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Interac is a Canadian interbank network, and Interac e-Transfer is their online service Canadians can use to send money almost instantly between personal and business accounts at participating banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Although it’s sometimes colloquially referred to as an email money transfer, the recipient is merely notified of the transaction by email or text message—the funds themselves are transferred using existing secure payment networks between financial institutions.
Sending money using Interac e-Transfer is a quick and easy substitute for writing a cheque, and is much cheaper than sending money order ($5-$8) or bank draft ($7.50). Unlike cheques, funds sent via e-Transfer are available immediately in the recipient’s account and aren’t subject to a hold period. Because the funds are debited immediately from the sender’s account, e-Transfers cannot bounce.
Fees and sending/receiving limits are determined by your financial institution.
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It’s free to receive and deposit an Interac e-Transfer. Sending one costs $1-$1.50 at the majority of banks and credit unions, but may be included as part of your monthly banking package. The fee will be deducted from your bank account, not from the amount you’re transferring.
Some banks don’t charge to cancel a transfer you’ve already sent, but the fee can run as high as $3.50 at some institutions. However, you can only cancel an e-Transfer that has not already been deposited by the recipient. Before you click send, make sure you’ve entered the correct email address and deposit amount. Interac recommends that, as with cash, you only transfer money to parties you know and trust.
The amount of money that can be sent and received using Interac e-Transfer over certain periods of time varies between financial institutions. Your bank may lay out general guidelines on limits, but ultimately you’ll have to adhere to the limits assigned to your personal debit card. Here’s a general guideline based on Canada’s Big Five banks:
Interac e-Transfer can be deposited into any Canadian bank account, even if you don’t bank online or your provider doesn’t offer the service. However, you will need Internet access to register and provide your banking information in order for the money to be deposited. The deposit will take 4-6 business days to process, and a $4 fee will be deducted from the deposit amount.
Banks that are not Interac clients also offer their own electronic money transferring service. The process is similar, but the receiver may be required to manually enter their bank account details (bank number, branch number, account number) to deposit the funds in their account. If the sender and receiver hold accounts at different banks, transactions may take a few business days to process. Depending on what type of account you have, this service might be included as part of your monthly banking fees, or will cost around $1 per transaction.