Loading
Tap on the profile icon to edit
your financial details.

how to send money to someone without a bank account

If you’re trying to send money to someone, you may consider just transferring funds to the person’s bank account. But many people don’t have bank accounts. In fact, a recent FDIC survey revealed more than 9 million Americans fall into that category. The good news is you have plenty of options to transfer money. We’ll cover some of the cheapest, fastest and easiest ways to send money to someone without a bank account.

Money Order

Money orders work a bit like checks. But they’re not linked to any bank account. Instead, you buy one with the amount you plan to send to someone. Then, you sign it and mail to to the proper recipient, who can exchange it for cash. Money orders are sold at Walmart and CVS, as well as any post office and many grocery stores and gas stations. They usually cost $1 to $2. So money orders can be cheap and safe alternatives to mailing actual cash. Because you get an actual receipt for the money order, you have a paper trail to account for the money you’re sending. Plus, you avoid the potential dangers of having your cash lost in the mail or stolen. In addition, you can cancel a money order in most cases as long as the recipient hasn’t cashed it yet.

Walmart-to-Walmart

According to Statista, a statistics database, Walmart runs more than 3,000 super centers in the U.S. And beyond shopping, you can also transfer money at Walmart. The retailer allows individuals to walk in and send money from one store to another. The recipient simply picks it up at the particular Walmart to which the sender directed the money. If the amount is less than $50, Walmart charges a $4.50 fee. If it falls between $51 and $900, the fee is $9.50. You can send up to $2,500 for a fee of $18.

Western Union

For more than 145 years, people have been using Western Union’s money transferring services. Today, you can work with Western Union to send money in person, online or by phone. Below, we walk you through each of these methods:

Online: You can log on to the Western Union website or mobile app to send money to someone. You can cover the funds through your own bank account, a credit card or a debit card. Then indicate the agent location nearest your recipient when noting where you’d like to send the funds. The recipient can then walk into the corresponding Western Union office and pick the money up when it’s ready.

By phone: Call Western Union to set up a money transfer. Just have a credit card or debit card handy.

In person: Simply walk into one of the more than 500,000 Western Union locations worldwide, and set up a money transfer. Your recipient can simply pick up the cash or a prepaid debit card at a Western Union location near to where he or she is.

Fees depend on factors like the zip code where you’re sending money from as well as that of its destination. But transferring money domestically usually costs anywhere from $1 to $2. Your recipient may face a fee closer to $25 if he or she is picking the money up at an agent location. The Western Union website has a fee estimator tool you can use.

PayPal

When it comes to online money transferring apps, PayPal still reigns supreme. With PayPal, you can send money to people in more than 190 countries using only their email address and phone number. However, they’d have to sign up for a free account to get their funds. The service also supports more than 20 currencies. And as long as you use your PayPal balance or a linked debit card to cover transfers, the service stays free. Otherwise, you’d face a 2.9% fee per transaction plus an additional 30-cent fee. If you’re sending money outside the U.S., the fee can range from 0.5% to 2% if you use your PayPal balance or a linked bank account to cover the cost. The fee can span from 3.4% to 3.9% if you use a credit card or a non-linked debit card.

But if your recipient is in the U.S., he or she doesn’t need a bank account to receive your transfer. The recipient simply needs to log on to PayPal and request that a check be mailed. This check typically arrives in one to two weeks. The recipient will also pay a $1.50 fee for check withdrawals. You can typically cash a check at any bank, regardless of whether you have an account.

Venmo

Venmo is a popular online service that lets you transfer money via a mobile app. You and your recipient just have to sign up for free accounts. From there, you can send money using  someone’s email address and phone number. You can link your own bank account, credit card or debit card to cover the funds. Transferring money is free as long as you’re using your Venmo balance or a linked bank account or accepted debit card. However, you’d face a 3% fee if you use a credit card or a different debit card. Receiving money via the mobile app is always free.

The app also functions similarly to social media sites. You can “add” friends and your transactions get shared via a public feed. Moreover, you can “like” these posts. But if you don’t want to share your transactions, you can always change your settings. A recipient doesn’t necessarily need a bank account to get funds through Venmo. For instance, that person can order a Venmo card that functions much like a prepaid debit card to load up Venmo funds.

Square Cash

how to send money to someone without a bank account

With Square Cash, all you need to transfer money to someone is the person’s email address. You can download the app and link a debit card to draw funds from. In turn, the person you’re sending money too doesn’t even need a Square Cash account. After you link your card, your first transfer may take up to 2 business days to process. Subsequent transfers are typically instant. Moving money around is free unless you’re using the business version of Square Cash. In this case, you’d face a 3% fee. In addition, Square Cash sends you a free debit card within a week after signing up. Using it with your Square Cash balance can also lead to discounts at popular retailers and dining establishments. A recipient can also receive funds through this card.

Prepaid Debit Cards

One of the easiest alternatives to getting a debit card linked to a bank account is to opt for a prepaid debit card instead. You can find these at retailers like Walmart and even several gas stations and convenience stores. Here’s how it works. You simply pay what you want to put inside the card. Several prepaid cards allow you to transfer funds and establish direct deposit. You can also download apps that can link to these accounts. These provide many of the major features the best banking apps out there offer, including mobile check deposit.

Google Wallet

The search engine giant combines the best of both worlds with Google Pay. You can easily transfer money to someone using the person’s phone number or email address. Both of you can also have access to a Google Pay debit card, which can be used to make transactions or withdrawal money from ATMs. As a recipient, you can then withdraw funds using this account. Transferring and receiving money is free. According to Google, this service “protects your payment info with multiple layers of security, using one of the world’s most advanced security infrastructures.”

Facebook Messenger

You probably have a Facebook tab open right now. So why not pay someone through the platform? Now you can. Just open up messenger and click on the dollar sign icon. Obviously, you and the recipient need a Facebook account. And you’d both need to enter debit card information. However, this card doesn’t have to be linked to an actual bank account. You can have funds loaded onto a prepaid debit card, for instance.

how to send money to someone without a bank account

The Takeaway

Millions of Americans still don’t have bank accounts. But if you owe them money, you won’t necessarily have to hand them cash or take your chances and send money via snail mail. You have plenty of options from mobile apps to prepaid debit cards. Even Facebook can help transfer money. It’s definitely an exciting time in the world of financial technology. And you can expect these services to become smarter, cheaper and more efficient.

Tips for Financial Wellness

  • Picking the right financial institution for you is important. To help you out, we developed a report on the best banks in the United States.
  • If you’re looking to get your finances in check and strategize for the future, one of the best decisions you can make is working with a financial advisor. If you’ve never worked with one, you can use our new SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool. It connects you with up to three advisors in your area. You can then review their qualifications before deciding to work with one.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/IconicBestiary, ©iStock.com/peshkov, ©iStock.com/ShotShare

Javier Simon, CEPF® Javier Simon is a banking, investing and retirement expert for SmartAsset. The personal finance writer's work has been featured in Investopedia, PLANADVISER and iGrad. Javier is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He has a degree in journalism from SUNY Plattsburgh. Javier is passionate about helping others beyond their personal finances. He has volunteered and raised funds for charities including Fight Cancer Together, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Was this content helpful?
Thanks for your input!