Whether you’re buying a car from a private seller, making a business transaction, or sending money to your relatives in another country, bank-to-bank transfers are often the easiest way to move funds. The bank transfer time varies between banks and destinations. It also depends on the transfer method.
You can consider wire transfers, ACH transfers, a check, or peer-to-peer (P2P) apps. More options are available than ever before, whether you need to transfer money between banks instantly or prefer a traditional transfer method for a large sum. Here’s a breakdown of the best options:
How long do bank transfers take?
If you need the recipient to get the money right away, consider a wire transfer, a P2P app, or a check that they can cash right away. A wire transfer or an ACH transfer will usually take longer. There are ways to transfer money between banks instantly. Some peer-to-peer apps offer nearly instant transfers, although it can still take one to three days to transfer to a bank account. Here’s the average time for each type of transfer:
An ACH transfer, or automated clearing house transfer, will usually take one to four business days to appear in a recipient’s account. It can often take longer, an average of three to four days, because both the sending and receiving banks need time to process the request. ACH transfers are often one of the slowest methods for transferring money between banks.
The automated clearing house network is far from small. As of 2019, this payment system had processed about 25 billion payments and moved a total of more than $55 trillion in funds. It is a good alternative if you don’t want to use other methods such as checks, credit cards or wire transfers to transfer funds.
Bank wire transfer
How long do wire transfers take? Bank wire transfers are usually processed the same day for domestic transfers. If you’re transferring money internationally, an international transfer may take up to five days to complete. This will depend on the destination and origin country and its standard bank processing times.
The timing of the transfer can lead to delays. Many banks have a cutoff of a certain time each day. If your bank’s cutoff is 3 p.m. and you request a wire transfer at 3:15 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, the recipient probably won’t receive the funds until the following Tuesday. But assuming the wire transfer request was sent early in the day on a normal business day, domestic transfers usually arrive the same day.
Third-party wire transfers
Third-party wire transfers involve a third-party bank acting as an intermediary between the sending and receiving banks. This can increase the total processing time. If your bank doesn’t have an international SWIFT code and you need to send or receive funds internationally, you’ll usually need to use a third-party bank.
On the other hand, third-party services that offer wire transfers can make it possible to transfer money between banks instantly.
International wire transfers
Wire transfers make it easy to exchange currencies, so they are often a popular choice for international transfers. International wire transfers vary by sending and receiving country and the individual bank’s policies. International wire transfer limits are usually high. That’s why international wire transfers are a top choice when sending funds to purchase real estate internationally or to send money to family abroad.
Peer-to-peer payment apps
PayPal, Zelle, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Venmo are just a few of the myriad peer-to-peer payment apps available to transfer money between banks instantly. Wise.com has also risen as a competitor to traditional ACH or wire transfers, although these P2P apps still rely on the same banking structures.
When you transfer funds to your account, you’ll be able to pay instantly. But if you need to transfer funds from the app to your bank account, it can take several days. Many of these apps offer an option to transfer money between banks instantly for a fee.
Personal checks are one of the most common ways to transfer money between banks in person. You can write a check to buy a car, buy groceries, or reimburse a friend. Funds from a check can be available in as little as two business days.
According to federal law, the first $225 of a check must be available the next day, assuming there are funds in the account. For checks of more than $5,525, deposits can take longer to clear as banks can hold these funds for longer than two days.
How long does a wire transfer take?
Different types of wire transfers can have different processing times. Some wire transfers will clear the same day while others can take three to five days to clear. Some nonbank transfer services can clear the funds within minutes. But for most traditional wire transfers, expect to wait one to three days for domestic wire transfers and three to five days or more for international wire transfers.
How long does a bank transfer take between different banks?
How you transfer funds between different banks will affect how long the bank transfer takes. For most transfers, allow between one and five days to transfer funds. Wire transfers and P2P apps are usually faster, while ACH transfers and checks can add an extra day or more.
Factors that can affect how long it takes to transfer money
Are you wondering why your bank transfer hasn’t arrived or how long your bank transfer takes? Are you worried the recipient won’t get your transfer in time? The following are factors that can delay your transfer or affect how long it takes to transfer money.
If you put incorrect information in the transfer request, the funds may be delayed or returned. Information to double-check is correct includes:
- The recipient’s name as it appears on their bank account
- The recipient’s home address
- The recipient’s account number
- The receiving bank’s SWIFT code or routing number
- Your personal information and bank account information
- Your bank balance
It’s worth double-checking all of these before any transaction to prevent delays.
Weekends and holidays
Weekends and holidays can delay transfers by more than expected. For example, if you request an ACH transfer on the Friday before Thanksgiving, it’s possible that the recipient won’t see the funds in their account until the Monday after Thanksgiving — 10 days later. Banks always estimate delivery time in business days, so be sure to account for holidays and weekends.
Some banks have policies to delay transfers for 24 to 48 hours to ensure sufficient funds in both the sending account and the receiving bank, affecting how long bank transfers take. You can check with your bank for its policy. Likewise, the receiving bank may have a policy about only releasing funds 24 to 72 hours after the incoming transfer has been received.
With increasing cases of fraud and online scams, sometimes banks will delay a transfer if it appears suspicious. If an Airbnb host asks for a wire transfer, for example, your bank may delay the transfer for one to three days to confirm that you trust the owner and understand that you won’t be able to get the funds back after the transfer is complete. If you get caught in a scam, this extra precaution can protect you. That’s why you can’t usually transfer money between banks instantly.
For international transfers, several additional factors can affect processing times and how long bank transfers take. Currency conversion and intermediary banks can both add a day or more to processing times. Time zones can also affect the date the recipient received the funds.
For example, if you live in Hawaii and make a wire transfer to a family member in New Zealand, in addition to regular processing times, you’ll have to account for the fact that New Zealand is nearly a full day — 23 hours — ahead of Hawaii. If the normal processing time is one to five days, expect the family member to get the funds two to six days after the date you sent the funds.
Final thoughts on how long bank transfers take
If you’re in a big hurry, a P2P app or wire transfer is probably your best option to speed up bank transfer time or even transfer money between banks instantly. But these transfers may come with additional risks or higher fees. On the other hand, ACH transfers and wire transfers are the most common bank transfer method in the U.S. and are very secure.
With all types of bank transfers, be sure you know the recipient well. Don’t transfer funds to a stranger or someone demanding emergency funds. If in doubt, contact your bank for additional verification and advice on the safest method for your bank transfer.
How long does it take to receive money once it’s transferred?
How long it takes to receive money once transferred will depend on the transfer method, bank policies, and the origin and destination countries of the transfer. Typical bank transfers take one to five days, but there are some options to transfer money between banks instantly with P2P apps and third-party transfer services.
What happens if money is transferred but not received?
If money has been transferred but not received, you should immediately notify both the sending and receiving banks to investigate the claim. In most cases, the sending bank will be able to track and locate the funds.
Why does it take two to three days to transfer money between banks?
Banks like to confirm that money is really in the account before they make it available to the receiver. This typically takes two to three days, which is why you can’t transfer money between banks instantly.