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Sometimes you need to send money overseas urgently. This could be because of an unforeseen crisis, a bill that is overdue, or if a loved one overseas has run out of money. Whatever the case may be, if you need to transfer money instantly, there are plenty of options out there, but you will need to do some research to find the best provider for your needs. This helpful guide will take you through all the information you will need to transfer money instantly.

Updated: 22/11/2020
Read time: 12 minutes
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Are instant money transfers really instant?

There are money transfer companies that let you transfer money from one country to another instantly, but usually ‘instant transfers’ refer to transfers that happen within seconds or minutes. While many companies offer instant money transfer services, it does not mean all their transactions will be instant. It means they have the technology and systems to enable instant transfers, but the actual transfer speed depends on a variety of factors – which we will discuss in the coming sections. 

The method by which you’re sending your money is usually the most central factor. In most cases, the fastest way to send money to someone overseas is with a cash transfer. This allows you to send money that will be available for collection as cash almost as soon as you have made the payment. Some companies offer the option of instant transfer to the recipient’s account as well, but this sort of transfer method usually takes longer than cash transfers – hours rather than minutes. If both banks are on a network such as SEPA, instant bank account transfers may be possible and these will at least be considerably faster than regular international bank transfers. 

5 best ways to send money instantly

There are many companies that offer instant money transfer services. Let’s have a quick look at some of the most popular services out there. 

The links below will take you to our comparison form at the top of this page to make sure you are choosing the right provider for your specific transfer needs.

1. WorldRemit

WorldRemit is available in over 150 countries across the world. It is an online service and you can access it via a browser or their dedicated app. WorldRemit lets you fund the transaction using your credit/debit card or bank account. To receive money fast (with instant options also available), the beneficiary can go for cash pickup at an agent location or receive it as mobile money. Fees can range from $3.99-$24.99 depending on the currency, destination, delivery method and the amount.

2. Azimo

Azimo is one of the most trusted money transfer providers internationally, supporting over 200 countries and 60 currencies for more convenient, efficient transfers. Azimo is well known for its low transfer fees, and even offers your first two transfers with fee-free, so there’s a great incentive if you’ve never used their services before. You can pay by debit or credit card or by bank transfer, with the ability to get your money to your recipient within minutes. Fees start from as little as $0.99.

3. XE Money Transfer

XE is a popular money transfer service, particularly if you are sending larger sums of money abroad. XE operates in over 220 countries and supports 139 currencies, so is a good option if you need to transfer money to a lesser well-known currency. XE is capable of letting you send money instantly, with a maximum delay of 2 hours in most cases when paying by debit card or bank transfer (although a few variable factors can affect this). One of the biggest appeals for using XE is that they have no fees for international transfers, instead only adding a markup on the exchange rate.

4. TransferWise

Transferwise is known to offer reliable low-cost money transfers, and the company is well-regarded for being transparent about the costs and revealing the exact fees and transfer times even before you make a transfer. They offer users the ability to make instant transfers on certain currency routes, but not all – so check your route is available for instant transfers before sending funds. Transferring $100 from the US to the UK will cost $2.76. The exact transfer time will depend on the payment method you choose, and cash pickup is not available as a collection option.

5. PaySend

PaySend supports instant money transfers to over 90 countries over the world, with fees as low as £1 for an international transfer. The company is positively reviewed for its excellent and user-friendly online presence, with over 2 million people using the service to send their money abroad safely, securely, and on-time. PaySend displays the fixed fee, exchange rate, and receivable amount before you lock-in your transfer, so you know exactly what fees you will be paying to get your money to its destination. Moreover, PaySend is capable of sending your money within minutes, with instant processing and simple transfer methods for a hassle-free transfer.

These are just some of the providers that offer instant money transfer services. It must be noted that an instant transfer may not be possible on all currency routes and actual transfer times could vary depending on the factors we discussed above.

How to send an instant money transfer

Sending an instant money transfer is quick and easy. You can make the transfer online or pay cash in person at a transfer provider’s agent location. The exact transfer process may differ from one provider to another, but the basic steps remain the same. 

1. Register. Sign up to a provider that supports instant money transfers. You’ll need to provide personal information such as your name and email address, and will often have to provide ID and evidence of your source of funds.

2. Start the transfer process. Login to your transfer provider’s online portal or visit the nearest agent location to arrange your transfer.

3. Give the recipient details. Fill out a form providing all the transaction details such as recipient’s name, address, account details and the currency they will collect the money in. The name you fill in the form must be exactly the same as that on the recipient’s bank account and ID.

4. Fund your transfer. Pay for the transfer using any of the methods supported by your provider.

5. Note the transaction number or the PIN. If the recipient is making a cash collection, they will need to provide this PIN at the agent location. The recipient will also need to provide a valid ID to collect cash.

Your money will arrive with your beneficiary instantly (or in up to a couple of minutes), so they can start using the money as soon as possible.

Sending money instantly with your bank account

For domestic transfers, sending money instantly with your bank account is quick and easy, often available at the click of a few buttons using your online banking app.

For international money transfers, however, it’s not easy to send an instant transfer using your bank. The strict SWIFT verification process banks use for international transfers using means transfers can take between 1 – 5 business days to become available in the recipient’s account, not to mention incurring much higher fees to both you and the person you are sending the money to.

Instant money transfers with your bank account

The good news is that it doesn’t take long to get verified with a money transfer provider, with whom you can simply transfer your funds from your bank account to your third-party account and initiate your transfer.

This way of sending money instantly is much more cost-effective and more likely to result in your recipient receiving the money sooner rather than later.

What factors affect the money transfer speed?

Even if your provider offers instant money transfer services, not all transactions can be instant. If you need money to arrive with your beneficiary instantly, then you can select that option, but every provider will offer a variety of transfer methods with varying speeds.

Here are some of the factors that can affect the transfer speed: 

The countries you are transferring money between

If you are sending money between two countries from and to which money transfers occur frequently, your transaction will be faster. For example, if you are transferring money from the US to the UK, the transaction will usually be very quick – and many providers are able to offer instant transfers. However, less common transfers, such as from countries like Guatemala to the UK will take longer. 

This is why it’s also important to check what countries each provider is well-equipped to send money between. Some providers will specialise more in European international transfers, for example, while others may be able to offer faster transfers between the UK and the US. Comparing your exact money transfer needs will give you a much better idea of the right provider for you.

The chosen payment method

Similarly to the delivery method, the way you pay for your transfer can also affect the time it takes. If you are funding your payment with a bank transfer, for example, this will usually take longer because it will take time for your bank to verify the transaction.

Debit cards tend to offer a faster way to get your money to the provider, but again if you’re looking for speed above all else, the cash is king. If you attend a physical location and pay from your transfer in cash, then the company will be able to verify the transaction and send your fund instantly.

Sending money instantly with WorldRemit

World Remit sends over 130,000 bank deposits worldwide, enabling you to send money to your friends and family’s bank accounts instantly. Other instant delivery methods you can choose from include:

  • Mobile airtime top-ups
  • Cash pickup
  • Mobile money

The chosen delivery method

There are a variety of ways by which your beneficiary can receive the funds you are sending, and the speed of your transfer will depend on which of these you use. Typically, if a provider is offering instant transfers then this is most likely to be in the form of cash pickups – whereby the recipient can collect cash from a designated agent location as soon as you have deposited the funds with the company.

You can also find providers which will enable you to send money instantly to mobile or electronic wallets, but these are less common than the money transfer providers that allow you to send cash to people abroad.

Other commonly used methods include bank account transfer and debit card transfers. These offer the convenience of your money being delivered directly into your recipient’s account, with no need to go to a physical collection point. However, this convenience often results in transfers taking longer, and in additional costs. A bank transfer can take up to 5 working days, with debit card transfers usually taking 1-2 days. 

If you want to send money instantly, you’re generally best served by looking for a prominent provider that can deliver cash to a variety of locations.

The money transfer company you choose 

The actual transfer speed depends a great deal on the transfer company you choose for your transaction. Different providers have different processes for receiving, exchanging and sending money. The speed of transfer will depend on the efficiency of these processes. 

If transfer speed is of pivotal importance to you, then our money transfer comparison tool can help you easily see which providers can offer you instant transfers at the lowest costs.

If you’re new to online money transfers, we’ve put together a list of top 10 money transfer companies to get you started.

Whether you have an existing account with a payment provider

If you already have an active account with a money transfer company that offers instant transfers, you can immediately make a transfer. In case you open a fresh account, the provider will usually take some time to verify your account, so there will be a small delay before you’re able to make your transaction.

How much does it cost to make an instant money transfer? 

Before you decide to make an instant money transfer, you should check out the transfer fees and exchange rate margins being offered by a variety of providers. Most companies in the money transfer space make money by charging a fixed fee and/or a mark-up on exchange rates. The exchange rate can have a large impact on the total cost of transfer, especially with larger amounts. 

Some providers may also charge some additional fee for instant transfers. The fixed fees could range anywhere from $1.99-$24.99 depending on a variety of factors. The exchange rate margin is normally 1-2% when using online money transfer providers, so be sure to choose the company that offers the best rates and charges low fees.

How to speed up your money transfer

Be prepared!

Not being prepared to make an instant money transfer will most definitely cause inconvenient delays. If you can set up and verify your account and have your recipient’s details to hand before you need to make an instant transfer, you’ll have a much higher chance of success.

Regardless of the money transfer provider you choose, there are certain steps you can take to make sure that the money reaches the recipient in the fastest possible time. 

  • Compare your options. Compare different payment providers and choose the one that offers the fastest transfers. This is the most crucial step so spend some time doing your research. 
  • Look for reliability. Make sure the provider you choose offers fast (and preferably round the clock) customer service in case of any problems.
  • Be prepared. Do not wait until the last minute to open an account, or you risk delays waiting to have your account verified. Keep an account ready before you need it. Signing up, providing your details, and waiting for the company to verify your account may take some time.
  • Enter details correctly. Double-check the beneficiary details when you fill out the form, and error made at this step will significantly slow down your transfer.
  • Select the right delivery and payment method. If you are transferring money instantly, it is almost always best to use cash pickup as a delivery option and to fund your transfer either with cash or a debit card. Some providers also offer instant mobile and digital wallet transfers. Bank transfers generally take the longest time, so avoid these.

Can instant transfers be sent to anywhere in the world?

Usually yes, but it depends on the provider you pick. Companies like Western Union and MoneyGram have their agent networks across the world so they enable instant transfers to most locations. However, instant services may be harder to find on less commonly-used transfer routes. It is best to check the exact transfer time with the company before initiating the transaction if time is of the utmost importance to you. 

Are instant money transfers reversible?

Instant money transfers are not reversible so it is important to check all the details carefully before initiating a transfer. The reason for this is that they are processed as soon as you fund the transaction, so there’s no wiggle room for you to stop the payment before it is delivered.

Can I send large amounts of money instantly?

Each money transfer company has a limit on how much you can send instantly. Normally, it is not possible to send very large amounts instantly. For example, Paypal instant transfer has a limit of up to $5,000 per transaction, and this is also the limit you can transfer instantly each week. With PayPal you can transfer up to $15,000 per month for instant transfer to a card, and $25,000 if you’re transferring to a bank account. 

These are just a summary of PayPal’s limits to give an indication that it is hard to send large amounts instantly. Every company will have its own limits set, and it is difficult to find providers who will handle 5-figure sums as instant transfers. 

Be safe with your transfers

Sending large amounts of money isn’t something you want to rush – not least because a mistake that needs to be reversed can delay your transfer by several days.

Take the time you need now to make sure your transfer details are correct and that you are using a reliable, trusted provider.

Summary: how to send money instantly…

Sending money overseas does not necessarily have to be a long and drawn-out process. You can make instant money transfers to most locations around the world, with your beneficiary having access to the funds within minutes at the most. The actual transfer speed will depend on various factors such as how you fund the transfer, the currency used, and your chosen delivery method. 

To get instant transfers, it is usually best to use a debit card or cash to fund the transaction and choose cash pickup as a delivery method. Most companies charge a fixed fee and a margin on the exchange rate for money transfers, and it is common to see additional fees on top of this for instant transfers, so keep an eye on how much your transfer is costing you.

The best way to make sure you can send money quickly and cheaply is to use our money transfer comparison tool, which will allow you to see all the companies that offer instant transfers and select the provider that’s best for you.