You already know that ACH transfers (a.k.a. automated clearing house transfers) and wire transfers are both ways that you can send money from your bank account or receive money in your bank account. In other words, the two kinds of transfers do the same thing.
But you may not know that the two money transfer types have very different costs, speeds, security, and uses.
Let’s break down those differences.
As a rule, wire transfers cost more than ACH transfers do.
In fact, ACH transfers are free at many financial institutions. Some banks may charge a low (think under $1) fee for sending an ACH payment. They may also give you a certain number of free ACH transfers before charging that low fee.
Wire transfers, on the other hand, usually cost you quite a bit. Some banks charge wire fees for both incoming and outgoing wires, meaning you’ll have to pay to send or get money. Other banks charge only for outgoing wires. But in either case, you’ll almost always pay more for international wires than domestic wires (wire transfers from a bank account in the same country as yours).
Keep in mind, though, that wire costs (and ACH costs, for that matter) can vary a lot from bank to bank. For example, BlueVine doesn’t charge any fee on incoming wires, though it has a $15 fee for outgoing wires. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, charges $15 for incoming wires and $30 for outgoing wires.
At any rate, if you want the cheapest solution, choose an ACH transfer.