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Compare ACH Transfer Fees at Top U.S. Banks

Learn about how ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfers work and the fees charged by big U.S. banks for this very common financial transaction.

There are many ways that you can transfer money between bank accounts and the ACH transfer is probably the one that you use the most.

But, as you might find, these types of transfers aren't always free.

You might've hesitated to send money because it'll come with a fee.

It's true that some banks charge for this very standard transaction.

Find out what a typical bank might charge (if at all) and other ways that you might consider transferring funds.

What is an ACH Transfer?

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House.

Simply put:

It is an electronic network that banks can use to transfer money to other institutions.

A huge number of transactions are processed through ACH -- to the tune of billions of transactions totaling trillions of dollars.

The ACH system is used to deposit paychecks, handle loan payments, and batch processing of credit or debit card payments.

At its most basic, an ACH transfer is a transaction that sends money from one bank to another electronically.

No cash is ever moved.

The only record of the transaction is the changing of numbers in both banks’ computer systems.

U.S. financial institutions only

Here's the bad part:

One thing to know about ACH transfers is that they are generally not possible between banks in different countries.

The ACH system is an American system and foreign banks are not a part of the system.

If you want to move money between an American bank and a foreign bank, you’ll have to find another way to do so.

ACH Transfer Fees

While transferring money using ACH is convenient, the convenience may come with a price.

The good part:

Many banks will allow you to make ACH transfers without paying any fees.

There are, however, some banks that will charge a fee for the service.

ACH Transfer Fees at Top 20 U.S. Banks

Bank ACH Transfer Fee Processing Time
Bank of America $0 for inbound transfers, $3 for standard-time delivery

$10 for next-day delivery
3 business days
BB&T $0 for inbound standard-time delivery, $3 for outbound standard-time delivery

$0 for inbound next-day delivery, $10 for outbound next-day delivery
3 business days
BBVA Compass $0 for inbound standard-time delivery, $3 for outbound standard-time delivery 1-3 business days
BMO Harris $0 2-3 business days
Capital One $0 2-3 business days
Chase $0 1-3 business days
Citibank $0 1-3 business days
Citizen's Bank $3 for standard-time delivery and $10 for next-business day delivery 1-3 business days
Fifth Third Bank $3 1-3 business days
HSBC Bank $0 2-3 business days
KeyBank $0 3 business days
M&T Bank $3 1-3 business days
PNC Bank $0 if done online, $3 if done in branch 2-3 business days
Santander $0 1-3 business days
SunTrust $0 for inbound standard-time, $3 for outbound standard-time delivery

$6 for outbound next-business day delivery
3 business days
TD Bank $0 for inbound transfers, $3 for standard-time outbound transfers

$7 for next-day delivery
3 business days
Union Bank $0 2-3 business days
USAA $0 2-3 business days
U.S. Bank $0 for inbound transfers, up to $3 for standard-time delivery 3 business days
Wells Fargo $0 1-3 business days

ACH Transfer Fees at Top 10 Online Banks

Bank ACH Transfer Fee Processing Time
Ally Bank $0 3 business days
Aspiration Bank $0 2-3 business days
Axos Bank $0 ($7 for next-day outgoing transfers) 3 business days
Capital One $0 1-3 business days
Discover Bank $0 4 business days
Goldman Sachs Bank $0 1-3 business days
Nationwide Bank Fee varies 3 business days
Radius Bank Fee varies 5 business days
Synchrony Bank $0 3 business days
TIAA Bank $0 2-3 business days

ACH Transfer Fees at Top Credit Unions

Credit Union ACH Transfer Fee Processing Time
Alliant Credit Union $0 if initiated online, $10 if initiated via telephone Up to 3 business days
Connexus Credit Union $0 ($10 for next-day delivery) 3-5 business days
Consumers Credit Union $3 3-5 business days
First Tech Federal Credit Union $0 3 business days
Golden1 Credit Union $0 Up to 4 business days
Navy Federal Credit Union Fee varies but usually $0 Up to 3 business days
Pentagon Federal Credit Union $0 if initiated online, $5 if initiated via union member Up to 3 business days

Most commonly, banks will charge a fee if you initiate an outgoing ACH transfer.

The truth is:

Banks want you to keep your money in your account.

By charging a fee if you want to make an outgoing transfer, they hope to prevent you from taking money out of the account.

Banks that do charge these fees often won’t charge any fees for incoming ACH transfers.

Initiate transfers from elsewhere

Generally, even banks that do charge ACH transaction fees won’t charge fees for transactions initiated by other institutions.

If you want to move money from one bank to another, it is better to pull the money from the receiving account.

Pushing the money out of the sending account is more likely to incur a fee.

For example, Bank of America charges a fee for outgoing ACH transfers.

However, it will not charge a fee if you initiate the transfer from another bank.

If you want to move money out of your BofA account initiate the transaction from the other bank to avoid the fee.

Savings withdrawal limits

Another thing to watch out for is savings account transaction limits.

ACH transfers count towards the six-withdrawal limit on savings accounts.

If you make more than six withdrawals from a savings account in a statement, you’ll pay a fee for each additional transaction, on top of any ACH fees that you pay.

How Long Does a Transfer Take?

One downside:

ACH transfers are not immediate.

Depending on the banks involved and the type of transaction, ACH transfer can take between one and five business days.

If you’re unsure about how long a transfer will take, contact both of the banks involved. You should always plan for the transfer to take a few days at a minimum.

Don’t expect overnight delivery.

Don’t forget that many banks consider transactions initiated after 5 PM to have come in during the next business day.

That can add additional delay to the process.

Limits on Transfers

One more thing...

Banks can (and often do) set limits on ACH transfers.

There may be a limit to how many transfers you can make each month, the value of an individual transfer, and the total value of transfers made in a day or month.

Depending on your plans for an account, this could pose a problem.

If you only plan to use an account to deposit and withdraw cash when you need to, low limits are fine.

If it’s your main bank account, you don’t want to have unreasonable constraints on your ability to make transfers.

To make things more complicated:

The transfer limit may differ depending on your relationship with the bank.

If you’re a new customer, your bank may limit you to transferring just a few thousand dollars a day.

Once you’re a long-time customer who has built up some trust, your limits could be raised to multiple times that.

If you’re at all concerned about the ACH transfer limits on your account, contact your bank.

The customer service representative will be able to inform you of the limits that apply. They may also be able to tell you how you can get the limit increased. If you need a one-time increase to the limit it also doesn’t hurt to ask.

The bank might be able to make an exception for you.

Other Ways to Transfer Money

ACH transfers are just one of many ways to send money between accounts.

There are alternatives methods that you can use if needed.

Wire transfers

Wire transfers are another form of electronic transfer between banks.

This method of transferring money does not involve the ACH.

Instead, money moves directly from one bank to another.

Here's the best part:

Wire transfers are very fast.

In many cases, the transaction can be completed immediately, allowing you to use the money that arrived in the receiving account immediately.

However, the speed of wire transfers comes at a big cost.

Nearly every bank in the U.S. charges a fee for outgoing wire transfers. 

Receiving banks also charge fees much of the time, with the average fee being $15.

There could be at least $40 or more in fees in relation to a single wire transfer.

Banks aren’t the only institutions that offer wire transfers. Companies like Western Union offer customers a way to make wire transfers using cash.

Anonymity

Another thing to know about wire transfers is that it is possible for the transaction to be largely anonymous.

All you need to make a transfer is the account information for the receiving account.

The immediacy and anonymity of wire transfers also make them somewhat dangerous. It is very hard to recall a wire transfer after it has been initiated.

Be careful:

Many scammers take advantage of this fact.

Scammers may contact you, promising to send you more money in return if you wire them a specific amount. They may also pose as an entity such as the IRS and demand payment by wire.

Once you make the transfer, the scammer will disappear and your money will be gone. If you ever make a wire transfer, make sure it is to a person you know well and trust.

Personal payments

Another way to transfer money between banks is to use a personal payment app.

Apps like Venmo and PayPalare designed to make it easy for people to send money to their friends and colleagues.

They move money out of your account and into a wallet used by the app.

Better yet:

Zelle lets many bank customers move money directly between bank accounts.

Though these systems are designed to let people transfer money to someone else, they can be used to transfer money between two accounts owned by the same person.

One benefit of these systems is that they tend to be quick. The can be as quick, or faster than ACH transfers. This is especially true for systems like Zelle, that move money directly from account to account.

If the two accounts are at the same bank, the transaction will be even faster.

These systems are also very cheap to use. Most of them are free to use.

That’s a big advantage over ACH transfers and wire transfers, which often charge fees. That makes personal payment apps an easy way to move money without paying fees.

Conclusion

ACH transfers are a convenient way to move money from one account to another without involving cash.

They’re also a convenient way to pay bills (like rent) by allowing the receiving party to pull money directly out of your account.

ACH transfers often involve fees, but there are ways to avoid them. They also can take a few days to complete.

If you need to move money fast and don’t mind paying a fee, you might want to use a wire transfer. If you need a free way to transfer money, consider using a personal payment app.