Personal Finance

Best Ways to Send Money Online: Transfer Services Reviewed

sending money tabletSending money to someone has never been easier. With so many new transfer methods popping up, you have a wealth of options at your fingertips on your computer, your mobile phone — and, of course, you can still go down to the bank or the local Western Union branch to initiate and receive a cash transfer.

So which ones offer the best service, lowest fees, and best ease of use? Glad you asked, because we’ve checked out all of the most popular cash transfer companies that people have been using to send money to merchants and each other. Turns out most of them are pretty good, but the one you’ll want to go with might depend on how much you need to send, where you’re sending it, and to whom. Don’t worry if it’s money headed overseas, either, you have plenty of choices there as well.

Domestic Transfers

Initiating a money transfer between two parties within the United States can be done just about anywhere and from any device. All of the reviewed services offer mobile apps which make it even less of a hassle to pay someone on demand. Just keep in mind you have some limitations when you’re working with many of these services, the most prevalent being that you can’t send more than $10,000 at a time through a majority of them and some have weekly limits as well.

You should also consider where the money is being sent when choosing a money transfer service. Some are better suited (and faster) when sending directly to someone’s bank account while others are preferable and safer when sending money to a merchant or online business due to their speed and security.


I’m guessing you’ve heard of this one. If you’ve ever bought or sold anything on eBay, then you’re already familiar with PayPal. This payment service helped revolutionize the online money transfer industry and inspired many of the other services on this list, including a few that PayPal also owns and operates.

Established in 1999, PayPal has become synonymous with safety and security when it comes to sending and receiving money online. It’s also one of the best options with respect to the fees you’ll need to pay in order to use the service. All you have to do is set up a PayPal profile by linking it to your existing bank account and you’re ready to go.

Since it’s been in business for almost two decades, PayPal has amassed an immense user base, currently over 175 million users throughout the world, which makes it the most trusted choice for sending money anywhere to anyone. It’s become so easy to use PayPal at this point that you’re no longer limited to using it to pay for things online anymore, as you can now use it at checkout in major retail stores like Home Depot, Toys R’ Us, and Target.

PayPal even offers a MasterCard debit card which works just like the one issued by all the major banks like Chase or Bank of America. Sending money to a private individual or a friend is a cinch; all you need is their email address or phone number.

There are a few drawbacks, however, the first being the time it takes for a transfer to hit your bank should you decide to move some of your PayPal balance into a checking account. PayPal would prefer you keep your balance with them, but if you need to send money to your bank you can do so (free of charge) — however, it can take up to three to five days for that cash to hit your account. The other drawback is that PayPal will charge you a fee to transfer money from your credit card or debit card instead of your bank account, so you’ll want to have that checking account tied to it or keep a balance in your PayPal account.

They also take a percentage of any money transfers that are sent for payment on goods and services. As I mentioned earlier, there is a transfer limit of $10,000 with many of these services, but PayPal applies that to each transfer instead of being a weekly limit which gives it a clear advantage if you require moving large sums of money with ease.


This service works in very much the same way as PayPal, which makes sense since the company owns it. Venmo is designed to be a “digital wallet” in much the same manner as Google Wallet or Chase Quickpay in that it allows you to pay someone on the spot through Venmo’s mobile app. You hook it up to your bank account or debit card and all you need is the receiver’s email address or phone number, much the same as you would need for PayPal.

The difference here is that Venmo limits your transfers to $2,999 per week which is far lower than the $10,000 per transfer you get from PayPal. Using the service doesn’t cost anything and you can keep money as a Venmo balance or transfer it to your bank account.

There’s also a social media component as you can not only use Facebook to find which of your friends are using Venmo, but you can write posts and share thoughts on a Venmo feed that resembles the highly popular social media platform every time you make or a receive a transfer. Don’t worry, the app doesn’t post the dollar amounts and all of your sensitive financial information is well-protected with the same encryption and security measures that everyone has come to expect from PayPal. For all intents and purposes, Venmo is the social media friendly, mobile app version of having a PayPal account.

I know what you’re thinking: PayPal already has a mobile app (and a pretty good one I might add), but with Venmo the user experience is much simpler and streamlined so chipping in for your share of dinner or the group birthday gift is effortless, especially if the person to whom you’re sending that money is also a Venmo user.

The other benefit with Venmo is that all transfers are free whether they come from your Venmo balance, your banking account, or a debit card. Receiving money is free no matter what, unlike PayPal which takes a small percentage of any incoming payments that aren’t initiated as a “Friends and Family” transfer. But of course, the purpose of Venmo is that all of the transfers are theoretically made between friends and family whereas PayPal has become a way of doing business for millions of people, and for those transfers, PayPal wants their cut.

mobile wallet smartphoneGoogle Wallet

Since Google seems duty-bound to get in on anything that has garnered some modicum of popularity with the general public, be it email, cell phones, or automobiles, it only stands to reason that the tech giant has come up with their own version of an online payment platform as well.

In keeping with their ongoing quest for total global dominance in all markets, the branded digital wallet offers all of the same benefits of the previous payment services in that it allows you to send and receive money to anyone through an email address or cell phone number. All you need is a Google account and you can send that money from any of your financial resources, bank account, debit card, credit card. There are no fees if you send the money from your current balance in the Wallet, a debit account, or from your bank account, but you’re looking at a 2.9% fee for funds sent from a credit card.

So you’re probably thinking it all sounds just like PayPal and, for the most part, you’re right. The platform is nearly identical to PayPal and Venmo, but the advantage here is that the Wallet can sync up with all of your other Google account components, most importantly Gmail. In fact, you can even send money from your Gmail account — just click the little dollar sign icon at the bottom of an email and, in seconds, you’ve made a transfer.

The question is, do you really need that feature as part of your email? In this manner, the Wallet is a much more useful service in sending money to friends and family as it hasn’t quite caught on with retailers in the way that PayPal has cornered that part of the online money transfer market.

Don’t expect to send cash to any of your friends and family overseas either as the service doesn’t support international transfers at this time. But sending funds to your bank account is smoother and simpler with the Wallet and it takes far less time for that money to hit your account, according to the company.

Square Cash

This service is built for small businesses to accept payments for goods and services just about anywhere. You may have even paid someone with this app before by swiping your credit card through the little white reader plugged into the top of a mobile phone or tablet. That’s Square Cash.

This is the best money transfer service that sends the funds directly to your bank account or you can maintain a balance within the app itself like you’re able to with PayPal, Venmo, or Google Wallet. The great thing about this service is that you can execute all of the same types of tasks as the other services, including sending money to friends and family, getting paid for goods and services, and transferring cash to other users who don’t have a Square account.

Sending money to others requires the use of your debit card and receiving cash on business transactions costs just 2.75% of each transaction which beats PayPal’s fees of 2.9% and $0.30 per sale. You’ll also incur a fee if you send money from a credit card. Much like the Wallet, Square is only available in the United States, you can’t send or receive money internationally.

The best selling point, of course, is the fact that you can use the app to accept credit card payments. Just purchase the Square Credit Card Reader (it’s only about $10 at most retailers), plug it into your smart-phone or tablet via the headphone jack and you’re ready to make your device a point of sale reader.

Chase QuickPay

The only payment service on this list from a major bank, the QuickPay service from Chase is an excellent person to person method that lets you pay anyone, anytime just as long as one of the parties involved in the transfer owns an account with Chase. The service isn’t very different from the previous methods on our list, but it’s an easier transaction if both individuals are current Chase account holders. You simply go to the Chase website, click on “Pay a Person Using Chase QuickPay”, select a recipient or add a new one (it works with their email address), type in the amount, and follow the prompt to confirm the payment. Voila, your recipient gets an email notification and they accept the money. It’s as simple as that.

This process is made more simple for Chase customers as they don’t really have to do anything else to accept or send funds.  However, if you’re sending money to someone who banks with another institution like Wells Fargo or Bank of America there are a few extra steps they need to take.  Notably, they first have to sign up to accept payments through this Chase Quickpay, but doing so doesn’t take a lot of time and they only need to do it one time.

The payments go through almost immediately or you can schedule the payment for any other date in the near future if you prefer. Once the payment is sent and the receiver accepts it, the money is sent directly to their bank account. Notifications may also be given via text if set up in that manner.

The bigger appeal is that Chase customers can pay each other virtually anywhere as these payments can be initiated online or via the bank’s mobile app, which couldn’t be simpler to use. The money is sent immediately and deposited upon acceptance for Chase customers. The one drawback for non-Chase customers comes with the fact that sending money to an account at another bank can take a day or two before the deposit is completed and the funds available for use.

Best of all, there are zero fees. None whatsoever, no matter who you’re sending money to or from. It’s a totally free service.

Walmart 2 Walmart

That’s right, you can send money via Walmart. But unlike the other options we’ve listed thus far, this method is more comparable to using Western Union to transfer straight cash between two parties. It’s also far more affordable and less expensive than using that other service to send money.

You may have guessed by now that this transaction is performed between two Walmart locations just the same as Western Union, and just like with that service there are thousands of locations around the country (4000 to be exact). But it’s the price for using the service that makes it stand out from the others and worth inclusion on our list.

While it’s comparable for sending an amount of around $50 or less (Western Union’s minimum is $5.00, Walmart is $4.50), the more you need to send the better the Walmart option becomes. The maximum amount you’re allowed to wire through Walmart is $900 and it’ll cost you just $9.50. Try that with Western Union and you’re looking at a cost of either $71 or $85 depending on whether you’re using a bank account or credit card.

That’s if you want the money sent and available in a few minutes. You can wait three days for it to go through and pay just $20. Western Union does offer the service for deposit directly into your bank account for just $5.00, but you’ll wait up to a week for that money to hit your account. So what’s the point of rushing over payment when the recipient can’t use that money right away?

euros on mobile phoneInternational Transfers

Sending money overseas brings with it two other components: transaction fees and foreign exchange rates. Factor in the amount you need to send, where it’s going, and how long it will take to get to your chosen destination and wiring money around the world can get to be a costly affair. But not if you know which services to use. The following are your best choices for overall performance and lower cost of doing business globally.


Another service that is now owned by PayPal, Xoom is designed to help you send money to recipients in over 40 different countries for the lowest costs of any other international provider. Much like with Venmo, there is a capped dollar amount per transfer of $2,999.  Since the company has partnered with all of the major international banking entities, you can send money directly to someone’s bank account; some locations can even allow for the recipient to pick up the funds in cash.

As you would expect from a service such as this, the money is often available in just a matter of minutes and the funds can be distributed in the originating country’s currency or the recipient’s. The fees are sensible and vary based on where you’re sending the money, but Xoom has consistently offered the best rates of all the international services. The exchange rates are comparable to those that the banks offer to one another as well, so you’re getting a pretty great deal all around with Xoom.


This international transfer service offers one of the best mobile options for sending money to over 38 different countries throughout the world. Foreign exchange and transaction fees are highly competitive with those you’d find at the major banks, with transfer costs on the lower side of the spectrum in that regard.

The company charges a flat fee or percentage per transaction based on where the money is being sent and their website couldn’t be easier to navigate. They even include a converter that lets you type in how much you’re sending and how much that will amount to in the local currency of where that money is going. All fees and exchange rates are clearly marked and simple to read and understand.

Even the Financial Times has recognized the service as one of the best around, awarding it their Boldness in Business award for 2014. The only main drawback with TransferWise is that it can sometimes take longer for your money to reach its destination.


This service gives you more control over your transfer by allowing you to schedule when your transaction is completed based on when an exchange rate becomes valid. So booking your transfer at a certain point in the future by this determination can save you money in the long run. They’re available online or by contacting one of their representatives over the phone to complete a transaction.

Handling fees are quite competitive as well with a flat rate of just $5 on transfers of up to $5,000. Anything higher than that has no upfront fees. The company also keeps their exchange rates below the mid-market rate.

Our Final Thoughts

It used to be that banks were the best method for wiring any sum of money from one individual to another, but with the proliferation of so many third party providers, spurred on by the fast and overwhelming success of PayPal, consumers now have a range of alternatives to move cash both abroad and within the continental United States. Sending and receiving funds has also become even simpler with the availability of conducting business online through a website or the company’s mobile app, enabling you the power to send just about any sum to anyone in the world, all at your fingertips.

Most of these types of services require you to open an account and provide them with much of your crucial financial information, so be careful when entering it into any forms. Be sure that the company you have chosen to work with is dedicated to protecting that sensitive data. If you decide to work with any of the companies on our list, then you can rest assured that your information will be secure at all times.

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