The easiest way to transfer money from one bank account to another depends on when you want the money to arrive and whether you want to pay a fee. If the money must arrive the same day, the easiest method is to make the deposit either in person, through a wire transfer or using a third party vendor like Western Union. However, there is usually a charge for all of these except in-person deposits. If time is not of the essence, there are alternative free and low-cost options.
Visit the Branch and Do It In Person
One easy way to transfer money into another person's bank account is to visit his bank and make the deposit in person. This works well if you live or work in an area with a branch location. Although procedures can vary between financial institutions, all that is usually required is that you know the account holder's name and account number. Since you're depositing money in person, there is typically no charge for this service. If you have an account at the same bank, such as Wells Fargo, you can transfer funds between the two accounts for free. At some banks this can also be done over the phone with a customer service representative and online via your bank's website.
Wire the Funds
If there isn't a convenient branch location nearby, you can wire the funds instead. This can often be done online on your bank's website. However, speak with your bank about its policy as some require you to complete this transaction in person at a branch location or over the phone with a customer service representative. Not only must you know the recipient's account number, but also his bank's routing number. This is the number that electronically identifies the bank where the account is located so the transfer is properly routed. If the recipient didn't give you this number, contact his bank for it. This number is freely given and may even be posted on the bank's website. Additional information your bank may request includes the recipient's name, address and phone number. Banks typically charge a fee for sending wire transfers, which are usually delivered the same day if you set up the transfer before your bank's cut-off time for such transactions.
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Use an Email Address and Mobile Number
Many banks also give you the option to electronically transfer funds online or using an email address or mobile phone number. For example, with Bank of America and U.S. Bank, you can transfer money from your bank account to another person's for free by providing either his email address or cell phone number on the bank's website or using its mobile app. There is no need to know the recipient's bank account number. The recipient provides this information when he gets a text or email explaining how to complete the transaction. U.S. Bank, like many others, also lets you send money online directly to his bank account by providing his routing and account numbers. This is popularly known as direct deposit or an Automated Clearing House, or ACH, transaction. Unlike with a wire transfer, the service is usually free and delivery can take up to several business days.
Use a Third Party Vendor
You can also send money from your bank account to someone else's by using a third party vendor such as PayPal, Western Union or MoneyGram. With PayPal, you supply the recipient's email or phone number. The money will be taken from your PayPal balance, if you have one, or the bank account attached to your PayPal account. The fee for using this service is a percentage of the total amount being sent, so it varies. Both WesternUnion and MoneyGram also allow you to send money online from your bank account to someone else's for a fee, which varies based on how much you transfer.
How to Keep Your Money Safe
Transferring money electronically is safe, so long as you adopt a few key practices. Only transfer money using a reputable financial institution, preferably your own, and only to persons or businesses you are familiar with. If your transfer is stolen or compromised in any way, immediately notify the bank you sent it from. Although procedures can vary, stolen funds are typically refunded after the financial institution conducts an investigation.