How to Transfer Money Between Bank Accounts

Long gone are the days when the only way to transfer money between accounts at different banks was by check or cash.

transaction completed

Nowadays, technology makes it easy to send money where it needs to go. For example, you can use an ACH transfer or another online option to transfer money within a few days at little to no cost to you. Or you could always wire the funds, but it’ll cost you.

Setting Up the Accounts for Transfers

Before you can transfer money between bank accounts, you’ll need to ensure that the accounts are set up properly for transfers.

Opening Accounts with the Same Bank

Having accounts with the same bank can make transferring money much more straightforward. Many financial institutions offer streamlined internal transfer processes for customers with multiple accounts at the same bank.

Linking Accounts from Different Banks

To transfer money between accounts at different banks, you’ll need to link the accounts first. This can typically be done online or through a mobile banking app.

How to Link Accounts Online or Through a Mobile App

  1. Log in to your online banking or mobile banking app.
  2. Locate the option to link an external account. This may be under the “Transfers” or “Accounts” section.
  3. Provide the required information, including the routing and account numbers of the external account.
  4. Verify the linked account, usually by confirming small test transactions made by the financial institution.

How to Link Accounts in Person or Over the Phone

If you prefer to link accounts in person or over the phone, visit a local bank branch or call the customer service number for your bank. A representative will guide you through the process of linking your accounts.

How to Transfer Money from One Bank to Another

There are several methods to transfer money from one bank to another. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on your specific needs.

ACH Transfers

Explanation of ACH transfers

Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers are electronic transactions used for transferring money between financial institutions. ACH transfers are typically free or low-cost, making them an attractive option for many people.

Pros and Cons


  • Low cost or free
  • Reliable and secure
  • Widely available for domestic transfers


  • Slower than some other methods
  • Not suitable for international transfers
  • Transfer limits may apply

Time Frame

ACH transfers typically take 1-3 business days to complete.

How to Initiate ACH Transfers

  1. Log in to your online or mobile banking platform.
  2. Choose the “Transfers” or “Move Money” option.
  3. Select the sending and receiving accounts.
  4. Enter the transfer amount and any additional information.
  5. Review the details and submit the transfer.

Wire Transfers

Explanation of Wire Transfers

Wire transfers are electronic transfers that enable you to send money directly from one bank account to another, both domestically and internationally. They are a faster option than ACH transfers, but wire transfer fees are typically higher.

Pros and Cons


  • Fast transfer speed
  • Suitable for international bank transfers
  • Secure and reliable


  • Higher fees compared to other methods
  • Not always available for all account types, such as money market accounts

Time Frame

Domestic wire transfers typically take 1 business day, while international wire transfers can take 3-5 business days or more.

How to Initiate a Wire Transfer

  1. Visit your bank’s branch or use online banking.
  2. Provide the recipient’s bank account information, including account number, routing number, and any required bank codes for an international wire transfer.
  3. Provide the transfer amount and any additional details.
  4. Review the fees and submit the transfer.

Bank-to-Bank Transfers

Explanation of a Bank-to-Bank Transfer

A bank-to-bank transfer, also known as a bank transfer or external transfer, involves moving money directly from one bank account to another without using intermediary services. This method is typically used for transferring funds between your own checking and savings accounts or sending money to someone else’s account within the same financial institution.

Pros and Cons


  • Generally free or low-cost
  • Convenient for transferring between accounts at the same bank
  • Secure and reliable


  • Limited to accounts within the same financial institution
  • May not be as fast as other methods

Time Frame

A bank-to-bank transfer usually takes 1-2 business days to complete, though transfers between accounts at the same bank may be completed within the same day.

How to Initiate a Bank-to-Bank Transfer

  1. Log in to your online or mobile banking platform.
  2. Select the “Transfers” or “Move Money” option.
  3. Choose the sending and receiving accounts.
  4. Enter the transfer amount and any additional details.
  5. Review the transfer and submit.


Explanation of Using Checks to Transfer Money

Writing a check is a traditional method of transferring money from one bank to another. Although less popular in the digital age, checks can still be a convenient way to transfer funds, especially when dealing with different banks or when online services are not available.

Cashier’s Check

If you’d prefer not to use a personal check, a cashier’s check is also an option. Once the check is deposited, the funds should be available immediately or the following day since they are guaranteed and have already cleared the bank.

To get one, you may have to pay a nominal fee. Furthermore, the funds will be withdrawn from your account when the check prints.

Pros and Cons


  • Widely accepted by banks and credit unions
  • Can be used for domestic and international transfers
  • No need for electronic access to accounts


  • Slower than electronic methods
  • Possibility of lost or stolen checks
  • Requires physically mailing or depositing the check

Time Frame

The time it takes for a check to clear depends on various factors, such as the banks involved and the amount of the check. Generally, it takes a few business days for the funds to be available in the receiving account.

How to Write a Check for a Transfer

  1. Write the date on the check.
  2. Fill in the payee’s name or write “Cash” if transferring to your own account.
  3. Write the transfer amount in both numerals and words.
  4. Sign the check and add any necessary memo information.
  5. Mail or deliver the check to the recipient or deposit it in the receiving account.

Online Options

Always on the go? One of these online options should get the job done.

woman transferring money


Venmo functions as a digital wallet and allows you to transfer money from one bank to another quickly. The service is free unless the source of the funds comes from a credit card.

To use this service:

  • Link the bank account you want to withdraw funds from to your Venmo account.
  • Pay yourself on Venmo from that same bank account. (You can also use a debit card).
  • Transfer the funds to the intended bank account from the available balance in your Venmo account. It should only take one business day to process and clear your bank for use.

Google Pay

Google Wallet operates in the same manner as Venmo, and transfers can be done free of charge. To get started, log in to your Google account and access the Google Wallet feature.


You can also use PayPal to move funds without incurring a fee. But it may take a while because PayPal must verify any bank account linked to your PayPal account first. A closer look at how it works:

  • Sign up for a PayPal account if you don’t already have one.
  • Link your bank account to your profile. You may be able to verify the accounts quickly if you use online banking. (If you’re sending money to someone other than yourself, you’ll only need to link and verify the account funds are being drawn from).
  • Confirm test deposits sent by PayPal.
  • Add money to your PayPal account from your bank account. (This could take three to five business days, but a debit card transfer will post immediately, and you may incur a fee).
  • Send funds from your PayPal balance to the intended account. The funds will arrive within three to five business days.


Zelle works with select banks and credit unions to help customers transfer funds between accounts at different institutions. Participating banks include:

  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • 1st Bank
  • PNC
  • Truist
  • TD Bank
  • U.S. Bank
  • USAA
  • Wells Fargo

If your bank isn’t on the list, a partnership could be in the works. Otherwise, you still have the option to use clearXchange, a digital payment network recently acquired by Zelle, to move funds.

See also: The 9 Cheapest Ways to Send Money Online

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Transfer Method

When selecting a method to transfer money from one bank account to another, consider the following factors:

Speed of transfer

Some transfer methods, such as wire transfers, are faster than others, like ACH transfers or checks. If you need to send money quickly, a faster method may be more appropriate.

Fees associated with the transfer

Different transfer methods come with varying fees. While ACH transfers are often free or low-cost, wire transfers can be more expensive, especially for transfers abroad. Be sure to compare fees before choosing a method.

Security and privacy

Electronic transfer methods like ACH and wire transfers are generally secure, but it’s essential to verify the recipient’s account information to avoid mistakes or fraud. Checks can be lost or stolen, so consider the security risks.

Transfer limits

Banks may impose transfer limits on certain methods, such as ACH transfers or mobile banking transactions. Ensure the method you choose can accommodate the amount you need to transfer.

Accessibility and convenience

Consider how easy it is to initiate a transfer using a particular method. Online banking and mobile banking apps make it simple to transfer money electronically, while checks may require mailing or in-person deposits.

Tips for Safe and Efficient Money Transfers

Verifying account information before initiating a transfer

Always double-check the recipient’s account number and routing number to ensure the transfer goes to the correct account.

Regularly monitoring your accounts for any discrepancies

Keep an eye on your checking or savings account for any unauthorized transactions or discrepancies, and report any issues to your financial institution immediately.

Utilizing banking alerts and notifications

Enable banking alerts and notifications for transfers and account activity to stay informed about your account transactions.

Scheduling recurring transfers when applicable

If you need to make regular transfers, such as monthly bill payments or savings contributions, consider setting up recurring transfers to automate the process and avoid missed payments.

Considering the use of online money transfer services

In some cases, using online money transfer services like PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle can be a convenient and cost-effective way to send money between bank accounts, especially for small amounts or when sending money to someone else’s account.

Bottom Line

Understanding the various methods for transferring money between bank accounts and the factors to consider when choosing a method can help you make informed decisions when moving money. By staying vigilant and proactive in managing your finances, you can ensure your transfers are secure, efficient, and cost-effective.

Allison Martin
Meet the author

Allison Martin is a syndicated financial writer, author, and Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI). She has written about personal finance for almost ten years and holds a master's degree in Accounting from the University of South Florida.