These days there are all kinds of quick and convenient ways to send people money, from traditional money transfer services like Western Union to an ever increasing array of mobile payment apps.
Which money transfer method you choose will depend on who you are sending the money to, where the recipient is located, how much money you need to send, and how quickly the money needs to get there.
Below are several safe, quick and convenient ways to send someone money, plus a few smart precautions anyone should take before parting with their hard-earned cash.
Simple Ways to Send Money
Money Transfer Services
Money transfer companies have been around for decades. And some—like Western Union and MoneyGram—still have locations all around the world where you can send money to someone on the go and they can pick it in person.
But these services have also gone digital. You can typically open an account online and use a computer or an app to send money to one of their physical locations, using your debit card, bank account or mobile wallet.
In some cases, you may be able to send money directly into a person’s bank account or mobile wallet.
Unlike many other money transfer options, these services typically offer both domestic and international transfers. Western Union, for example, specializes in the ability to send or receive cash quickly overseas.
The fees for money transfer services can vary based on how you’re paying (with a credit or debit card, or directly from your bank account), where you’re sending the money, and how much you’re sending.
When sending money overseas in a foreign currency, you may also have to pay an exchange rate.
Depending on the delivery and payment methods, the money may arrive within a few minutes or in a few days.
This term wire transfer refers to an instant transfer between one bank account and another.
This can be a good option for sending a large amount of money that is needed extremely quickly, but you may want to keep in mind that there is often a relatively high fee for wire transfers.
For example, a bank may charge about $30 for a domestic wire transfer and $45 for an international wire transfer. There is typically also a fee to receive one.
To make a wire transfer, you can call, visit or go online with your bank or a wire transfer company. It’s important, however, to make sure it’s a trusted source.
Third Party Person-to-Person (P2P) Apps
A growing number of P2P services (also known as person-to-person or peer-to-peer services) allow customers to use an app or computer to send money from a bank account, or a credit or debit card, to someone else.
Let’s say you’re planning to book a short-term home rental with a group of friends, and one friend has volunteered to make the deposit.
You and your fellow vacationers could each send her your share using a P2P app, rather worrying about paying her later. And the person who is doing the booking may be able make the payment for the rental using one of these apps as well.
The set-up and services can vary somewhat from one app to the next, but they’re generally easy to use and are typically free, although there may be fees involved when linking a credit or debit card.
Some, though not all, providers may require both the sender and receiver to set up an account within the same transfer service. So that’s something you might want to check on before you sign up for a particular app.
You may also want to find out what, if any, fees will be charged, how long it might take for the money to transfer, and what safety precautions are in place.
Here are some popular P2P providers to consider:
PayPal is the grandaddy of money transferring apps. It remains popular because it’s so ubiquitous, tends to be easy to use, and offers a variety of payment methods.
It’s free to register for an account, and when you send money to another PayPal account holder, the money can be transferred to that person’s bank account as soon as the next day.
Sending money to someone in the U.S. through a PayPal account balance or linked bank account is free, but there may be extra costs if you use a credit or a debit card, or if the money is going overseas.
Venmo is a subsidiary of PayPal, and the process and costs for sending money to someone work in much the same way.
But there’s also a social aspect to Venmo that has made it especially popular with young adults. You can add friends, share posts, use emojis, and “like” others’ posts. Or you can change your settings to keep things a bit more private.
Transfers between Venmo accounts are instantaneous, but if you realize you made a mistake, the transfer cannot be undone. That means if you accidentally pay the wrong person, you would need to ask that person to send the money back to you (and hope for the best).
So Venmo might be right for splitting the bar bill with your crew (the app even does the math for you), but maybe not for sending money to a stranger or an online vendor you’re unsure of.
You can make a money transfer using the Zelle app or, if your bank or credit union partners with Zelle (and many do), you can use your mobile banking app or your bank’s website.
With Zelle, money moves directly from your bank account to your recipient’s bank account. So, if you’re both already registered with Zelle, the company says it takes just minutes to complete a transfer.
If the recipient has to register, it may take a bit longer. (You must have an account with a financial institution in the U.S. if you want to use Zelle.)
Zelle doesn’t charge any fees to send or receive money, but you may want to check with your financial institution that is partnering with Zelle, to be sure it doesn’t add a fee for the service.
LIke Venmo, you can’t cancel or reverse a payment made in error.
Facebook allows users to send and receive money free of charge through both the Messenger app and Facebook Pay.
Both the person sending and the person receiving the money need to live in the U.S. and link a debit card or PayPal account to Facebook or Messenger.
Facebook Pay works similarly to Messenger, but unlike Messenger, Facebook Pay allows users to send and receive money across its platforms (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp).
Facebook Pay also enables users to purchase things, such as games and items for sale on Facebook Marketplace and Instagram, and to link a major credit card, in addition to a debit card or PayPal account.
As with other services listed here, you can’t cancel a payment after you send it.
You can, however, require a password/PIN each time you send money so you have a chance to review your transaction before you send it.
While many providers require both senders and receivers to have an account within their network to exchange money, customers with a SoFi Money cash management account can send money to any person with a U.S. bank account. It doesn’t have to be a SoFi Money account. The service is free.
If the recipient has a SoFi Money account, the transfer should occur instantly. Otherwise, the money should land in the recipient’s bank account within two to three business days after the recipient claims the P2P payment by submitting bank account information.
And, unlike many other similar services, a sender can cancel a SoFi Money P2P payment as long as it’s pending.
If you aren’t a SoFi member and SoFi Money sounds like a good fit for your money transfer needs, you can open an account online at any time with no minimum.
Signing up with SoFi Money has other perks as well. SoFi cash management accounts offer competitive interest rates for savers, a debit card with cash-back rewards, and an app that can help you track your money saving, spending, and sending.
Is It Safe to Transfer Money Online?
Any time your personal information is online, the possibility exists that someone could access it and use it to steal your money.
So even though banks and other major money transfer networks are taking state-of-the-art steps to prevent hacking and cybertheft, no financial site or mobile app is entirely without risk.
It’s also a good idea to be on the lookout for scammers who place fake ads for merchandise or tickets to a sporting event or concert and use P2P transfer services for payment.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help safeguard your money.
Before signing up with an digital service or making a transfer, you may want to consider:
Only Doing Business with a Secure Network
If you’re making a transfer using a website, it’s a good idea to make sure the URL starts with (https://) and there’s a little padlock in front of the web address in the search bar. This shows that the site is secure and the data you enter will be encrypted.
Making Sure Your Device is Protected
Even if you believe you’re dealing with a secure site, it’s wise to make sure you have the most up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware programs enabled on your devices, and make it a habit to run regular scans.
Not Downloading Any App You Haven’t Vetted
If you still have questions, you can jump online and do some more research. Or contact customer support for information.
Using a Strong Password
It’s a good idea to make your password as long and complicated as possible. Consider using a mix of numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and throw in a symbol or two.
It’s best not to use the same password for every account you have.
Vetting People and Companies Before You Send Them Money
Because it’s so easy to transfer money to someone, it’s also easy to get scammed. And typically there’s no going back on a transfer once the money is in the other person’s account.
Double Checking Everything
Making sure you have the right name, address, account information, and other details for the person you’re sending money to can help keep your money from going to the wrong place.
If you’re sending a large sum, you may want to send a small test amount first to confirm you have everything correct.
Keeping a Record of the Transaction
Consider holding onto the proof of transfer until your recipient confirms that he or she has access to the money. The transfer might take a few minutes or a few days.
These days there is no need to travel to a physical location to move cash quickly. Our constant Internet connectivity, whether at home or on the go, has made transferring funds more convenient, faster, and less expensive than ever.
Transfer services like Western Union can be a good choice for sending money internationally.
If you need to send a large amount of money that exceeds the maximums allowed by money transfer services and mobile apps (and speed is of the essence), a traditional wire transfer may be your best choice.
Just need to split a bill or reimburse a family member? A money transfer app can be a great way to go. Each of these apps has different pros and cons, so it pays to do a little research before you sign up.
While all of these money transfer methods are considered safe, it’s wise to vet the service, as well as the recipient (if it’s someone you don’t know), before you send your money.
To make money transfers–as well as all your other everyday money transactions– fast, simple and safe, consider signing up for SoFi Money®.
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