What is the fastest way to transfer money from one US bank account to another?
July 6, 2009 6:43 AM   Subscribe

I need to transfer a large some of money from a relative's bank account to my account at a different bank as fast as possible - how?

A relative is giving me a large sum of money for mortgage purposes, and for various reasons I need it in my bank account as fast as possible (same day, ideally).

He banks at a large regional bank and I bank at a large national bank. From what I can tell, my options are wire transfer or withdrawing cash from his bank and depositing at my bank.

My understanding is that wire transfers are fast, but how long will it actually take to hit my account? Cash transfer would obviously be instant once I make the deposit, but I'm not keen to carry this much money on me, even just between banks.
posted by Eggbert42 to Work & Money (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Your bank deals with this all the time-- call them.
posted by availablelight at 6:45 AM on July 6, 2009


i am able to make wire transfers from europe to canada in 24 hrs. so it should be possible for a wire transfer within the US to do that... but not guaranteed. call the bank to ask.
posted by molecicco at 6:45 AM on July 6, 2009


I should add that I asked my bank how fast a wire transfer would take and got the vague answer "it should be same-day, but it's all system-dependent."
posted by Eggbert42 at 6:46 AM on July 6, 2009


Ugh, I obviously meant "sum". Too early.
posted by Eggbert42 at 6:50 AM on July 6, 2009


Cash is still king. You won't have to wait for it to clear or for misunderstandings between banks. Unless you are talking about LARGE sums, I'd go cash. For $10-20k it makes sense.
posted by JJ86 at 6:50 AM on July 6, 2009


If the amount of money is above $10,000 I wouldn't count on being able to take out cash, walk it over, and deposit it. It's not so easy getting briefcases of large bills these days. Wire transfer is the way to go.
posted by alms at 6:51 AM on July 6, 2009


Alms - It is well in excess of $10,000.

Is your concern with taking out the cash or depositing it? My relative has a large business account, so I suspect the withdrawal won't be a problem.
posted by Eggbert42 at 6:54 AM on July 6, 2009


If you don't want to carry cash, have your relative get a bank check. Bank checks are typically treated as cash on deposits.
posted by zerokey at 6:55 AM on July 6, 2009


With regards to the bank check or cashier's check, my bank said the first $5,000 would be available immediately, but the remainder would take ~5 days to clear.
posted by Eggbert42 at 6:56 AM on July 6, 2009


A wire is clearly your best bet in this case.
posted by grouse at 7:00 AM on July 6, 2009


So my question then is - how long does a wire transfer take? How soon after he initiates it will the money be in my account?
posted by Eggbert42 at 7:04 AM on July 6, 2009


If you don't want to carry cash, have your relative get a bank check. Bank checks are typically treated as cash on deposits.

Don't assume this. Verify first with your bank branch manager. I speak from experience trying to deposit a large cashier's check for a mortgage.

Also, not all bank branches can handle very large cash withdrawals without prior notice. They don't keep much more on hand than will be needed for a typical day (changes based on day of the week and holidays, etc.).
posted by qwip at 7:08 AM on July 6, 2009


What about a bank check? I had to provide one for my down payment; I wrote a check out to cash and the bank verified I had the funds available, immediately withdrew them from my account, and then wrote a new check for me on their official bank slip. It was my impression that doing it this way meant the funds were immediately available for the person I was giving the check to.
posted by tommccabe at 7:10 AM on July 6, 2009


I've done this a couple of times. Wire transfer is the way to go. If you need it same day, make sure you or your relative initiate the request as early in the day as possible. It really only takes a couple of hours.
posted by SoulOnIce at 7:17 AM on July 6, 2009


I'm kind of puzzled by some of these answers. They don't seem to be based on any sort of experience.

I think much of this depends on your bank's policies. You're going to want to call them and ask questions if the timing really is important. One way to make the timing less important is to have your relative give you the money a day or two earlier.

Anyhow, I've received money in all sorts of different ways this year, and I can tell you that at Wells Fargo, at least, you cannot use a wire transfer the same day. You can use it the next day, but not the same day. Twice this year I've tried to pull the money out on the day I received it, and although the bank admitted the money was there, they refused to let me take it until it had actually cleared their system overnight. I wouldn't be surprised if most banks had a similar system in place, especially for large amounts.

Zerokey's advice to get a check is baffling. My credit union and my banks will hold any largish amount for several days. If it's a really large amount, I'm looking at five to ten business days before I have access to the money. A personal check is the slowest way to transfer money. A cashier's check isn't much faster, actually, which I find puzzling.

So, having said all this, if I wanted to make the transfer instantaneous, I'd do it in cash. I don't know for certain that my bank would let me have access to the money same-day, but I think it would. I think cash presents problems of its own (your relative's bank will need to have access to the amount of cash you're wanting to withdraw, there are no safety measures, etc.), but it ought to be damn quick.

Still, I think a wire transfer is your best bet. But don't count on having same-day access. Instead, initiate the transfer a day before you need the money.
posted by jdroth at 7:26 AM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


You have to specifically ask for a same-day wire transfer, otherwise, they might delay clearing it until the third business day (Bank of America does this to get a bigger fee for same-day).
posted by paperzach at 7:26 AM on July 6, 2009


So my question then is - how long does a wire transfer take? How soon after he initiates it will the money be in my account?

In my experience it depends on both banks (sending and receiving) in how fast they process everything before it shows up in the receiving account. On the sending side, there is usually some sort of express version of the wire transfer that you can pay an extra fee to use. You should probably call both banks and ask for advice on how to transfer the funds as quickly as possible.

With regards to the bank check or cashier's check, my bank said the first $5,000 would be available immediately, but the remainder would take ~5 days to clear.

What you really want is a certified check, which is verified by the bank as being "un-bounceable" because once the check is written you can't use that money in your account. Theoretically you could then bring that to another bank and deposit it immediately, although a bank could still put a hold on it even though they don't need to depending on their policies.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:31 AM on July 6, 2009


What you really want is a certified check, which is verified by the bank as being "un-bounceable" because once the check is written you can't use that money in your account. Theoretically you could then bring that to another bank and deposit it immediately, although a bank could still put a hold on it even though they don't need to depending on their policies.

Given that a certified check or a cashier's check can be forged and not infrequently is these days, it doesn't sound like the best idea for immediate access. Especially since the bank already told you they wouldn't give you more than $5,000 immediately.
posted by grouse at 7:38 AM on July 6, 2009


Stop with the cashier's check and certified check recommendations! Do the people suggesting this actually have experience with them? The OP already said there'd be a five-day delay on a bank check, and I can tell you from personal experience that this is par for the course. They're not the instant money you folks seem to think they are. In fact, I had one bank tell me that I might as well write a personal check since they would treat it the same way as a bank check, and I'd end up saving myself the check fee.
posted by jdroth at 7:48 AM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


open an account at your relative's bank for this transaction. I would suspect that would speed the process a bit. You could actually cash his check and deposit the cash without leaving the building.

I'm not a banker, but I don't know why this wouldn't work.
posted by HuronBob at 7:54 AM on July 6, 2009


Wire transfers usually only take a few hours-so you might see the money in your account. Still, JDRoth is right-they might make you wait a certain amount of time before you can actually withdraw the funds. I know you called to ask how long the transfer would talk already, but I would suggest calling back and asking specifically about withdrawal.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:55 AM on July 6, 2009


I asked my bank how fast a wire transfer would take and got the vague answer "it should be same-day, but it's all system-dependent."

So my question then is - how long does a wire transfer take?


You've gotten the answer from the best source possible: Your own bank.
posted by Houstonian at 7:58 AM on July 6, 2009


(Note: I deal with wire transfers multiple times a day, but it's through two commercial entities. It's pretty rare that a wire transfer would take more than two hours to hit our account after confirmation, but I'm not sure if this is a special business-class deal or anything)
posted by dinty_moore at 7:59 AM on July 6, 2009


(Also note that the time of day is a factor: most banks won't initiate or clear wires after 3-3:30)
posted by dinty_moore at 8:02 AM on July 6, 2009


Stop with the cashier's check and certified check recommendations! Do the people suggesting this actually have experience with them? The OP already said there'd be a five-day delay on a bank check, and I can tell you from personal experience that this is par for the course.

I've had a certified check deposit show up in my account immediately before, but I haven't deposited one in years (although I did get a cashier's check on the day of closing when I bought a house recently, but that's a different situation). I also misread the OP's comment as saying that the bank issuing the check quoted 5 days, but now that I realize it's the bank that will be receiving the check that said that I agree that there is no way to get a cashier's/certified check deposited faster than that with this particular bank.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:10 AM on July 6, 2009


Go with a wire transfer if you have time limitations. Your bank has already told you their time constraints. Should be same-day, but system dependent.

Anything else would be a gamble, even cash. Someone see's you load 30k into a backpack or briefcase, they might bonk you over the head in the parking lot. Money makes people do crazy things.
posted by Gravitus at 8:28 AM on July 6, 2009


In my own experience, wire transfers take 24 hours... or so. A Friday afternoon transfer might not show up until Monday afternoon.

Cash transactions of large amounts tend to raise eyebrows, as well as being inherently risky. The full amount of any kind of very large check is liable to be unavailable for at least a few days until the check clears.

So, the best bet is to organize a wire transfer. Ask both banks how to expedite it.
posted by justcorbly at 9:11 AM on July 6, 2009


Wire transfers take 24 hours if the sending and/or receiving bank suck.

Hi, I'm de void, and I work in the mortgage warehouse department of a regional bank. We send funds to residential real estate closings daily on behalf of our customers, mortgage bankers. We typically initiate at least 75 wire transfers each and every day, and some days over 200.

Wire transfers occur between banks *THAT ARE MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE WIRE SYSTEM* effectively instantaneously, within minutes. It is simply an electronic transmission that decreases the balance at one bank and increases it at another. We have initiated wire transfers for our customers at 2:00 and had confirmation from a closing attorney that they received the funds at 2:05.

So where does the 24 hour B.S. come in? Well, if your bank is not a member of the federal reserve wire system, then you get sub par wire service. In this case, you go to your bank to ask for a wire. They verify funds in your account, then transfer the funds to their wire account, then make a request to *ANOTHER* bank who is a member of the fed wire system, who then transmits the wire to the destination bank.

If the staff at either bank are lazy or slow, you can introduce a day into the process. Even worse is if the receipients bank is not a fed wire member as well, then you add another two banks on the receiving end.

Another reason for a delay even if both banks are members of the fed wire system is simple sloth in moving the funds between the banks incoming/outgoing wire accounts and the personal accounts at either end. Some banks may have one person who only looks at the bank's incoming wire account once a day to move all the incoming wires into their respective accounts. This can also be a decision by the bank to enjoy an overnight float on all wires for personal accounts, because they can get away with it by telling people it takes 24+ hours for a wire occur. Nonsense. Their business customers don't let them get away with this.

Wire transfers are good/cleared funds the instant they are received by the recipient bank. Any delay they have in making those funds available to you is either because they are not online with the fed wire, or they are not being efficient.

One defense you have is what's called a "Fed Reference Number" or "FedRef" for short. This is a number that uniquely identifies a particular wire transfer. Banks that initiate wires can provide it to their customers upon request.

If someone wired you money and your bank is being pokey about putting it in your account, ask the sender to ask their bank for the fedref #. Once you have the fedref #, you can march into your branch and tell them to find the incoming wire on their system and credit it to your account (may require a manager). I've done exactly this before when I was transferring myself money from one bank account to another and the receiving bank was giving me the 24 hour B.S.
posted by de void at 12:20 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops, forgot to mention the OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) part.

Every wire transmittal get scanned on the names of both the sender and the receiver against a list of names/organizations that the U.S. doesn't want to be able to move money. Basically a "no fly" list for money.

If your name, or the name of your orginization is substantially like a name on the baddy list, then either sending or recipient bank will hold the funds up until they get more information on you.
posted by de void at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2009


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