September 2017 – From Bank to Bank: External ACH Transfers

Transferring funds in and out of bank accounts is an essential tool for online banking and is a core transaction feature provided by most retail bank websites. Aside from basic external transfer capabilities, banks’ overall transfer interfaces and fees should offer external account management, help resources and a unified transfers interface, preferably with a dedicated transfer activity page with all past, canceled and future transfers. Further, firms should offer a straightforward process for adding and verifying external accounts, with at least one option for near-instant approval, as well as fee-free and fast transfer delivery options to compete against disrupters like Venmo and Zelle. In this report, we examine ACH transfers to external accounts and assesses each firm based on basic transfer capabilities, available delivery speeds, fees and interface design.

Every bank in our coverage group offers one-time and recurring transfers to accounts at other banks, but not all allow for inbound transfers from external accounts. Transfer interfaces and recurring transfer frequency and duration options also vary among firms, with only one frequency option—monthly—offered by every firm in the coverage set. Other common recurring transfer frequency options include weekly, biweekly and quarterly, each provided by 17 or more banks. Though the majority of firms offer contextual FAQs and/or pop-ups, provided by 74% and 58%, respectively, the best firms provide live chat help. While fee-free external transfers and the ability to send expedited ACH transfers are highly rated, only three firms currently offer a fee-free, expedited delivery speed.