The digital age offers plenty of options for sending money overseas quickly and easily. But what if you need to do it with cash and in person?
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- Low upfront fees and exchange rates.
- Easy to use with round-the-clock help.
- Get cash to family and friends in minutes.
What places offer in-person money transfers?
Your first thought for a money transfer may be your local bank. This is a reliable option, but you’re likely to pay more fees and receive a weaker exchange rate than a money transfer service.
Many nationwide chain retailers and grocery stores have an exclusive area dedicated to providing money transfers using MoneyGram or Western Union. Typically fees are lower than bank charges, and these providers are reliable.
Compare money transfer services with cash pick up
How to find a money transfer location near you
To find a money transfer location near you:
- Compare your options to find a provider that offers an agent location.
- Go to your provider’s website.
- Look for the “Find a location” page (it’s often a link from the homepage).
- Enter your ZIP code or address information to find the location nearest you.
- Visit the office and initiate your money transfer.
Large money transfer networks like MoneyGram and Western Union offer 24-hour agent locations in most major (and even smaller) cities. Go to the provider’s website and search for locations near your address. In your results page, you can view the hours of each location to find out whether there’s a 24-hour location near you.
What do I need to complete a money transfer in person?
The information you’ll need for a money transfer depends on whether you’re transferring money directly to another person or from your bank account to another account.
For both methods, you’ll need:
- Photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
- Name and contact information of the person receiving the money.
- Amount of money you’re sending.
- Your credit or debit card to pay for the transaction.
To send money to a bank account, you’ll also need:
- The receiving bank’s name, address and SWIFT code.
- Your recipient’s account and routing numbers.
How to decide what service to use
If the people you’re sending money to aren’t able to easily receive it to a bank account, you’ll want to find a provider that offers cash pickup. While the two best-known providers for collecting cash are Western Union and MoneyGram, WorldRemit is a digital provider that allows you to send money overseas for collection at local agent locations.
WorldRemit and other digital transfer services are ideal if it’s important for your friends or family get your transfer quickly. Whereas banks can take 1 to 3 days to complete a transfer, most money transfer services promise nearly immediate transfer times, often within minutes if you pay by credit or debit card.
Comparing money transfer services
Before choosing a service, you’ll want to compare:
- Transfer fees. Your bank might charge $50 to transfer $1,000 from New York to London, while a money transfer service could charge $22 for the same transaction.
- Exchange rates. Exchange rates vary daily, so check the rate immediately before initiating your transfer. Some services add a little to the exchange rate, “padding the rate” to increase their profits, while others are closer to the mid-market rate.
- Maximum transfer amounts. If you’re sending more than $10,000, your best bet is an exchange company like OFX, which is convenient and charges more reasonable rates than your local bank.
- Payment options. If using a bank, fund the transaction using ACH. Short for Automated Clearing House, it moves money between bank accounts more quickly. Money transfer services each have their own requirements but generally accept debit or credit cards in addition to cash.
- Transfer times. While banks take from 1 to 3 days to complete a transfer, money transfer services promise faster transfer times. Sometimes within minutes, with a debit or credit card.
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.
For example, the mid-market rate for dollars to euros could be 1 USD = 0.95 EUR.
Charging above the mid-market rate means a company will convert your money for less than it’s really worth — reducing the exchange rate to 1 USD = 0.90 EUR, for example
Tips for keeping your cash safe
Wherever you are in the world, keep in mind a few safety tips when picking up a transfer:
- Phone ahead to confirm an agent’s location and hours.
- Avoid agents in high-crime or unsafe areas.
- Ask a friend to come along for the pickup.
- Keep your cash hidden and avoid carrying it around longer than necessary.
- Deposit your funds into an account as soon as you can.
Thousands of dollars are lost each year to wire transfer scams. The most common scams involve you receiving notification that you’ve won a prize or the lottery. They claim that you need to wire a person, company or organization the money to cover taxes or transfer fees for the prize. Of course, once you’ve wired money to these scammers, it’s impossible to get your money back.
Also be wary of people selling goods overseas. First make sure that you’re doing business with a reputable company. Look online to see whether anybody else has filed complaints against them. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You can save if you can send your transfer online
If you have access to the Internet, you can save yourself a visit by starting your cash transfer online with Western Union, MoneyGram and WorldRemit. Each offers cash pickup at agent locations in 200 countries worldwide.
If the friends or family you’re sending money to have a bank account, compare any of the services in our comparison table to quickly and cheaply complete your transfer.
Today you have many options to send money around the world. Compare exchange rates and processing times to get the best deal for your dollar. A stronger exchange rate results in more money for your recipient.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for fees. Bank fees tend to be higher — this on top of weaker exchange rates. On the other hand, transfer services typically offer better rates, lower fees and faster transfers.
Questions readers have asked us about sending and receiving cash
How does the transfer fee and exchange rate affect how much my recipient gets?
If you plan to wire $1,000 to friends or family in another country, the transfer fee could add another $50 to your cost. And a weak exchange rate can eat into how much of that $1,000 your recipients see. Money transfer services typically offer lower fees and stronger exchange rates.
Can I write a check to fund the transaction?
A bank or money transfer service may accept checks. But a check must clear your bank before the money can be sent out, often delaying your transfer.
Can I reverse a wire transfer?
In most cases, the answer is no. However, if you’re sending money internationally, federal protections are in place that require banks, credit unions and money transfer companies to, for example, disclose all fees up front and give you 30 minutes to cancel a transfer, assuming it hasn’t yet been picked up or deposited.
Is there a limit to the amount of money I can send?
Most services limit how much you can send to someone in a 24-hour day. This amount varies by bank and money transfer service.
For a money transfer, does my recipient need a bank account?
Many money transfer services offer cash pickup for those who do not have a bank account. The fee may be slightly more than sending money to a bank.