6 ways to send money to someone without a bank account

Canada By Mitchell Steiman June 10, 2021

Need to send money quickly to friends or family? While your first thought might be to use a bank account transfer, many people don’t have a bank account for a variety of reasons.

In 2017, approximately 1.7 billion adults worldwide did not have a bank account. So how do you get money to someone without one? Luckily, there are other affordable and secure ways to send money to your loved ones quickly and easily. Here we’ll go over how to send money without a bank account so you can stress less, and rest assured your friends and family will receive the funds.

1. Mobile wallets

One answer to the question of how to send someone money without a bank account is with mobile wallets, also known as e-wallets. For many of these mobile wallets, a bank account is not necessary, and most do not charge fees for their basic services. Some of the more well-known mobile wallets include:

  • Google Pay
  • Apple Pay
  • Samsung Pay

With each platform, you simply download the app, open it, and follow instructions for entering card numbers you would like stored in your mobile wallet. Payments with mobile wallets are encrypted for additional security and are quickly becoming a popular way to pay in Canada. According to data from eMarketer, 21% of Canadians used mobile payment services in 2019!

Mobile wallets can be set up by either linking a debit or credit card account, and the money your recipient gets is added to their mobile wallet account. These transactions are nearly instantaneous and are one of the most cost-effective ways to transfer money.

One thing to keep in mind is that both the sender and the recipient need to have the same mobile wallet provider to avoid transfer fees. Transfers in multiple currencies are also available, although foreign exchange fees may apply.

2. Money orders

Money orders are another way to send money to someone without a bank account. Although money orders mimic checks in some ways, they have important differences such as not requiring a bank account.

Purchase money orders in the dollar amount you want to send someone else and once you sign the actual money order, mail it directly to the recipient.

To obtain a money order, visit any participating post office or bank in Canada where they will issue the money order and send it for you as well.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to sending money via money order. Since no bank account information is shared or disclosed, you’ll benefit from increased privacy and security. Money orders are safer to send by mail than the alternative of cash, as money orders can usually be canceled if initiated before they are cashed. You may also feel a sense of relief that only the intended recipient can collect the money.

A drawback is that it’s not the fastest method, especially when choosing how to send money abroad without a bank account. Money orders can take more time than other money transfer methods as they are dependent on the speed of the post office and the distance traveled.

3. Credit cards

Another answer to the question of how to send money without a bank account is to pay for a money transfer with a credit card. This method is a useful option for someone without a bank account, but keep in mind that there tend to be additional fees associated with a transaction of this type.

Comparing various transfer services will help you avoid additional costs. It is possible to find a money transfer service that allows you to pay by credit card to have cash ready for pick up within minutes. While this method is convenient, it may come at a higher cost.

4. Prepaid debit cards

Debit cards are available from banks and financial institutions without the need for a bank account. Instead, these cards are prepaid with a set amount that is loaded up front and the card recipient can use it just like a debit card.

Prepaid debit cards can be found at various retail locations or purchased online. Depending on the seller, it may cost a few dollars for the physical card, or it may be free. These cards can be reloaded any number of times and fees and balance limits are defined in the terms at purchase.

5. Cash

Although sending cash is always an available option, it is not recommended. Sending cash certainly allows you to send money without a bank account, but there is a risk involved and a chance that your recipient will never receive the money if it gets stolen or lost in the mail.

If you do decide to send cash, it’s important to take as many precautions as possible to try and improve the chances that the money will reach its intended destination and person. Aim to:

  • Select an envelope that keeps contents discreet.
  • Purchase tracking service on your mail parcel so you may confirm delivery.
  • Insure your package for the amount of cash you enclose.

Sending cash is strongly discouraged these days. Instead, choose from a variety of other options to send money that don’t present the same risks.

6. Money transfer services

People have been using money transfer services for decades and there are numerous reliable providers, like Western Union, that allow you to send money without the need for a bank account.

With most money transfer services, you’ll find that you have many choices when determining how to send someone money without a bank account: online, by phone, in person, or even using a money transfer app. Some money transfer services offer the ability to pay in cash as well as deliver in cash, so neither you nor your recipient needs a bank account.

Depending on your payment method and desired receipt method, different fees apply, so it’s important to compare money transfer services to pick the one that’s right for you. Depending on the money transfer service, you may be charged fees such as:

  • A transfer service fee varies depending on whether the money is sent from a funded account, a debit card, or a credit card, as well as the amount of the transfer and where it is being sent.
  • A daily exchange rate margin fee for international transfers.

Money transfer services offer convenience, rapid transfers, and security. Most also provide the ability to track your transfer so you can stay updated on the transfer status.

Things to consider when choosing a transfer method

When deciding how to send money without a bank account, there are several factors to consider.

How quickly you need the transfer delivered

Depending on how quickly you need the money delivered, you may opt for one method over another. A mobile wallet transfer or money transfer service will allow your recipient to receive money faster than a money order or a mailed prepaid debit card.

Level of convenience

It’s important to consider what the most convenient method is for both you and your recipient. Depending on what your recipient is using the funds for and where they live, one method may make more sense than another. In some cases, it might be preferable to send money online so that it’s available to spend online, and in other cases, a cash pickup might be ideal.

Cost of transfer method

Understanding the fees involved in each transfer method is another aspect to consider when selecting a method. Usually, mobile wallet transfers do not charge a fee, but if your recipient prefers cash this method can make it more challenging to access the funds. Prepaid debit cards and money orders tend to have clear, nominal costs and most of the time using a credit card to transfer money will incur the highest fees. Money transfer service fees depend on multiple factors such as the service provider, dollar amount of the transfer, location, and exchange rates. Compare your options to determine which one is best for you and your recipient.

Location of transfer origin and destination

Fees may vary depending on the location of origin and the location of the destination. International money transfers typically cost more than domestic ones, and some methods may not be available in certain countries. For these reasons, it is helpful to consider the locations involved when deciding how to send money abroad without a bank account.

Security of transfer method

Online transactions are protected with data encryption and additional security measures, whereas mailed money orders or prepaid debit cards run the risk of getting lost or stolen.

Send money with confidence and ease using Western Union

When you need to send money to friends and family as a gift or for an emergency, you can trust Western Union to deliver your cash swiftly and reliably. Send money quickly, in a way that’s convenient for you, to over 200 countries and territories. Whether you send money online, via the app, or in person at a nearby agent location, we make it easy for you to send money.

Send money with the Western Union mobile app

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