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Whether you're sending funds to a relative in another country or paying cash to buy a used car from a private party, there are times when you need to get money from one bank account to another quickly. For these situations, many people choose bank transfers.
Depending on the institutions sending and receiving the funds, and the method used, a bank transfer could take between one and five business days. Understanding the different ways to send money will help you choose the option that best suits your needs.
How Long Does It Take to Wire Money?
Wire transfers electronically transfer money from one bank account to another. You can initiate a wire transfer through banks or non-bank services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Domestic wire transfers (transfers to banks within the U.S.) are generally completed the same business day. International wire transfers usually take longer―sometimes as much as five business days.
Several other factors may affect how long a money transfer takes.
- Timing of the transfer: Wire transfers aren't processed on weekends or holidays, only on business days. In addition, banks and non-bank services set their own cutoff times for when they will process a wire transfer. For instance, if your bank's cutoff time is 3 p.m., a domestic transfer you initiate at 3:10 p.m. won't be processed until the next business day.
- Countries involved: Are you sending money internationally? Different countries have different banking regulations and fraud detection processes, which can add to processing time. In countries designated as "slow to pay" nations, there may be additional delays.
- Third-party intermediaries: International wire transfers often involve a third-party bank which acts as an intermediary between the sending and receiving banks. Adding an extra bank to the process can slow down the transaction.
How Much Do Bank Transfers Cost?
The cost of a bank transfer varies depending on the type of transfer and the financial institutions involved. Wire transfers generally cost from $10 to $35. This charge may include:
- Fees for sending money
- Fees for receiving money
- Fees charged by third-party banks involved in international bank transfers
- Currency exchange fees for international bank transfers
There may be other fees. Check with the bank or company handling the wire transfer to make sure you understand all the costs involved before you initiate the transaction.
What Is the Fastest Way to Transfer Money?
If you're transferring money domestically, a wire transfer is usually the fastest way to go. However, there are other ways to transfer money, including:
Automated clearing house (ACH) transfers can be used to move money from one U.S. bank to another. Most banks offer ACH transfer services to customers at no charge.
The downside: ACH transfers aren't as fast as wire transfers. Wire transfers give recipients access to money as soon as it appears in their bank account. Money from an ACH transfer remains "pending" for up to three business days before recipients can use it.
Writing a Check
You can write a check and have the recipient deposit it at the bank or via the bank's mobile app. This method can transfer money in as little as two business days.
Under federal law, the first $225 of a check must be available the next business day after the check is deposited. Generally, the recipient gets access to the rest on the following business day.
If a check for $1,000 is deposited on Monday, for example, the recipient can usually access $225 on Tuesday and the rest on Wednesday. However, deposits of more than $5,525 in one day may take longer to clear, as banks can hold those funds longer than two business days.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Payment Apps
Apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle and Cash App are other options for sending money. Most P2P apps give you the option to leave the transferred funds in your P2P account and use them right away. Transferring the funds from your app to your bank account can take several days, but if you need faster access, many apps will transfer funds to your bank account instantly for a fee.
Using P2P apps to transfer money has both pros and cons compared to using a bank to transfer funds.
- There's no need to carry cash or cards, just your phone.
- You can send money instantly.
- Funds may not be available instantly, even if the money shows up in the recipient's account.
- If you send money to the wrong account by mistake, you may not get it back.
You can help protect yourself by using P2P apps only to send money to people you know and double-checking their contact information before sending money.
Many Ways to Move Money
There are several different ways to transfer money from one bank to another, each with its pros and cons. ACH transfers and wire transfers are reliable methods for moving large sums. P2P payments work well for smaller transactions with friends and family. Checks suit any size and type of transaction.
Keeping your bank account in good standing can help ensure you have access to any free money transfer services the bank offers, such as ACH transfers. Bank account balances and transactions don't affect your credit score, but if you have unpaid late fees or penalties, the bank may send your account to a collection agency to get paid. Accounts in collections appear on your credit report and can negatively affect your credit score.