How to transfer money to someone else's bank account

16.04.18
9 minute read
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Whether it’s to pay back a friend or family member, split utilities with a roommate, or maybe even make a payment to an overseas supplier, chances are there will come a time that you need to transfer money into someone else’s bank account. Luckily, it’s pretty simple and straightforward, and you have a lot more options online than even just a few years ago.

If you’re not sure where to start, or what transfer method will be right for you, read on to find out what you need to know.

ways to transfer money into someone’s bank account

Ways to transfer money into someone else’s bank account

If you’ve been living in the US for awhile, you’re probably used to giving cash at weddings or sending checks to family members for their birthdays.

But getting money directly into someone else’s bank account without any intervention on their part can be a whole new ballgame.

The good news is you’re not stuck without options.

This article will cover your 3 main options in getting money to someone else:

  1. From your bank account to another bank account (domestically or internationally)
  2. Using a service that allows your recipient to withdraw money into their bank account
  3. A manual process where the recipient (or possibly you) can deposit your money into their bank account

bank to bank transfers

Option 1: Send money directly from your bank account to another bank account

Maybe you’ve heard of the loads of new apps and services that let you transfer money. (PayPal, anyone?) But, let’s face it, your granny’s probably never going to sign up for it.

Which means if you’re sending money to someone who isn’t so tech-saavy, you may need some other options that don’t require them to buy a smartphone and download some apps.

  • Use a service like TransferWise to send money straight from your bank account to another account, inside or outside the US
  • Make a domestic wire (pricey, but fast) from your bank
  • Use your bank’s billpay option (this works for a select list of banks)

Bank-to-bank option 1: TransferWise (domestic or international)

TransferWise started out as a peer-to-peer global money platform connecting people and their money all over the world. Their smart, new technology connected local bank accounts in respective countries, skipping hefty international bank fees, giving users the real exchange rate (the same one you find on Google or XE) on their transactions, and helping normal everyday folks save.

Though it started out as an international service, TransferWise has expanded to domestic options with alternatives to traditional banking like the borderless multi-currency account.

You can sign up for the borderless account for free. No monthly charges. You’ll find just small, fair fees when you switch between currencies or send money within the US or abroad.

Once you’re all set up and have finished the verification process, you can activate your borderless account and begin holding a balance in dozens of currencies — sending your money all over the world. Or just inside the US.

If you’re curious, follow this step-by-step guide on sending US dollars within the US using TransferWise.

Pros:

  • Once you’re set up and holding a balance, you can send money online with a click on your phone or computer.
  • Money normally arrives the morning of the next business day.
  • Your recipient doesn’t have to do anything to get the money.
  • You can pay with your debit card if the amount isn’t too high.
  • You can send money both internationally and domestically.

Cons:

  • The first time around you’ll have to go through a verification process with TransferWise, which may take a few business days.
  • Paying by debit/credit card is a little more expensive than paying by directly debiting your bank account.

Bank-to-bank option 2: Wire (domestic or international)

If you’ve ever heard someone in a movie say they’ll “wire” money to someone, this option might sound daunting. But it’s actually easier than you’d think.

Domestic wires

In most cases if you’re sending a wire within the US, you’ll just need to gather a few pieces of information from your recipient (name, address, wire routing number, and account number) and then show up at your bank branch in person. As long as your transfer is made by your bank’s cut-off time, the money should arrive to your recipient’s bank account in the same business day. Easy enough.

For most banks, you’ll have to go make a wire in person. If your bank is in another part of town or you have a jam-packed schedule, this can be an issue. Wires are a pricey, too, especially for sending smaller amounts. Depending on your bank, the price may range anywhere from $15-$35 or more.

International wires

If you’re looking to make an international wire transfer, costs go up even more.

On top of the upfront fee from your bank (which may range from $35-$60), you’ll be hit with poor exchange rates and flat bank fees from possibly up to 3 correspondent banks in addition to costs levied by the recipient bank. That sure adds up fast.

International transfers also take a bit more time. Anywhere from 1-5 business days depending on your recipient’s country.

Cost and even speed-wise, you’re almost always better off using TransferWise over your bank for an international wire (SWIFT) transfer.

Pros:

  • (Domestic) Money for transfers inside the US can arrive there within the hour if your bank processes your order immediately.
  • Your recipient doesn’t have to do anything to get the money.

Cons:

  • You’ll likely have to make the wire in person.
  • Wires aren’t cheap.
  • (International) It can take up to 5 business days for your money to arrive depending on the recipient country.

Bank-to-bank option 3: Billpay (US domestic only)

Many banks have listened to the pain of their customers and set up low-cost ways people can send money online. This option is often called something to the tune of “BillPay” or “Online payments/transfers”.

What this means is that you may be able to login to your online bank account and choose an option to send money to your recipient’s bank account (by filling in only their name, the amount, their ACH routing number, and account number) without ever visiting a bank branch.

There’s a few things you’ll need to know, though.

  1. Depending on your bank, they may just issue a paper check and mail it to your recipient. If this is going to be an issue because your recipient won’t be able to physically go and deposit it in their bank, you’ll wanna check with your bank to verify which method they use to send Bill Pay transfers.
  2. This method may take anywhere from 1-7 business days for the money to arrive.

If you use Bank of America, they offer next day and 3 day transfers that can deposit money straight into your recipient’s bank account.

Pros:

  • You should be able to set everything up online within your online banking portal.
  • Generally free or low cost.

Cons:

  • You’ll need your recipient’s bank details ahead of time.
  • It’s only for transfers inside of the US.
  • Your recipient may actually receive a check and have to deposit it.
  • It could be slow, sometimes up to 7 business days.

recipient needs to sign up for

Option 2: Use a service that your recipient may need to sign up for in order to get the money into their bank account

If your recipient is tech-savvy and doesn’t mind signing up for another service (if they haven’t already), you’ll have a few more options to get money into someone else’s bank account.

This kind of service happens in 2 main ways:

  • Your recipient will get an email or notification and will then need to enter their banking details
  • Your recipient will need to sign up for the service, and then from there can enter their banking details

Bank-to-service-to-bank option 1: Recipient fills in their details

With some services, all you’ll need is the email address or phone number of the person you’re sending money to.

Once you’ve paid for the transfer, your recipient will get some sort of email or notification from the service that you’ve sent them money. From there, your recipient will need to input their own bank account details (normally their 9-digit routing number and account number they can find on their checks).

The semi-downside is that, in most cases, once your recipient has entered bank details, their bank account may ever-after be linked to that specific mobile/email address.

This works with services like:

  • PopMoney (US domestic only)
  • Zelle (US domestic only)
  • Chase Quick Pay (US domestic only)
  • Wells Fargo SurePay (US domestic only)

Pros:

  • You should be able to set everything up online.
  • Generally free or low cost.
  • Once a bank account is associated with a phone number or email, in most cases the money will automatically be deposited there.

Cons:

  • You’ll need to sign up for the service and may have limitations if you don’t have an account with that bank.
  • Your recipient will need to sign up and enter their details to get the money.
  • It’s only for transfers inside of the US.
  • It’s possible your recipient may never get the money because they don’t input their details.
  • Once a bank account is associated with a phone number or email, in most cases the money will automatically be deposited there. (This can be a con, too.)
  • It could be slow.

Bank-to-service-to-bank option 2: Money will be deposited into the service and then the recipient may withdraw the money to their own account

In this scenario, your recipient will already need to be registered with the service. From inside the service you can send them money.

Once your recipient knows you’ve sent them money and it’s waiting in a balance for them, they’ll need to go through steps in order to withdraw or pay out the money to their own bank account.

This works with services like:

  • Facebook Messenger Payments (US domestic only)
  • Snapchat Snapcash (US domestic only)
  • PayPal (US domestic and international)
  • Square Cash (US domestic only)
  • Venmo (US domestic only)

Pros:

  • You may already be using the service.
  • You should be able to set everything up online.
  • Generally free or low cost unless you send to a business or internationally.

Cons:

  • Your recipient will need to sign up and enter their details to get the money.
  • It’s only for transfers inside of the US — except for PayPal.
  • It’s possible your recipient may never get the money because they don’t input their details or can’t figure out how to withdraw the money to their bank account once it’s in the service.
  • It could be slow.

deposit dollars into recipient account

Option 3: Recipient deposits the money you sent them into their account

If you and your recipient are willing to do a little extra work, you can always revert to old school, tried and true methods to sending someone else money in America.

Cash

One of the easiest ways to transfer money to someone else is to do it in cash. You can withdraw cash from your own bank account either at a bank branch or by using an ATM. You can then deliver the cash to the owner of the recipient bank account in person, allowing them to deposit it themselves, or you can go to a branch of their bank and ask to deposit money into their bank account.

You’ll need some of their personal details in order to deposit it, including their full name and account number. However, some banks don’t allow depositing cash into another person’s account, so you might call ahead and check before you go.

Check

You may have already guessed that another common way to transfer money is simply by check, which can you can deliver in person or send in the mail.

Simply fill out a check, paid to the order of the other person or “cash.” Either you or your intended recipient will then need to deposit the check into their bank account.

Money order

If you’re going to mail the money, a money order is a more secure alternative to cash or a check, since it can be traced and canceled if it gets lost or stolen. Plus, because you pay in advance for a money order it means there’s no need to keep sufficient funds in your account while you wait for it to be cashed.

You can buy a money order at places like:

  • the Post Office
  • a Western Union
  • a Walmart

You pay for the money order, filling it out similarly to how you’d fill out a check, sign it, and then deliver it — either in person or by mail. Make sure you keep your receipt in case you need to trace or cancel your money order.

With so many options, you can see why it’s so important to do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re choosing the best option for transferring money.

Whatever your priorities — cost, transfer time, transparency — there’s an option that will work for you. It just takes a little time to find it.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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