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Fastest Way to Transfer Money Between Banks

Chris Hooper
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Last editedApr 20232 min read

From paper checks to peer-to-peer banking, we now have more options than ever for transferring money between two bank accounts. If you need to send money in a hurry, which is the quickest way to transfer money between banks? We’ll explore your options below.

How can you transfer money between banks?

Bank-to-bank transfers within the United States traditionally operate using the ACH system. One of the fastest ways to transfer money between bank accounts is with an ACH debit, provided both accounts are linked. To link accounts and set up a transfer, you’ll need to know basic details including your routing number and account number.

Payment processing times will vary depending on your bank and destination. Typically, ACH bank transfers take between two and three business days for processing. However, same-day processing is now available for a fee, provided your transaction is domestic and under $1 million. Nacha members approved a measure to increase the per-payment maximum from the current $100,000 to $1 million effective March 18, 2022

Additional types of bank transfer methods

While ACH payments offer one solution, they’re not always the fastest way to transfer money between banks. Here are some alternative options to explore:

1. Wire transfers

As with other bank-to-bank transfers, you’ll need the recipient’s name, routing number, and account number to complete a domestic wire transfer. You can either wire money through your bank or with a provider like Western Union. Wire transfers are usually completed within the same business day if not mere minutes, but they do have high fees as a result.

2. Online transfer services

Apps like Zelle and Popmoney let you send money to a recipient using your banking app. You’ll first need to register with your mobile phone number and email address, before linking your own bank account to the app. Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Pay all work in a similar fashion to create a virtual electronic wallet that lets you send money from one bank account to another.

3. Paper checks

Writing and sending a check to someone is definitely not the fastest way to transfer money between bank accounts. However, if you have time to spare this is also an option, and might be useful if you simply want to clear out an old bank account and don’t want to go to the hassle of registering with a new peer-to-peer app.

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What’s the fastest way to transfer money between banks?

We’ve now outlined the main options:

Which is the fastest way to transfer money between bank accounts? There’s no singular answer to this question, as it will depend on your bank, region, and the amount of funds you wish to send. Generally, wire transfers or online apps will be the quickest options. Here are a few payment options to explore:

  • Zelle is available either online or through its mobile app. It’s partnered with most major US banks, including Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo, allowing you to directly link up your bank account for fast transfers.

  • PayPal is another popular option. It might not be the quickest way to transfer money between banks, but if you’re sending money from one PayPal account to another the transaction is nearly instantaneous.

  • Venmo is partnered with PayPal and is a peer-to-peer app designed to make transfers easy. You can add users as your contacts and send money quickly and efficiently.

  • Western Union is the most popular option when it comes to sending money online via wire transfers. Recipients will receive the funds directly in their bank account.

The bottom line

When you need to send money in a hurry, your best bet is probably one of the mobile apps mentioned above. Many of these are partnered with banks, so it’s worth checking to see if your bank already offers its own app for instant money transfers. Just be sure to compare fees carefully, particularly if you’re sending money to international bank accounts or using different currencies. You should also take care to create a secure password and PIN to keep your banking details safe.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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