I make money mooooves... could it not take 3 business days though?
May 11, 2024 3:15 PM   Subscribe

How can I make small deposits from my checking account to my savings account at a different bank, that happen instantly?

Currently I have a checking account at one bank, and my savings account at a different, online bank. For reasons, I don't want to get a savings account at the same bank as my checking account.

Is there a way to move small amounts of money from my checking at one bank to my savings at another, that happens instantly? Currently when I make a transfer from either side, it takes up to three business days for the money to leave one account and appear in the other account.

I have trouble keeping close enough track of my balance when I have to account for multiple transactions that are "still out" when I check my balance to determine whether I have enough money in checking right now to spend $X.

For example, say I want to go out to dinner. I look at my checking balance and I have $100 and that's plenty to go out to eat. But I forget to account for the fact that I made a $50 transfer to savings yesterday and a $25 transfer the day before that have not yet debited from my checking account, so in reality I only have $25 I can spend. The lag time is hell on my ADHD struggle with record-keeping.

I have noticed when I use my debit card to pay for something, that money comes out of my account immediately. Is there a way to make use of that here? Some way to "pay" a savings account using my debit card?

It's less critical to me that the money appear in my savings right away, it's more that I want it to show as gone from my checking right away. I also don't want to have to physically go to the bank or ATM to do any of this.
posted by Serene Empress Dork to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have no idea why it is the case, but I think with certain online banks if there is enough history of a relationship they basically float you the amount before it officially clears in the ACH system, so the funds are available instantly. I’ve noticed this with Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

Alternatively, I wonder if you can use Zelle to send money to yourself at different accounts. My experience is that the sent amount disappears instantly from my checking account.
posted by AndrewInDC at 3:39 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It depends on which banks you are using, but it is perfectly possible for Zelle to be the exact right solution for this. I have done this with Navy Federal, Chase, and Bank of America. Money definitely disappears immediately, whether it appears immediately is up to whether your account has been verified or something, I can’t remember exactly what it takes but it’s not onerous.
posted by Night_owl at 3:58 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Zelle is generally linked only to checking accounts, not savings accounts so I don't think you can get it set up although it might be worth a quick try to see if you can join zelle from your savings account.

When I look at recent transactions with my checking account, it shows pending transactions and the balance after those transactions go through. Maybe there is a different way to view the account that will still let you do fairly quick check but a more accurate number?
posted by metahawk at 4:03 PM on May 11

Try talking to someone at your bank? tell them what you are trying to do and the difficulty you experience and see if they can suggest a product/service that's a better fit for you. Talk to folks at competing banks.

If you're open to moving both your accounts to be under the same bank - this might be one of the banks you do business with, or perhaps a new one - then (unless that bank is truly terrible at being a bank) you should be able to get instant transfers between your own accounts under the one roof.

( completely unhelpful anecdote: over here in australia it's possible to transfer money between accounts in different australian banks very quickly, either in a few seconds or perhaps up to a minute. the only time there are delays are deliberate processing delays for security reasons (e.g. large payments to new payees often get stalled for 24 hours). that said, there are good and bad sides to living in australia but i'm not sure i'd move here just for the banking )
posted by are-coral-made at 5:15 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Chase offers “instant” transfers to other banks out of checking. It’s still the same ole ACH but they magic it up so it definitely credits to another bank’s account and debits yours. ✨banking magic! ✨
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:09 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

You can add an envelope budgeting system on top of whatever bank accounts you have to get instant updates (with easy double entry). YNAB is a classic but there are free options. Very slightly more work, but way more flexible.
posted by momus_window at 7:34 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Does the bank where you have the checking account allow you to create extra online-access-only accounts for your own use? If so, you could adopt a standard workflow of performing each transfer in two stages, first from your checking account to an online staging account at the same bank, then from that online staging account to your savings account at the other bank. The first step should move the money out of your checking account instantly, which solves your immediate "ghost solvency" problem.
posted by flabdablet at 8:25 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I was able to sign up for Zelle with both banks. For some reason the online account would only let me sign up for Zelle if I created a checking account under the same bank as my savings account; however once I did that I was able to transfer money from my regular checking account to my new online checking account, and the transfer was debited from one account and transferred to the other account instantly.

So the new online checking account will work as a "staging account" as flabdablet said. The money will hang out there until I log in to transfer it to my savings. So this works well enough for my purposes.

Thanks everyone for the ideas!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:46 PM on May 11

You might even be able to smooth that process out by setting up a periodical payment from the staging account to your savings account, where the bank's computer is instructed to transfer say $100/week from the staging account to the savings account automatically.

Scheduled transactions usually just fail quietly if the source account doesn't have the funds required, so the net effect would be that anything you transfer (instantly) from source to staging eventually ends up in savings without you having to log on and perform extra transfers by hand.
posted by flabdablet at 8:54 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

With banking there are all sorts of reasons credits and debits may be delayed, or partially there for a few days.

I'm going to suggest instead of trying to manage your account around $0, treat a higher buffer value as zero, say a thousand or something. Any miniscule lost interest is going to be dwarfed by the savings in overdraft fees and other penalties. Many banks have a minimum balance to avoid monthly fees anyway.

Or you can keep an old fashioned checkbook where people would record their outgoing checks to know their account balance in an age where it might take a month or more for checks to be cashed and clear.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:28 AM on May 12

treat a higher buffer value as zero, say a thousand or something

That can work for a lot of people (I do it myself) but it doesn't address the problem caused when look at balance -> make decision -> spend fails to allow for pending transactions not having completed yet.

It avoids overdraft penalties and/or failed transactions following from such decisions, but it doesn't help with the decisions themselves. A decision on whether or not to spend $50 when the current balance is $75 would come out the same way for $1075 with a $1000 buffer.

A separate staging account that allows for instant transfers in and out of the everyday account does facilitate this kind of decision-making, and is also a good place to put the buffer amount especially if most of the movement in and out of the staging account can be set up as automatic transfers such as periodical payments to savings, authorized direct debits from billers, direct salary payments and so on. The buffer mitigates the unpredictability of delays, and keeping half an eye on how far the staging account balance has drifted from the nominal "zero" set by the chosen buffer level is a quick and easy way to see how well the overall budgeting strategy is working.
posted by flabdablet at 7:22 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

OP, in case your Zelle solution doesn't work out, I have a good history with Ally's savings account transfers. They advertise "2 business days" but in my experience it has always, always been the very next business day. Even if I make the transfer at 11pm the night before. I know it's not instant, but it's quicker than 2 or 3 days.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:20 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

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