Sometimes the best way to send someone money is to send it from your bank account directly. Bank transfers are a safe, secure way to move money and are often one of the most convenient financial transactions out there. Most transfers happen through online banking, through a mobile banking app, or by visiting a bank branch in person.
People also often use bank transfers for critical functions such as paying bills, making purchases, receiving payments, and moving funds between different accounts. How long a transfer can take, however, depends on numerous factors.
If the sending and receiving accounts are within the same financial institution, it’s usually a same-day transaction. However, if you transfer money between two different banks, several factors can affect how quickly the transfer gets completed.
Processing Times for Different Types of Bank Transfers
Different types of bank transfers have different processing times. The length of time often depends on the nature of your transaction. Here are several common types of bank transfers most people use and how long they generally take:
- Internal transfers: An internal transfer is a type of bank transfer that involves moving funds between different accounts held by the same person at the same bank. It is typically free and often takes just minutes to complete.
- Wire transfers: These are typically used for large transfers and involve sending money from one bank to another via a communication network such as SWIFT. Wire transfers can take several days to complete, especially if they involve international transactions.
- ACH transfers: Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers are a popular option for domestic transfers within the U.S. These transfers are processed electronically and typically take 1-2 business days to complete. They can be set up to complete on a regular schedule, which makes them a good option for paying bills and salaries.
Overall, bank transfers provide various options for moving money between accounts, allowing consumers and merchants to choose the method, and timeframe, that best suit their needs.
Standard vs. Immediate Transfers
Most bank transfers are also categorized by whether they are standard transfers or immediate transfers.
Standard transfers are routine transactions that most banks and credit unions perform every day. They can usually be completed in a single business day, but that depends on the individual institution’s daily cut-off time. Transfers requested after this time are often dealt with the next business day.
For a fee, immediate transfers can expedite the process when the money is needed quickly. Immediate transfers can often ensure that money arrives in less than a day.
Domestic vs. International Transfers
Another category that differentiates bank transfers is whether the transfer is domestic or international.
Domestic transfers are transfers made between banks or credit unions within the U.S. These transfers usually get completed quickly, in about the same amount of time as any standard transfer.
International transfers involve transferring money from a bank account in one country to a bank account in a different country. These transfers are more complicated and take longer to process due to factors like different currencies and exchange rates. Different time zones also affect transfers, which may add extra processing time.
Processing Factors That Can Affect Transfer Times
In addition to the type of transfer and whether it's domestic or international, there are other factors that can affect how long it takes to process a bank transfer. These include:
- Bank policies: Every bank has its own policies and procedures for processing transfers. Due to these differences, some banks may take longer to process transfers than others, even for the same type of transfer.
- Transaction amount: The amount of money being transferred can also affect how long the transfer takes. Larger transfers may require additional verification or approval, which can make the processing time longer.
- Transfer destination: As previously mentioned, international transfers take longer than domestic transfers. Also, the specific country the money is transferred to can create additional delays. Some countries, for example, may have slower infrastructure or more robust legal policies, which can add to the processing time of a transfer.
- Time of day: The time of day that a transfer is initiated can also affect how long it takes to process. Transfers initiated outside of regular business hours or after the cut-off time for new transactions may take longer to process.
- Holidays and weekends: Bank transfers may take longer to process on holidays and weekends when banks are closed or have reduced staffing.
- Third-party intermediaries: Transfers made through other organizations in addition to the banks involved may require additional processing time. For example, if you transfer money using a third-party app like Venmo or request a transfer that must pass through an intermediary bank, there are additional steps that add more time to the processing.
While these factors may complicate bank transfers, they are all relatively predictable. If you are trying to get your money transferred within a certain time frame, make sure you’re aware if any of these issues will apply to your transaction and plan for them accordingly.
Reasons for Potential Delays
Several factors can cause delays in bank transfers, some of which are beyond your control. These include instances of:
- Incorrect account information: If you provide incorrect account information, such as the wrong account number or routing number, the transfer may be delayed or even rejected.
- Insufficient funds: If there isn’t enough money in an account to cover the transfer, it may be delayed or rejected.
- Fraud prevention: Banks have systems in place to detect and prevent fraud. If anything about your transaction is flagged by an alert system (which sometimes can happen even if the transaction is legitimate), the transfer might get delayed.
- Technical issues: Occasionally, technical issues can arise that delay the processing of a transfer. This can include system outages or other technical glitches.
Again, if you’re trying to get a bank transfer to go through in a timely manner, make sure you plan ahead. You should also ensure that you have all the correct information and do your best to minimize any mistakes.
The Fastest Way to Transfer Money
Considering all of these factors and including the variety of bank transfers available, most transfers take about 1 to 5 business days.
Despite different factors that affect processing and the slight potential for unforeseen delays,, domestic bank transfers are often the fastest and most secure way to transfer money with just one business day of processing time. Domestic bank transfers have definite advantages over checks and peer-to-peer payment apps.
In the U.S., many people prefer to transfer money by writing a check. But once deposited, the recipient can only access the first $225 of a large payment on the next business day. If your check is over $225, the recipient must wait another business day to access the rest of the cash. This means they must wait at least two business days for large sums and possibly even longer for more considerable sums.
Peer-to-peer payment apps like Google Pay, PayPal, and Venmo are also popular for their convenience. You can transfer money to another app user’s account instantaneously. However, you must pay a fee and may have to wait for several days to access funds if you want to transfer money from the app into an actual bank account.
While ACH payments and bank transfers are traditionally effective, Real-Time Payments are quickly emerging as the fastest, most secure way to transfer funds or receive payouts. While bank transfers can take several days to clear, RTPs happen immediately, eliminating any wait time or security risk. ACH payments are also loaded and cleared in batches during business hours, while RTPs are available 24/7 — no holiday or weekend restrictions, allowing access to funds as soon as the transfer is completed.
Open Banking vs. Traditional Bank Transfers
Open Banking payment methods are quickly becoming more convenient, secure, and beneficial than traditional bank transfers. But where exactly does Open Banking have a leg up on the competition? We’ve identified five key areas that benefited directly from the faster, more efficient processes enabled by Open Banking.
Transfer and Exchange Fees
Despite bank transfers being a longtime traditional method of transferring funds, the process isn’t free. In fact, it can cost the sender up to $50 in banking fees to complete the transaction. The recipient of those funds may also have to pay a processing fee depending on factors like exchange and conversion rates between countries. While exchange rates generally cost 1% of the funds transferred, this can add up with larger transactions.
Open Banking transactions allow for the transfer of funds for little to no additional fees. The direct connectivity Open Banking enables between a consumer and their bank account cuts out the middlemen and fees associated with processing transfers.
As previously mentioned, Open Banking processes like RTP can clear financial transactions in a fraction of the time compared to traditional bank transfers. With Open Banking, financial transactions can be completed in a matter of seconds, instead of up to five business days for a bank transfer.
On top of having access to their funds faster, Open Banking also allows for all parties involved to complete transactions more efficiently, thanks to Open APIs that allow for the secure, instant exchange of financial information. It’s as easy as a few taps on a smartphone, and the transfer is complete!
Bank transfers can be cumbersome for users to complete. These processes require account and routing numbers to be entered manually, which can pose a security risk and take more time than expected. While not impossible, the extra steps required for bank transfers could be considered inconvenient and less user-friendly than an Open Banking transaction.
In addition to transfer costs, traditional bank transfers can often include high operational costs thanks to the intermediaries and manual processes involved. In some cases, financial institutions often need to sign off on transactions, and regularly charge for that service. While transfer processes have become more efficient over time, they’re not completely automated or free.
With Open Banking, financial transactions can be completed with little or no involvement from intermediary organizations. Thanks to automated API systems, all financial transactions are completed instantly with very little human involvement. Many free APIs are available, allowing merchants to employ a cost-efficient solution for transfers.
Transfer Funds Quickly with Trustly Open Banking Payments
Trustly Open Banking Payments and Payouts utilize real-time technology to transfer funds quickly and securely. Trustly uses Open Banking APIs to create an instant connection between the consumer, their bank, and whoever you are trying to send money to or receive money from. We instantly verify your bank data on your behalf, enabling you to complete bank transfers much faster. Our high-security standards mean that we don’t store any personal information, so consumers don’t have to worry about their sensitive data being shared or exposed.
Learn more about Trustly Open Banking and how it can help businesses and consumers make bank transfers faster, more accessible, and more affordable.