12 Best Ways to Send Money

Ruth Sarreal
Spencer Tierney
By Spencer Tierney and  Ruth Sarreal 
Edited by Yuliya Goldshteyn

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Jump to our picks for the best ways to send money:

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When you send money online, the best way to do so depends on how and where you want to send it. We compared fees, speed and other features to find the best domestic and international money transfer services. Note that you should always take precautions when using these services to ensure you’re sending money to the right person. In most cases, you’re not guaranteed a refund if your money goes to the wrong recipient.

Why you can trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to make sure our coverage is fair and accurate, so you can choose the options that work best for you.

How to send money online, on mobile or in person

Best ways to send money: Domestic

  • Venmo: Best for mobile.

  • Cash app: Best for referral bonus.

  • Zelle: Fastest for domestic transfers (tie with Google Pay).

  • Google Pay: Fastest for domestic transfers (tie with Zelle).

  • PayPal: Most popular online.

  • Walmart2Walmart: Best for nonbank transfers.

  • Bank wire transfer: Best for sending $10,000 or more within the U.S.

Best ways to send money: International

  • MoneyGram: Cheapest for international bank-to-bank transfers.

  • Xoom: Fastest for international transfers.

  • OFX: Best for international transfers in large amounts.

  • Western Union: Best transfer options.

  • Wise: Best for easy sign-up.

Best ways to send money within the U.S.

Here’s a rundown of the best ways to send money domestically.

Venmo: Best for mobile

Why it’s our pick:

  • Highly rated app for iOS and Android.

  • Free, easy, socially engaging money transfers.

Venmo’s app ratings are among the highest of the domestic providers we considered: 4.2 stars in the Google Play Store and 4.9 in Apple's App Store.

It’s free to send and receive money when you link a bank account, debit card or prepaid debit card. Using a credit card costs 3% of the transaction. With a few taps on Venmo after you’ve verified your identity, you can send up to $60,000 per week.

Your and your friends’ transactions will pop up — without amounts — on a news feed. If you prefer to keep your transactions private, you can change your settings so that only your friends or only you and the other user you’re paying or receiving money from can see them.

Money you receive shows up instantly in your Venmo balance, but cashing out to a bank account takes one to three business days. You can also transfer funds to a debit card, typically within 30 minutes, for a 1.75% fee. (For more details, read our Venmo review.)

Cash App: Best for referral bonus

Why it’s our pick:

  • $5 bonus when someone uses your referral code to sign up and send money.

  • No fees to send or receive money.

Cash App lets you send and receive money for free with cash from your linked bank account or debit card. You can create your own $Cashtag, or username, in the app, to make it easier for people to find you and send you payments. Unlike the other P2P apps and ways to send money on this list, Cash App offers a $5 bonus when someone signs up with your referral link and sends at least $5 from their new account.

You’ll need to have a bank account to use Cash App. Money you receive will show up instantly in your app balance, but it will take one to three days for the money to show up in your bank account if you choose to transfer. You can cash out instantly to your debit card but you’ll pay a 0.5% -1.75% fee.

You’re limited to sending and receiving a maximum of $1,000 per 30 days. If you want to increase your limit, you’ll need to provide more personal information such as your full name, date of birth, and last four digits of your Social Security number. If you send money using a credit card, you’ll be charged a 3% fee. (For more information, see our Cash App review.)

Zelle: Fastest (tie with Google Pay)

Why it’s our pick:

  • Delivery tends to be within minutes.

  • Already integrated with over 1,000 financial institutions, connecting more than 100 million people.

With Zelle, you can send and deliver money within minutes between bank accounts at different financial institutions. You might already be using Zelle's service through your bank’s website or mobile app. Over 1,000 banks and credit unions are on board, which means that their 100 million-some customers can use Zelle within their bank's website or mobile app. If your bank isn't part of the network, Zelle is also available as a standalone app.

You'll need a U.S. bank account to fund and receive payments. Zelle doesn't charge any fees, though any of its partner banks can decide to. Although limits vary by bank, some of the largest banks set a daily transfer maximum of $2,000 or $2,500.

Zelle is not made for buying or selling things, and you’re not protected for those transfers. In addition, if you send money to the wrong person or transfer the wrong amount, you might be out of luck. Protections are limited to when someone steals your Zelle account or password and uses it to send money.

Google Pay: Fastest (tie with Zelle)

Google Pay

Why it's our pick:

  • Instant transfers to a debit card for a smaller fee than what other P2P payment services charge.

  • Smooth integration of money transfer service in email.

Google Pay lets you transfer money for free using a QR code, the recipient’s name, phone number or email address. You can also cash out instantly from the in-app wallet to a debit card for a 1.5% fee. If you’re not in a rush, you can cash out for free to a bank account, which takes one to three business days. The maximum you can send is $5,000 every seven days. Bank accounts and debit cards can fund transfers, but credit cards and prepaid cards cannot.

Google Pay covers 100% of all verified unauthorized transactions, which isn't a given for all money transfer apps and services.

PayPal: Most popular online

Why it’s our pick:

  • High transfer maximum.

  • More than 400 million active accounts worldwide.

PayPal offers free transfers in the U.S. when you fund with a bank account or PayPal balance. Paying with a credit card — and unlike other providers, a debit card — carries a fee: 2.9% of the sending amount, plus 30 cents. Bank account transfers are free.

Depending on your currency, the maximum amount you can send per transfer ranges from $10,000 to $60,000. But if you're sending that much money, doing so through a bank provides more safeguards for your balance, such as FDIC insurance.

Transferring money to bank accounts for free takes one to four business days, depending on if the transfer was initiated after 7 p.m. ET or on a weekend. You can also pay for an instant transfer to a linked debit card. You can send or receive money on the website or mobile app on iOS and Android, or at PayPal.Me, where you create your own link that family and friends can use to pay you. (Read our PayPal review.)

Walmart2Walmart: Best for nonbank transfers

Money Transfer

Why it’s our pick:

  • Convenient option for sending cash to and/or from a Walmart store.

If you want to transfer cash, Walmart is a convenient option, especially if you and/or your recipient are near a store: You can send money from a Walmart store for pickup at a Walmart. Walmart partners with several money transfer service providers, so you can also send money from any MoneyGram, Ria or Western Union location for pickup at any of the thousands of U.S. Walmart stores, where a recipient can pick up the money within minutes. And similarly, you can send money from a Walmart for pickup within minutes at a Western Union or MoneyGram location. (Ria locations aren’t a pickup option.)

In most states, the maximum you can send in a day is $2,999.99, and prices start at $2.50. (For more about Walmart financial services including information on the FTC lawsuit against the company, read our Walmart Money Center review.)

Bank wire transfer: Best for sending $10,000 or more within the U.S.

Why it’s our pick:

  • Delivers large amounts from one bank to another within hours or minutes.

Sending a wire transfer through your bank might be the best way to send a large amount quickly. As convenient as P2P apps are, they limit how much you can send, generally $1,000 to $10,000 per transfer, and delivery can take multiple days. In comparison, bank wire transfers generally are delivered within hours or minutes.

There’s a steep fee for transfers. Based on an analysis of big banks, the median domestic wire cost for sending is $25, and $15 for receiving (see what most banks charge). If you need to send a lot of money within minutes, though, the cost could be worth it.

» Interested in transferring money by wire? Learn how to wire money

Best ways to make international money transfers

Below, you'll find our picks for the best ways to transfer money internationally. When you make a transfer abroad, you generally encounter two costs: the fee for sending money (also known as the outbound or upfront fee) and the foreign exchange fees, or the markup on the exchange rate that financial institutions use when transferring money among themselves. Consider both fees to find the best deal.

Definitions: Money Transfer Rates

There are three rates that determine how much your money transfer will cost and how much money your recipient will receive.

  • Exchange rate: An exchange rate is the price of one currency in relation to another currency. For example, if you want to convert U.S. dollars to euros, you would check what one U.S. dollar is worth in euros.

  • Midmarket rate: The midmarket rate, also called the interbank rate or interbank exchange rate, is the exchange rate that big banks use to swap currencies among one another.

  • Exchange rate markup: Most providers use an exchange rate markup when pricing your transfer. They give customers an exchange rate that’s the midmarket rate plus an additional percentage, or markup, to make a profit on the transfer.

Example: If the midmarket rate for U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos is 20 pesos per dollar, then a 2% exchange rate markup means the provider is giving you 19.6 pesos per dollar. For a $500 transfer with a midmarket rate, you’d send 10,000 pesos, but with a 2% markup, you’d end up sending 9,800 pesos. The higher the markup, the less your recipient gets in their currency.

General advice for international money transfers

1. Know how exchange rates work (and how to find the best). One of the ways money transfer providers make money is through exchange rate markups. Most transfer providers won’t give you the exchange rate you’d find on a currency exchange platform like the one at Bloomberg.com or Reuters.com. Those sites just tell you the price of one currency in relation to another, but they are a helpful starting point to know what the best rate looks like this minute. When you check the exchange rate for an international transfer with services like Western Union, focus on the exchange rate markup by looking at the foreign currency amount. The higher it is, the lower the markup is, and the more money your recipient receives.

2. Compare total transfer costs across multiple providers. There are two types of costs: upfront fee and exchange rate markup (see above). Find the provider that has the lowest fee combined with the best exchange rate you can get. Usually online nonbank providers offer cheaper transfers than banks.

3. Avoid paying with a credit card. It’s an option for some providers, but there might be a higher upfront fee and your credit card issuer may tack on costs such as interest and cash advance fees. A transfer paid by bank account directly tends to be a much cheaper (and much slower) transfer. If you need money delivered quickly, use a debit card, which will also incur a lower fee than using a credit card.

MoneyGram: Cheapest for bank-to-bank transfers

MoneyGram Money Transfer

at MoneyGram

Why it’s our pick:

  • Lowest fees for transfers to and from bank accounts.

MoneyGram commands a network of locations in more than 200 countries and territories. Transfers between locations take minutes for delivery as cash pickup, which is similar to MoneyGram’s main competitor, Western Union. Transfers sent online or by mobile app to bank accounts in various countries take an hour or a single business day; other providers can take several business days to transfer to bank accounts. For a bank-to-bank transfer, MoneyGram is the cheapest option.

You’ll have to pay fees. For sending $200 to $1,000, average fees range from about $6 to $14 in the countries we surveyed, depending on the sending and receiving methods. MoneyGram also marks up the exchange rates anywhere from about 0.60% to nearly 8.44%. For the countries we researched, the maximum amount you can send per transaction ranges from about $10,000 to $15,000 — those limits are on the low end compared with other providers on this list. (See our MoneyGram review.)

Xoom: Fastest

Why it’s our pick:

  • Transfers to bank accounts abroad within minutes for some countries.

Xoom— a PayPal service — specializes in fast transfers to about 160 countries. You can send up to $100,000, though the higher the amount you want to send, the longer you may have to wait and the more personal information you’ll have to provide (such as a passport or Social Security number and a bank statement or pay stub). You can send money by bank account, debit card, credit card or the payment methods stored in your PayPal account, and most transfers arrive within minutes. Xoom partners with major banks abroad, allowing users to have money delivered to bank accounts or, in some countries, for cash pickup or as mobile phone reloads.

Cost is where Xoom lags behind competitors. Xoom makes money from exchange rates, but it gives better rates for sending higher amounts to certain countries. Transfers from one bank account to another are only sometimes free. Overall, fees can be higher if you use a debit or credit card. (For more information, see our Xoom review.)

OFX: Best for large international transfers

Why it’s our pick:

  • No maximum limit on how much you can send.

  • No fees, no matter how much you send.

OFX doesn't charge fees, regardless of the amount you send. In addition, its online service lets you make a transfer at current exchange rates or target future rates — meaning your money will transfer once your exchange rate is reached. From the U.S., you can send money in over 50 currencies. OFX is ideal if you want to send more than what other providers on this list allow, as it doesn’t have a limit on how much you can send.

OFX has a minimum transfer amount of $1,000. Costs to consumers come in the form of exchange rate markups, which are on the high end compared with other providers. Delivery typically takes several business days. (Read our OFX review for more details.)

Western Union: Best transfer options

Why it’s our pick:

  • Extensive worldwide network of locations.

  • Many ways to send and deliver money.

The biggest money transfer company worldwide, Western Union also has a sizable range of transfer options. On the provider’s price estimator tool online, you’ll see more than a dozen combinations of sending channels, payment methods and delivery options. You can send money from the Western Union website or its mobile app, and you can use a bank account, debit card or credit card — or send from a nearby agent location using cash.

The transfer giant’s physical network covers over 200 countries and territories and more than half a million locations globally.

Transfers are expensive — one of the most expensive of the providers we looked at — and only some options include same-day or next-day delivery. Some online transfer options can take several business days for delivery. (Read our Western Union review.)

Wise: Best for easy sign-up

Wise Money Transfer

at Wise

Why it’s our pick:

  • Consumer-friendly web experience from sign-up to delivery

  • No foreign exchange rate markups.

Wise (formerly TransferWise) balances convenience and costs on its online and mobile money transfer platform. You can sign up with your Apple, Google or Facebook account, instead of a site-specific login, and your exchange rate is guaranteed until your money gets to Wise. Wise sends money from the U.S. to about 80 countries (the exact number of countries fluctuates from time to time) without an exchange rate markup — they do charge you an exchange rate fee, which pays for making the exchange happen, but there's no markup.

In most cases, you'll pay two fees: a flat dollar amount (the upfront fee), which increases with the amount you send, and the exchange fee, which is often less than 1% of the amount you send. From the U.S. to the countries we researched, more than half of the deliveries were estimated to take two hours or less. (Read our Wise review.)

» Looking for a bank that's useful when you go abroad? Check out NerdWallet's best banks for international travel


METHODOLOGY FOR DOMESTIC TRANSFERS

To determine the best domestic transfer services, we examined the following features for 14 providers: fees, delivery speed of cash or money to recipient’s bank account, user reach (where transaction data were available), sending amount limit and security measures. Priority went to those providers that offer no-cost transfers, have established histories and maintain high security standards. We excluded single-bank P2P services since they usually limit users to a given bank.

Note: All transfer amount limits given assume users have verified their identity as each app requires. There are also initial amount limits when first using the app.

Providers surveyed: Apple Pay, Cash App, Facebook Pay (now Meta Pay), Google Pay, MoneyGram, PayPal, PopMoney, Ria, Venmo, Walmart2Walmart, Western Union, Wise, Xoom and Zelle.


METHODOLOGY FOR INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS

We analyzed seven providers that work in the U.S., mostly focusing on major players in the international money transfer industry, based on market research, experts, cost analysis and U.S. internet traffic.

Countries surveyed: Germany, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Providers surveyed: MoneyGram, OFX, Remitly, Ria, Wise, Western Union and Xoom (owned by PayPal).

Fees and exchange rate markups mentioned are based on the analysis linked below.

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