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There are several ways to transfer money between bank accounts, whether online, through a mobile app or by visiting a bank branch. The best method depends on when you need the money to arrive and why you’re sending it.
You’ll learn about different transfer methods below, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
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What Is a Bank Transfer?
A bank transfer is a transaction that moves money from one bank account to another, either electronically or via a check. A bank transfer can be internal, meaning the transfer occurs between accounts at the same bank, or external, with funds transferred between accounts at two different banks.
Bank transfers offer convenience since you don’t have to withdraw cash to move funds. You might use a bank transfer to move small amounts of money between your own accounts or move larger amounts to someone else’s bank if you’re buying a home or a car.
How Do Bank Transfers Work?
In a bank transfer, one account sends money, and another receives it. The accounts may be owned by the same person or by two different entities.
Say you want to transfer funds from your traditional checking account to an online high-yield savings account. Log into the savings account and link your checking account by entering your routing and account numbers. Once linked, navigate to the website’s “transfers” section, and choose the connected checking account as the sender. Enter the amount you want to transfer, and select the transfer date. Verify all of the details, then submit your request.
Knowing how to transfer money from bank to bank—or between accounts at the same bank—can make managing your finances easier. And, if you’re saving toward a particular financial goal, you can schedule recurring transfers from checking to savings.
Things to Keep In Mind Before Transferring
There are different options for transferring money between banks, and it’s important to choose the method best suited to your needs. Before scheduling a bank transfer, consider:
- Timing. Some bank transfer methods may be faster than others, which can be critical if speed is of the essence.
- Cost. While some bank transfer options cost nothing, others may require you to pay a fee. For example, if you’re interested in sending a wire transfer, you’ll want to know how much that will cost first.
- Transfer limits. Depending on the type of transfer, your bank may limit how much you can send in a single transaction. There may also be daily, weekly or monthly limits on bank transfers.
How to Transfer Money From One Bank Account to Another
Several transfer methods are available, each for use in different situations. Here are five ways to transfer money between bank accounts.
Internal Electronic Funds Transfers
If you have more than one account at the same bank—like a checking account and savings account—it’s often easy to move money between them. This is known as an “internal transfer.” Go to your bank’s website or mobile app and look for options to transfer funds. You’ll usually be able to set up a one-time or recurring transfer between connected accounts, and most internal transfers settle immediately or within one business day.
External Electronic Funds Transfers
Suppose you have an online savings account at a separate bank than your checking account. You can connect your savings account with your checking account and set up an “external transfer.” To transfer money to an external account, you’ll typically need the external bank’s routing number and your account number. Once the accounts are linked, you can make transfers between them whenever you’d like.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps like Venmo, PayPal, Cash App and Zelle let you send money to friends or family or pay small businesses directly from your bank account. But not all P2P apps automatically move money you receive to your bank account. PayPal has a feature that can automatically sweep funds into your bank account every 24 hours, but most P2P payment apps lack that setting. Different apps also have different fees, processing times and transaction limits, so check the fine print before signing up.
Wire transfers can help you send money to external accounts quickly and securely—but usually for a fee. This type of transfer is useful if you need to send significant sums of cash immediately because funds are usually available within one business day or even a few hours. Wire transfer fees vary by bank. It may cost $5 or more for domestic wire transfers or $25 or more for international wires.
You can also write a check to yourself if you want to move money from one checking account to another or deposit funds into a new account. Now that mobile check deposit has become common, you can write and deposit a check from the comfort of your home. But remember that it may take a few business days for the check to clear, during which time it will appear as a pending transaction in the deposit account.
How Long Does a Bank Transfer Take?
Depending on the type of bank transfer, it could take anywhere from a few seconds to several days for the money to move. Here’s how long it typically takes with each type of transfer.
- Internal EFTs: Often instant, especially if the accounts are already linked
- External EFTs: Up to two business days
- P2P payment apps. Instant, but transferring money to your bank can take longer.
- Wire transfers. Up to two business days, though domestic transfers may be received the same day if sent before the bank’s designated cutoff time. International transfers may take longer.
What Do You Need for a Bank Transfer?
To complete a bank transfer, you’ll need information about the sender and receiver accounts. How easy it is to complete a bank transfer depends on whether the accounts are at the same bank or different banks and whether both accounts belong to you.
If you’re moving money between accounts in your name at the same bank, you just need to know which account should send the money and which one should receive it. You can log in to online or mobile banking, select the transfer option, then choose each account from the menu.
If you’re sending money to another person’s account, you’ll need to know their name, account number and routing number. If you’re using mobile payment apps, you might just need the person’s username or email address to send funds.
If you’re interested in how to transfer money from Cash App to a bank account or how to transfer money from Venmo to a bank, you’ll need the account and routing numbers for the account the money is going to. Cash App and Venmo require account verification before transferring money from the app to your bank.
How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?
Domestic wire transfers typically take 24 hours to complete, though you might see the amount debited from your bank account in as little as an hour after requesting the transfer. If someone sends you money via a wire transfer, you might see the deposit show up the same day, though it can still take a few business days to clear.
The processing time is usually longer if you’re sending money via international wire transfer. Depending on the bank, it might take anywhere from one to five days for an international wire transfer to process.
There’s nothing complicated about how to transfer money from bank to bank, and it helps to know what options you have for moving funds around. Before transferring money, consider how long it could take and what it could cost you. That can help you ensure your money gets where it needs to go without unnecessary fees.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can I transfer money?
You can transfer money to accounts you own at the same or different banks. Wire transfers and ACH transfers allow you to move money between your account and someone else’s account, either at the same bank or at different banks. You can also transfer money to mobile payment apps or friends and family via those apps.
How long does an international wire transfer take?
International wire transfers can take anywhere from one to five days to complete, depending on the bank. They tend to be slower than domestic wire transfers and more expensive.
What details do I need for an international bank transfer?
To send an international bank transfer, you’ll need to know the recipient’s name and address. You’ll also need their bank account number and the bank’s SWIFT code. You’ll need an International Payments System Routing Code to send money via wire transfer to certain countries.
What is the best way to transfer money between banks?
The best way to transfer money between banks is the one that delivers funds according to your preferred timeline while resulting in minimal costs to you. For example, ACH transfers are generally fee-free and settle within a few business days. But if speed is important, then you might consider a wire transfer instead.