5 Ways to Send Money Online to Family and Friends

By Kim Franke-Folstad · February 06, 2024 · 14 minute read

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5 Ways to Send Money Online to Family and Friends

Situations can crop up all the time where you want to send money to someone you know. Perhaps your coworker brought you back a cold brew (nice) or you need to pay your roommate for your share of the utility bill. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to move cash from your account to theirs, from using mobile payment apps to traditional money transfer services like Western Union.

Which method you choose to transfer funds will depend on to whom you are sending the money, where the recipient is located, how much money you need to send, and how fast the money needs to get there.

Read on to learn all about several safe, quick, and easy ways to send someone money. You’ll discover:

•   How to send money instantly

•   How the different money-transfer methods compare

•   What are ways to send money online internationally

•   How to stay safe when sending money online

1. 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 a person so they can go and pick it up. In some cases, you may be able to send money directly into a person’s bank account or mobile wallet.

•   What you need: The recipient’s full name, phone number, address, bank name and account details for electronic transfers to them. For a recipient who will pick up the money in person, you may just need the person’s full name and address.

•   Fees: 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.

•   Timing: Depending on the delivery and payment methods, the money may arrive within a few minutes or in a few days.

•   Reach: 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.

Worth noting about these services: Since they allow you to send money via money orders and other methods, they can be a good way to transfer funds to or from someone without a bank account.

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2. Bank-to-Bank Transfers

Knowing how to transfer money from one bank to another can be valuable when you want to move funds.

•   What you need: You will likely need the routing number and account number where you are sending funds to, and you may have to verify your identity before completing the transfer.

•   Fees: Many banks allow you to click on their transfer feature and send money to a bank account at another bank, often with no fees involved.

•   Timing: It usually takes just a day or two to move the funds.

•   Reach: These are typically done domestically. If you want to send funds internationally, you may need to complete an international wire transfer.

3. Send a Check Via Your Bank

Although they may not be as popular as they once were, checks are still a reliable way to send money to someone.

•   What you need: You will need the name of the person receiving the check (the payee) and possibly their mailing address if you are sending a check.

•   Fees: Checks are typically included at no charge when you open a bank account. If you don’t have any checks handy, you can order checks from your bank or retailers. This can be done online, and check prices can range from five cents to more than 20 cents per check.

•   Timing: Once deposited, the money should move into the recipient’s bank account and be available in a couple of days or possibly up to a week, depending on such factors as when it is deposited and how.

•   Reach: In the US, it should be no problem to deposit a check (even if it’s from an international account). However, if you are planning to mail a check to someone in a foreign country, you may want to check with them to make sure they can deposit it at their bank without any issues.

4. Wire Transfers

Wire transfers offer another way to send money to someone. They can be a good option for sending a large amount of money that is needed extremely quickly, for both domestic and international transactions.

•   What you need: In terms of how to wire money, you can call, visit, or go online with your bank or a wire transfer company. For a domestic transfer, you will need the recipient’s name, address, and bank account and routing number.

For international transfers, you will also need the bank’s SWIFT code plus possibly the International Payments System Routing Code.

•   Fees: Domestic wire transfers may be free for some banking customers, but the median charges tend to be $25 for outgoing wire transfers and $15 for incoming wire transfers (meaning your recipient may be assessed a fee for receiving funds this way).

Internationally, the figures are a median of $15 for incoming international wire transfers and $45 for outgoing international wire transfers.

•   Timing: Typically, domestic wire transfers can be completed in one day (perhaps even within hours or sooner), and international ones can take up to a few days.

•   Reach: Bank policies vary; some may offer only domestic wire transfers, others also do international transfers, and some offer neither service.

5. 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 website to send money from a bank account, a credit card, or a debit card to someone else.

You are probably familiar with these apps. If you went out with friends for dinner but didn’t have money on you, your pal might pay for the whole meal. You could then pay your friend without cash by using Zelle or another app to send them what you owe. These services can possibly provide an answer to the questions, “How to send money instantly to a friend or family member?”

The set-up, services, and transaction times can vary somewhat from one app to the next. Generally, however, they’re easy to use and are typically free, although there may be fees involved (say, to expedite the transfer of funds to a bank account, or when paying using a linked credit card).

Some, though not all, providers may require both the sender and receiver to set up an account within the same transfer service.

Here are some popular P2P providers to consider:

Zelle

You can make a money transfer using the Zelle app or, if your financial institution partners with Zelle (and many do), you can use your mobile banking app or your bank’s website.

•   Zelle works with traditional and online banks, as well as credit unions.

•   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. That’s one path to instantly send money to a person or retailer.

•   Zelle doesn’t charge any fees to send or receive money. However, you may want to check with your financial institution to be sure it doesn’t add a fee for the service.

•   You can’t cancel or reverse a payment made in error.

PayPal

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 US 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.

Cash App

Cash App is another P2P money transfer app that’s used in the US and the United Kingdom.

•   Both parties involved in a transaction must download the app and log in.

•   There are no extra charges to send funds, although your bank might assess a fee if you move money internationally, and you’ll be assessed a fee if you use a credit card to fund your transaction.

•   There are limits to how much you can send at first: $250 during the first seven days after you sign up, but after a month, you can send up to $1,000 at a time.

Venmo

Venmo is a subsidiary of PayPal, and the process and costs for sending money to someone work in much the same way.

•   There’s also a social aspect to Venmo that has made it popular. You can add friends, share posts, and use emojis. Or you can change your settings to keep things a bit more private.

•   Transfers between Venmo accounts are instantaneous.

•   If you realize you made a mistake, the transfer cannot be undone.

Recommended: How to Transfer Money from Your Credit Card to Your Bank Account

Facebook

Facebook allows users to send and receive money free of charge through both the Messenger app and Meta Pay (previously known as 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.

•   Meta Pay works similarly to Messenger, but unlike Messenger, it allows users to send and receive money across its platforms (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp).

•   Meta 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.

Apple Cash

Apple Cash is a digital card that is built into the wallet of iPhones. It allows you to spend in stores and online and in apps with Apple Pay.

•   You can load the card with cash and use it where Apple Pay (the technology behind it) is accepted.

•   You can send and receive Apple Cash from friends and family with iPhones through Messages or your Apple Wallet.

•   You can use Siri to send money using spoken instructions.

•   Within a seven-day period, you can send or receive a maximum of $10,000.

•   Children with iPhones can send and receive cash this way.

•   There’s no fee to send, receive, or request funds with Apple Cash.

•   You may be able to cancel an Apple Cash transaction if the recipient hasn’t yet accepted the payment.

Google Pay

Google Pay is another service you can use to send money. You’ll need either the Google Pay or Google Wallet app, plus at least one form of payment, such as a debit card or a credit card. Not all cards are compatible yet with Google Pay so do a bit of research to see if yours are.

•   You can use Google Pay in stores and online.

•   Within a seven-day period, you can send up to $5,000 if you’re verified (or $500 if your identity hasn’t been verified).

•   It’s a free service to pay for goods and services.

•   Google Wallet is currently available in dozens of locations globally.

•   It may be possible to cancel some Google Pay transactions.

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Is It Safe to Transfer Money Online?

You may wonder, “Are mobile payment apps safe?” Overall yes, but remember: 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. Bank account fraud and similar crimes can happen when scammers get a hold of your financial details.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help safeguard your money:

Only Do 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.

If you don’t see these signs of a secure transaction, there is a chance that your personal and banking details could be visible to others during the transaction. This can in turn lead to fraud and identity theft.

Make 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 antivirus and antimalware programs enabled on your devices and run regular scans.

Yes, this may seem like a hassle, but the trouble caused by malware can be devastating. Malware can be downloaded onto your device, say, when you plug in to charge your phone at an airport or other public venue or when you click on a fraudulent link. It can then pull highly personal data off your phone and lead to you having to report identity theft.

Don’t Download Any App You Haven’t Vetted

Before you download a financial app, make sure that it’s the one intended. There are plenty of lookalike, sound-alike apps out there.

Then, make sure that you feel confident in the security protocols it has in place. Most financial apps list their security measures somewhere on their description in the app store (it might be under the privacy policy). You’ll also find reviews there.

Use a Strong Password

Here’s another important security protocol for financial apps or any app that involves your personal information. 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. Don’t use the obvious “password123” option, nor your birthdate, which could easily be available on social media sites.

Also, it’s best not to use the same password for every account you have. Use a well-reviewed password manager if you could use some help handling your passwords.

Vet People and Companies Before You Send Them Money

Do your research before hitting “send.” On some payment apps, you can friend people before you send any funds. This can help you make sure that you are sending money to the person you intend to vs. someone else with a very similar name or handle.

Also, because it’s so easy to transfer money to someone, it’s also easy to get scammed. And often there’s no going back on a transfer once the money is in the other person’s account. So be wary when using these apps to make purchases online.

Double-check All Your Info

Making sure you have the right name, address, account information, and other details for the person you’re sending money to. That can help keep your money from going to the wrong place. It’s easy to make a typo on mobile devices (and actually anytime you’re typing), especially when multitasking or transferring funds while on the go.

If you’re sending a large sum, you may want to send a small test amount first to confirm you have everything correct.

Keep 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.

Typically, with wire transfers, you have hard copies from a brick-and-mortar bank or downloaded receipts via your banking app or website that you can keep on hand. With checks, the canceled check (or an image of it) can serve as proof that funds were accessed.

Recommended: Guide to ACH Routing Numbers

The Takeaway

Transferring funds to another person has become increasingly quick and easy as technology and financial services have evolved, with such alternatives as a payment app, a wire transfer, a bank transfer, or money transfer service. Depending on the particulars of your transaction, whether you’re repaying a friend for the sushi they got you or making a purchase, there’s likely an affordable and reliable option or two.

Having the right banking partner can help make money transfers as well as all your other everyday financial transactions fast, simple, and safe.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


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FAQ

Can someone send me money if I don’t have a bank account?

If you don’t have a bank account, you can still receive money via services like Western Union (which can give you cash), and Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo (which can likely give you prepaid debit cards).

Can you send money by text?

Apple Cash and Google Pay (and possibly other services) make it possible to send money by text.

What is the fastest way to send money electronically?

If you want to start sending money instantly online, services like Zelle and Google Pay can be very quick ways to transfer money electronically. The money can be delivered within minutes. Wire transfers are also regarded as a fast way to move large sums or make international transfers.

How can I send money to someone instantly with routing and account numbers?

You can likely use your financial institution’s transfer feature as a way to transfer money to another account if you have the routing and account numbers. However, you will usually also need the recipient’s name and address, as well as their bank’s name.

How can I send money to someone instantly without a bank account?

If you don’t have a bank account, you can use a money transfer service (such as Western Union or Moneygram) and pay in cash. The funds will be then forwarded as you direct them. Services like Venmo and Cash App may be another good way to move money; you can link them to a prepaid debit card or a credit card.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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