Sometimes you have to get money to somebody (or yourself) fast. When that happens, one easy way to do it is through a money transfer company. Here are some of the best-known companies with wide networks to meet most needs.

Western Union (WU)Founded in 1851 as New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company, Western Union now has more than 500,000 agent locations around the world. It includes money transfer, bill payment, prepaid cards and more options. You can send money to people for arrival in minutes or via the more economical three-day service. The faster you need it there, the more you will pay.

PayPal.  PayPal was born in 1998 and eventually became an eBay (EBAY) company in 2002. Today, the service is used for much more than buying on eBay. You can transfer money to friends and family free of charge in most cases or pay for purchases with your credit card. Although PayPal acts as more of a payment processor than a transfer service, its offerings rival other transfer companies. The downside? PayPal has no retail locations.You can, however, pay with your PayPal app in many retail locations.  

Xoom (XOOM)  Xoom was founded in 2001 in San Francisco. Customers can send money to 31 countries using the app or a desktop computer.  Xoom does not have its own retail locations, but it does partner with banks and retailers to give recipients the option to pick up money from various locations. Use its fee calculator to estimate fees and exchange rates.

Wal-Mart (WMT). You might not know that you can transfer money from any Wal-Mart location. You can send money from one Wal-Mart to another in as little as 10 minutes for $4.50. Wal-Mart partners with Ria and MoneyGram for store-to-store transfers. You can also send money to any of MoneyGram’s 336,000 locations in as little as 10 minutes for $4.75. Simply go to any Wal-Mart customer service counter or send online at 

Ria. This company opened its doors in New York City in 1987 to help immigrants send money to their home countries. Now Ria has more than 240,000 locations in 130 countries, as well as the ability to transfer money online. You can send up to $2,999 per day online and up to $999 from any 7-Eleven store. Transfer time is one day or two hours to any Indian bank. Ria is a wholly owned subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide, Inc (EEFT).

MoneyGram (MGI). MoneyGram was founded in 1940 in Dallas, Texas. The company has more than 320,000 locations in 200 countries and territories. Like Ria, you can send up to $2,999 per day online; there's a one-day transfer time unless the customer pays for faster turnaround, including MoneyGram's 10-minute transfer service. 

The Bottom Line

Transfer companies can get money to others or yourself in an emergency. The transfer rates may not be as favorable as using other options, and some fees can be quite high. Before making the transfer, figure out the fees and exchange rate, and compare to others. These companies don’t always make that information easy to find, in large part because it depends on so many factors, but each has a fee estimator. 

When choosing which company to use, also research how easy it will be for the recipient to pick up the money at the other end. For more information, read 5 Money Transfer Tips For Foreign Workers and 5 Money Transfer Technologies And Their Risks.


Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.