Why is it that when you e.g. transfer money between your savings and checking account at a bank in the U.S. (say Bank of America), it takes a business day for the transaction to clear?

I understand why this would be the case for inter-bank transfers, but I don't understand why this is the case for intra-bank transfers.

  • 2
    If this bothers you, consider switching banks. Some banks do these transfers instantly.
    – BrenBarn
    Mar 21, 2016 at 1:32
  • @BrenBarn: How would I figure out which banks do this instantly without actually opening an account and trying it out?
    – user541686
    Mar 21, 2016 at 1:40
  • Good question. I don't know of a surefire way. You could find forums where such a question might be appropriate, or ask friends who use different banks. You could also ask banks directly. (I use USAA and it does transfers between my accounts instantly.)
    – BrenBarn
    Mar 21, 2016 at 3:33
  • Because the bank make money on the 'float' - the money that's in the process of being transferred? It's certainly not true of all banks, at least if you include credit unions - mine does transfers in real time.
    – jamesqf
    Mar 21, 2016 at 5:56

3 Answers 3


That depends on your bank. My credit union clears intra-account transfers immediately. The delay therefore is based on bank policy.

It is possible that in the system the accounts are not really linked and so it treats transfers between accounts that you own and accounts between people the same. And further in the case of your bank that they decided to have s one day hold. I believe that'll have heard some banks advertise that you can electronically transfer money to another account holder at the same bank in just 15 min.

I would also make sure that you are selecting immediate transfer instead of a future date transfer. Mine has those as two different options and if you select the other, you just select the date of action to be at least one in the future.

  • +1 But yes it's definitely an immediate transfer, not a future date. I also don't think it's a problem with them being "linked"... it just seems to be a bank policy I guess.
    – user541686
    Mar 20, 2016 at 23:49
  • 1
    @Mehrdad in this case it's more of lousy technology systems than policy.
    – Dheer
    Mar 21, 2016 at 0:21

For most banks this is not the case. Transfers within the bank are usually instantaneous.

It is not uncommon for banks to draw out the length of transactions because while the money is "transferring" or "settling" it is actually sitting on the bank's balance sheet, being lent out but not earning any interest. A good deal for them when you aggregate over the millions of customers they have. Your bank may be trying to squeeze a few pennies of interest out of you.

Delays in transactions also allow their fraud team the flexibility to investigate transactions if they want to. Normally they probably don't but if the bank delays all transactions, then those being investigated will not be aware of it.

  • This is how PayPal makes its money. Mar 22, 2016 at 6:28

You mentioned BoA. I have had BoA accounts for about ten years. All of my transfers between accounts are immediate. I have never had to wait with BoA.

Scottrade Accounts are the worst in this respect. Once I had to wait 8 days. PayPal come in a close second for making you wait.

  • If it's immediate then what does this mean?
    – user541686
    Mar 21, 2016 at 8:51
  • As I have worked in IT shops I can explain how the technology works to make a transfer from one account to another immediate. But I suspect that is not what you want to know. I do not know why your transfers are not immediate. Were they opened in different countries? Were they opened in different states? Were they different kinds of accounts? Do you live in the United States? Are you a natural born citizens of the United States? Is anyone listed on the accounts with you? Are those other people natural born citizens of the United States? Mar 21, 2016 at 23:07
  • Here's an easier question. When you make a transfer yourself, do you see the screenshot I sent you? Does it say "processing" or no? And how do you interpret it?
    – user541686
    Mar 21, 2016 at 23:14
  • I did not see the screenshot until now. My only interpretation is that the location in which you opened the accounts is not, yet, updated with the same account management software as the locations in which I have opened accounts. I have had accounts from Texas, Kansas, and Missouri. So my questions still stand. From where did you open these accounts? Do you live in the United States? Are you a natural born citizen of the United States? Do you have anyone listed with you on the accounts? If so, are they natural born citizens of the United States? Mar 22, 2016 at 3:45
  • @Mehrdad would you care to answer my questions? Mar 23, 2016 at 23:14

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