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11 Best Ways to Send Money

June 29, 2018
Banking, Money Transfer, Savings Accounts
Best Ways to Send Money
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

When you send money online, the best way depends on how and where you want to send it.

We compared fees, speed and other features to find the best providers for domestic and international money transfers.

How to send money online, on mobile or in person

  • Venmo: Best rated for mobile
  • Zelle: Fastest for domestic transfers (tie with Google Pay Send)
  • Google Pay Send: Fastest for domestic transfers (tie with Zelle)
  • PayPal: Most popular online
  • Walmart-2-Walmart: Best for nonbank transfers
  • Bank wire transfer: Best for sending $10K or more within the U.S.
  • TransferWise: Cheapest for international transfers (tie with OFX)
  • OFX: Cheapest for international transfers (tie with TransferWise)
  • Xoom: Fastest for international transfers (tie with MoneyGram)
  • MoneyGram: Fastest for international transfers (tie with Xoom)
  • Western Union: Best transfer options

 

How to send money: domestic

How to send money: domestic

Domestic transfers
Venmo

at Venmo


Zelle

at Zelle


Google Pay Send

at Google Pay Send

PayPal

at PayPal

Walmart

at Walmart

How to send money: international

How to send money: international

International transfers
TransferWise

at TransferWise

MoneyGram

at MoneyGram


Western Union

at Western Union

Domestic transfersInternational transfers
Venmo

at Venmo


TransferWise

at TransferWise

Zelle

at Zelle


Google Pay Send

at Google Pay Send

PayPal

at PayPal

MoneyGram

at MoneyGram


Walmart

at Walmart

Western Union

at Western Union

» More interested in transferring money between credit cards? See our list of best balance transfer credit cards.

Domestic transfers

Check out these options when sending less than $10,000 within the United States, plus information about bank wire transfers for sending more. Keep in mind that any cash balance you keep with most services isn’t insured the way it would be at a bank — so if the service goes out of business, you could lose your money.

Venmo: best rated for mobile

Venmo

at Venmo

Why it’s our pick:

  • Highly rated app for iOS and Android phones
  • Free, easy, socially engaging money transfers
Venmo’s ratings — in combination — are the highest of the domestic providers we considered: 4.7 stars in the Google Play store and 4.9 in the iTunes 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, you can send up to $2,999.99 per week.

Your transactions will pop up, along with your friends’ — without amounts — on a Facebook-like news feed.

Some users say Venmo has frozen their accounts for violating terms and conditions, such as using it to pay for items sold between friends. And money you receive shows up instantly on your Venmo balance, but cashing out to a bank account takes one to three business days. (For more details, read our Venmo review.)

 

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Zelle: fastest (tie with Google Pay Send)

Zelle

at Zelle

Why it’s our pick:

  • Delivery tends to be within minutes
  • Already integrated with more than 100 banks, connecting more than 95 million people
Zelle can send and deliver money within minutes between bank accounts at different financial institutions. And unlike other P2P apps listed, Zelle’s service might already be on your smartphone. More than 100 banks and credit unions are on board, which means that their 95 million-some customers can use Zelle within their bank’s 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.

Like Venmo, 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.

 

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Google Pay Send: fastest (tie with Zelle)

Google Pay Send

at Google Pay Send

Why it’s our pick:

  • Smooth integration of money transfer service in email
  • Instant transfer of funds to debit cards
Google Pay Send lets you transfer money for free using a phone number or email address. You can also cash out for free within minutes from the in-app wallet to a debit card. The maximum is $9,999 per transfer. Bank accounts and debit cards can fund transfers, but credit cards and prepaid cards cannot.
Google Pay Send covers 100% of all verified unauthorized transactions, and it synchronizes with other Google accounts, including Gmail. This lets you send or request money by clicking a dollar sign at the bottom of an email.

 

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PayPal: most popular online

PayPal

at PayPal

Why it’s our pick:

  • High transfer maximum
  • More than 203 million active accounts worldwide, more than other P2P services
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.
The maximum amount per transfer, at least $10,000, surpasses Venmo’s weekly maximum. But if you’re sending that much money, doing so through a bank provides more safeguards for your balance, such as FDIC insurance.

Like Venmo, transferring money to bank accounts for free takes one to three business days, or you can pay for an instant transfer to a linked debit card. You can send or receive money on the website or mobile app on iOS, Android and Windows phones, or at PayPal.Me, where you create your own link that family and friends can use to pay you. (Read our PayPal review.)

 

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Walmart-2-Walmart: best for nonbank transfers

Walmart

at Walmart

Why it’s our pick:

  • Beats traditional money transfer companies for cheap cash transfers
If you want to transfer cash, Walmart is cheaper than traditional money transfer companies, such as Western Union and MoneyGram. You can send to one of the thousands of U.S. Walmart stores, where a recipient can pick up the money within minutes.
The maximum you can send is $2,500, and costs can reach up to $16. (For more about Walmart financial services, read our Walmart Money Center review.)

 

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

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 $2,000 to $10,000 per transfer, and delivery can take multiple days.
There’s a steep fee for transfers. The average domestic wire has a $26 fee to send and a $10 fee to receive money, based on an analysis of big banks (see what most banks charge). If you need to send a lot of money within minutes, though, the cost might be less important.

 

» Need a place to stash your savings? Check out our best high-yield online savings accounts

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International transfers

When you make a transfer abroad, you generally encounter two costs: the upfront fee and the foreign exchange margin, or the markup on the exchange rate financial institutions use when transferring money among themselves. Consider both fees to find the best deal.

TransferWise: cheapest (tie with OFX)

TransferWise

at TransferWise

Why it’s our pick:

  • No foreign exchange rate markups
  • Consumer-friendly web experience from signup to delivery
TransferWise balances convenience and costs on its online and mobile money transfer platform. You can sign up with your Google or Facebook account, instead of a site-specific login, and your exchange rate is guaranteed for a day. Other perks: Save previous recipients’ details, easily cancel transfers, and ask questions via live chat or check the extensive FAQs.

TransferWise sends money from the U.S. to more than 50 countries without a markup.

In most cases, you’ll pay a flat dollar amount and a percentage of the transaction to send — often less than $3 and less than 1%. From the U.S., delivery generally takes several business days. (Read our TransferWise review).

 

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OFX: cheapest (tie with TransferWise)

Why it’s our pick:

  • No fees
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 — and markups are low. From the U.S., you can send money to more than 80 countries.
OFX has a minimum amount per transfer of $150. Delivery typically takes several business days. (Read our OFX review for more details.)

 

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Xoom: fastest (tie with MoneyGram)

Why it’s our pick:

  • Transfers to bank accounts abroad within one or two days
Xoom specializes in fast transfers to more than 70 countries. You can send up to $25,000 to some countries, though in others the limit is $10,000 and in others, it’s lower. You pay by bank account, debit card or credit card, 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. Although transfers from one bank account to another are free for sending the maximum amount in over 60% of countries served, fees can be high if you use a debit or credit card. Sending money to Germany using a debit or credit card, for instance, costs a fee that ranges between about $5 and $301. Xoom makes money off exchange rates and gives better rates for sending higher amounts to some countries. (For more information, see our Xoom review.)

 

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MoneyGram: fastest (tie with Xoom)

MoneyGram

at MoneyGram

Why it’s our pick:

  • Fast transfers to bank accounts or as cash for pickup worldwide
MoneyGram commands a network of 350,000 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 phone to bank accounts in various countries take hours or a single business day; other providers often take several business days for transferring to bank accounts.
Costs aren’t cheap. Average fees for sending $200 to $1,000 range from $10 to $25. Exchange rates also aren’t that favorable, with average markups of 1% to 6%. (See our MoneyGram review.)

 

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Western Union: best transfer options

Western Union

at Western Union

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 almost 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 more than 200 countries and territories more than half a million locations globally.

Transfers aren’t the cheapest overall, and only some options include same-day or next-day delivery. Some online transfer options, generally the cheaper ones, can take several business days for delivery. In addition, the company has had a crackdown on fraud in its system; it agreed to pay federal government agencies $586 million as part of a settlement for not taking action against wire fraud. (Read our Western Union review.)

 

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» Looking for something more permanent? NerdWallet’s best banks for international travel


METHODOLOGY FOR DOMESTIC TRANSFERS

To determine the best domestic transfer services, we examined the following features for 11 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 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.

Money transfer providers surveyed: Apple Pay Cash, Circle, Dwolla, Facebook Messenger, Google Pay Send, MoneyGram, PayPal, PopMoney, Ria, Square Cash, Venmo, Walmart, Western Union and Zelle.


METHODOLOGY FOR INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS

We analyzed 11 top money transfer providers that operate in the U.S., including major players and smaller, innovative companies in the international money transfer industry, based on market research, experts, cost analysis and U.S. internet traffic.

Providers considered: MoneyGram, OFX, Placid Express, Remitly, Ria, Transfast, TransferWise, Western Union, World First, WorldRemit and Xoom.

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

How we rate money transfer providers