If you’re looking to send money from one bank account to another, you may have come across two popular sending methods: wire transfers, and direct deposits. Wire transfers are an electronic means of transferring money to another bank account internationally or domestically and are available with banks all over the world. Direct deposits, on the other hand, are most commonly used to send regular payments domestically, for example, for the distribution of salaries. In this article, we’ll look at the key differences between the two.
The main difference between a wire transfer and a direct deposit is that a wire transfer is a faster way of sending money to an account, but a direct deposit is cheaper.
A wire transfer is an electronic transfer from one bank account to another, whether that’s transferring money internationally to family, employees, or paying for goods, or simply transferring money within your own country. Wire transfers will typically be instant, although international wire transfers may take a couple of working days. Read our guide on how long wire transfers take to learn more.
A direct deposit, similarly, uses an electronic network to deposit money from one account to another. The network used for direct deposits is called the Automated Clearing House (ACH), and funds are credited automatically on the agreed date. Direct deposits will most commonly be used by businesses to issue paychecks and tax refunds.
While wire transfers are a quick way of depositing money in a bank account, they can also be expensive. Wire transfers will typically range from around $15 to $45 in the US, with the fees for international wire transfers increasing compared to domestic transfers which are free for wire transfers. Our guide to wire transfer fees breaks this down more comprehensively as well as our guide on cheap wire transfers explains how to find the right provider with lowest fees.
If you’re sending money abroad, a wire transfer will be the best method out of these two. However, you will likely find that a money transfer provider will give you lower fees than your bank.
Direct deposits are most commonly used for recurring payments within your own country. Two main reasons you may not want to use this transfer method is if you are looking to send money urgently (direct deposits may take a couple of days to gain access to the money) or if you are trying to send money abroad in another currency. For example, with a direct deposit, you can only receive USD within the United States via the ACH network, whilst GBP can only be received in the UK via BACS.
The bottom line is that both of these methods for sending and receiving money have their advantages in their own right – but which is better really depends on why you’re looking to send money to another account.
If you’re an employer looking for a convenient way to make regular payments to employees, a direct deposit will be the most straightforward way of organising this. However, if you are looking to send money quickly as a one-off payment, a wire transfer may be worth considering.
Yasmin is the content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. With an English degree from the University of Nottingham and over 5 years’ experience freelancing in the personal finance niche, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers accessible and easy to understand for all. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Yasmin on her yoga mat or planning her next escape to the mountains.