In the technology-driven world we live in today, transferring money by cash, check, bank draft, or money order may seem like it's going the way of the dinosaur. While these traditional methods may appear less popular when there are faster electronic methods for transferring money between accounts, states, and even countries, that doesn't mean the old ways are not still viable options. In addition, if cost is your primary concern, there are inexpensive ways of transferring money, and the cheapest method may vary depending upon your circumstances.
A bank teller can help you set up many other transfer services, including wire transfers to another bank, state, or country. If you're looking to transfer funds to an account at a different financial institution, you'll need the account number you'd like to send money to and the bank's routing number. There are often fees associated with transferring money to a different financial institution.
- Traditional methods of sending money—such as through your bank—are still applicable today.
- Overseas transfers through your bank are possible, but there are additional fees charged for sending the money.
- New apps like Paypal and Zelle make it easy to send money to friends and family in a matter of minutes, with no fees.
- Western Union and MoneyGram can be used to send money to a different city, state, or country for a fee.
- Cash is another option for transferring money, as it is free to withdraw money from one bank and make a deposit at the bank where the recipient has a checking account.
A bank can assist with many types of transfers. If you're simply transferring money from one account to another within the same financial institution, this is something you can easily do at your bank for free. It can be done in person at a branch by withdrawing money from one account and making the deposit in another or by initiating the transfer online.
Overseas money transfers are possible through your bank as well, though you will often require a lot more information, including the name and address of the account holder, information about the financial institution the money is being sent to, and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) or International Bank Account Number (IBAN) of the recipient bank. International wire transfers sent in American dollars will cost you around $45. Funds sent in foreign currencies will cost about $35. Rates change and may vary depending upon your bank.
One of the newest players on the payment scene is Zelle, founded in 2017. The company is a United States-based digital payments network owned by the private financial services firm Early Warning Services. To access the service, users (with funds in a U.S. bank account) enroll their email and a U.S. mobile phone number with the Zelle app or through their bank's Zelle electronic portal.
Next, the person sending the money enters the preferred mail address and U.S. mobile number of the recipient, who must also have a bank account in the United States. After payment is sent, the recipient receives a notification with instructions for completing the payment. Zelle does not charge fees to send or receive money, but sometimes the bank or other financial institution charges customers for providing access to the service.
PayPal can be an economical method for transferring money. It allows individuals and businesses to transfer funds electronically from one PayPal account to another. It's free to send money through PayPal, though the recipient is charged a fee to cash the payment. For transfers up to $3,000, the charge is 2.9%, plus $0.30 per transaction.
Fees decrease slightly for larger transactions, and there are no fees for sending to friends or family members, provided that money is coming from a bank account. International transaction fees tend to be about 1% higher and keep in mind that you'll be charged an exchange rate on transfers made in international funds.
Western Union or MoneyGram
Western Union and MoneyGram provide similar services that allow you to transfer money to a different city, state, or country. They charge a flat rate for the transfer that is based on the speed of the transfer, the location you're sending money to, and the amount of money being sent. If you're doing an overseas or international transfer, you'll also be charged an exchange rate. These money transfer services don't generally offer a very competitive exchange rate, which results in a hidden charge if you transfer money internationally. However, one of the major benefits of these services is that they tend to be both highly dependable and convenient.
As an example of fees, a $200 transfer through Western Union to a location within the United States or Canada will cost you around $12 for a rapid transfer and $8 for a next-day transfer. A transfer to the United Kingdom will cost around $22 if done through an agent of Western Union and $15 if done online. Fees can change at any time.
New fintech startups that provide international money transfers are Transferwise (recently changed its name to Wise) and Payoneer—which serves over 150 countries.
Though this may be considered the "old-fashioned way" when it comes to transferring money, using cash can be extremely practical in some circumstances. For occasions where time is not the most important consideration, simply withdrawing cash and physically bringing it to another bank to deposit into an account is completely free! In most cases, the deposited money is available for withdrawal immediately. Keep in mind that sending cash through the mail is discouraged. If the mail gets lost, there is no way to retrieve the money.
Writing a check and depositing it into another account, handing it to another individual, or sending it by mail to a recipient in a different city or state is another affordable choice—especially if your bank offers free checking.
Things get a bit trickier when sending checks internationally. Sending a check overseas that's written in American dollars will often result in delays in cashing the check so that the bank can verify the deposit, and some banks may not even accept foreign checks. The recipient of the check may also have to pay a fee for cashing it and cover the exchange rate to have the funds exchanged into the local currency. This method is safer than cash for sending by mail because you can cancel a check if it doesn't arrive at its destination.
Bank Drafts, Money Orders, and Cashier's Checks
When it comes to physical transfers that are being sent in foreign currencies, you can purchase bank drafts and money orders in the currency of the location you're sending money to. Inexpensive money orders can be purchased through many post office branches. These money orders will often be less expensive than those purchased through a financial institution, running anywhere between $3 and $9. Money orders purchased through a bank often cost about $10.
Money orders are typically used for smaller amounts than bank drafts. Because of this, the cost of purchasing a bank draft is often higher than for purchasing a money order. Though these forms of money transfer may take more time, they tend to be a more economical choice than services like wire transfers—and they are traceable in case they don't arrive at their destination.
Email Money Transfers
Some financial institutions, especially some of the larger Canadian banks, offer an email money transfer service. This form of money transfer functions like an electronic check. The funds are not physically transferred by email, though the transaction is initiated by email, and the recipient is notified by email that the funds are available. You don't need the recipient's bank account number, though a security question is generally required to identify the recipient before they can retrieve the funds.
Transferring funds through email money transfer generally comes with a nominal cost of a couple of dollars, which makes it a cheap option if it's available to you. Receiving funds by this method is typically free. This service is also quite reliable and fast, generally only taking a few days to arrive in the recipient's account.
Be cautious that you only accept email transfers from people you know so you're not falling victim to a phishing scam.
The Bottom Line
Shopping around and investigating your options will help you find the best deal for money transfers. Take your time and look for the latest fee information online. The cheapest method for transferring money in one circumstance might not be the same in another. Do your homework to make sure you're not giving away your hard-earned money to big financial institutions or money transfer organizations.