How to send money to someone without a bank account

A mobile wallet, money order or transfer agent may be your answer.

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According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, approximately 14.1 million adults in the US were without bank accounts in 2017. If you or the person you’re sending money to is one of millions who doesn’t have a traditional bank account, you can still transfer funds with alternative money transfer methods.

Can I send money if I have no bank accounts?

Yes, you’ll find several ways to send money without having a checking or savings account. Some methods include:

Money transfer agents

Several money transfer services allow you to fund the request in cash. Western Union, MoneyGram and similar agents allow you to send cash from storefront locations.

Your recipient could receive the funds the same day if they’re delivered via cash pickup or delivery.

Online credit card payments

Some transfer services allow credit cards for online transfers. Though expect to pay more and for these transfers, and it could take up to five days for your recipient to get the funds.

Mobile payment apps

Services like Venmo, PayPal and Google Wallet make it easy to send money online on a desktop or via your smartphone. Each has a balance feature that lets you send money from and receive to the wallet.

Delivery is typically instant with these services.

Money orders

A relatively easy and inexpensive way to send money without a bank account is by mailing a money order. You can send up to $500 for $1.25 and up to $1,000 for $1.70 if you purchase through the US Postal Service.

This is potentially the slowest method of this bunch, as the money order has to be mailed physically.

Can I send money if my recipient doesn’t have a bank account?

Yes, just as there are several ways to send money without a bank account, so are there to receive it without one. Here are a few options:

Cash transfer

Send funds online or at a location with a money transfer service that offers cash pickup. The same services that allow you to send cash typically have options to receive it in countries where they have storefronts.

Cash can typically be picked up the same day it’s sent.

Prepaid debit card

For something that allows your recipient to pay by card, mailing a prepaid debit card could be a viable option.

Because it’s sent by mail, it can take several business days for your recipient to get the funds.

Mobile wallet

Sending money to your recipient’s phone or mobile wallet can be done using the mobile wallet’s service, or potentially via a transfer service.

Funds are usually available instantly to use from the mobile wallet.

Money order

Money orders can be cashed at a number of locations, including banks, grocery stores and some retail stores.

Just like prepaid debit cards, money orders are sent by mail and can be one of the slower options.

Do mobile wallets have to be linked to an account?

Several mobile wallets don’t require you to link a bank account. PayPal and Venmo are two notable names that allow you to open an account and receive funds without linking a bank account or credit card.

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USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.898 EUR 4,490 Offering no maximum and no minimum limit transfers with $0 fees. Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 40.00 0.902 EUR
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.898 EUR 4,486 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.893 EUR 4,463 Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
For larger transfers, get no transaction fees and no maximum send limits.
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USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 0.893 EUR 4,463 No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
USD 5,000 1 day USD 0.00 0.893 EUR 4,463 Venstar will support you through the entire process of your international transactions, from start to finish. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Can I send money if neither one of us has a bank account?

Yes, and you can do so using several of the options above. Sending and receiving cash via a transfer service, prepaid debit card or money order and using a mobile wallet can all be used to send and receive funds without a bank account.

What’s the best way to transfer money without a bank account?

The best way to transfer money without a bank account depends on your specific circumstances. How fast you need to get the funds to your recipient, their location, what’s most convenient and how much you’d like to pay will all affect which choice fits you best.

How to choose a transfer method

To pick the transfer method that’s best for you and your recipient, consider the following:

  • How fast the funds need to be delivered.
    Money orders and prepaid debit cards will likely take significantly longer to reach your recipient than a mobile wallet transfer.
  • Affordability.
    Personal mobile wallet transfers that don’t use a credit card typically come without fees, however it might be more difficult to access the funds than if you use a cash transfer. Money orders and prepaid debit cards usually have a low cost, and using a credit card will generally be the most expensive option.
  • Convenience.
    Depending on where your recipient lives and what they’re using the funds for, certain options may be favorable. Someone looking to shop online, for example, may find a PayPal transfer more convenient than cash pickup.
  • Security of the transfer.
    Data encryption helps protect your and your recipient’s information. Mailing a money order or prepaid debit card comes with the risk of them getting lost in transit.

Bottom line

It’s possible to transfer funds without either party having a bank account. The method that’s best depends on several factors, including when the money is needed, ease of access and cost.

For more information about sending money and to compare transfer service options, check out our full guide to transferring money abroad.

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