Whether to pay for unexpected medical bills or bail a vacationing friend out of trouble, at some point you’ll need to transfer cash fast.
Being able to transfer money quickly, easily and safely during an emergency can be tricky. Further complicating your dilemma is when it happens while on business or overseas, when you have limited access to your usual banking options.
The good news is that with evolving online financial services, you can now quickly transfer money internationally with ease.
What do I need to look out for when sending cash quickly?
Fees for emergency transfers will vary among banks and money transfer services. Before you make your transfer, compare:
- Exchange rates. Money transfer services make money by skewing exchange rates. You’ll want to look for a rate that’s as close to the mid-market rate as possible.
- Transfer fees. Fees can range from flat fees of a few dollars to up to $80 or more, depending on how you’re sending it or picking it up.
- Transfer options. Can your recipient accept a bank account transfer, or do they need to pick up cash right away?
- Security. For emergencies, you’ll appreciate being able to track your transfer through to receipt.
What is the mid-market rate?
The mid-market rate is what your money’s actually worth compared to another currency. “Mid-market” refers to the midpoint between worldwide supply and demand for that currency. Use this rate as a baseline to compare against the rates provided by your bank or transfer service. With it, you’ll discover which companies offer the best rates.
Compare International Money Transfers
How much should I transfer during an emergency?
Depending on the emergency, you may be more comfortable sending more than needed. Most banks have a maximum amount that you can send per day. But your maximum will be higher — or unlimited — if you use an online money transfer service. WorldRemit is an online service that offers competitive rates and low fees with virtually no maximum transfer.
Some money transfer services have fee-free thresholds. Which means that sending a larger amount could help you avoid paying transfer fees altogether.
Three of the fastest services to wire money
When there’s an emergency, getting money out as quickly as possible is key. These three service providers deliver the fastest money transfer services easily and safely.
As the second-largest provider of international money transfers in the world, MoneyGram is one of the most trusted. Its extensive network of 350,000 agent locations has a presence in more than 200 countries.
With MoneyGram, sending funds can take minutes depending on local regulations and procedures. Your fastest option is to pay with a credit or debit card (or with cash at an agent location) and choose the cash pickup option. Once the funds are sent, it arrives for nearly immediate cash pickup at locations worldwide. In some countries, you even have a mobile wallet option.
MoneyGram at a glance
- Maximum transfer: $2,999 online; $10,000 in person
- Minimum transfer: $1
- Delivery speed: Typically within minutes
- Transaction fee: Typically $5 with a debit or credit card for cash pickup
How can I transfer money quickly using MoneyGram?
- Click “Go to site” to start a transfer using your bank account, credit card or debit card.
- Use MoneyGram’s online locator tool or call toll-free 800-666-3947 to find a MoneyGram location near you. Locations accept cash.
What happens after a transfer with MoneyGram?
Once the money transfer is complete, the receiver can visit their nearest MoneyGram location to collect it. Remind them to bring along their reference number (which is included in the confirmation emails for online transfer) and ID for pickup. If you have a problem, contact customer service toll-free at 800-666-3947 or online.
Western Union has the biggest network of agent locations with 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries. You can send funds online, through a mobile app, in person or by phone, You can paying with your US bank account, debit or credit card, or cash to transfer funds.
As with MoneyGram, your fastest option is to pay by debit or credit card for cash pickup. Also, look for promotion codes online for even more savings.
Western Union at a glance
- Maximum transfer: $5,000
- Minimum transfer: $1
- Transfer speed: In minutes using a debit or credit card for cash pickup
- Transaction fee: Typically $5–$10
How can I transfer money quickly using Western Union?
- Click “Go to site.” Easily transfer cash with your personal information, your recipient’s details and a valid method of payment.
- Call Western Union toll-free at 1-800-325-6000 to initiate a transfer using your bank account or credit or debit card.
- Visit a Western Union location near you with cash or a debit card.
What happens next?
You’ll receive a unique Money Transfer Control Number with your confirmation. You can track your transfer online with this MTCN. If you have any problem, contact customer service 24/7 at 800-325-6000 or online through live chat.
Unlike MoneyGram and Western Union, WorldRemit is entirely online. It operates in more than 120 countries around the world with flexible transfer options from your bank account, credit card or debit card.
Your fastest option is mobile money (if available) or for cash pickup at a WorldRemit agent location.
WorldRemit at a glance
- Maximum transfer: Varies by country
- Minimum transfer: $1
- Transfer speed: Within 1 hour
- Transaction fee: $4.99
How can I transfer money quickly using WorldRemit?
Click “Go to site” to sign up for a free online account. You’ll provide your information, the details of your transaction and your payment information.
What happens next?
WorldRemit will confirm the transaction with both you and your recipient by email or text and notify you when the funds are received or picked up. If you have any problem, contact customer service 24/7 at 888-772-7771 or online through live chat.
Being robbed of your valuables, needing emergency medical treatment or missing your return flight home can be beyond stressful. But having the ability to quickly receive funds or help loved ones far away can let off at least some of the pressure.
Accessing emergency transfers is quick and easy with both tried-and-true and up-and-coming services that can deliver your money safely. If you have a little more time, compare all of your available options for international money transfers.