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How to transfer money to a bank account

From old-fashioned checks to tech-savvy apps, we explore 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. Make a money transfer to a bank account from anywhere — even 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.

Send money directly with Venmo 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

Available in its own app, Zelle’s peer-to-peer payment service is accessible through multiple mobile banking apps, too. If both the sender and recipient have accounts with banks that Zelle supports, transfers are instant using an email or phone number.

However, if neither party is a member of a participating financial institution, they must use Zelle’s app to complete the transfer. Allow up to three days for the transaction 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 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.

Compare bank accounts

Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Offer
BMO Harris Smart Advantage Account
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Earn a $200 cash bonus after $4,000 deposits in the first 90 days. Pay $0 monthly fees and no minimum balance. Access a large nationwide network of free ATMs.
Chime Checking account
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Chime Checking account
$0 per month
$0
1.50%
Get rid of monthly fees with this financial app offering consumer-friendly accounts. Chime can also help you save easily and access your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
HSBC Premier Checking
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Bonus
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$50 per month
$0
0.01% on balances of $5+
Get a $500 welcome bonus when you open your account with qualifying activities. Must open HSBC Premier checking account through offer page by February 15, 2023, and set up qualifying direct deposits into the new account totalling at least $10,000 per month for three consecutive months. Conditions apply. Deposit products are offered in the US by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.

HSBC Premier Checking offers free global transfers and 24/7 customer support.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
Finder Rating: 5 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank Essential Checking
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Pay $0 monthly and overdraft fees, and get reimbursed for domestic ATM fees. No opening deposit or minimum balance requirement. Get your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
Upgrade Rewards Checking
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Upgrade Rewards Checking
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Earn up to 2% cashback rewards on everyday purchases. Pay $0 fees for overdraft, domestic wire transfer and monthly maintenance. Pair with Upgrade’s savings account to earn 3.75% APY. Get up to 20% discounts on Upgrade loans and credit lines.
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Compare up to 4 providers

$
Name Product Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Minimum balance to earn interest Minimum deposit to open Offer Estimated total balance
CIT Savings Connect
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CIT Savings Connect

4.05%

$0
$100
$1,041.33
Secure a 4.05% APY, 16x the national average. Pay $0 in monthly fees and no account opening fee.
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Barclays Online Savings

3.40%

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CD
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American Express® High Yield Savings Account
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American Express® High Yield Savings Account

3.30%

$1
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$1,033.55
Enjoy no monthly fees and a competitive APY with this online-only savings account. Accounts offered by American Express National Bank, Member FDIC.
UFB Best Savings
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UFB Best Savings

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$1,043
Score an impressive 4.21% APY, and pay $0 in monthly fees. No minimum deposit requirement.
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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 numerous methods. Most of them will charge a fee to either the sender or recipient, or sometimes both. The timeframe for international money transfers can also vary depending on the 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 request 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 International Bank Account Number (IBAN).
  • 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.

Get started by visiting your local branch and asking to send an international bank draft. All you’ll need is the amount to send, how you’ll 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 the recipient’s location, the currency you’re sending, how the transfer is funded and how the recipient receives the money.

Compare international money transfer providers

What do I do if I transferred money into the wrong bank account?

As soon as you’ve noticed that you may have transferred it to the wrong account, call up your bank to try and fix the problem. The whole process may take up to a month, as banks usually need to communicate with each other to attempt to get the money back.

If the account you’ve transferred to by accident doesn’t exist, then the transfer usually bounces back and the bank charge a service fee. If the account does exist, then owner of the recipient account is legally required to notify the bank if they notice any extra funds that have been wrongfully put into their account.

Bottom line

Thanks to new technology and innovative services, money easily transfers between your own bank accounts — to reimburse a friend or pay your bills — in 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

How long do transfers take?

Transfer times vary depending on the service, destination, currency, funding method and many other factors. For example, Wise money transfers are instant if you pay with a debit or credit card, but can take up to three days if you fund the transaction through a bank transfer.

How do I send a transfer from my smartphone?

Many mobile banking apps and money transfer services allow you to send money from your smartphone through an app or mobile browser. Speak with your bank or explore other mobile payment options to find out if you can use your smartphone to send your next transfer.

How do I transfer money to accounts with other banks?

Use the Payments or Transfers feature in your online banking account to transfer funds between your checking and savings accounts or pay off your credit card, among other options.

How do I cancel or change a transfer request?

In most cases, you won’t be able to cancel or change a transfer once it has been sent. Some transfer service providers and banks may have a small window of time during which you can cancel or change your request, so it’s important to check the policy before you make your transfer.

Can I send money overseas?

Yes. Send money overseas from your bank account, but transfer fees and exchange rates apply to the transaction. Compare specialist online money-transfer companies to see if you might be able to find a better deal.

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