Whether you’re looking to send money to a friend in Canada, a family member on the other side of the world, or your bank account at another institution, you have many options.
8 money transfer services and methods
There are a variety of ways to transfer money between accounts in Canada.
1. Interac e-Transfers
Interac e-Transfers are a form of electronic funds transfer facilitated by the online payment system, Interac. Payments are nearly instant, and the only information you need to send an Interac e-Transfer is the recipient’s phone number or email address.
Banks set limits on how much money you can send via an Interac e-Transfer, so consult your financial institution if you need to send a large amount.
The process of sending an Interac e-Transfer depends on your bank. After logging into your bank’s online platform or mobile app, look for a tab marked “send money” or “send an Interac e-Transfer,” enter a recipient’s email address or phone number and the amount you’d like to send. If the recipient has auto-deposit enabled, the money is deposited immediately. Otherwise, you’ll need to create a security question the recipient will need to answer before they can access the funds.
Once the recipient successfully receives the funds, you may receive an email confirming the recipient accepted your Interac e-Transfer.
How much does it cost? It’s free to receive an Interac e-Transfer. Your financial institution may charge you to send one, but many chequing accounts come with a number of free monthly e-Transfers. If you are charged to send an Interac e-Transfer, you can expect to pay $1 to $1.50 per transfer, according to NerdWallet analysis.
2. Wire transfers
Wire transfers are used to send money internationally or domestically. Some banks only allow wire transfers to the U.S. or a limited number of countries, so always make sure your recipient’s country is an option. Many banks don’t allow you to wire money online and require you to visit a branch, so check your bank’s policies.
To send a wire transfer, you’ll need to provide information about the recipient, including name, address, account number, routing information, SWIFT code (sometimes called a BIC code) and possibly more.
How much does it cost? Wire transfer fees vary by financial institution but typically range from $15 to $45.
3. Electronic funds transfers
Electronic funds transfers (EFTs), also called direct deposits, are used to send money online from one bank account to another. An electronic funds transfer is how many employers pay their employees, as it’s quick, secure and easy. EFTs can also be set up as recurring deposits, so they’re a practical option for those who want to automate bill payments or send money on a set schedule.
EFTs can typically be sent through a bank’s online platform or mobile app. To send an electronic funds transfer, you need the following banking information from the recipient:
To receive an electronic funds transfer, you must share your banking information with the sender. This information can often be found on a personal cheque. Many banks also have direct deposit forms you can download from your online account that contain the information needed to set up a direct deposit.
How much does it cost? It’s free to receive an electronic funds transfer, but your bank may charge you to send one. Fees for sending EFTs vary by provider.
4. Money transfer apps
Money transfer apps like Wise, Wealthsimple Cash App and PayPal can be used to send and receive money electronically. However, both sender and recipient must have accounts on the platform to transfer funds.
How much does it cost? It depends on the platform. PayPal doesn’t charge fees to send or receive money domestically through your PayPal account. Wise generally doesn’t charge fees to receive money but charges a percentage-based fee for sending funds. The Wealthsimple Cash App charges no fees for sending or receiving money through the app.
Paper cheques aren’t the most tech-savvy money transfer option on the market, but this is a tried-and-true method for moving money from one bank account to another.
Cheque-writing privileges are a standard chequing account feature. That said, not all banks hand out personal cheques when you open an account. You may need to request paper cheques from your bank if you don’t already have some. To write a cheque, you need to fill out the date, the full name of the recipient, and the amount of money the cheque is for. Then, you sign the cheque to confirm its legitimacy.
You can also take out a certified cheque at a bank branch. Certified cheques are guaranteed by the issuing financial institution, which means your bank verifies that you have the money in your chequing account and puts a hold on the funds before issuing the cheque.
As electronic methods of transferring money become more popular, some banks have stopped offering personal and certified cheques.
How much does it cost? Personalized paper cheques can typically be ordered through your bank, with prices that vary by cheque style. Certified cheques typically cost $10 to $30.
6. Bank drafts
When you take out a bank draft, funds are immediately withdrawn from your account and held in a reserve account. Like certified cheques, bank drafts are issued and guaranteed by financial institutions. They’re typically used to make large payments and are available in various currencies.
How much does it cost? Bank drafts typically cost less than $10.
7. Money orders
Money orders are a form of guaranteed payment that can be purchased from financial institutions and Canada Post outlets. Funds are guaranteed because the money is prepaid by the person sending the money order.
Unlike certified cheques and bank drafts, you don’t need to have a bank account to purchase a money order. So long as you have the money, you can get a money order — which is arguably a lot safer than sending and receiving cash, especially if you want to send funds through the mail.
How much does it cost? Canada Post charges $7.50 per money order. Fees from financial institutions vary.
8. Pre-authorized debits
Pre-authorized debits (PADs) allow you to set up recurring, automatic payments in advance, so it’s best for ongoing transactions, like bills. When you set up a pre-authorized debit transaction, you give the biller permission to withdraw funds from your bank account.
PADs can help you streamline and automate bill payments so you can “set it and forget it.” Pre-authorized debits are often used to pay mortgage payments, credit cards, insurance premiums and the like.
To set up a PAD, you typically need to fill out a pre-authorized debit form.
How much does it cost? Free.
How to transfer money between your own bank accounts
If you’re transferring money between your own accounts at different banks, such as from an online bank to a brick-and-mortar bank, an electronic funds transfer will usually make the most sense.
- Link your bank accounts by adding one as an “external” bank account to the other. For example, if you want to send money from an online-only high-interest savings account (HISA) to a brick-and-mortar chequing account, you would add your chequing account as an external account to the HISA.
- Verify the link. The process usually just requires you to click a link that says something like “Add a bank account” or “link a bank account” and follow the steps, providing any necessary bank account numbers. The transfer often takes only a few minutes, though it can take up to a few days with some banks.
- Transfer the money. Once the accounts are linked, you can send money back and forth between them electronically.
Transfers can take anywhere from 24 hours to eight business days, and there may be a hold on the funds, depending on the bank.
Usually, online-only banks do not charge a fee for this service, but there may be a limit on how much you can send in each transaction, so check with your financial institution. For example, EQ Bank has a limit of $30,000 for outbound electronic funds transfers and $100,000 for inbound transfers.
How to send money internationally
Money transfers get a bit more complicated when dealing with multiple currencies. But there are still numerous ways to transfer money internationally.
How to send money from Canada to the U.S.
To send or receive funds from our neighbours south of the border, consider an international money order.
International money order
An international money order, also called an international money transfer, works in much the same way as a domestic money order — you’re just sending funds to someone in the United States instead of someone in Canada.
Many Canadian banks allow clients to send international money orders online. To do so, log into your online account or mobile app, look for the “international transfer” option and follow the instructions.
How much does it cost? Transfer fees generally range from $5 to $10, depending on the bank and whether or not your account allows discounted global money transfers.
How to send money from Canada to India
In addition to international money orders, you can send money from Canada to India through a money transfer service.
International money transfer apps
Money transfer platforms like PayPal can be used to send money across global borders. International money transfer fees range from $2.99 to $4.99. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of currency conversion rates, which may not be as favourable as your bank’s.
There are numerous international money transfer platform options:
- Ria Money Transfer
- Western Union
- Wise, formerly known as TransferWise
- XE Money Transfer
5 tips for transferring money
- Compare bank fees and currency conversion rates, which can significantly impact the cost of transferring money.
- Never send money to someone you don’t know. Never respond to emails requesting a transfer unless you know the person.
- Confirm when a transfer is complete.
- Ask about costs for expedited transfers. The time it takes to complete a transfer can range from minutes to days. It may be possible to rush a transfer, but it will likely cost more.
- Learn about e-transfer scams. Scams are not uncommon. If you have any doubts about sending money to someone, visit the Canadian government’s website for more information about popular scams and how to protect yourself. Canada’s Anti-Fraud website also shares helpful information.
Frequently asked questions about how to transfer money
Wire transfers can take two to five days, depending on your bank. Bank fees and limits on how much money you can send also vary by bank, though sending an international wire transfer can cost as much as $45.
It depends on the transfer method. Money orders are typically capped at $1,000. Interac e-Transfers tend to have higher limits — some major banks let you send up to $3,000 per transfer within 24 hours and up to $10,000 within seven days. PayPal limits single transfers to $10,000 to $60,000, depending on the currency.
Getting paid by direct deposit is fast and easy. It’s a secure way to get your paycheque, tax refund, government benefits, and employment insurance.
Interac e-transfer is a fast, secure and easy method many Canadians use to send money to other people or institutions using an email address or phone number.