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At its best money can provide flexibility, and part of that is being able to move your money without causing headaches. Money causes enough stress on its own; you don’t need to add to it.
It used to be that transferring money between accounts meant a trip to the bank. These days there are a number of convenient options, from bank transfers to apps. Moving money fluidly has never been easier.
How to transfer money between banks in four simple steps
Step 1: Know where your money is going and how much of it is making the trip
The details matter. Before moving your money, make sure you know the information for the account to which you are sending it, along with other relevant information, such as the account details of where you’re moving the money from. For example, what are the routing and account numbers? Also, don’t forget to ensure that there’s enough money to cover the transfer.
Step 2: Choose how you’re going to send the money
There are a number of options for moving money these days. Which one are you planning to use? A physical bank, a credit union, a money transfer app, a banking app? Then check what the different methods cost, whether there are any limitations on how much you can transfer, and how long it takes for the transfer to happen.
Step 3: Send the money
Once you have all that figured out, sending the money is straightforward. If it’s through an app, then log onto the app and select “transfer.” Enter the relevant information and approve the transfer. If it’s in person at a bank, take the information to the branch and speak with a teller.
Step 4: Make sure the transfer went through
If you were sending the money to someone else, did it get there? Until you’re sure, hold onto any documents you have in case you need to ask the bank to reverse the transfer (if, for instance, you accidentally sent it to the wrong place).
What is the best way to transfer money between banks?
Bank websites make the process simple: Log onto the website of your financial institution and punch in the account details in the transfer section. Once you’ve double-checked the account numbers, approve the transfer.
There are, however, a few cases in which this may not be your best option.
What are alternative ways to transfer money?
If you want to electronically transmit a large amount of money from one bank to another or send money overseas, a wire transfer could be in order.
The term “wire transfer” usually refers to transactions that rely on the SWIFT network, a global financial messaging network used for international transfers. These work by moving the money from the sender’s account to their bank, which then communicates with the receiver’s bank before moving the money electronically. Transfers can move across multiple banks if the money is moving abroad.
Then there’s an automated clearing house (ACH) transfer. These go through the ACH network clearing house, an electronic network intermediary that’s used by credit unions and banks across the U.S. to limit risk in payments.
How does that work? According to Nacha, the organization that oversees the ACH network, once a transfer is requested, the bank from which the money is being sent will package a group of ACH transfers and send them to the clearing house. The transfers will then be processed by the ACH network. From there the transfers are sent to the receiving bank in waves. Once that bank has the funds, it will credit the relevant accounts.
Apps are perhaps the most convenient option. Many banks now have their own apps. For example, if you bank with Chase, you can access most financial services by logging into its app. Some financial apps are particularly good for specific types of transfers. For instance, if you register an account with Revolut, the London-based FinTech company regulated by Lithuania, the online site gives clear currency exchange rates for transferring money internationally.
Wire transfer vs. other types: Key differences
What are some of the key differences between the kinds of transfers mentioned here?
Wire transfers are considered the better option for moving money internationally or for moving a lot of money. That’s because they move through electronic networks before moving the money, providing an extra element of security. The SWIFT network, affiliated with most wire transfers, is used globally. The limits on these transfers also tend to be high.
ACH transfers are common in online bill paying, and they are typically free or low-cost. These transfers move money from one bank to another over the ACH network. That network is used regularly in the U.S., with 30 billion payments worth nearly $77 trillion made in 2022, according to Nacha. Though slower than some other options, this system provides some protection against fraud without you having to do anything extra. ACH transfers are also more reversible than other means of transfers. (You might even have used this sort of transfer without realizing it. If you’re using a third-party app to move money, that app might be using ACH.)
Many third-party apps will also allow you to move money smoothly. These apps can make transfers between people and digital payments frictionless. It can take just a couple of buttons. An advantage of apps is that you can connect a digital wallet to make payments from your phone, though these can open your financial data up to further vulnerability from hackers.
Special considerations when transferring funds
Before making a transfer, make sure you know to whom the account belongs and double-check the account and routing numbers. If you get them wrong, your money may go to someone other than the intended recipient. And always hold onto documentation of the transfer, in case something does go wrong.
TIME Stamp: Moving money is more convenient than ever
There’s never been an easier time to transfer money. Whether apps, wire transfers, or physical checks fit your needs, there is a way to move your money where you need it to go. Depending on the bank, there may be features that make certain types of transfer more convenient.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Where can I transfer money?
The traditional way to transfer money used to be in person at your bank. You know, the offline place. Today, however, there are a number of apps that can accomplish the transfer electronically, including the money transfer apps PayPal, Zelle, CashApp, and Venmo. There are also credit unions, such as Western Union, and many banks have their own dedicated app.
How long does an international wire transfer take?
International wire transfers can take anywhere from one to five business days.
How long does a domestic bank transfer take?
A domestic bank transfer will usually happen within 24 hours, though in some cases it can take up to three days.
What details do I need for an international bank transfer?
To make an international bank transfer, you’ll need the name, physical address, and country of the person to whom you are transferring money (the recipient); the name and full address of the recipient bank; the recipient’s account number (you may need a country-specific account structure—for example a CLABE for Mexico or an IBAN for many European countries); the recipient bank’s SWIFT/BIC, Branch code or National ID; the currency of the recipient’s account; and the purpose of the transfer.
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