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ACH Transfers: Explained

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

ACH transfers in action
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You may have come across the term ACH when looking at different banking options or making certain banking transactions.

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House, which is a network and processing system that financial institutions use to transmit funds electronically between banks and credit unions. ACH transfers help to cut down on costs and processing times.

ACH transfers can include depositing funds directly to your account (transfers in, or credits to you), or transferring money out of your account to make payments (debits to you). For example, when your employer deposits your paycheck to your bank instead of handing you a paper check, that is an ACH transfer. Other direct deposits made by ACH transfer can include income tax refunds or other types of refunds. ACH direct payments (transfers out) often are used when you pay credit card or retailers’ bills (either one-off or recurring).

How long does it take for an ACH transfer to process?

ACH debit and credit transactions tend to process pretty fast. The National Automated House Clearing Association (NACHA) has operating rules that specifically require ACH credits — when you receive money — to settle within one-to-two business days. ACH debits — when you pay money — will settle the next business day. In most cases, all ACH transfers are settled within the same business day. But that doesn’t mean that money will land in your bank account that quickly. It could take as long as a few days, depending on your bank or credit union’s rules and regulations.

ACH money transfers — rules and fine print

Most financial institutions don’t charge a fee for incoming or outgoing ACH transfers. However, you are limited to six withdrawals per month for a savings account based on the Regulation D rule. So, if you go over that limit, your bank or credit union may charge you what’s known as an excess transaction fee.

Another fee you may encounter is a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee — when you don’t have enough funds to cover the amount you’re transferring. Whether this fee is charged at all, and its amount, depends on the financial institution, so it’s best to check with yours.

Also depending on the financial institution, the limits on transfer amounts will differ. NACHA imposes a $25,000 daily limit on individual transactions. In other words, if you make multiple transactions, each one is limited to $25,000 in a single day. If you go over that amount, then your transfer will be processed the next day.

Wire transfers vs. ACH transfers

Both wire and an ACH transfers involve one financial institution sending funds to another one. Although both are electronic transfers, wire transfers use a different network, called Fedwire, and can involve transfers within the U.S. or internationally. Wire transfers are sent directly from one physical place to another, whereas ACH transfers are sent through a network.

In addition to making a wire transfer at a bank, you may make it at a nonbank provider — companies specifically designed to help you send money domestically or abroad. These companies may not require you to give your bank information. Instead you’ll need the receiver’s name, your personal details and the cash upfront that you intend to send. With an ACH transfer, on the other hand, don’t have this option.

Free and fast ways to transfer money

ACH transfers aren’t the only way to send or receive money. There are many other options that allow you to get almost instant access to funds with no fees involved. Two of these are cited below.

Zelle

Zelle is a peer-to-peer payment service where users can receive, send or request money to and from other bank accounts by using either an email address or phone number. This works even if the sender and receiver use different banks. Zelle claims that it can send money within minutes for no fee.

Many banks already offer Zelle via their existing online platform or mobile banking app. So, you may access it that way. However, if your bank does not have Zelle embedded in its system, then you may download Zelle’s own mobile app, create an account and use it to send and receive money.

Popmoney

Similar to Zelle, Popmoney is is a payment service that may be available at your bank (via their mobile or online banking services) for free. All you need is the recipient’s email address or phone number and you can send money. If you decide to use the service via PopMoney’s website, you’ll be charged $0.95 per transaction. There is also a monthly limit of $5,000 if transfering from a bank account and $1,000 if doing so with a debit card. If you’re using PopMoney via your financial institution, you’ll need to check with them to see what their limits are.

Tips for sending money safely

When sending money online, you want to be sure that you’re sending the money to the right person and that your own personal details are protected. Sounds obvious, but for example, double check your Wi-Fi connection to make sure that it’s secured. Of course you don’t want hackers to steal your sensitive information.

You’ll also want to ensure that you are sending money to a reputable place. NACHA created a booklet to help consumers spot scams and fraudulent behavior, such as merchant impersonations — that is, when someone pretends to be a company and states that you owe money on a purchase or a bill.

If you find fraudulent activity in your account, notify your bank as soon as possible. Sometimes you can reverse your ACH transfer if you accidentally sent the wrong amount or you suspect that there’s been an error.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Sarah Li Cain
Sarah Li Cain |

Sarah Li Cain is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sarah Li here

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Banking

Chime vs Simple: Which Fintech Disruptor is Better?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Chime and Simple are online-only, mobile banking apps that aim to disrupt the way traditional bank accounts work. Both apps offer tightly integrated budgeting features that make managing your money easier and more automated, and give you access to thousands of fee-free ATMs through partner networks.

Chime offers a checking account and an optional savings account, although the prior yields no interest and the latter’s APY is negligible.  Chime’s big claim to being a fintech disruptor is its ability to credit your account with your paycheck two days ahead of schedule. Chime partners with The Bancorp Bank to offer FDIC-insured bank accounts and issue a Visa® debit card.

Simple’s cash management account is a hybrid checking/savings vehicle that yields a competitive APY. Simple’s accounts are managed in partnership with BBVA Compass, which issues the Simple Visa® debit card and provides FDIC insurance on your money.

Chime vs Simple: How their rates compare

 ChimeSimpleNational averageOnline bank average
Savings0.01% APY2.02% APY for balances above $2,0000.27% APY1.69% APY
Checkingn/a2.02% APY0.19% APY0.52% APY

Chime focuses on saving the money you already have, rather than growing your balances at a competitive rate. Chime Spending Account, its checking account product, earns zero interest, while its optional Savings Account earns at only a minimal rate.

Simple’s hybrid account offers a competitive yield for savings, but you must meet a minimum balance requirement to earn the full rate. To earn 2.02% APY, you must shift at least $2,000 from the checking side of the account to the “protected goals” savings side. If your balance drops below $2,000, you’ll earn 2.02% APY instead. The checking account earns a 2.02% APY, regardless of balance.

Chime vs Simple: Which has better account options?

With direct deposits, Chime eliminates the typical one- to two-day “electronic limbo” of waiting for paychecks to move via Automated Clearing House (ACH) from your employer’s bank to your account. Instead, Chime makes your paycheck instantly accessible in its Spending Account when your employer deposits it. This can be a great option for those who live paycheck to paycheck and need more immediate access to that money.

Chime’s Spending Account helps automate the savings process. Its Save When You Spend feature automatically rounds up your debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the extra balance to your Chime Savings Account. You can also choose to automatically set aside 10% of each paycheck towards savings.

Simple offers budgeting tools as well. You can allocate money kept in checking side of the account among expenses, savings and discretionary spending sub-accounts. The protected goals savings component includes multiple sub-accounts, called “savings goals,” letting you earmark funds for an emergency fund, college tuition or your next big vacation. For each goal, you set a total amount to save, a date to save it by and how often you want to transfer money from your Simple checking account. The app then automatically tops up the savings goals over time.

Simple also offers shared accounts for two users — Chime does not currently offer joint accounts. Shared accounts lets you and your partner manage money and save together using the tools outlined above. According to Simple, you can open a shared account with anyone, from your roommate to the person you just met at a hostel.

Chime vs Simple: How they compare on fees

 ChimeSimple
Account monthly fee$0$0
ATM fees$2.50 (out-of-network ATM fee/Over The Counter fee)$0
Overdraft fees$0$0

Simple is serious about charging zero fees. There are no monthly fees, no overdraft fees, and no foreign ATM fees. However, it’s still wise to stick to Allpoint ATMs when you can — Simple may not charge a fee, but the ATM owner still does, and Simple doesn’t reimburse ATM surcharges. You also pay Visa’s International Service Assessment (ISA) of 1% of the transaction amount if you use your Simple card internationally. As for overdrafts, your transaction will simply be declined if you try to make a purchase without sufficient funds.

Chime is only slightly less fee-free than Simple. It doesn’t charge fees for overdrafts, transactions, card replacements and more. However, if you use an ATM outside of the MoneyPass or Visa Plus Alliance networks or make an over-the-counter withdrawal, you’ll be charged a $2.50 fee. As with Simple, any overdraft transactions will be declined.

Without charging fees, these companies have to make money somehow, right? Both Chime and Simple make theirs by taking a percentage of the interchange fees from your debit card transactions at merchants (they divide the fees with the card issuer). Simple also makes money through the interest margin on deposits.

Who should bank with Chime?

Chime is useful if you find yourself needing access to your paychecks sooner than usual. Its early direct deposit model takes your money out of a bank holding pattern and puts it in your hands as soon as it’s deposited by your employer.

Chime is also a great option for customers who might have bad credit or a compromised banking history. Unlike many traditional banks, Chime doesn’t use ChexSystems, a consumer reporting agency that keeps track of any problems in your banking history. Instead, Chime opens the doors for customers with bad credit to help them get back on their feet through their essentially no-fee account model and automatic savings options.

Who should bank with Simple?

You should bank with Simple if you’re looking for a completely fee-free banking experience and the savings benefits of a high savings account rate. There are no fees, even for out-of-network ATM usage. And if you’re able to keep at least $2,000 stashed away toward savings goals, you’ll snag a competitive APY and grow your savings faster.

Alternatives

One alternative to Chime and Simple is Aspiration. Aspiration sets itself apart by offering “socially-conscious and sustainable” banking and investment products, and donates 10% of its customer-paid profits to American charities. It also operates on a Pay What Is Fair system, where its customers get to choose what to pay in monthly fees, even if it’s $0. You can use any ATM in the world without incurring a fee from Aspiration, which will also reimburse you for any ATM surcharges you rack up.

Its banking product is a cash management account called Aspiration Spend & Save. It earns 2.00% APY on the entire Save account. Even better, the Spend account earns 1% cash back on purchases at socially responsible businesses and 0.50% cash back at not-so-conscious businesses.

Another alternative is Empower, which operates strictly on its mobile app. Empower charges zero fees and provides an AI assistant to help you combine accounts, track spending and find savings. It earns some solid rewards, too, although its website language is slightly misleading in places. By default, using the Empower debit card earns 1% cash back on the first $1,000 you spend each month, and additionally, you’ll earn 2.15% APY on your savings account balance. However, you can snag a 30-day boost, increasing your cash back to 2% and earning you an additional 2.15% APY for every person you successfully refer to Empower.

Empower forgoes all fees, including ATM usage, service fees, overdrafts and more. Empower will also reimburse you for one out-of-network ATM fee per month. Otherwise, you can physically access your cash through MoneyPass ATMs.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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Banking

Blast App Review: Grow Your Savings By Playing Games

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

If you’ve been reading about the gig economy and side hustles, you’ve probably heard more than a few times about monetizing your hobbies. Whether it’s selling your crochet masterpieces on Etsy or hopping around the city with TaskRabbit, side hustles work best when you turn your personal interests into money-making ventures.

For gamers in search of a side hustle, the Blast app is here to help. Blast pays you to play Android games, such as Words with Friends and Diner Dash, on its app. Don’t expect to rake in the big bucks, however, as you’ll likely only earn a few cents each time you play. For a few high scorers, your shot at the big money is getting your name on the competitive leaderboard.

Blast also includes a high-yield savings account to store and grow your earnings at 2% APY. While this is certainly an added perk to a fun gaming app, it’s not made for serious savings. The account imposes low limits on your deposit and withdrawal capabilities, keeping the account confined to the app’s earnings.

Blast features

Via blast.com
  • An extensive list of games and Missions (more below) from which to choose
  • The chance to earn bonus cash by topping leaderboards
  • A high-yield savings account
  • Further automatic savings opportunity through Game-Based Savings

Blast offers a variety of games to play, from “casual to hardcore,” as it puts it. Everybody should be able to find a game that suits their tastes. You can see your options right from the app’s homepage, clocking each game’s earning potential at a glance.

Each game has a set of Missions, or objectives, to complete, such as completing the game’s tutorial or passing a difficult level. You earn your cash rewards, or Mission Rewards, by completing these Missions. Cash rewards aren’t huge, paying out between 5 cents and a few dollars, depending on the Mission. For example, completing the tutorial of an “Easy” game can rake in 25 cents, while beating level 10 in a “Hard” game could reward you with $5.

Missions change periodically, so be sure to check back in to find new ones you haven’t tackled yet.

The chance to earn more than a few cents comes with ranking on the leaderboard. You can do this by collecting eXperience Points, or XP, for every dollar you earn or by completing certain Missions. Each week, a new leaderboard winner is chosen. Each winner is rewarded with an extra $50. Those ranked lower can still win a bit of extra prize money, too, depending on how high up the board they land.

Blast savings account

To take your savings a little further, all the money you earn through Blast Missions is deposited into a Blast account that earns at 2% APY.

While this is a relatively competitive rate, paired with the minimal earnings you get from Missions, it doesn’t yield much savings. Say you start with 50 cents for completing a Mission or two and each month you earn $1 more. In five months, your total savings would equal a whopping $5.53.

You can take a bit more advantage of the APY by setting up recurring deposits, either weekly or monthly, from a linked external checking account. However, even here, Blast limits your savings abilities. The minimum daily deposit amount is $5, while the maximum is only $50. This doesn’t offer much ease or convenience if you’re trying to move around bigger sums of money.

Further, all deposits cannot exceed a combined daily maximum of $100. This includes any recurring deposits and deposits from Blast’s Game-Based Savings feature. This optional feature allows you to save 1 cent for every minute you spend playing any Blast game on your Android. This isn’t a cash reward paid by Blast, though. The money comes out of your personal checking account. You have to earn at least $5 for a Game-Based Savings transaction to go through — which equals more than eight hours of gameplay. However, transfers cannot exceed $10 in a seven-day period. All Blast transfers take one to two business days to fully settle.

You can also transfer money from your Blast savings account to a linked checking account or PayPal account. The minimum daily withdrawal amount is $5. Transfers out of a Blast account will take four to six business days.

Blast fees and fine print

It’s pretty free to open and use Blast. There are no monthly or annual fees.

The only fee you’ll have to keep an eye out for is the 30 cent PayPal transaction fee when you make transfers from your Blast account into a PayPal account.

There are a few steps you have to successfully complete when using the Blast app to earn your Mission rewards. Once you’ve chosen a Mission, you’ll have to hit the “Connect” button. You have to connect through the Blast app before a Mission expires to be eligible to receive Mission rewards. You must also start and finish a Mission on the same device for it to count.

Additionally, to earn Mission rewards, you must not have previously installed or played the game on your device outside of the Blast app.

You can use Blast with almost every game in the Google Play Store, offering the chance to earn just by having an Android. Compatibility with the Apple App Store, Steam and other PC and console titles is not yet available, but it is planned in the future.

As for security, Blast doesn’t play around, implementing bank-level security — provided by Plaid — and maximum FDIC — through a Wells Fargo For the Benefit Of (FBO) account — insurance for a fun and secure experience.

Opening a Blast app account

Blast is only available for Android users. You can sign up online to be placed on the iOS waitlist.

You can find the Blast app in the Google Play Store. To create an account, you’ll need to provide your email. You don’t need to link an external checking account right away, but you’ll need to eventually if you want to transfer your Blast rewards out.

Now, you’re ready to play — and earn.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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