What’s the fastest way to send money?

Canada By Mitchell Steiman June 3, 2021

Unexpected life events happen all the time and when they do, you often need money to help navigate challenging circumstances. Whether you’re facing the challenges related to the global pandemic or an injury that prevents you from working regularly, these disruptions can have a major financial impact on you and your family.

When these circumstances occur, you may need to send or receive money fast to get back on your feet or help someone else, so it’s good to be prepared and know your options for sending money.

If your family is spread around the world, it’s even more important to know what options are available so you know exactly how to make the quickest bank transfer possible if the time comes.

Keep reading to learn about the fastest ways to send money in a time of need.

What are your recipient’s needs?

The fastest way to send money depends on who you’re transferring money to, how much money they need, and where they’re located. Before you decide on how you’re going to send money to your friends and family, consider these factors:

How quickly do they need money?

The fastest way to send money can get cash in the hands of your recipient within 24 to 48 hours depending on how the money will be received. But even that can be too long in some situations. Before you decide how you’ll send money, get a sense of how quickly the money is needed.

Here are just a few things that can extend or shorten the amount of time needed to send money:

  • Time of day: Will the bank, credit union, or financial services institution close soon? Are the banks closed where your recipient lives?
  • Day of the week: Some money transfers pause over the weekend or during holidays. Make sure that the place you’re sending money to and from is open when you need them.
  • Rules and regulations: Some companies and countries will limit the number (or amount) you can transfer per day or month. You’ll need to know where you’re at in terms of those limits to find the fastest way to transfer money.

An agent will be able to provide information on whether any of these factors will impact your money transfer. Be sure to ask questions so that you can find the best way to send money based on your needs.

Where are they located?

Domestic money transfers will almost always be faster than international transfers because domestic transfers don’t typically involve vast banking networks or time zone issues. It is still important to be mindful of where you’re sending money – even within the same country – due to different time zones and cut-off times set by banks. If you’re in the Western part of the country and sending money to the Eastern-most part of the country, check the cut-off times for the receiving bank to ensure your money arrives when it needs to.

International money transfers can be more complex due to drastically different time zones, regulations, currency exchanges, and the need for intermediary banks. If you’re in Canada and sending money to Spain for example, there may be a clearing house in both countries through which the funds must pass before going to the recipient, which adds time to the transfer.

Most often, international money transfers undergo more rigorous fraud prevention measures as well. For example, banks in the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) network require each transfer to pass through one to three correspondent banks before being delivered to your recipient’s bank.

How much money are you sending?

How much you need to send may also affect how quickly money can be transferred. As a general rule, larger sums of money can take longer to clear as they pass through regulatory and fraud checks.

Financial institutions involved in sending and receiving larger sums of money want to ensure that much money is available to send and the payment will clear. This process is further complicated by time zones if the money is being sent internationally.

Do they have a bank account?

Another factor is whether the recipient has a bank account. Direct transfers to bank accounts will not only be the easiest option but oftentimes the fastest. As mentioned, the SWIFT network connects thousands of banks directly, cutting down the number of steps (and institutions) needed to process each transfer. Beyond SWIFT, banks can also use automatic clearing houses (ACH) to process payments in bulk.

If you know you can’t use an electronic bank transfer, a money order may be the fastest way to send money.

Is the recipient comfortable using technology?

Lastly, find out if the recipient is comfortable using mobile technology for payments. Many times, the fastest way to send money is via an app. With so many people using mobile devices, apps are one of the most convenient ways to send money. The Western Union money transfer app offers money transfer services from the comfort of your couch. For travelers and people on the go, apps are an incredible alternative to banks or other financial institutions.

Some people may be unfamiliar with using apps or question their security, so check with the recipient first to see if they’re comfortable using apps as a quick way to send or receive money.

4 methods for fast money transfers

Once you have the details like how much money to send, location, and banking information, you can dig into the options available. When you need to send money quickly, remember that it’s important to choose secure, reliable options, including the following:

Electronic money transfers

Electronic transfers are the fastest way to send money. Any time you transfer money over an online network, it’s considered an electronic funds transfer (EFT).  Most commonly, these are transfers made via apps or websites, but they also include payments made with your debit card.

While extremely convenient, keep in mind some fees may apply with electronic money transfers. Some of those may include:

  • ATM fees (usually a flat fee)
  • Transfer fees (usually a percentage)
  • Currency exchange rates
  • Processing fee (usually flat fee)

Gift cards

Gift cards are a great substitute for electronic money transfers. Third-party sites allow you to buy electronic gift cards that get emailed to your recipient in a matter of minutes.

In medical emergencies, gift cards won’t be a great option. But, providing extra grocery money to your family or helping pay for school supplies are all instances where gift cards are a fast way to send money and support loved ones without sending cash.

Money orders

Money orders work like cash for the recipient but are more secure. You can track your money orders and ensure that your intended recipient is the only one who can use them with money orders. Money orders are not available digitally, which can make them a less convenient option if you need to send money immediately.

Mailing a money order through priority shipping will ensure speed and security, but if you’re sending money internationally, the timeline will be any longer. Money orders may not be the fastest way to spend money, but can still be helpful if the recipient doesn’t have a bank account or other digital options for transfer, like an app.

What are the fastest ways to send money with Western Union?

There are plenty of options available when you’re looking for the fastest way to send money, particularly in a time of need. With Western Union, you can send money online, in person, or with our mobile app. If you send money in person, our agents are available to walk you through your options for sending money and it’s as easy as finding an agent near you to get started.

When you send money for cash pickup, your money can be ready in just minutes* at hundreds of thousands of agent locations globally. We can even help you track the transfer, so you know exactly when the money will arrive. Find out how easy it is to quickly send money online and in person with Western Union.

* Funds may be delayed or services unavailable based on certain transaction conditions, including amount sent, destination country, currency availability, regulatory issues, identification requirements, Agent location hours, differences in time zones, or selection of delayed options. For mobile transactions funds will be paid to receiver’s mWallet account provider for credit to the account tied to the receiver’s mobile number. Additional third-party charges may apply, including SMS and account over-limit and cash-out fees. See the transfer form for restrictions.

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