Nearly nine in 10 Canadians (88%) used Interac e-transfer, according to the last survey commissioned by Interac in March 2022. And, by April 2022, Interac had processed more than one billion transactions across a 12-month period for the first time.
This Canadian interbank network has facilitated electronic transfers of funds since 2003. As a result, sending and receiving money in Canada has become incredibly simple — and secure, as long as you follow some simple guidelines.
How does an Interac e-transfer work?
Interac e-transfers, sometimes called email transfers or email money transfers, allow people and businesses to send money to one another using the recipient’s email address or phone number. However, the money is not actually transferred through the email or a text message. Instead, the message sends instructions for accepting the funds.
According to Interac, users are protected by multi-layered security that allows them to safely move funds between accounts and institutions.
Benefits and uses of Interac e-transfer
Like other forms of mobile payment, electronic transfers circumvent the need to use cash, which can be lost, stolen or spent. E-transfers are an easy and secure way to manage your money. Additionally, e-transfers can be efficient and cost-effective as they eliminate the hassle of meeting in person to hand over cash and provide a record of transfer.
You could use e-transfers when:
- Reimbursing a friend for an expense you’re sharing, like a meal.
- Paying a babysitter.
- Sending your monthly rent.
- Splitting bills and household expenses with a partner.
- Buying items on a local marketplace.
How to set up your account for Interac e-transfers
All you need to send or receive an e-transfer is an account with a participating bank or credit union, online account access, and an email address or mobile phone number.
Prepare your bank account to send and receive e-transfers by following these steps:
- Log into your account online.
- Select Email Money or Interac e-transfer from the menu options.
- Register your profile and adjust your settings.
Within your settings, you can add contacts, send and receive money, and set up auto-deposits. Some banks allow you to set up multiple email addresses and/or phone numbers to receive e-transfers. If you have this option for your account, you’ll typically find it in the settings for your profile or e-transfer menu.
How to send money using Interac e-transfer
- Click “Send Money” from the Interac e-transfer or Email Money menu within your online banking.
- Select a contact to send the money to by choosing their email address or mobile number. If you haven’t sent money to this person before, create a new contact.
- Choose the account you wish to send the money from.
- Enter the amount of money you want to send.
- Create a security question and answer if your recipient hasn’t signed up for auto deposit. They will have to provide the correct answer to the question to receive the money you send.
For security purposes, make sure the question and answer are not obvious and don’t include personal information. You can communicate the answer to the recipient via a personal channel such as a phone call or text message.
How to receive an Interac e-transfer
- Review the Interac e-transfer text message or email alert and read it carefully to make sure it isn’t fraudulent.
- Follow the instructions in the message to select your financial institution and log into your account.
- Enter the security answer set up by the sender, if applicable.
- Pick the account where you’d like to deposit the funds.
- Select “accept” to receive the money in your account.
Accept e-transfers more easily with auto-deposit
Within the bank’s online e-transfer menu, you may find an option to set up or manage auto-deposit. Once you register your email address or phone number, anybody who sends you an e-transfer won’t need to create a security question. Instead, the money will automatically be deposited into the account you select when you register for auto-deposit.
How to request an Interac e-transfer
You may be able to request an Interac e-transfer from your online banking platform or mobile app. Select “Request Money,” then fill out the requested fields, like how much you’d like to request and which contact you’d like to request money from. You can send a request to anyone in Canada with a bank account and email address or phone number. You can also send follow-up reminders, if needed.
Interac e-transfer fees and limits
It’s free to receive an e-transfer, but your financial institution may charge you to transfer money. While the charges typically depend on the type of bank account you have, many accounts come with some — if not, unlimited — free Interac 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.
Check your bank account’s terms and conditions for more information, or call your financial institution to confirm the fees charged to send e-transfers.
Interac e-transfer transaction limits
Most banks limit the amount of money you can send or receive each day, week and month. The limits vary by institution but are usually quite high. For example, TD Canada Trust allows you to send up to $3,000 within 24 hours, and up to $10,000 within seven days.
Declining and cancelling email money transfers
Interac email transfers expire after 30 days if the recipient doesn’t respond. The recipient is notified of the expiration and the money is returned to the sender after deducting a fee for returned payments in some cases.
How to decline an e-transfer: If you don’t want to accept a transfer, you can simply ignore it. The e-transfer will expire in 30 days and funds will be redeposited to the sender’s account.
Alternatively, you can follow the instructions in your e-transfer notification to log into your account, and select “Decline” rather than “Accept.” The sender will then have to cancel or re-send the transfer. If the sender fails to take any action, the money is re-deposited into their account.
However, if you have set up an auto-deposit, you can’t decline e-transfers.
How to cancel an e-transfer: Once an e-transfer has been deposited, it can’t be cancelled or reversed. But if it hasn’t been accepted or auto deposited, you can cancel the e-transfer by logging into your account, selecting the Interac e-Transfer transaction, and choosing the “cancel” option. Your bank may charge you to cancel the transfer.
Which banks use Interac e-transfer?
More than 250 banks and credit unions are tied into the Interac network. You can find a full list of participating financial institutions on Interac’s website.
Only Canadians can send and receive Interac e-transfer with an email address or mobile phone number.
Interac has teamed up with Mastercard and Western Union to facilitate international transfers through some banks, but there are fees and you’ll need the recipient’s banking details to create the transfer.
How to avoid e-transfer scams
If you receive an email or text for an e-transfer you weren’t expecting, confirm with the sender separately before clicking on anything in the message.
Also be wary of sending money to anyone you haven’t met in person, people or organizations requesting personal information via email or text, and any transaction that requires upfront fees.
Frequently asked questions about Interac e-transfers
While Interac e-transfers are usually instant, they can take up to 30 minutes to arrive in the recipient’s account, depending on the bank.
Despite the use of email and phone numbers to initiate the transaction, the actual transfer of money is handled securely by the sending and receiving banks, using multiple layers of encryption.
However, it’s important to be aware of scams. You can hedge against them by keeping your personal details out of security questions, never sharing your e-transfer reference number, and keeping your email and bank account secure with strong passwords.