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How to transfer money from one bank to another

SEPA, intra-bank, and inter-bank transfers. Not sure what all this banking jargon actually means? Discover how to best move your money around, explained in simple terms.

8 min read

Working out how to transfer money from one bank to another doesn’t need to be complicated. With online banking at your fingertips and several methods to send money to another bank account, moving money around has never been so easy. 

Here’s the lowdown on all the different types of bank transfers, so you can get your money where it needs to go, hassle-free.

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What is a bank transfer?

In the most basic terms, a bank transfer is when money from one bank account is sent to another bank account. Unless you’re transferring money internationally, bank transfers are usually free. Sending money through a bank transfer is also more secure than paying in cash, because digitally transferred money is easy to track, and can prevent your hard-earned money from falling into the hands of a potential scammer. 

Typically, bank transfers take place between the following:

  • Two accounts at the same bank, also known as an intra-bank transfer
  • Two accounts at two different banks, also known as an inter-bank transfer
  • Your bank account and the account of another person in the same country, also known as a domestic bank transfer
  • Your bank account and the account of another person in a foreign country, also known as an international bank transfer

How to make an intra-bank transfer at the same bank

An intra-bank transfer is when money is moved between two accounts within the same financial institution. It’s the simplest type of bank transfer to make, especially with online banking. 

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If you have an online account, all you have to do is the following:

  • Log in to your online bank account
  • Find the option to transfer money
  • Often, you’ll be asked whether you want to transfer money internally between two accounts at the same bank, or transfer money externally to an account at a different bank. Choose to make your transfer internally
  • Select the account you want to transfer your money from
  • Select the account you want to transfer your money to. This could be to another account of yours at the same bank, or to someone else’s account at the same bank. If you’re transferring to someone else, be sure to double-check that you’ve entered their bank details correctly before you proceed! 
  • Enter the amount you want to transfer
  • Select the date for your transfer
  • Sit back and relax as the bank processes your transfer request

Alternatively, you can also call your bank’s telephone service and make your transfer over the phone, or you can make your transfer in-branch.

How to transfer funds from one bank to another domestically

Before you transfer money to another account, ensure that you can trust the person that you’re sending your money to. A good rule of thumb is to never give out your account details to someone you don’t know, and to never make a bank transfer to somebody that you’ve only interacted with online. This is because once you’ve transferred money directly from your account, it’s much harder to claim it back if the recipient turns out to be untrustworthy.

As a result, it’s best to avoid paying for goods or services with a bank transfer. Instead, use a credit card or a digital payment system like PayPal to make secure online payments—if your money falls into the wrong hands, it’ll be much easier to dispute your claim, and receive a refund.

With that in mind, transferring money from one bank to another in the same country is what is known as an inter-bank transfer. This is similar to an intra-bank transfer, but involves a few different steps.  Here’s how to send money online between two accounts at two separate banks:

  • Log in to your online bank account 
  • Find the option to transfer money
  • If you’re asked to choose between an internal or external transfer, choose to make an external transfer to another bank
  • Enter the bank details of the person receiving your transfer
  • Enter the transfer amount and the date you wish to send the money
  • Make sure you’ve entered the correct bank details, then confirm your transfer. And that’s it! 

How to transfer money to someone else’s bank account internationally

There are several methods for transferring money abroad to someone else’s bank account in another country. Which method you choose will depend on whether you’re sending money within the European Union (EU), or outside the EU. Let’s take a closer look.

How to transfer money from one bank to another within the EU

If you’re based in the EU and you want to send money to another bank account within the EU, you can take advantage of SEPA. SEPA stands for the “Single Euro Payments Area,” and makes cross-border EU bank transfers easy for those living within the EU. Simply put, this means that sending money across the Eurozone is as easy as making a domestic bank transfer. 

There are three types of SEPA bank transfers to consider:

  • The SEPA Credit Transfer, which is usually used for one-off payments of up to €999,999,999.99.
  • The SEPA Instant Credit Transfer, which is sent in less than 10 seconds and allows you to transfer up to €100,000. However, not all banks offer this service.
  • The SEPA Direct Debit Transfer, which is often used for recurring payments. Here, there is no maximum transfer limit—only what was agreed upon between the recipient and sender applies.

How to transfer money outside of the EU

If you’re EU-based and want to transfer money outside the SEPA countries, you have several options. While you can choose to transfer money directly from your bank, this often results in higher fees than using a money transfer service, such as Wise (formerly TransferWise). This is because banks often hide extra charges within their exchange rates, and charge higher up-front transfer fees.

So when transferring money internationally, you’re often better off using a money transfer service. Because Wise is transparent about their charges and offers mid-market exchange rates—like those you see when you check foreign exchange rates on Google—they’re a great choice when you need to send money abroad. And with Wise already integrated into the N26 app, you can easily send money at a fair exchange rate in over 38 currencies, all with just a few taps on your phone.

How long do bank transfers take?

How long it takes for your money to land in your recipient’s account depends on the transfer method you’ve chosen.

  • Domestic transfers within the same bank usually take between a couple of seconds to 24 hours
  • Domestic transfers between two different banks take between one to three days
  • SEPA Credit Transfers usually take one business day
  • SEPA Instant Credit Transfers take less than ten seconds
  • SEPA Core Direct Debit Transfers take a minimum of two business days
  • International transfers with Wise take between two to five business days

Are there any bank transfer limits or fees?

Bank transfer limits and fees will depend on the type of transfer that you want to make. Usually, domestic bank transfers within the same country are free, but the maximum amount you can transfer at a time will vary depending on the bank’s policy. 

If you’re sending money internationally within the EU, a SEPA transfer must cost the same amount as a domestic transfer by law. This means that SEPA transfers are also usually free of charge, but if your bank is one of the few that charges extra fees to make a domestic transfer, be aware that the same charge may also apply to your SEPA transfer as well. 

The type of SEPA transfer you use will also determine the maximum amount you can send with a bank transfer. You can transfer up to €999,999,999.99 with the SEPA Credit Transfer, and up to €100,000 with the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer. For SEPA Core Direct Debit Transfers, the only limit is the one set between the sender and the recipient.

If you’re sending money overseas outside of the EU using TransferWise, there is a minimal upfront transfer fee—just like with any international money transfer service. However, TransferWise keeps this fee to a minimum, usually chipping off only 0.5% of your total transfer amount. Transfer limits vary depending on which currencies you are sending and receiving, but you can send up to 1 million USD to the U.S., up to 1.5 million AUD to Australia, and however much you want to Canada—the Great White North has no transfer limit with TransferWise. 

Your money at N26 

At N26, we’ve made transferring money to other bank accounts as easy as just a few taps on your phone. Pay and get paid instantly from N26 friends with MoneyBeam, or send and receive money in seconds with SEPA Instant Credit Transfers—24/7, even on weekends or public holidays. And of course, domestic bank transfers to other banks in the same country are free with every N26 bank account as well.

Sending money abroad? No problem. We’ve also made international transfers effortless thanks to Wise (formerly TransferWise), seamlessly integrated into your N26 app. You can now send money overseas in over 38 currencies at fair, real-market exchange rates. Ready for a 100% mobile bank with no hidden fees? Find the bank account that fits you best.

By N26

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