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Money Transfer Methods: What Should Each Method Cost?

Money Transfer Methods: What Should Each Method Cost?

There are plenty of money transfer methods and we are lucky to live in a capitalist country where we can trust our money transfer methods. There are plenty of countries where you can send something such as a wire transfer and have your bank or money company claim they never received it, (and there is nothing you can do about it). Luckily, countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia take money very seriously, which is why transfer networks are ultra secure.

In this article, you will find numerous money transfer methods and how much they should cost. This article deals with checking accounts that private citizens hold. It doesn’t give the fees for money transfer methods for things such as last-chance checking accounts or business accounts because they usually have their own set of charges and fees.

Note On My Wordage

When I use the term “Bank,” I also mean money company, online bank, financial company and credit union. I am referring to the institution that provides your checking account and other associated services.

ACH Transfer Or Payment

Payments and transfers made with an ACH (Automated Clearing House) are typically cheap or free. This is because the bank doesn’t have to pay credit card networks such as Visa, Discover, American Express, MasterCard and so on. In addition, things such as wire transfers demand a slightly higher investment of resources, which is why ACH transfers are almost always cheaper.

Many banks are going to charge you nothing the ACH transfers. In many cases, the bank is able to use its internal networks to send money, which costs them a fraction of a cent. In other cases, it serves the bank better if they give away free ACH transfers because customers may leave and find another bank if they do not.

$0.15 – $0.95
When reviewing the data given to us by our researchers, I have seen things called debit fees. This is where a bank charges you money if your account is debited and if the money is sent through the ACH network. In my experience, banks don’t charge more than a dollar for debit fees. Some will also charge a credit fee, which is where you are charged up to a dollar for receiving money via the ACH network.

0.05% – 4%
A discount fee is a misleading fee. If the bank feels a transaction is risky, they may charge a discount fee where you are charged a percentage of the ACH amount. If your bank charges discount fees, then you should start looking for a new bank. Nasty fees such as this one are usually only present with last-chance or second-chance accounts, but I have seen them creep into mainstream accounts too.

$3 – $15
Most banks are going to transfer your money the next day because ACH usually takes overnight. However, some banks will extend the time it takes for ACH transfers to transact, such as by making them take 2-3 days, and then they will offer to have them process overnight for a fee. This is a naughty way of sneaking another fee into their banking service.

Bank Transfer Or EFT Transfers

Moving money from one account to another is known as a bank transfer, even if you are transferring from credit unions and money companies. They may also be called EFT (Electronic Funds Transfers). The method they use to transfer your money may dictate how much your bank transfer costs, but many banks use internal networks where your transfer costs a fraction of a cent.

If it is an internal bank transfer, such as a transfer from your checking account to your savings account, then it should be free and is usually instant unless you are paying into a credit card.

If you are transferring to another domestic bank and you are offered a bank transfer, then it may be free and instant, or it may be costly and/or take time.

$0.00 – $3.50
Transferring from your domestic bank account to another domestic bank account is slowly becoming a commonly-free service because of trends set by PayPal and PopMoney. However, there are still some banks and money companies that will charge up to $3.5. If they charge more, then you may need to look for another bank.

Wire Transfer

A wire transfer has your money transferred directly from one account to another without going through an automated clearing house or other indirect route. It costs banks a fraction of a cent more to process a wire transfer than it does to conduct an internal bank transfer or ACH transfer. Banks usually charge a wire transfer fee because they can, though one could argue they do it because it saves them money.

There are some banks that offer domestic wire transfers for free. We have reviewed quite a few banks in our time, and we have seen many that offer free domestic wire transfers. We have also seen quite a few banks that offer a service package where your checking account comes with a monthly/annual fee, but with that account you have perks such as free wire transfers.

$10 – $35
If we only consider domestic outgoing wire transfers, and if you cannot find a bank that offers free wire transfers, then you are looking at costs of between $10 (such as Fidelity) and $35 (such as with Bank Of Internet USA).

$0.00 – $28
It is not in the interest of a bank to charge people for receiving money into their account, but some banks do it anyway. Some banks seems to have incoming wire fees so they can offer to waive them if you do something such as have your wages direct deposited into your account every month.

$0.00 – $50
Incoming international wire transfers sometimes come with a fee. Many banks are going to charge you some sort of fee because they can, but things such as PayPal and the Transferwise borderless account are forcing banks to lower their prices or offer free incoming wire transfers. The highest fee we have found in recent years comes from the Connexus Credit Union who are charging $50 per incoming or outgoing international wire transfer.

$0.00 – $50
Outgoing international wire transfers are going to cost you a pretty penny with most banks, and many try to justify their fees by saying they are taking a higher risk when they wire money abroad, but that is not technically true these days. Unless you are wiring money to North Korea or a Nigerian prince, then your transfer is safe. Fidelity are the ones offering outgoing international wire transfers for just $10. If you cannot find a bank that offers international outgoing wire transfers for free, then Fidelity is a fine option.

Direct Debit

A direct debit instruction allows another account holder to take money from your bank account. They are typically used by utility companies and companies that charge you a monthly fee. The company has to inform you how much money it is going to take out of your account before the money is taken out.

Direct debits and similar money-transfer instructions are almost always free. The company receiving the money will usually pay any fees associated with the direct debit transaction. It is possible to set up standing orders with your own accounts, which is similar to a direct debits except that the money being moved is a set amount.


When you send money online, the recipient may not be able to access it right away because the money has not yet been drawn from your account. This is what happens when you send an eCheck, and it often suits people who are buying but are a little worried about receiving their goods. An eCheck almost always costs the recipient a fee.

In most cases, you are not going to be charged a fee for sending an eCheck. In most cases, it is the recipient who pays a fee. There may be some banks that charge you a monthly fee where one of their account perks is that you are able to create eChecks. In that case, you are indirectly paying to send an eCheck.

Bank Draft

A bank draft is a payment you make to another person or company, except that the payment is guaranteed by the bank. If you were to give a check to another person, he or she may not feel comfortable putting it in his or her bank for fear it may bounce. If the check were guaranteed by a bank that payment will go through, then the recipient may feel happier about accepting the check. That is what a bank draft is, it is a form of payment that is guaranteed by a bank.

There are quite a few banks that offer commission-free bank drafts under certain conditions. For example, they may have a banking package that offers a certain number of free bank drafts. In most cases, you will have to pay for these banking packages or subscriptions, which means you are paying for your bank drafts indirectly.

$5.00+ or up to 5%
Some banks will charge a set fee for bank drafts, such as how the RCB charges $7.50 for bank drafts in any currency. The cost of bank drafts is usually upwards of $5.00, and some banks will charge higher set fees for higher amounts of money. Other banks charge a percentage that usually runs from 3% to 5% of the total amount.

Money Order

Think of money orders as a type of currency. Imagine that if you have a money order for $1000, then you are actually holding a $1000 note. Another way to describe a money order is as a prepaid check. The buyer goes to the vendor and asks for a money order of a certain amount. That amount is paid in advance to the vendor, who will almost always charge a fee in addition to the amount on the money order.

$1.25 – $1.65
USPS are probably going to be the cheapest money order vendor in your local area. Typically, they charge you $1.25 for a money order up to $500, and $1.65 for a money order up to $1000.

$0.70 – $5
The USPS pricing plan is not uncommon where there are two price tiers. For example, if you buy a money order for $500, then it costs you $1.25, but buy one for $501 and it costs $1.65. However, other companies charge you a rate based on how much is in your money order. For example, you may buy a $10 money order from Walmart that costs you $0.70, or buy a $1000 money order from 7Eleven that costs $5.

Certified Check

If you hand over a check, the person receiving it has no real idea if you have the money in your account. When you hand over your $100 check, the recipient doesn’t know if you have $100,000 in your account, or just $1. When you hand over a certified check, it means your bank has taken the money to one side and put a hold on it. As and when the check is cashed, the money is released and given to the recipient.

Some banks offer certified checks for free, but the customer usually has to have some sort of banking package or subscription. In that case, you are paying for your certified checks indirectly.

In many cases, your certified check will cost you $10. The size of your check doesn’t matter because the service the bank does is the same every time. All the bank does is put a hold on a portion of your money and then issue you with a certified check. That is true if your certified check is for $50 or $50,000, which is why most banks have a set rate that doesn’t change no matter the value of your certified check.

Money Transfer Methods cover image - pile of cash

Conclusion – Are The Cheapest Money Transfer Methods The Best?

The method you choose should be based on security and suitability rather on price. I don’t suggest you pay for the most convenient, otherwise you may find yourself paying a $50 fee to Connexus Credit Union for an incoming wire transfer.

Consider security first, such as by sending something through the post that has a named recipient on it so that mail tamperers cannot cash the money themselves. Suitability is also a consideration, such as how your insurance company may offer a discount if you pay by direct debit and/or permitted ACH payments.

About The Author

Ash The Great

After a varied career in different industries from the hospitality industry to the financial consultancy industry, Ash now spends his days working as a professional writer.

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