Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.
How to send money to someone in jail
Don't let legal hurdles get in the way of sending money to loved ones.
Inmates often depend on deposits to their commissary accounts from family and friends. Depending on the facility, money transfers from JPay could be an option for getting money to an inmate.
What are my options?
Inmates are not allowed to have cash, which is considered contraband. Instead, they use an inmate account for all transactions.
Depending on the inmate’s facility, you may be able to deposit money directly into the inmate’s account online or by phone. With some jails and prisons, you’ll be required to use a proprietary system for commissary deposits. However, most also accept payments through JPay, a partnership with MoneyGram, and Western Union.
Using JPay/MoneyGram to send money to an inmate
JPay is a private corrections-related service provider that contracts with correctional facilities in 35 states. It’s not only for money transfers — it also provides email, video visitation and probation payments to inmates across the US. Money is typically delivered on the same day but could take longer, depending on the facility.
You have three options for payment through JPay:
- JPay’s website or by phone.
- In-person transfers at any of 40,000 MoneyGram agent locations nationwide.
- Online with a credit or debit card or bank account.
To deposit cash in person at a MoneyGram location, you’ll need to complete and present an ExpressPayment service form with your ID. Credit cards, debit cards and cash payments are accepted. The money is deposited to your love one’s account within minutes but may not be available for use until the next day.
To send money, you will need to know:
- The four-digit Receive Code that corresponds to the specific facility you’re sending money to.
- The inmate’s ID number — typically eight digits followed by the inmate’s last name.
Fees vary by facility.
Using Western Union to send money to an inmate
Through Western Union’s Inmate Service, you can send money:
- By phone
- Account deposit — often on the same day
To send money, you will need to know:
- The name of the facility you’re sending to
- The inmate’s ID number — typically eight digits followed by the inmate’s last name
Fees vary by facility but range from $9.95 for payment by credit or debit card to up to $29 for cash.
Other options by state
|State||Method of transfer|
|California||Personal cashier’s check via lockbox|
Electronic funds transfer (EFT)
US Post Office
|Florida||In-person cash deposit at Video Visitation Center|
|Illinois||Global Tel Link|
|Nevada||Touchpay credit and debit transaction|
When a loved one is incarcerated, it’s not always easy to know how to help. By sending money directly to their commissary account, you can rest assured that they’ll have the means to get by more comfortably while there.
Frequently asked questions
More guides on Finder
Chase First Banking review
A bank account for kids that helps your child develop healthy money habits early on. Powered by Greenlight.
Is online driver’s ed worth it?
Pick the right online driver’s ed program and learn how long it takes to complete one.
Nationwide My Checking account review
Get unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements with no minimum balance from Nationwide’s My Checking account.
This digital bank account features cashback rewards and a built-in envelope budgeting system.
Betterment vs. Acorns
What to consider when comparing these two investment platforms.
How does PayPal.Me work?
Learn how to create a custom link for your PayPal account and what you can use it for.
How do we pick the top money transfer services?
Our top picks are our selection of the best money transfer services, based on our extensive research and market experience. Here’s how we choose them.
Mango Prepaid Mastercard review
A basic prepaid card that’s free when you have at least $800 in monthly direct deposits.
Wave Money business account review
Small business owners and freelancers wave bookkeeping goodbye with this all-in-one business bank account.
Lili digital bank review
A digital bank account for freelancers that sets money aside for taxes.
Ask an Expert