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How to Deposit

We provide instructions for the different types of deposits you can make into your account, as well as timelines for how long the process takes.

Articles by Betterment Editors
By the Editorial Staff Betterment Resource Center Published Sep. 01, 2018
Published Sep. 01, 2018
5 min read


How does depositing into Betterment generally work?

If your account is a retirement account, such as an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or pension plan, you can start the transfer process by clicking “Transfer or roll over” or any goal’s “Overview”. Please note you must be logged in from a web browser to initiate a rollover.

Betterment supports transfers of assets from outside brokerages using the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS). This is also known as an “in-kind transfer.” Read more about the ACATS process.

For transfers to and from your Betterment account and your checking account, we use the ACH network and do not accept personal checks.

Transaction Timeline Table

Set up a new auto-deposit today. You’ll be able to select the frequency and amount. 

How can I turn on, turn off, adjust, or skip my auto-deposit?

We initiate your auto-deposit on the date you set. The funds will then generally invest on the next market day.

You can modify or turn off an existing auto-deposit after logging in. You’ll be able to change the frequency and amount.

We’ll email you the day before a scheduled auto-deposit so that you can make any necessary adjustments before the money is withdrawn from your bank account. The email will provide you with an option to skip the auto-deposit if you need to.

If you turn off an existing auto-deposit but already have a pending auto-deposit scheduled to occur in the next 24 hours, Betterment will cancel the pending auto-deposit if you complete your request before 4pm EST. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to cancel the pending auto-deposit separately.

What methods of deposit do you accept?

We only allow electronic transfers to and from your Betterment account and your checking account via the ACH network and do not accept personal checks. Electronic ACH transfers are easy, safe, and cost-effective. Wires and checks are cumbersome and can be expensive to process due to bank fees. Credit and debit cards are also expensive, and the banks/credit card companies take around 3% of your transaction. We do not accept credit or debit cards as funding sources.

For transfers greater than $300,000, wire instructions may be generated from within the account. There is no fee from Betterment for wires, but please check with your bank for any applicable fees they may have. These wire instructions in your account are only for new deposits from your bank account, or for indirect rollovers. Do not generate wire instructions for direct IRA transfers. Your previous IRA provider will send us a check directly. If they can only wire funds, reach out to our support team at support@betterment.com for the correct wire instructions.

What happens when I deposit money with Betterment?

When you deposit money with Betterment, your money is transferred to Betterment Securities, a FINRA member broker-dealer, with instructions to buy ETFs based on your desired asset allocation between stocks and bonds (Betterment’s two investment baskets). You own shares in the stock and bond ETFs that Betterment recommends for these two baskets and Betterment manages buying and selling them for you.

Your funds are automatically invested within 1-2 business days into Betterment’s portfolio, based on our algorithm’s recommended mix of funds. You’ll receive a confirmation email that details the shares purchased, and your Betterment balance will update daily based on the market value of those shares. As Betterment is a long-term passive investment platform, rather than a self-directed trading platform, we do not keep your funds in cash, nor do you select specific securities to purchase.

Transaction Timeline Table

How long do deposits take to invest?

Deposits into investing goals generally complete in 1-2 business days. They typically invest on the next market day if the deposit was made before 11PM EST.

Markets are generally open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but are closed for certain market holidays. Transactions can also be delayed by bank holidays.

If you have an auto-deposit scheduled on the weekend, it will invest the following Tuesday. This is done to avoid potential overdrafts to your bank account and allow you an additional day to cancel your auto-deposit. You’ll receive an email the day before your auto-deposit is set to transfer from your bank account as a reminder.

Betterment does not guarantee specific execution timelines. We avoid trading on or around market open or close, as markets have historically been more volatile during this time. Pending wait times are imposed by banking and market rules and cannot be sped up by Betterment.

Transaction Timeline Table

Do you offer checks or wire transfers for deposits or withdrawals?

Betterment does not offer check or wire transfers for withdrawals, but we do offer wire transfers for deposits into taxable goals. Choose the “wire transfer” option in your account.

The primary method of moving money to and from Betterment is electronic transfers with your checking account using the ACH network. Transferring money electronically is fast, cost-effective, and safe.  Checks and wires are cumbersome for you and expensive to process.

Making deposits and withdrawals with Betterment is easy as the click of a button.  From the transfer page, click “New deposit” or “New withdrawal” to begin. To transfer an existing IRA or company-sponsored retirement plan such as an 401(k), click the “Roll over an IRA or 401(k)” button.

The ACH daily electronic transfer limit is $300,000, so if your deposit is greater than $300,000, a wire transfer is required and wire instructions will appear after you click “Deposit” on the Transfer page.  You can use these instructions to wire funds from a US bank account into Betterment. Note that these wire instructions are only applicable for taxable investment accounts and should not be used as direct deposit instructions or wires from an international bank account.

The wire instructions in your account are only for new deposits from your bank account, or for indirect rollovers. Do not generate wire instructions for direct IRA transfers. Your previous IRA provider will send us a check directly. If they can only wire funds, reach out to our support team at support@betterment.com for the correct wire instructions.

What are the different IRA deposits I can initiate on the Transfer page?

There are two main types of IRA contributions that you can initiate on the Transfer page of your account when initiating a cash deposit from your bank:

One-time deposit: This deposit type allows you to make a one-time tax year contribution to an IRA. The annual limit for 2018 is $5,500 as per IRS rules ($6,500 if age 50+). Roth IRAs have the same maximum contribution limits, but additional income limits may also apply. The total contribution in a given year to all types of IRAs cannot exceed $5,500 ($6,500 if age50+).

Auto-deposit: This deposit type allows you to set up a recurring contribution to your IRA. You are able to set the amount and frequency that the deposits are made. Any recurring deposits that you initiate will automatically be applied as tax year contributions for the calendar year in which you’re making your contributions. Our system will keep a running track of your total annual IRA contributions, and will prevent you from over-contributing to your IRA. If you reach the annual contribution limit, we will pause your auto-deposit until the next calendar year begins.

Indirect IRA rollover: Indirect rollover contributions are funds that were withdrawn from another qualified account and deposited into your bank account. They can then be re-deposited into a Betterment IRA of a similar type. An indirect rollover must be completed within 60 days of the distribution and is only permitted once every 12 month period, per individual.

Note: If you haven’t already taken a distribution and you would like to initiate a rollover of a retirement account into Betterment, the preferred method is the “direct” method, where your provider sends Betterment your funds directly. This method does not involve you taking possession of your funds, so there’s less chance for error compared to the indirect method.

You can get started by clicking the “Transfer or rollover” button on the top right hand side of the page after you log in on a web browser.

For more on IRA contributions, please review IRS Publication 590A.

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This article is part of
Betterment's Customer Help Center

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