How to Transfer Money from One Bank Account to Another

Transferring money to other bank accounts.

It’s taco night, ten friends show up, but nobody brings cash...
Your sister blows a tire on her way back to college...
You find $40 in a bank account you haven’t used in ages...

There are plenty of reasons for needing to transfer money––and plenty of ways to get the job done. From old-fashioned checks to new-fashioned apps and online bank transfers, there’s a way to transfer money that will suit your timeframe, budget and other needs.

Whether you’re looking for how to make bank-to-bank transfers between your own accounts or how to transfer money to someone else’s bank account, wire transfers can be a common method. A wire transfer is an electronic transfer of money. These bank transfers can usually be done online or you have the option to go to a branch and request the transfer in person. You also typically have the option to transfer money by writing a check and depositing the money into the other bank account. And finally, another popular way of sending money is with money transfer apps that connect to your bank account and allow you to quickly transfer money to friends and family.

Transfer money from one bank account to another

If you need to transfer money between two of your own accounts at different banks, the process is typically free, and you can do it with your online banking account. But first you’ll need to “link” the accounts, which can take about a week. Every bank varies a bit, but these are generally the steps you’ll need to go through:

  1. Once you’re logged in, select "link accounts," "add an account," "add external accounts," or something similar.

  2. You’ll be asked to provide the routing number and your account number for the other bank. You can find these numbers on your bank account page online or on your checks; the routing number has 9 digits and the account number is typically the longer number. If you don’t have checks, your bank can help you locate both numbers.

  3. From there, you’ll have to prove that the other account is yours, usually by providing a username and password or by confirming small “test” transfers between the two banks. Each bank handles this process a little differently, so just follow the instructions as closely as you can.

Transferring money from a checking account to a prepaid card online is also usually free. The steps are similar to those above. In this case, you’d be asked to provide the bank name, account number and routing number of your prepaid card to create an external account.

If you need to transfer money from your bank account to another person's bank account, there are new options all the time. The “borderless account” by TransferWise, for instance, allows you to wire money online using your bank account to someone else’s account in a day or two. There are no set-up or monthly fees, but you’ll need to register and verify your identity, just as you would with a bank.

Instead of sending one-off transfers, you can also set up recurring bank transfers to help make saving a no-brainer. You choose the amount and the frequency, and automatic transfers can do the rest for you. Some banks allow you to set up bill pay, too. You can save yourself some work by paying your bills with an online transfer or even set up automatic bill pay.

Online bank transfer apps

There’s an ever-growing list of money-transfer apps, including Zelle, Venmo, Popmoney, Square Cash, WorldRemit, Azimo, PayPal and many others. They all tout unique features, so visiting their websites may help you pick one that best meets your needs.

Apps can be a good idea if you’re looking for low (or no) fees, convenience or an alternative to carrying cash. Essentially, they give you a fairly quick and easy way to send money to someone else’s bank account using your mobile device.

With Zelle, for example, you’d download the app to your device, follow enrollment instructions and enter information such as the email address or mobile number of the person you’re paying and the amount you’d like to send.

According to Zelle, if you and the recipient are both enrolled, sending or receiving money should take just minutes.1

When using apps to transfer money online to a bank account, always be sure that you’re paying the person you intended, as transactions can’t usually be reversed. On the flip side, only accept payments from people you know and trust. While problems are rare, hackers and scammers are always on the prowl for weak spots. So anytime you’re sending money online, slow down, double check your digits and keep your apps up-to-date.

Down to the wire: Bank-to-bank wire transfers

Wire transfers have been helping people move money around for quite some time. Founded in the 1800s, Western Union is one well-known payment service that allows customers to transfer funds quickly by dropping off or picking up cash at any of its locations worldwide.

Like all things, wire transfers come with pros and cons. On the upside, they can be fast and don’t require you to jump through too many technical hoops. On the downside, they typically involve fees, which vary depending on whether you’re transferring money to someone’s bank account or setting them up to receive cash.

You can also usually wire transfer money between banks. To do so, you’ll need to have some information on hand, including the recipient’s account number along with their bank’s name and routing number. Fees here can typically range from $0 for incoming domestic transfers to $65 for outgoing international transfers.1

If there’s a word of caution about wire transfers, it’s this: Once the recipient collects the cash or it's deposited into another account, the money is essentially "gone," so be sure you know exactly who you’re sending money to and that all of the information you provide is accurate.

Transfer money by check

Sometimes, a slightly slower, no-tech method of payment is all you need. If you’re paying yourself, you can simply write your own name next to “Pay to the Order of” on your check and deposit it in your account. You may even be able to skip a trip to the bank by using the mobile deposit feature on your bank’s app or visiting a nearby ATM.

To pay others by check, put their full name or company name on the payee line. If you’re not sure about the payee, you can make a check payable to "Cash." Just remember that anyone will be able to cash it, so keep it safe until you’re ready to hand it over.

If you don’t have checks, your bank can usually print a cashier’s check or counter check for you on-demand. Cashier’s checks are guaranteed funds with payee information printed on them. Counter checks work like regular checks, drawing money from your checking account when they clear. Keep in mind, a bank might charge a fee for a cashier's or counter check.

Knowing how to transfer money from one bank to another is a handy skill to have, especially when you have lots of options. Whether you need to send money to a bank account instantly or enjoy the simplicity of writing a check, you have choices.

How long does it take to transfer bank funds?

How long online money transfers between banks takes depends on what method you use, but the typical answer is a few days. Using a wire transfer to send money to a bank account is typically faster when the transfer is domestic, rather than international. Some wire transfers can be complete in 24 hours.1 When money is transferred through a money transfer app, you usually have the option to keep transferred funds available in the app to send to someone else, or you can cash out by depositing to your bank. Depending on the app, this usually takes a few days as well.2 When transferring money with a check, it usually take a few days for checks to clear and be deposited into the account.3 In general, your typical bank-to-bank transfer will take a few business days to go through.4

So next time the whole crew shows up for taco Tuesday, you’ll have ways to safely transfer the money you need.


This site is for educational purposes. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

Citations

  1. Dixon, A. (Nov. 20, 2018). How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take? Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://smartasset.com/checking-account/how-long-does-a-wire-transfer-take

  2. Latham, S. (Nov. 27, 2018). Here’s How to Send Money to Someone – Quickly, Easily, and Cheaply. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://www.thesimpledollar.com/banking/best-apps-to-send-money/

  3. Goetz, L. (June 27, 2019). How Long Does It Take a Check to Clear? Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/081716/how-long-does-it-take-check-clear.asp

  4. Tierney, S. (May 20, 2019). ACH Transfers: How They Work. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/ach-transfers/

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