account into your savings account

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International money transfers

International money transfers are a bit more complicated than sending money within the country, but luckily you can use a number of different methods. Most of these methods will charge a fee to either the sender or recipient, or sometimes both. The timeframe for international money transfers can also vary depending on which method you use.

International wire transfer

International wire transfers are not much different than domestic transfers, but they may require a bit more information. To get started, visit your local bank branch and ask for a wire transfer request form. In order to fill it out, you’ll most likely need:

  • Your bank account and contact information
  • Amount to be transferred
  • The recipient’s contact information
  • Swift code or IBAN number of their bank
  • Recipient’s bank account, routing and institution numbers

Once the form is complete, you can return it to your bank, pay the fee and your money will be on its way.

International bank draft

International bank drafts are essentially more secure checks that are accepted in most countries around the globe. With a standard check, there’s no guarantee that there’s enough money in the sender’s account to complete the transaction, as the funds aren’t withdrawn until the check clears.

With bank drafts, the sender pays for the transfer up front and the funds are withdrawn from the bank’s account, making it a much more secure way to send money. While it’s easy to send an international bank draft, there’s almost always a fee and it can take weeks to complete the transaction. You can get started by visiting your local branch and asking to send an international bank draft. All you’ll need is the amount to be sent and a way to fund the transfer, along with the recipient’s name and address.

International money transfer service

There are a slew of international money transfer services out there that are specifically designed to help you send money across the globe. These services can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few days to get your recipient the funds. The transfer speed usually depends on how you’re funding the transaction, your recipient’s location and how they plan on receiving the money.

Depending on the service you choose, transfers can usually be funded by:

  • Bank account
  • Cash
  • Debit card
  • Credit card

And then there are multiple ways for the recipient to access the money you send, including:

  • Directly to their bank account
  • Directly to their mobile wallet
  • For pickup at an agent location

Fees will vary by the money transfer specialist you choose and usually depend on where the money is being sent, the currency you’re sending, how the transfer is funded and how the recipient will receive the money.

Compare international money transfer providers

Bottom line

Thanks to new technology and innovative services, you can easily transfer money between your own bank accounts, reimburse a friend or pay your bills in just a few simple steps. While transferring money within the same bank is usually fast and free, sending money to an international account comes with varied fees and can take days to reach your recipient — depending on the method you use.

Frequently asked questions about bank transfers

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