Transferring funds instantly and faster than traditional bank transfers

A traditional bank transfer to an account at another bank can typically take one two three business days. This all depends on the transfer policies and timeframes of both the sending and receiving bank. 


There are many services that allow users to transfer funds instantly between accounts. So, if you’re in a time crunch and need to transfer funds quickly, using one of these services in lieu of your bank’s traditionally slower transfer service may be the better option.


About our picks

This list is intended to be a resource for consumers who need to quickly transfer funds for free, and without the need to go to an ATM or another location. So, there are many instant transfer services excluded from our list.


With the exception of one service that charges a very small flat fee, our list only includes services that provide free instant transfers. 


The list also excludes payment transfer services that are inconsistent with transfer approvals. As this resource is likely to be used by individuals who need to transfer funds in emergency situations, services that are notorious for placing holds on transfers initiated by established users, or canceling the payments altogether, would not be reliable transfer solutions.


Below, we’ll explore the best and likely the most popular option (Zelle) and four lesser-known instant transfer methods that are just as effective as Zelle. There’s also a sixth bonus method. 


Instant funds transfer services


This is the quickest and possibly most popular method. So, it’s likely that the party that you’re transferring funds to has access to Zelle,  which makes the transfer process easier.


Even if your bank doesn’t have Zelle implemented in their app or website, you can often download the Zelle app and transfer funds with your bank’s debit card. However, some banks do not allow their customers to use their debit card on Zelle. They would typically offer another transfer service instead.


Amex Send & Split

American Express customers can use its Send & Split feature to send funds instantly to PayPal and Venmo users.


What makes Amex’s service unique and useful is that you don’t actually have to transfer the funds from your bank account. Instead, the transfer to the PayPal or Venmo account is  funded with your Amex Send account, which is funded with your American Express credit card.


The beauty behind Amex Send & Split is that American Express doesn’t charge its cardholders a cash advance fee, or any fee for using the service. Some credit card companies categorize these types of money transfers as cash advances, which results in hefty interest fees. 


Amex’s partnership with PayPal and Venmo (which is owned by PayPal), allows Amex customers to avoid the normal credit card fee that both PayPal and Venmo charge for payments funded with credit card.


Real-Time Payments

Banks like Chase, HSBC, and Wells Fargo offer instant transfers through a service called Real-Time Payments (RTP). But, the sending and receiving bank must both offer the Real-Time Payments service. More banks offer RTP to companies than they do to consumers.



Through its Debit Card Deposit service, MoneyGram allows customers to deposit up to $10,000 from their debit card and onto another debit card for a flat fee of $3.99. 


Mobile check deposit

This is only suitable if you’re depositing funds between your own accounts. You would simply write a check from your bank account and perform a mobile upload at the bank that you want the funds deposited. Of course, you would need to refer to your receiving bank’s funds available policy to determine if the deposited funds would be available when you need them.


A sixth bonus method

If you have multiple bank accounts and need to transfer funds to an account that doesn’t support your preferred transfer method, you can use one or more of the above suggested methods to transfer funds between your accounts until you get the funds to your desired account.


As an example, someone who needs to quickly transfer funds from HSBC to Fidelity can do the following:

  • Send a Real Time Payment from HSBC to Wells Fargo
  • Do a Zelle transfer from Wells Fargo to Discover
  • From Fidelity, do a mobile upload of a Discover check


Instant funds transfer services cannot and should not be used for every situation

Not all banks offer these services. For instance, not all banks allow the use of Zelle, and not all debit cards are set up to receive direct payments. You should confirm service availability with the sending and receiving banks. 


For some business transactions, it may be inappropriate or seem unprofessional to use peer-to-peer transfer services like Venmo.


If you’re paying a business associate, or if the recipient’s bank doesn’t accept the method of payment that you’re using, it may be best to use a traditional, albeit slower, bank transfer.