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International money transfers with cash pickups
Cash pickups are a secure and convenient way to receive international money transfers without a bank account.
If you need to send money overseas, finding a specialist that offers cash pickup could speed up your transfer, with pickups often available in minutes. This is a secure option, but watch out for exchange rates and fees.
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- Low upfront fees and exchange rates.
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- Get cash to family and friends in minutes.
Compare international cash pickup money transfers
Use our comparison calculator to assess transfer fees, exchange rates and other details for sending funds overseas with our money transfer partners for cash pickup.
How does a cash pickup work?
A cash pickup allows the recipient of the money transfer to pick up their money in cash from a physical location, instead of having it digitally deposited into a bank account. The process typically follows these steps:
- Order placed. You’ll place an order with the company of your choice, providing them with the name of the recipient as it appears on their ID. A missing middle name, a name that doesn’t match their ID or using the wrong name in the order can cause collection issues.
- Transfer is processed. Depending on the company you go with, the transfer times will vary. You’ll have a transfer reference number that you’ll be able to use to check the status of the order.
- Ready for pickup. After your order is processed, it will be ready for pickup by the recipient. They’ll need the transfer reference number and their ID to access the cash pickup. Transfers typically remain in the system for 90 days, though some companies vary heavily so confirm the pickup window before sending a cash pickup money transfer.
- Finding a physical branch. Since the recipient is picking up cash, they’ll have to go to a physical location. Ask the company for a list of pickup locations before sending money to make sure there is a location near your recipient.
- Pickup complete. When the money transfer has been picked up, you’ll be able to confirm the time and physical location using your reference number. A lot of services offer text or email notifications for your convenience.
Cash pickup providers
The best-known providers of this service are Western Union and MoneyGram. Western Union allows you to send money online or in person at more than 500,000 locations in over 200 countries. MoneyGram also offers online and in-person transfers to more than 200 countries, with some 350,000 agent locations around the globe.
Some providers even let you process a money transfer without a bank account. This is especially useful for the unbanked and the underbanked since you can take cash into a money transfer location and have it sent digitally around the world.
Digital provider WorldRemit is another option for a cash pickup. It sends your money overseas that your recipient can then collect from a local bank branch.
Cash transfers are designed to be both secure and convenient, giving your recipient fast access to the cash you send. However, the costs involved in sending a cash transfer can be steep, so it’s a good idea to compare your range of options.
How to compare services that let you pick up cash
Compare the following features when weighing the pros and cons of cash transfer companies:
- Exchange rates. Nearly all providers skew exchange rates for a profit. Compare the rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate — the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves — and look for the smallest margin between them.
- Fees. Does the provider charge a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer? Do the fees vary by method of payment? If you’re sending a large amount, will you qualify for a fee-free transfer?
- Pickup locations. How many agent locations are there in the area you’re planning to send money to? Make sure the location and operating hours are convenient for your recipient.
- Transfer speed. How long will it take for the money you send to be available for your recipient to collect? If you need to send an emergency transfer, can the cash be ready for pickup within minutes?
- Payment methods. Can you pay with cash, credit or debit card or a bank account transfer?
- Transfer methods. Can you initiate the transfer online, by phone or with an agent? Does the provider offer an online app?
- Customer support. Most companies offer customer service by Internet chat, phone, in person or by email. Make sure help will be available if you need it.
What are the pros and cons of picking up cash?
- Cash transfers are fast. Cash pickups offer an incredibly quick way to send money overseas — some for pick up within minutes.
- Plenty of choice. Several trusted companies operate in the money transfer industry, giving you the freedom to shop around for a better deal.
- Safe and secure. Reliable providers like Western Union and MoneyGram can offer secure international transfers.
- Convenient. Picking up cash from a transfer agent makes it simple and convenient for your recipient to access the funds you send.
- Transfer fees. You’ll often pay more for a cash pickup over a transfer deposited into your recipient’s bank account. Confirm all of the fees involved in cash pickups before handing over your cash.
- Weak exchange rates. Exchange rates on cash transfers can be weaker than those you’d receive from an online money transfer specialist — and even a small difference in rates can mean a lot less money received by friends and family. Compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the mid-market rate before making your decision.
- Untrustworthy providers. Compare reputable providers to find one that’s best for you.
- Picking up cash. In certain parts of the world, picking up cash from a transfer agent can expose you to the risk of theft.
What are some tips for picking up money in person?
No matter where you are in the world, picking up cash from a transfer agent can be dangerous. Stay safe with these tips:
- Avoid unsafe areas. Find a location that’s safe and convenient.
- Call ahead. Confirm an agent’s location and business hours before visiting.
- Bring a friend. Carrying money alone can be dangerous. Ask a friend to come along.
- Deposit your money immediately. The likelihood of losing your money grows the longer you have it with you, so head straight to the bank after pickup.
- Keep your cash hidden. Openly carrying cash could make you a target. Put your money in a purse or wallet before leaving the office.
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