Whether you want to send cash to a faraway country or just move funds between your own accounts from the comfort of your living room, Canadians have several different choices for transferring money between banks.
Read on to learn more about your options for transferring money to a different bank account in Canada or internationally, plus the restrictions and fees that come along with different options.
Cost: Free to $1-$1.50.
How it works: Interac e-Transfer is an easy and accessible way to send money to anyone in Canada with a bank account and an email address or mobile phone number. Banks set their own daily, weekly and monthly limits on how much you can send – for example, up to $3,000 in 24 hours. Interac e-Transfers don’t arrive instantly, but the service is quick – the recipient will usually receive a notification within 30-90 minutes, and can deposit the money into their bank account immediately. It doesn’t cost anything to receive an Interac e-Transfer, but it may cost you to send one. Some accounts offer free unlimited Interac e-Transfers or a certain number of free ones per month, while other charge a small fee to send one.
Cost: $25-$50 for a book of 50 cheques, depending on where you order.
How it works: Cheques are a little more old-fashioned, but they’re still a familiar and reliable way to send money from one bank account to another (and some people just prefer paper). Not all banks provide free cheques, so you might have to pay extra for a book of cheques through your bank or a professional cheque printing company (the second option is usually cheaper). You can deposit a cheque by going to your local bank branch, at the ATM, or using your mobile banking app. It usually takes a few days for a cheque to clear and for the funds to hit your account, and there is always the risk that a cheque can bounce if the sender has insufficient funds in their account.
Cost: $15-$50 to send a wire transfer.
How it works: A wire transfer is a secure electronic way to send money both domestically and internationally and in different currencies. You can send a wire transfer in person at a bank branch, through a service like Western Union, or online if you bank offers it. To send a wire transfer, you will need the recipient’s personal information, including their full name (as it appears on their bank account) and address, as well as the recipient’s bank branch name and address, bank account number and branch routing information (financial institution number and branch transit number). For international wire transfers, you will also need the financial institution's SWIFT code or Business Identifier Code (BIC). Depending on your bank, where you’re sending money and the amount you’re transferring, there may be fees for sending or receiving a wire transfer.
Cost: Around $10, depending on the bank.
How it works: A bank draft is a guaranteed form of payment where the money is immediately withdrawn from your account and held by the bank until the recipient cashes the bank draft. Bank drafts are typically used for expensive purchases such as buying a car or making a down payment on a home. You can also purchase bank drafts in foreign currencies. To get a bank draft, you’ll need to go to a bank branch and bring government-issued ID to verify your identity. Like a cheque, a bank draft is a physical piece of paper – so don’t lose it. But unlike a cheque, you can’t cancel a bank draft once you’ve given it to the recipient.
Cost: $7.50 at Canada Post.
How it works: Like a bank draft, funds are guaranteed with a money order because the sender pays up front. A money order is a physical slip of paper, and can be used as an alternative to sending cash through the mail. You can purchase a money order at any Canada Post outlet or through your bank, but you can only pay for a money order using debit or cash (no credit cards). A single money order can be purchased for any amount up to $999.999 (CAD). However, you can purchase multiple money orders at once if you want to send a larger amount of money. If a money order hasn’t been cashed yet, you can cancel it and get your money back.
Third-party payment apps
Cost: Usually free for consumer transactions in the same currency.
How it works: Third-party apps such as PayPal or Wise can be used to send money to and receive money from people who also have an account with the service. With PayPal, for example, you can link your bank account and send and receive money to individuals and businesses (if you don’t have a credit card, many online stores accept PayPal as a payment method). Wise is a service that can be used to send and receive money in Canada and internationally in both Canadian dollars and foreign currencies. One caveat: both the sender and recipient need to have a PayPal or Wise account to utilize these services.
How to transfer money from one bank account to another
If you want to transfer money between personal bank accounts in your name held at different financial institutions, it’s possible to link up external accounts so you can easily transfer money and view all your account details in one place.
Here’s how to link external bank accounts in your name and do bank-to-bank transfers:
Link your accounts. Log in to your bank account via online banking or mobile app and look for the option to link external accounts.
Verify your account information. Provide the transit number, institution number and account number for the external bank account you want to link to your main account. You may also be required to log in to the external bank account you want to link to verify your identity.
Confirm your external account is linked. Once the external account is linked, you should be able to transfer money easily between accounts and see basic details of external linked accounts such as your account number and balance.
Your options for transferring money between different accounts depends on the amount you want to send, whether you’re sending money within Canada or abroad, and the method preferred by the sender and/or person receiving the funds. Whatever you choose, make sure you only send money to people you know, and double-check that you’ve included the recipient’s correct information (name spelling, address, account number, routing information) before you transfer the money.
Barry Choi is an award-winning personal finance and travel expert. He regularly appears on various shows in Canada and the U.S., where he talks about all things money and travel. His website - Money We Have - attracts thousands of visitors daily, looking for the latest stories on travel and money.