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What is an e-Transfer?

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If you’ve ever promised to split a restaurant bill with a friend, only to look in your wallet and remember that you haven’t carried cash in years and have no way to pay them back, you’re not alone.

Fewer and fewer Canadians are carrying cash nowadays, but there are other ways to pay friends and family from time to time and even to transfer more considerable sums.

Today, most of these transfers are done by e-Transfer instead of cash or cheque. Here’s everything you need to know about e-Transfers.

What is an e-transfer?

An e-Transfer is an electronic funds transfer that allows Canadian banking customers to transfer money between personal accounts using their online banking services and personal emails.

In Canada, the most common type of transfer is the Interac online e-Transfer. So, what is Interac e-Transfer? It is Canada’s interbank network that links 250 Canadian participating financial institutions. If you have a debit card, you should have the trademarks of the Interac system on your card.

E-Transfers are available through most Canadian banks and credit unions as long as you’ve signed up for online banking.

How does an e-transfer work?

To send an e-Transfer, you’ll need to log in to your online bank’s portal or one of their mobile apps. From there, the option to send an e-Transfer may be available within the account transfer menu or elsewhere, depending on your bank.

You’ll need the email address of the individual you are sending money to, and you may need to answer some security questions to add them to your list of pre-approved recipients. Along with the money transfer, you have the option to send a message to the recipient.

Some financial institutions offer free e-Transfers while others charge a $1 fee to use this service.

After you’ve selected your recipient, you’ll need to specify a security question and answer. The recipient will need to give the correct answer to the security question to deposit the e-Transfer.

You’ll also need to specify the amount you wish to send and from which account (if you have multiple accounts with the bank). You can send up to a maximum of $3,000 per day, $10,000 per seven-day period, and $30,000 per 30-day period. If you need to transfer more money than these limits, consider a wire transfer instead.

Once you’ve sent your e-Transfer, the money is removed from your account. Recipients will receive emails or text messages notifying them that they have money available to deposit. When they accept the transfer, they’ll need to log in to their online banking and answer the security question; then the money is deposited instantly into their account.

You’ll receive an email to notify you that the recipient has accepted your money. Although e-Transfers are facilitated by email, the money is not actually transferred via email. It is transferred from bank to bank, making it more secure.

The details above outline a basic e-Transfer in Canada, but e-Transfers have additional features to make sending and receiving money easier.

Interac e-transfer: requesting money

Streamline the payment process by requesting money from someone via email. If there are concerns about prompt payment or the sender forgetting the amount or recipient, asking for money can help ensure that you are paid in a timely fashion.

Interac e-transfer: auto-deposit

If you’d like the ability to receive money automatically without the hassle of answering security questions, you can choose to enable auto-deposit through your online banking portal.

Auto-deposit will designate an account to deposit all funds sent to your specified email address without the need to accept the e-Transfer manually. This is a valuable tool if you receive e-Transfers regularly, and you can disable the feature whenever you want.

Interac e-transfers: international money transfers

While most Canadians will use e-Transfers for domestic money transfers, you can also send money abroad. To do this, you’ll need an account with National Bank along with the recipient’s international banking information.

Mastercard and Western Union also facilitate international transfers and require the same basic details as a standard e-Transfer.

The best bank accounts in Canada for free e-transfers

While over 250 banking institutions in Canada allow you to send and receive e-Transfers, many of them impose a $1 fee to do so.

If you plan to send a number of e-Transfers, these fees can easily add up. There are some banks, however, that offer free e-Transfers. The best of those banks are:

1. Tangerine Bank*

Tangerine Bank is owned by Scotiabank, and offers free chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, investment products, and unlimited free e-Transfers.

2. EQ Bank*

EQ Bank is an online-only bank that offers high-interest savings accounts, GICs, and free e-Transfers.

3. Simplii Financial

Simplii Financial is owned by CIBC. Simplii Financial offers free chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, investments, and free e-Transfers.

Our final thoughts

While setting up your first e-Transfer may be a little intimidating, you’ll soon find that it is an easy and convenient way to transfer cash for a variety of reasons quickly.

E-Transfers do have some limitations, and it’s vital that you carefully review the recipient because there have been some instances of e-Transfers being intercepted by third parties. But as long as you are careful with your addressee list and look for the marks of the Interac service, you’ll find e-Transfers to be a fast and convenient way to send money to friends and family.

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