How to Transfer Money Between Accounts at Different Banks

How To Oct 27 How to Transfer Money Between Bank Accounts

As a personal finance writer, I’m often answering questions from friends and family about basic financial principles. When someone is setting up a savings account for the first time, they’ll often ask, “How do I actually move the money from my checking to my savings?” Which is why I’ve created this guide on how to transfer money from one bank to another bank.

It seems like such a simple concept, but transferring large amounts of money almost always involves jumping through some hoops. You can’t just call up your bank and ask them to move the funds, and actively withdrawing and then depositing the money is an unnecessary hassle. So what do you do?

If you want to transfer money between bank accounts, whether they’re your own, or you’re sending money to someone else, here are the best ways to do so.

How Do Banks Transfer Money?

Every major bank uses the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system to transfer money. When your employer sends your paycheck via direct deposit, they’re using the ACH.

The ACH was created in the 1970s as a faster alternative to checks and a cheaper solution than wire transfers. It’s an electronic system that transfers money in large batches overnight. In addition to being faster than many other traditional transfer options, the ACH is often more secure than wire transfers and other types of electronic payment because it is backed by the self-regulating NACHA.

How to Transfer Money from One Bank to Another

Transferring money between different bank accounts is a common need for most people. I myself have three different banks I use for my personal and business needs, and I initiate transfers between them at least once a week. In other cases, I might be sending money to someone else, which also requires a bank to bank transfer.

Setting up external transfers can be confusing, so let’s use a hypothetical example to explain how it works using your online bank’s website. Bank A is the bank you’re transferring money out of, and Bank B is where you want to send those funds. Below, you’ll find six steps on how to transfer money from bank to bank:

1.   Go to your bank’s website to link accounts.

Log in to Bank A and click on the “Transfer Funds” section, then “External Transfers” or “External Accounts,” and finally, “Add an external account.”

2.   Proof of account ownership.

To add an external account, you have to verify your Bank B account with Bank A. Bank A will need proof that you are the owner of the account at Bank B.

3.   Provide the necessary information.

Bank A will ask for the account and routing number for Bank B (I’ll show you exactly how to find your account or routing number later in this post), and whether it’s a checking or savings account.

4.   Very the account.

Bank A will then ask you to verify your account with Bank B in one of two ways:

  1. Give them the username and password you use for Bank B, which will instantly verify the account and make it ready for external transfers.
  2. Having Bank A initiate two small transfers to Bank B. Note: You will need to log onto Bank B to see how much was deposited.

5.   Verify the deposits.

Log into Bank A and go to the “External Accounts” section. There should be a part that says, “Verify Your Deposits,” where you will enter the amounts that were transferred to Bank B. This process usually takes at least 1-2 business days.

6.   Start transferring money from one bank to another.

You are now able to transfer money from Bank A to Bank B with no problems. You can set up recurring or one-time transfers, depending on your needs.

Typically, transferring money between two accounts is free, but sometimes there’s a limit on how much you can transfer at one time. This depends on your bank’s policies. For instance, when comparing credit unions vs. banks, credit unions usually have lower fees. When transferring money in and out of your accounts, keep in mind that there are usually savings and checking account minimums you must maintain to avoid additional fees or account closures.

What Info Do You Need to Transfer Money?

When it comes to trying to figure out how to transfer money from one bank to another, it can be confusing to set up if you don’t know what you need. In order to transfer money between banks, you’ll need the following information:

  • Bank Name: You need to know the name of the bank that the receiving account is held at. This should be fairly simple to deduce, especially if you’re transferring to another one of your accounts. You might also need the address of the bank (the location where the account was created).
  • Savings/Checking Account: You need to identify whether each account is a savings or checking account. Again this should be simple if they are both your own accounts. If you’re transferring money to someone else, you’ll need to find out from them before you can make a bank transfer.
  • Personal/Business Account: You’ll also need to know whether the receiving account is a business or personal account. This is important because different guidelines and fees may apply for transfers to and from business accounts.
  • Routing Number: What is a routing number? A routing number is a nine-digit number that is associated with your bank. This number is important in ensuring that your money ends up in the right account at the right bank. One bank can have several routing numbers, so it’s important to always double check that you’re using the right one.
  • Account Number: Another important number you need when setting up a bank to bank transfer is an account number. Account numbers are eight to 12-digit numbers that are associated with your unique account. So, even if both your savings and checking accounts were at the same bank, they would have their own unique account numbers.

How Do You Find the Routing and Account Number?

There are several ways to find the routing and account number for a particular bank account:

  • Online: If you log in to your bank online, you can usually find your routing and account number in the “Account Details” or similarly labeled section. For security reasons, you might need to enter a pin or password to access this information within the app.
  • On a check: The routing and account numbers for a bank account are typically located at the bottom of a check. Starting at the bottom left corner, you will find the routing number followed by the account number and check number.

  • By phone: You can also call your bank’s customer service line to get your routing and account numbers. However, this method isn’t always very convenient due to long wait times.

Alternatives to Bank Transfers

If you want to send money from your bank account to someone else’s, you’ll typically have to find an alternative to bank to bank transfers. That’s because you need to be the account holder at both banks in order to send or receive money.  Here are some other popular bank transfer solutions:

Apps

Fortunately, doing so has become easier than ever with plenty of apps and sites offering transfer services. Whether you’re splitting the dinner bill, paying your portion of the hotel reservation for an upcoming bachelorette party, or getting some last-minute rent money from Mom and Dad—you’ll be thankful you know about these easy options when you need to quickly transfer money between banks.

Once your bank account is linked in the app, you can quickly type in a dollar amount, select the recipient, and hit send—they’ll get the funds nearly instantly.

  • PayPal: You can send money to someone else’s PayPal account for free through the “send to family and friends” option. PayPal is a fast method, so as soon as you send the money, it will appear in the other person’s PayPal account. From there, they can transfer it to their own bank account.
  • Chase QuickPay: Chase QuickPay lets you send money from your Chase bank account to someone else, who doesn’t have to be a Chase customer. If you have a Chase QuickPay account, you can also send an invoice and request that someone else sends you money.
  • Venmo: Venmo allows you to make money transfers instantly from your bank account, debit or credit card, or your running Venmo balance, eliminating the need to pull out cash to pay friends back and vice versa. Another popular feature is the social feed, which allows you to see what your friends are up to.
  • Cash App: Another popular peer-to-peer payment app is Cash App, which lets you send money to another user’s bank account or debit card. Users can also set up direct deposit, so that any funds they receive automatically go into their bank account. If you don’t like the social feed of Venmo, which shows who you’re sending money to, and for what, you’ll like that Cash App is a more private way to send your money.
  • Apple Pay/Google Pay: Depending on your preference for Apple or Google, you can use these payment apps to make bank to bank transfers, online payments, and more. Apple Pay is connected to your Apple Wallet and makes it simple to send money back and forth, which you can easily do while texting by just hitting the Apple Pay button under the text field or clicking the Google Pay button.

 

Not only are they usually more convenient when you need to do a bank to bank transfer with someone who uses a different one than you, but they often allow the recipient to get the money the same day—usually for a small fee, of course.

Additionally, you can also keep a balance in these apps, which can act as a short-term savings account. For instance, if you have someone transferring you rent money, it’s easier not to accidentally spend it if it’s not sitting in your bank account. If you choose to do this, just make sure you’re not using this balance to make payments to others, or you might find yourself stressed when the 1st of the month rolls around.

Writing a Check

While it might seem outdated, writing a check is a feasible alternative to transfer funds to another one of your accounts or to someone else. If you don’t have a checkbook, many banks may provide a few checks per year, free of charge, or for a small fee. So, how do you transfer money using a check? It’s easy:

  1. Get a check from your bank if you don’t have any.
  2. Fill out the required information, including the date, amount you want to transfer (in words and numbers), the recipient’s name/organization, your signature, and the memo if you want to include specific info about the transaction.
  3. Deposit the check into another account or give it whoever is going to deposit it.

Wire Transfers

Another option when you need to transfer money between banks quickly is a wire transfer, which allows you to send money electronically. Wire transfers are a feasible alternative if you need to figure out how to transfer money without going through your bank since there are nonbank providers such as Western Union.

Wire transfers are a popular solution for sending money abroad or making fast transfers. For a wire transfer, you’ll typically need:

  • The recipient’s name
  • The destination
  • Transfer amount

*Note: Dates and amounts may vary depending on your bank and type of transfer. Policies may change.

Which Transfer Method Should You Use?

There are several factors to consider when trying to decide how to transfer money between banks, including:

  • How Long a Transfer Will Take: While some apps allow for instant transfers, which cost an additional fee (for example, Cash App charges a 1.5% fee and Venmo charges 1% up to $10), most bank transfer options take several business days. Depending on how badly you need the funds, you might need to choose the fastest transfer method.
  • How Much It Costs to Make a Transfer: If your bank account balance is low, or you just don’t want to spend unnecessary money, you may prioritize how much it costs to transfer money. Different methods can be more expensive. For instance, wire transfers are usually the most expensive option costing between $25 to $45 depending on whether you’re sending money within the U.S. or abroad.
  • Transfer Limits: Some of these methods limit how much you can transfer to your bank account per day or month. Being aware of these limits is important to ensure you are able to send or receive the full amount you need.

Key Takeaways for How to Transfer Money from One Bank to Another

  • You can transfer money between banks through your financial institution or an app.
  • Bank to bank transfers between your own accounts are best done through your bank.
  • Transferring money from your bank to a friend or family member is easier using an app.
  • Writing checks and wire transfers are also popular alternatives for transferring money to other people.
  • To transfer money between banks, you’ll need: Routing numbers for the accounts, account numbers, savings/checking account information, whether the accounts are personal or business, and the bank name.

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Debt Free After Three.

This article has been updated since it was originally published on Oct 1, 2013.

Comments (8) Leave your comment

  1. Dear Lord, you still live in the stone age!
    Do you know how we transfer money from one bank to another in Brazil?
    1. Ask the account number for the people you want to transfer the money (Bank B, for example…but it could be C, D, E).
    2. Open your bank app (Bank A) with your password or your fingerprints.
    3. Choose the transfer option and fill the gaps with your friend’s information.
    4. Use your fingerprints or password to confirm.
    5. Your friend will receive the money in MINUTES.

    Generally, you will not pay a cent if you make until 4 money transfers in a month.
    If you are transfering a large amount of money, someone of the bank will call you to confirm that you are really doing that.
    You don’t need verification from the other bank or anything like that. Just the account number and that’s it.
    I don’t even remember the last time I use a check. Maybe 5/6 years ago…but definitely not for transfering money.

    1. I’m not sure you read this post very carefully. She never mentioned using a check (although in fact, use of checks is actually still very common) to make the transfer, only as one option for finding the bank routing numbers.

    2. That is the way it works in Mexico too! there this thing called SPEI (Sistema de Pagos Electronicos Interbancarios or Electronic Interbank Payments System).
      Every account has a unique 18 digit number regardless of the bank it was opened (internal account numbers may vary in the number of digits) and that is all you need to send yourself or someone else money, just this universal 18 digit number for the account you are sending money to, and the transfer arrives in minutes if not seconds.

      I don’t know if there’s a limit on the number of transfers you can do each month, but if there is I have not reached it.

  2. Ok, so here’s my question about the ACH. I will stay with the example of moving money from my bank A account to my bank B account, but I want to initiate a process from the bank B by adding an external account A there. Am I going to be charged only bank B fees (if any), or actually both bank A and bank B fees?

  3. So it would seem that I would need two PayPal accounts to transfer money to another of my banks rapidly. I’m trying to find a fast transfer method. PayPal will not allow you to add money to it via debit card, but you can make purchases or send money via debit card. When you receive money in PayPal you have the option for ACH or pay 1% for instant transfer via debit card to your bank. So it seems I require 2 PayPal accounts. Send money to “family/friends” instantly, then receive it myself with the other PayPal and transfer instantly to that bank.

  4. Just use Google pay with your debit card. My wife and I swap money back and forth using only debit cards. No fees and instant transfer.

  5. Thanks for this great guide about money transfers. I would like to add one more point to the alternative list:

    TransferWise is the cheapest and fastest method of sending international money payments.
    If you signup with the link https://transferwise.com/u/danielg264 you can save fees for more than $600 dollars!

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