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How to Send Money Instantly

Last updated 25th Nov 2022
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A huge USD 5 trillion is transferred around the world electronically every day. We are steadily moving more into a cashless society, where even bill sharing at a restaurant is tapping into digital technology.

The pace of these digital transfers is also speeding up due to new technology. It is now possible to move money around the world faster than before without sacrificing affordability or security.

Are Money Transfers Instant?

Money transfers are becoming almost instantaneous, with transfers taking only a few seconds or minutes.

Instant domestic transfers used to mean paying a fortune in fees, and instant international transfers also took a long time. The new way of moving funds between friends and businesses is now much cheaper and easier. Customers can single out transfer providers that cater to their individual needs, and they will speed up transfers while avoiding high fees.

What Is the Cost of Instant Money Transfers?

While it’s not always the case, you are more likely to find that the fastest methods of depositing and delivery cost more. Bank facilitated transfers, such as wiring (USD 25-35), take only a day, while ACH (less than USD 5) takes up to three working days. Credit card payments to fund a transfer via a remittance company are usually more expensive but also the quickest deposit option.

It is also common among online money transfer providers to offer optional express services for a small fixed (from USD 0.50) or variable (from 0.75%) fee.

Can Instant Transfers Be Sent Anywhere in the World?

Quick international transfers, for sums smaller than USD 10,000, are possible in certain circumstances. Payments within the SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) region, for example, are delivered within minutes. Some remittance companies move funds between frequently used currency pairs, like EUR and USD, almost instantaneously via different transfer methods like mobile money or cash pickup.

In general, though, international money transfers take longer than domestic ones, especially via bank transfers, due to the lengthy fraud prevention process and participation of intermediary banks.

How to Send Money Instantly

Step 1: Register early
Step 2: Choose the right transfer method
Step 3: Double check the details
Step 4: Choose the right time

What Is the Best Way to Send Money Instantly?

There are numerous alternatives to bank transfers for moving funds to friends, family, or for business-related purposes. While they are different in terms of convenience and security from legacy organizations, alternative methods, such as remittance companies or P2P transfer apps, are becoming more popular.

Money Transfer Services

Depending on requirements, money transfer services promise delivery times ranging from only minutes to 5 days. Larger sums of USD 10,000 - 30,000 can take longer due to compliance checks.

Depending on the service required, domestic transfers are usually instantaneous. International transfers, on the other hand, largely depend on the popularity of currencies and the payment/delivery method chosen. A service may move funds between frequently used currencies in minutes but may take 3 days to transfer to so-called exotic currencies. Likewise, credit and debit card payments are usually the quickest methods, while depositing options like cash pickup or mobile money may only take minutes to arrive.

Depending on the chosen transfer method, the sender may submit the recipient’s name, bank details (account number or IBAN), home address, or contact information. For pick-ups, the recipients may need to share a reference code with their beneficiaries.

ProviderTransfer SpeedTransfer FeeXe Money Transfer30 minutesVaries by currencyWestern UnionIn minutes via cash pickupUSD 10-40, 4% above USD 3,000InstaremSame dayVaries

Banks and Challenger Banks

Domestic delivery times from banking institutions will differ depending on the system used. International payments are considered to be the slowest option, with a payment potentially taking up to 5 days.

Services differ regionally; in the US, ACH (automatic house clearance) transfers tend to take up to 3 days, while wire transfers are completed within the same day but cost considerably more. Transfers between accounts from the same bank are typically much quicker to arrive.

The majority of UK banks, on the contrary, use a Faster Payment network that allows near-instant bank transfers to a certain amount set by the individual banks. Transfers in a domestic IBAN system or between different countries using the same currency, like the EU, also tend to be among the quickest.

Bank transfers are secure and convenient, and when terms allow, very fast. The recipient requires the recipient’s banking details as per regional requirements, like sort code or routing number, to complete the transfer either on the go, on the website, by phone, or in person.

Which Bank Transfer Is the Fastest?

Transfer TypeDomestic Transfer SpeedInternational Transfer SpeedACH1-3 daysN/AWire TransferSame day1-5 daysBank Account Transfer1-3 days1-5 days

Mobile Apps and Digital Wallets

Mobile apps and digital wallets are becoming the most popular methods to send money instantly; domestic or international.

Some money transfer companies support sleek, easy-to-navigate, and multifunctional mobile apps with which customers can arrange their transfers while on the go. The speed and costs largely overlap between web services and mobile applications, with the latter usually quicker due to easy access. Note that these services generally exclusively run international transfers. Depending on the services available and the transfer method of choice, senders may need the recipient’s banking information, address or contact details.

Digital wallets, with which users can store their debit or credit cards to fund their payments or use active balances, are typically geared towards small domestic P2P payments. They tend to have a visually appealing and convenient interface and complete the majority of transfers within minutes. Payments between balances are instantaneous, while payments to and from debit cards can also be as quick. Bank transfers, on the other hand, may take up to 3 days. Senders typically only need the username, email address, or phone number of the recipient to send a transfer via digital wallets.

ProviderTransfer SpeedTransfer FeeWorldRemitIn minutes to 2 daysFrom USD 1.99WiseIn minutes to 3 daysFrom USD 0.28 + from 0.41%TransferGoIn minutesFrom USD 1Venmo30 minutes to 3 days1.7% for instant transfersCash AppIn minutes to 3 daysNo fee, 0.5%-1.75% for instant transfersGoogle PayIn minutes to 1 day1.5% or USD 0.31 (whichever is higher)

PayPal

Available in 200 countries using 25 currencies, PayPal transfers are secure, convenient, and can be very fast. Transfers between two PayPal balances are instantaneous, but the overall delivery time depends on how the sender pays for the transfer and how the recipient withdraws the money.

If you choose to link your debit card to your PayPal account, you can move funds with the standard transfer, which takes 1-3 days. If not, the transfers are sent via eCheck and will take 3-5 days to complete. The same terms will apply to withdrawals. PayPal also introduced Instant Transfer with the participation of a number of banks, which support instantaneous transfers between bank accounts and PayPal balances.

It's not possible to send PayPal transfers directly to a bank account unless you link your beneficiary’s debit card or bank account to your PayPal account and withdraw from your balance. In other cases, the recipient needs to have a PayPal account which you can select using their username, email address, or phone number. Note that the registration process takes only a few clicks and is very prompt.

Along with speed and convenience, international PayPal transfers also come with high fees and unfavorable currency conversion rates with an exchange margin of up to 7% — while domestic transfers are free of charge.

Payment MethodFeePayPal balance or bank transfer5% + USD 0.99 — 4.99Credit/debit card5% + USD 0.99 — 4.99Amex Send5% + USD 0.99 — 4.99

What to Consider When Making an Instant Money Transfer?

The speed of a money transfer delivery depends on a variety of factors, including whether it’s a domestic or international transfer, the currencies involved, payment and deposit method, and the chosen service provider.

Currency Pairs in International Transfers

Sending money abroad is a notoriously taxing and long process — today, though, this only applies to traditional transfer methods, including bank transfers or checks.

As the competition grows, online money transfer providers and currency brokers are finding new ways to speed up their process while maintaining a competitive fee structure. The catch is that speedy services are typically limited to frequently used currencies, such as USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, or CAD.

The majority of service providers offer a solid range of countries, some of them, like VertoFX, even specialize in dealing with emerging markets. Yet, due to the lack of integration between banking systems, transfers involving less-traded currencies can take up to 7 days. These currencies include Kazakhstani tenge, Uruguay peso, Armenian dram, or Iraqi dinar.

Domestic Transfers

The transfer times within a region will depend on the system used — some countries like the UK complete domestic transfers in a matter of minutes via a system like Faster Payments or IBAN in European countries.

The banking system in countries like the US may push customers to pay high wire fees for fast transfers. Luckily, there have been alternatives popping up to fill in the gap. P2P transfer apps like Venmo or Zelle have become enormously popular in the US, as they get the job done for a fraction of the cost, making them ideal for smaller domestic transfers.

Money Transfer Services

Money transfer providers like Ria Money Transfer or VertoFX, will offer a range of options to customers regarding delivery times. Bank transfers, the traditional way of moving funds, are typically the slowest. Depending on the region, domestic transfers can take anywhere from only minutes to 3 days. International transfers can take between 1-5 days. The time largely depends on the relationship between the two banks. It’s a quicker process if the originating bank can communicate with the destination bank directly. If there’s a need for intermediary banks to facilitate transactions between two banks, it prolongs the process due to security checks at each stop.

Other money transfer services, from legacy corporations like Western Union to newer players like Wise, tend to offer a range of payment and deposit options that differ on factors like speed and cost. Many of these providers make transfers through their vast banking networks. The sender sends the money to the operator’s local bank account, and the operator then moves the currency equivalent to the beneficiary’s bank account.

Payment & Deposit Methods

Payment methods of transfer providers range from bank transfers and card payments to cash drop-offs and payment apps. Bank transfers usually take the longest to deposit to the provider, although many remittance companies are now embracing a standard 24-hour window. Credit and debit card payments or funding via payment applications like Apple Pay are usually much quicker and are completed within minutes. However, these will carry a higher fee. Customers can opt for a cash drop-off, and if paired with a fast delivery method like cash collection, the transfer can be almost instantaneous depending on local availability.

Bank transfers are one of the most common types of deposit options among service providers, but there has been a rise in alternative methods such as cash collection or mobile money. Bank transfer is one of the slowest forms of delivery. Depending on the availability of the local currency, a cash transfer can be ready for collection within three minutes of transfer. Mobile money received in an electronic wallet can also be almost instantaneous but may take time for the recipient to withdraw the funds.

The Transfer Sum

More often than not, instant transfers are small payments of up to USD 10,000 or 30,000, depending on the bank or service provider. These types of transfers are not flagged by a compliance team, meaning that it's unlikely for institutions to ask the sender to prove the origins of the funds or the purpose of the transfer.

Transfers of larger sums usually require a series of documentation detailing the information above. Even when senders provide all necessary papers, the compliance team of the service provider or respected authorities in the regions involved in the transfer may ask for further proof or hold onto the transfer for further security checks.

Fraud Detection Processes

With international money transfers, moving funds mean going through a series of security checks for each banking system involved in the transfer through the SWIFT system. These checks are required to prevent fraud or money laundering incidents, and they ensure identifying the correct bank accounts. If there are intermediary banks involved, this means a transfer going through up to three different banking procedures, which prolongs the process.

Internationally recognized networks like IBAN or SWIFT allow senders to reverse the payment as long as they contact the service before the recipient has withdrawn the money. When using a transfer service, senders should ensure to check the firm’s policy on cancellations and recalls before sending out any transfers.

Transfer Time and Date

Money transfer services may work 24/7, often for an additional fee or after hours, but banks still work only on weekdays during office hours. National and religious holidays will also affect the opening and closing times. To ensure a speedy delivery, it's crucial to take into account the regional bank holidays and time zones before making the transfer if it involves bank transfers.

How to Speed Up Your Money Transfer?

Amid all these options, customers are free to mix and match services to speed up their transfers as much as possible.

  • Choose the right service: Choose your provider depending on the specifics of your transfer; domestic, international, large, or small sum. Money transfer services with lower caps, rather than currency brokers, tend to have more payment and deposit options with quick transfer times.

  • Look for specific features: While shopping for the fastest money transfer services, look out for features like express delivery for a small fee. The fee is typically very modest and can be variable or fixed. It is important to opt for a small fixed fee for larger transfers and a variable fee for smaller sums.

  • Find the best transfer method: Payment and deposit methods are the main factors affecting the transfer times. Keep in mind that the quicker ways of paying for the transfer usually cost the most — credit card payments, for example, can pose a fee of up to 5% of the spread.

FAQs

What is the quickest way to transfer money?
Can you send different currencies instantly?
Is money instantly withdrawn from the account when making instant transfers?
Can you send money to a debit card instantly without verification?
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Idil Woodall

Idil Woodall

Idil is a writer with interests ranging from arts and politics to history and finance. She spent several years in publishing before becoming a full-time writer, and learning the inner workings of an industry she loved ignited her interest in economics. As an English graduate, she cultivated valuable research and storytelling abilities that she now applies to make complex matters accessible and understandable to many. When she’s not writing, she can be found climbing or watching a movie.