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Inside Look at ACH Transfer Speeds at Online Banks


An important feature of online savings accounts is the electronic transfer in which the customer can initiate while logged into his or her account. This makes it easy to fund the account and make withdrawals. Online banks use the electronic network called Automated Clearing House (ACH) for these transfers. You'll often see me refer to ACH transfers in my reviews of the online banks.

This WSJ article takes a look at the issue of electronic transfer times. The author describes how she was trying to transfer money from her ING Direct account to her Bank of America account so she could use the money for a car purchase. She initiated it at ING Direct on Monday morning. It showed up as pending at Bank of America on Wednesday, but it wasn't accessible until Thursday.

This shows two issues of a transfer. First there's the speed of the transfer which is the number of days after you initiate the transfer and before you see it in the destination account. Second is the hold time which is the time it takes the bank to make the money available to you for withdrawals. There's actually another issue to worry about in transfers. It's the time the money is not earning interest. This is the number of days after the withdrawal from the source account and before the deposit at the destination account.

In the article it's interesting to note that the author was told of the "three-day good funds model" by an HSBC executive VP as the reason behind their 3-day transfer time. This is supposedly the time that the bank wants to make sure the funds are good before it lets you have them. The issue at HSBC Direct is not only the 3-day transfer time, it's also the fact that there are at least 2 days in which your money isn't earning interest. I can't think of why security would justify this.

The article does offer this advice: "If the transactions take longer than two business days, complain to the bank where the transfer originated." So if you haven't already, be sure to complain.

HSBC Direct isn't the only one to have slow transfers. Below is a list of the online banks that's divided into ones with fast ACH transfer times (1-2 days) and ones with slow ACH times (3-4 days). These are based mostly on inputs from readers. I also have experience with some of these. Most banks just quote a standard 2-3 business-day transfer policy, so it requires actual experience to know the true speed.

This list just includes a few of the online banks that I was able to quickly get some ACH times. If you have experience with ACH transfer times for your bank, please leave a comment. There can be some variation in the transfer times. As the article states, it's best to initiate transfers early in the morning.

Fast Transfers ~ 1 to 2 days (0 to 1 day of lost interest)
  • EmigrantDirect/DollarSavingsDirect
  • Providentdirect
  • GMAC Bank
  • CNBBankDirect
  • E-LOAN
  • Countrywide
  • ING Direct
  • OnBank
Slow Transfers ~ 3 to 4 days (often with 2 days of lost interest)
  • HSBC Direct
  • FNBO Direct
  • EverBank
  • Capital One
  • Nationwide
  • OneUnited
There are many other issues with ACH transfers. I'll discuss these in future posts.

Related Posts

  |     |   Comment #1
It seems rather obvious that banks which use slow ACH transfer speeds are simply making money by not paying interest. I decided to avoid these banks.
  |     |   Comment #2
I have had pretty good luck with Allied Credit Union's ACH service. Funds are typically available on the 2nd day of initiating the transfer.

Countrywide has next day ACH speed but they have been placing 3 to 4 business day holds on incoming funds before making them available.
  |     |   Comment #3
The "slow" transfer banks use CashEdge. It is CashEdge which holds the funds and not the bank.
  |     |   Comment #4
Nationwide belongs in the fast transfer category. Funds always show up the next day for pushes and pulls-- the same as my E*Trade account. I think this may have improved recently, but it's been like that the entire time I've had the account (since July '08).
  |     |   Comment #5
I have just opened a CD at Guaranty Bank (http://www.guarantybank.com/). While I have other issues, regarding the ACH policy, I have been told that they credit the money to your account, and interest starts accruing, the day after they send the request through the ACH -- regardless of whether they have actually received the funds yet.

They did not mention anything about a hold on the funds, though.

FRANKLY, this is an issue that has bothered me for decades. Sending a request for TF through the ACH is NO DIFFERENT from sending a check through, since the banks no longer even have to send through the hard copy of the check. Yet, the law requires that a check be credited to your account the day you give it to the bank (and thus, interest starts accruing) -- even if a hold is placed on it. But the law has no such requirement for sending through the ACH where a printed check is not involved. Yet, there really is no difference between the two!

I suspect this is because the law has not caught up with technology -- initiating ACH transfers in the past was not common, and I don't even know if individuals could do that, but advanced technology has made that common.
  |     |   Comment #6
I find it very difficult to believe that the money transfer delays that banking consumers must tolerate really have much if anything to do with preventing fraud. If anything, there is collusion among the banks to commit systematic fraud by holding money in the ether for much longer than necessary.

The ACH holds are nothing compared with the 10-11 business day holds that are routinely placed on large transfers.
  |     |   Comment #7
In my experience E*Trade is the best for ACH transfers. Both push and pull transactions happen the same day and you don't lose any interest. In contrast, FNBO Direct takes 5 business days for ACH transactions. In the case of a push from FNBO Direct, the amount is deducted from FNBO account the same day, but it gets credited to the other account only after a week. WaMu is half-way between E*Trade and FNBO Direct. It takes 2 to 3 days for ACH transfers at WaMu. However, it places a hold of 3 to 4 days after the transaction shows up in WaMu account. DollarSavingsDirect is another peculiar case. ACH pulls on DollarSavingsDirect happen in just 1 day, however the funds are made available only after 5 business days. Different banks - different experiences!
  |     |   Comment #45
I don't know where in the world you get this info.  I get ****ed on a regular basis by Etrade, their ACH xfers take 3 or 4 business days!  These banks are defrauding thousands of people of interest, plus insufficient funds charges, as the cash sits in limbo, unable to cover incoming bills.  Funny that transfers take so long, but they are amazingly fast to debit your account, especially when they can charge you $25 for each "insufficient funds" penalty.  They ARE sufficient ****s, you just won't give me access to them!
  |     |   Comment #8
We claim that we in the USA are technically very advanced, but we still have very archaic systems, archaic policies and simply cheating banks. Inter-bank transfers happen in Europe happen in a day. Better still, inter-bank transfers happen instantaneously in India.
  |     |   Comment #9
5:51 makes a good point. one of the reasons I like using Imperial Capital Bank is that they have good rates and a local branch by me where I can deposit a paper check and have this "old fashioned" method of moving funds allow me not to have wasted non-interest earning days on funds.

One thing I do when evaluating rates vs. convenience is to calculate how many days it would take at a higher interest rate to make up for the float. For instance, if you have a local bank paying 4% that you could put funds in via a check vs. an option to get 4.25% online, but there may be a 2 day ACH float delay where you make no interest, it will take 32 days at the higher rate to break even before the higher rate starts making you more money that you would have gotten had you gone with the lower, but faster-crediting deposit choice.
  |     |   Comment #10
The two banks I use - ING Direct and City National Bank in Taylor, TX - are fast movers. City National I use for the majority of my online bill paying. I love ING in that I can send an electronic check to my kids for birthdays, Christmas, etc.

Wachovia was pathetically slow; they took up four business days. This isn't good for the purpose of bill paying. Also, when I transferred money externally, I would get charged $3.00. I won't have anything to do with a bank that nickels and dimes me on everything.

Lastly, FNBO may be slow, but they're one of the safest - a clear example of cutting one's nose off to spite one's face if ending a customer relationship with them because ACHs are slow. It's a matter of careful planning, yes?
  |     |   Comment #11
Regarding 5:51's remarks, not all banks start paying interest when they receive your check. Some wait until the check clears.
  |     |   Comment #12
The slow speed of ACH transfers is very frustrating for me as well. However, I have found one "trick" that does give me a little sense of vengeance. My mortgage is with ING Direct, and if I make a "transfer" to my mortgage on a Thursday, it will be credited to my account on Friday. However, when I pull that money from my Capital One checking account, the money doesn't disappear until the following Monday, giving me two benefits: (1) On the Friday, I stop paying interest to ING Direct on the amount of principle that is included in the mortgage payment and (2) I keep receiving interest from Capital One on the entire amount of the payment over the weekend. The best situation is when a banking holiday falls on a Monday, so the money stays in my CO account until Tuesday.

I won't get rich doing this, but it makes me smile each time I do it.
  |     |   Comment #13
I have several bank accounts but do not have checkbooks therefore the way to transact business with them is via ACH.
  |     |   Comment #14
They can feed us all the bull in the world but the fact of the matter is that somebody makes money on slow transaction times. Either in less interest being paid, or the companies like Cashedge that have control of the funds for that day, or so. You can bet on it. There is no reason why it can't be done instantly, except for the fact somebody is making money the way it is.
  |     |   Comment #46
Absolutely right!
  |     |   Comment #15
To Anonymous, at 7:59 PM, October 26, 2008.

You are partially right on your logic. It is not what you think, but what you don't know, that it counts.

Banks do not operate on our logic, but they depend on their computers, to invest the float that you just created for ING and the delay of payment that is suppose to come to ING form Capital One.

You see, the moment you pressed the pay button at ING, your money were instantaneously transferred to either treasury direct or some other derivatives that pay interest. Capital One is still earning interest from their investment on your money until Tuesday.

You created double float on the same money and no bank is loosing any sleep over it. Capital One will pay you interest (if any) on the money transfer requested on Friday not on Monday or Tuesday. I did some calculations myself many times with many banks and the truth is customer always looses. The system is rigged against the savers and for benefits of the banks.
  |     |   Comment #16
I have found my Fidelity SmartCash ACH transfers to be very quick. I also have ACH set up at my local credit union (slow) and FNBO (slow). So whenever possible, I try to initiate my ACHs through Fidelity, whether it be a push or pull. Of course, this is not always possible, due to where my $$ to move must start and end up. If I must initiate a transaction from my CU or FNBO, I usually do it on a Monday early if poss, and then I just grit my teeth till the $$ *finally* show up. With Fidelity, the $$ are there the next day, whether I push or pull. I used to have an account with Countrywide Bank. They were very fast too. $$ always got moved by the next day.
  |     |   Comment #17
As Banking Guy mentions above, it's not simply who has the fastest or faster ACH times. It's the combination of that time and then how long the receiving bank places a hold on your funds before you can access them.

As mentioned, Countrywide and E-Trade both have reasonably fast ACH transfer systems, often next day to arrive. But both have multi-day holds on incoming ACH funds. I believe E-Trade's policy is the afternoon of the third business day after your transfer, while Countrywide I believe is on the fourth business day.

I think the security argument about those hold times is a bunch of ****... If I turn around and ACH funds from those accounts to another bank like SalemFive and their EOne checking account, the money there is available immediately upon arrival (no hold times). Same with some other banks where I have accounts. So if they can do like that, why not Countrywide, E-Trade and the others.

I'm not sure if there's a connection. But the other banks where the incoming funds seem to be immediately available also are those that don't have their own internal ACH system access for their customers, i.e., you're having to push money into those accounts from other banks.

I was going to open one of Capital One's new accounts lately, but then got into the details, and found they place a five business days hold on all incoming ACH funds... GM Bank is similar I believe, 4 or 5 day holds. Thanks but no thanks.

--John in Los Angeles
  |     |   Comment #50
in fact capital one place a 10 business days hold on incoming ACH
  |     |   Comment #18
I have experienced the slow transfers as described, one firm that has provided SUPER fast transfers usually the same day is Fidelity Investments, I know they are not a bank and their cash savings account has a very low interest rate, I just wanted everyone to know that transfers can occur quickly!
  |     |   Comment #19



  |     |   Comment #20
1st Constitution Direct does next day transfers. Very quick and efficient.
  |     |   Comment #21
I think what a lot of you failed to mention, perhaps because you aren't aware of it, is that many banks will transfer funds into a mutual funds sweeps accounts. They're high interest-bearing at that, even now during the volatility of the market.

Bank of America will take a customer's Keep the Change savings and transfer the money into the sweeps account at night and re-transfer it back to your own savings in the morning. The catch is that they don't bother to tell customers this when they apply for a savings account. Go figure.
  |     |   Comment #22
Wrote to banks:
FNBO direct, HSBC direct have extremely slow ACH transfer times as per :
But etrade, ingdirect etc are fast.
Please correct this.

Published at :
Wrote: http://people20.blogspot.com/2008/10/fnbo-hsbc-have-extremely-slow-ach.html

FNBO Direct: https://www.fnbodirect.com/welcome/MarketingDropDownProdList
HSBC direct : https://www.hsbcdirect.com/1/2/1/default/contact?code=MIW0000155
  |     |   Comment #23
The ACH legal rules of the game are contained in a manual called
"/blog/2008 ACH Rules", however these rules must be purchased for around $55.


A customer can report an ACH rule violation and banks can be fined by nacha.org.
  |     |   Comment #24
While most funds from ACH i thought would be available either the day or the next business day it "hits" your bank. On a separate, but similar issue, does anyone know a bank that would make funds available very quick if you deposit a non-local, US check (not drawn on the same bank) of >$6k but <$50k? It seems my current bank has the longest delay; the 1st $100 avail next business day; the next $4,900 available in 5 business days; the rest on the 11th business day! I cant wait 11 days and refuse to pay wire fees for the payer and my incoming fees. Anyone know of shorter times with their local or local/national banks?!?
  |     |   Comment #25
GMAC is one of the fasters for bank to bank transfers. Last Sunday night I did a transfer through GMAC and by Tuesday the funds were already showing in my savings account. If I would have done the same through HSBC it would have taken 3-4 days. No problems with this so far.
  |     |   Comment #26
Prior comment says that slow ACH at CapitalOne & FNBO are because they use Cashedge not the banks fault - that is WRONG: Countrywide, which has FAST transfer, uses Cashedge transfer system.

Also - many banks holds are different depending upon whether the funds are PUSHed or PULLed:
Based upon my experience, the following banks - which hold funds if they are pulled into the account - do NOT hold funds that are pushed in:
Provident-Direct (Maryland)
  |     |   Comment #27
To 12:48 pm regarding GM Bank's ACH transfers, yes, you can do an ACH that will arrive in your account the next day or two (the latter for the weekend).

But under their policy, those ACH'd funds would not be available to you for withdrawal -- even though they would count toward your balance perhaps -- for 5 business days.

If you already have a funds balance in that GM Bank account, then you already have other funds available, so it wouldn't matter much. But if the ACH'd funds were the only funds in that account, I believe you'd be waiting 5 days before you could touch them.

Please correct me if you have had a different experience with this. But I just last week looked at, and then passed on, opening a new account with them because I didn't like their 5 day hold policy on incoming ACH'd funds.

--John in Los Angeles
  |     |   Comment #28
To 11:24 am regarding pushing vs. pulling funds and their related hold times, I'm interested in that idea...but not sure you are correct about that.

I have accounts at Countrywide and Etrade, both fast transfer institutions but with 3-4 business day hold times. I know if I pull funds into either of those accounts using their own systems, they apply the standard holds.

I'm pretty sure, but not 100%, at some point in the past I've also pushed funds one way or the other between the two...and got hit with the same long holds... But I'm not 100% sure that I pushed before.

Anyone else have direct experience with this??? Are you avoiding hold times when you push funds into the receiving account, instead of pulling???

--John in Los Angeles
  |     |   Comment #29
To John in LA - post immediately above -

Yes, I am SURE that when I push funds into
Countrywide (Online Savings Acct)
CapitalOne (MMkt or Online Savings Acct)
Provident Direct (HighYield Savings)

that the funds are immediately available - no holds.

However, if the funds are pulled in, there definitely are holds.
  |     |   Comment #30
DollarSavings (Emigrant Bank) is the best....same day out and same day in your checking account--can't beat that.
  |     |   Comment #31
its been taking me like 3 days for countrywide ach pulls...it shows up in the account but its not "available" to transfer it out for about 3 days
  |     |   Comment #32
What is your take on Pay Pal and ach transfers, they claim they are not!

So what are they,their funds transfer almost always take over 3 days.
  |     |   Comment #33
Wells Fargo 4 days
Richard Y
  |     |   Comment #34
You can add Zions Bank to the slow list. They take at least 4 days to transfer between domestic banks, even after you have set up accounts and performed many transfers.
  |     |   Comment #35
Bitcoin might be of interest to some of your readers. A peer-to-peer digital currency that doesn't rely on banks. http://www.bitcoin.org

  |     |   Comment #36
Your data is incorrect on ING Direct transfers.  They hold the received money up to 6 days after it is received and there is no interest until the 6th day.  They used to be 1-2 days, but after they built up their customer base, this was changed. Ref Aug 2011.
  |     |   Comment #37
The more we nickel and dime banks with Dodd and Frant etc etc, the more they will nickel and dime us , the retail customers. Just ask Congress to stop making rules for this term and obama to stop making rules like forever, and let the banks compete on service and on NOT nickel and diming & we have a good economy based on Capitalism - there is nothing else to base our economy on !!!!!
  |     |   Comment #38
Sallie Mae Bank holds access to your funds for 10 business days.  They say they do this for "your protection".  With two weekends included in that time frame, you could be denied access for up to 14 days.  Calling them just gets you blown off.

NACHA rules says funds should be available after settlement by the Federasl Reserve, about 3 days.  Sadly, NACHA will not step in to enforce their own rules unless a depositor initiates a complaint, not with them, but with the bank that transferred the funds...even though the initiating bank is not the one denying access.  This really makes no sense.

It appears to me that NACHA doesn't want to alienate their membership by stepping in and would rather have the "non-guilty" bank do their dirty work!

  |     |   Comment #39
ING is extrememly slow for us.  It takes three days and sometimes four days for a deposit to show up.  
  |     |   Comment #40
ING states in their help file that ACH ditect deposits are suppossed to show immediately.  However this is not the case for me.  
  |     |   Comment #41
Even better..United Bank in WV takes five days for most electronic bill payments to be "credited", but offers a same day "expedited" option for $5.95 (PER BILL)!!  Nothing like being gouged to use your own money.
  |     |   Comment #42
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney allegedly initiated

ACH transfer of funds from my closed account on

Monday morning this week.  It is Thursday morning

and I still have no funds received in my bank account.

Don't know what to make of this timing!
  |     |   Comment #43
Wellsfargo Bank, I initaied a transfer from my Credit Union on Feb 1 On Fe4 the debit was posted to my Credit Union, They will not give me credit on my wellsfargo account until Feb 6.  In other words the bank has use of my money for 3 full days.  Also Wells Fargo started charging $3-$10 to transfer from my Wellsfargo demand deposit account to any other bank plus it takes 3 to 4 days.
  |     |   Comment #44
Merruwest Credit Union, San Jose, Calif specify a 6 day wait frim date they request funds I initiated. The funds leave WESTAMERICA bank the day they are reuested, the day I made the the request atNeriwest CU. Does NACHA have a time requirement? Six days seems excessive. I cant afford $55 to get an answer to one question

Thanks for any comments/answer
Vilma Cunningham
  |     |   Comment #47
Amex and Etrade deposits are the next day..Ally Bank/ING Bank/ Sally Mae/ are three days
But the worst is IGO bank and FNOB they are the slowest.takes 4 days. Like to get rid of the latter at the end of this year. Any suggestions of other banks with fast transfers 
  |     |   Comment #48
Late comment on an old article, but with my Capital One account I initiated a transfer to my Chase bank account Thursday night.  I received it the following Wednesday, afterwords I immediately initiated an online wire transfer to my bank in Asia (currently working here) and had the funds in my bank account within a couple hours of my bank here opening.  Obviously it's a different system using a wire transfer but it seems crazy that it took 4 working days to transfer between in country banks but I can wire to myself on another continent and have it in a matter of hours
  |     |   Comment #49
Since banks appear to be worried about fraud, why don't they check their account applicants prior to granting acceptance for criminal activity? Why punish all of us for the crimes of a few?
  |     |   Comment #51
Initiated a transfer from Discover Bank in the afternoon on 8/6 and they still on 8/10 don't have a reference. Bank of America says funds were not received as of 530 8/10. It's over a weekend but normally it's a 1 day transfer. They pulled money on 8/6, it was old money so no safety issues nor concerns. No excuses.
  |     |   Comment #52
I've recently complained to Paypal. Their transfers usually take 4 days. They list 3-4 business days as the transfer time, and I've seen them mention up to 5 days. My cynical nature says that Paypal is earning interest on my money while I'm not and that the actual transfer should take a day or less (I'm thinking an hour or less, actually). Any suggestions on who legislates the ACH? Thanks. 
  |     |   Comment #54
Discover bank is one of the worst by far.  Can often times take 3 or 4 days.  On my latest transfer they said it would take 5 business days.  Although I'm hoping it will show up in 4 :(  On the otherhand,  Everbank which this article states as slow has always been a one day transfer for me.  Not sure if things have changed since this article was written.  I've had that accound for several years and have never had a transfer take more than next business day.
  |     |   Comment #55
  |     |   Comment #58
Ally Bank inbound ACH is 3-day delivery.

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