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Send money online instantly

Sometimes you need to send money overseas urgently: it could be an unforeseen crisis, to pay a bill that is overdue, or for a loved one who is overseas and needs help. Whatever the case may be, if you need to transfer money instantly, there are plenty of options out there, but you will need to find the best provider for your needs. This helpful guide will take you through all the information you need to send money online, and fast.

Updated: 24/03/2021
Read time: 9 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 an operation executed in minutes. While many companies offer instant money transfer services, it does not mean all their transactions will be instant. It means they have access to the technology and systems required to initiate instant transfers, but the actual transfer speed of each unique remittance will depend on a variety of factors.

In most cases, the fastest way to send money to someone overseas is with a cash transfer. This allows you to send money online that will be available for collection, in 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 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. 

How to send an instant money transfer

Finding the best way to send money via an instant money transfer is quick and easy. You can send money online or pay cash to an agent at a service provider’s location. The exact transfer process will 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: Log in to your transfer provider’s online portal or visit the nearest agent location to arrange your transfer in person.

3. Give the recipient details: Provide all the transaction details such as recipient’s name, address, account details and the currency they will collect the money in. The name you include at this stage 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 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 within a few minutes) and they will be able to access the money as soon as possible.

Sending money instantly with your bank account

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

For international money transfers, however, it is not as easy to send an instant transfer using your bank. The strict SWIFT verification process employed by banks mean funds can take between 1 – 5 business days to reflect in the recipient’s account. Not to mention the associated fees, which will be high for 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 the funds from your bank account to the third-party account, before finalising 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, bear in mind every provider offers a number 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 with popular transfer routes, your transaction will likely 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 for this reason. However, less common transfers, for example Guatemala to the UK, will take longer.

This is why it’s also important to check the countries your chosen provider is well-equipped to send money between. Some providers will specialise in European international transfers, while others may offer faster transfers between the UK and the US. Identifying your specific 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 to arrive. If you are funding your payment with a bank transfer, for example, this will usually take longer because your bank will need to verify the transaction.

Debit cards tend to present a faster way to get your money to the provider but, again, if you’re looking for speed above all else, then cash is king. If you are able to visit a physical location and pay for your transfer in cash, then the money transfer agent is able to verify the transaction immediately and send your fund right away.

Sending money instantly with WorldRemit

WorldRemit sends over 130,000 bank deposits worldwide, enabling you to send money to friends and family instantly. Other instant delivery methods you can choose from include:

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

Receiving the money transfer

There are a variety of ways your beneficiary can receive the funds you send them, and the speed of your transfer will depend on which of these you use. Typically, if a provider is offering instant transfers, this is most likely to be in the form of cash pickups. A cash pickup sees the recipient collect cash from a designated agent location as soon as you have deposited the funds on the other end.

You may also find providers who will enable you to send money instantly to mobile or e-wallets, but these are less common than the money transfer providers that allow you to send cash overseas.

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

If you want to send money instantly, your best bet is looking for a leading money transfer provider that can deliver cash to a variety of locations.

The money transfer company you choose 

The actual speed of your transfer depends a great deal on the transfer company you choose to go for. Providers operate differently in terms of receiving, exchanging and sending money. The speed of transfer will depend on the efficiency of these processes. 

If speed is crucial for your particular transfer, then our money transfer comparison tool can help you work out which providers offer 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.

If 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. When setting up a brand new account, it will usually take time for the company to verify your account. This may cause a small delay to your transaction. When signed up to a provider, having a money transfer app installed on your mobile device will help speed up the process of any transfer made.

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

Before you decide to send money instantly, you should first check out the different types of transfer fees and exchange rate margins on offer. Most companies in the money transfer space make their profit from charging a fixed fee or a mark-up on exchange rates. The exchange rate can have a large impact on the total cost of a transfer, especially larger amounts. 

Some providers may also charge an additional fee for instant transfers. These fixed fees could range anywhere between $1.99 – $24.99 and depend 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 offering the best rates and charging the lowest 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 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 anywhere in the world?

Generally speaking, yes, but it depends on the provider. Companies like Western Union and MoneyGram have global agent networks which employ instant transfers at almost every location. 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.

Are instant money transfers reversible?

Instant money transfers are not reversible so it is important to check every detail carefully before sending any money. The reason for this is that they are processed as soon as you make the payment, meaning there is no opportunity 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 can be sent instantly. Normally, sending large amounts instantly is not possible. For example, PayPal instant transfers have a limit of $5,000 per transaction, and this is also the limit for instant transfers per 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 illustrate the type of obstacles which can be encountered when moving large amounts instantly. Every company will set its own limits and it is difficult to find providers who will handle a 5 figure sum as an instant transfer. 

Be safe with your transfers

Sending large amounts of money isn’t something you want to rush, not least because reversing a mistake can delay your transfer by several days.

Take the time to ensure 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-drawn-out process. You can make instant money transfers to most locations around the world, with your beneficiary often having access to the funds within minutes. The actual transfer speed depends 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 fund the transaction with a debit card or cash, choosing cash pickup as a delivery method. Most companies charge a fixed fee and 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 is to use our money transfer comparison tool which will allow you to see all the companies that offer instant transfers before selecting the provider that’s best for you.