A money transfer is the electronic movement of funds from one person to another, either between accounts at a bank or across different banks. Most often, it’s used to send remittances (money sent home by workers living abroad) to friends and family. Other common uses include paying for goods or services, making business payments and splitting rent among roommates.
To send a money transfer, you’ll need to know the recipient’s account number and routing number (if you’re using your bank’s service), or their mobile phone number or email address (if you’re using a third-party app like Zelle). In addition, you may have to provide identification or prove your identity for certain types of transfers.
Banks and nonbank providers offer a variety of ways to send money, including wire transfers, PayPal and prepaid cards. When shopping for a provider, compare upfront fees and exchange rates to find the best deal. If you have time, it’s also worth checking the midmarket rate to see what a given currency is really worth in terms of the destination currency, as this can help prevent you from getting ripped off by hidden fees or a poor exchange rate.
Depending on the type of transfer and its location, you’ll need to provide information such as your name and address, and in some cases, a government-issued ID document. Some services may require a small fee for each transaction or have limits on how much can be sent, while others have flat rates that vary by location and speed of delivery.
Some of the fastest ways to transfer money electronically are through a bank wire transfer or a service like Wise, formerly TransferWise. Other options include Western Union and MoneyGram, which are popular for sending remittances to friends and family abroad. These typically have higher fees than a bank, but they can still be cheaper than sending through a traditional money order.
When sending money via a wire transfer or one of these services, you’ll typically pay for the transfer upfront at your bank and then have the amount transferred directly to the intended recipient. With some of these services, you’ll also have the option to pick up the cash at a store or other physical location, if your recipient prefers that.
When transferring money online, always check that the name you’re entering exactly matches the person’s bank details to avoid fraud or other issues. The best way to ensure that is to use a bank or third-party service that allows you to verify your identity with government-issued documents before allowing you to access your funds. Similarly, if you’re moving money between your own bank accounts, be sure to enter each account’s name precisely as it appears on the official records. This will help avoid errors and speed up the process. Then, double-check the account number and sort code you’re entering to make sure that they match. You should also beware of any remittance companies that require you to pay a deposit or pick-up fee upfront before they’ll transfer your money.