• ACH and wire transfers are the primary means by which banks send money between different financial institutions.
  • Banks usually offer free ACH transfers, and they can be ideal for payments that you can plan ahead.
  • Bank transfers cost a fee but can be sent immediately.

If you need to send money to someone else’s bank account, your bank has two main methods for transferring money between accounts: ACH transfers and wire transfers.

To determine which transfer method to request and see if there is a cost, we compared ACH transfers and bank transfers.

ACH transfer vs wire transfer: at a glance

ACH transfers and wire transfers are handled differently, and choosing the right one will likely depend on the purpose of your transfer.

  • An ACH transfer is sent in batches through the Automated Clearinghouse network and usually takes a few business days to process.
  • A wire transfer is sent immediately and may not be easy to reverse.

What is an ACH transfer?

Even if you’re not familiar with the term ACH transfer, you’ve probably used this type of transfer method before.

Tristan Thompson, Director of Payments Strategy at Arvest Bank, explains that common examples of ACH transfers include direct deposit and online bill payment.

“In general, anytime you can schedule your payment ahead of time, that’s a great opportunity to use ACH, or in case you’re going to have a recurring payment,” adds Thompson. “If you’re setting up something like autopay, most of the time what you’re doing is just connecting your bank account, and because that’s pre-planned, it’ll probably go through the ACH rails, and it’ll be less expensive. for the customer.”

ACH transfers sent through financial institutions will generally not cost a fee. If you need to cancel an ACH transfer, you may be able to cancel the transaction online or over the phone.

ACH transfer example

If you’re looking for a tool to help you pay your monthly bills, an ACH transfer could be ideal.

To schedule an ACH transfer for your bill, you can set up online bill payment through your online banks or

mobile banking

. All you have to do is log into your account and find a tab that says “Bill Pay”.

You can add a business or an individual by entering the name of your beneficiary. You may also need to know the address and bank account number of the person or business you are sending money to.

Once you enter this information and review it, money can be regularly withdrawn from your account so you don’t accidentally miss a payment. You can also easily cancel an automatic bill payment.

What is a bank transfer?

There are two different types of wire transfers: domestic wire transfers and international wire transfers.

Domestic wire transfers can be sent to any US bank account. Depending on your bank, you may have to pay between $0 and $15 per transaction.

International wire transfers allow you to send money to people in other countries. The cost of an international wire transfer is much higher than domestic wire transfers – you may have to pay between $30 and $50 per transfer.

Bank transfers will be a good option if you need to send money immediately. However, you will need to be careful who you send money to, as it may not be easy to get your money back.

“If you send a wire transfer, once you send it, the money is gone,” says Thompson. “It is considered immediate and irrevocable.”

Tammy Robinson, senior manager of Arvest Bank’s integrated account service, also notes that fraudsters often ask people to send wire transfers because they recognize that funds are often difficult to reverse.

Example of bank transfer

If you need to send money to a family member overseas for an urgent matter, you might consider using an international bank transfer.

To initiate a wire transfer, you will usually need to contact your bank’s customer service department or visit a branch. By having a banker to help you with the transaction, there is also an added layer of security.

You may also need the following information to make an international transfer:

  • The money you send, plus an additional amount to cover bank transfer fees
  • Your recipient’s name and home address
  • Banking information, such as financial institution name, international bank account number (IBAN), or SWIFT code

Since wire transfers cost a fee, you may want to complete a one-time transaction to avoid additional fees.