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Best Way to Send Money to Friends and Family

One of the most common reasons for sending money online is to make a transfer to friends or family. You could be sending across a small sum to split the bill for a meal out, or paying your share of a deposit on a family vacation. Perhaps you’re sending money to a child on their travels around the world. Or maybe you live and work overseas and are regularly sending money back home to family. In this guide, we’ll be looking at the best way to send money to friends and family, whatever the reason.

Updated: 01/10/2021
Read time: 7 minutes
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In the past, it may have seemed like the only way to securely transfer money to your loved ones was via a bank. Banks are familiar, most of us already have a bank account, and they make sending money both domestically and internationally convenient because our details are already synced up.

However, in the past couple of decades, new and innovative companies have grown in popularity for making money transfers quicker, cheaper, and far more convenient. Below are some of the top ways for sending money to friends and family for less.

What’s the best way to send money to friends and family abroad?

Global remittances are thought to total $508 billion in 2020 – a 7% decline from 2019 – according to the World Bank. The large majority of this sum comes from migrants sending regular payments back home to friends and family, providing vital support for healthcare, education, and other vital living essentials that many families in low to middle-income countries could not otherwise afford.

If you’re sending money to friends or a family member abroad, you have a few different options:

Money transfer operator

Money transfer operators are almost always the best way to securely send money to friends and family internationally.

These companies specialise in international transfers and therefore are able to send money overseas quicker and cheaper than most banks. A few of our top recommended money transfer operators perfect for sending money to friends and family abroad include:

WorldRemit

WorldRemit has a large coverage network, supporting international transfers to over 150 countries in 90 different currencies. 

The company markets itself specifically towards people looking for a simple and secure way to send money back home to friends and family and is particularly popular for its ability to send funds in the form of mobile money and air-time top-up as well as the more traditional bank transfer and cash delivery options. Mobile money and air-time top-ups are particularly popular modes of sending money in lower-income countries in which many families do not have access to a bank account.

Azimo

One of Azimo’s biggest selling points is speed. The company promises to be capable of delivering funds to over 80 countries within the hour – often within minutes – although it supports international transfers to over 200 countries. A great option if you are sending money to more than one family member (such as children travelling in different countries). 

Azimo mostly supports sending from Europe around the world, so you’ll need to make sure the company does support sending from your country. Known for offering competitive exchange rates and a fee-free incentive for your first two transfers, Azimo is a good option for getting your money to friends and family abroad quickly, cheaply, and securely.

Wise, formerly TransferWise

With over 9 million customers worldwide, Wise is a major player in the international transfer space and for good reason. The company supports international transfers to over 50 countries worldwide, although this is often updated.

Wise is well known for its mission to make sending money abroad a more transparent process, with a promise to always be upfront about the costs associated with any transfer. The company offers international transfers at the mid-market rate with a fixed fee structure that is often far more competitive than banks. 

Save money with money transfer operators

One of the biggest advantages of using a money transfer operator for sending money abroad is these companies ability to offer international transfers for lower fees and more competitive exchange rates compared to traditional banks. Any reputable providers will show you up-front what fees you will be charged and how much your recipient will receive on the other end.

What do you need to send money to friends and family abroad with a money transfer operator?

The precise details that you need will often depend on the provider you are using plus what payment/ delivery options you select, but an example of the details you may need to provide include:

  • Your name, address, and contact details
  • A copy of a photo ID, such as your passport or driving license, to verify your identity
  • Your payment details (bank account number and sort/SWIFT code, or card details depending on how you’re paying for your transfer)
  • Your recipient’s name and contact details
  • If sending a bank transfer, your recipient’s bank details
  • The amount you are sending
  • The currency you are converting to

International wire transfer with your bank

Sending money to your friends and family with your bank via an international wire transfer is another option. This means of sending money can certainly be convenient for sending funds, as you already have direct access to your money and only need to provide your recipient’s details to complete a transfer. If you want to know more about sending money to a foreign bank account make sure to read our guide.

However, there are also some major disadvantages to sending money internationally via your bank compared to using a money transfer operator. These downsides include:

  • Banks tend to charge much higher international wire transfer fees
  • Banks also add a higher markup on the exchange rate than money transfer operators (typically around 5 – 6% vs 0.1 – 0.5%)
  • Wire transfers made via the SWIFT network can take around 3 – 5 working days to reach your recipient abroad, and even longer if sending around a weekend or bank holiday. In some cases waiting three days might not be possible.
  • Sending money to your friends or family with your bank relies on your recipient having a bank account to receive the funds on the other end. Money transfer operators provide more accessible options for all, from cash collection to mobile money.
Quick summary: sending money abroad to friends and family

Overall, the best way to send money to friends and family is using a money transfer service such as WorldRemit, Azimo, TransferWise, and PaySend.

Use our comparison engine to find an operator that supports international transfers from your sending country and find the best deal based on cost, speed, payment options, and more.

What’s the best way to send money to friends and family domestically?

Things change slightly when sending money to friends and family in the same country as you. Most money transfer services are available only for international transfers, so you’ll need to consider the other options available to you for domestic transfers. 

These include:

Peer-to-peer sending services

Providing a similar service to money transfer operators, peer-to-peer sending services offer a cheaper (often free) alternative to get your money to friends and family quickly and efficiently, often with extremely user-friendly apps for the ultimate convenience.

A couple of major players offering this service include:

  • PayPal: PayPal is perhaps the best-known service in this list, providing a convenient means of sending money to friends and family with an email address as well as being a popular service for making online purchases. With PayPal, there is no fee to send money to friends and family within the US using your bank account or PayPal balance, though you may be charged if you use your debit or credit card.
  • Venmo: Venmo is only available in the US, and provides a rapid way of sending money to friends and family using their email address, username, or phone number. Venmo is extremely popular with the younger generation in particular and stands out for its ability to send notes and messages to users when sending money.
  • Cash App: CashApp is very similar to the two services above, and can be used to send payments via your smartphone to friends and family for any reason. This app is popular, for example, for splitting bills, sending payments to roommates, paying friends back for a trip etc.
  • Zelle: Zelle provides a free way to send money to friends and family directly from your bank account, and works with any participating bank in the US (most major banks). Most payments made via Zelle are processed instantly.

What’s the advantage of using a peer-to-peer sending service?

The biggest advantages of using a peer-to-peer sending service are that these apps are convenient, free to use and get your money to your friends or family instantly.

Whilst some domestic bank transfers can have fees attached and take a couple of working days, peer-to-peer apps are ideal for sending smaller sums quickly without hassle.

Bank transfer

Again, a bank transfer is another option available to you for sending money to friends and family. Bank transfers can be convenient if you don’t like using a third party to manage your money transfers, and in some cases can be processed on the same day you start the transfer.

Depending on where you are located, a domestic bank transfer may have fees or delays. In the UK, for example, most domestic bank transfers are made via the Faster Payments network, which is free and delivers most transfers to your recipient instantly.

In the US, domestic wire transfers can take a couple of working days, but it’s best to check your bank’s specific policies on this. 

Bottom line

Whether you’re sending a small sum to a friend to cover your share of the bill, or looking for a reliable way to send regular payments back home to family abroad, finding a suitable transfer service to get your money to your recipient quickly and for minimum fees is a priority.

If you’re sending money abroad, we always recommend comparing international money transfer operators to find the best deal based on your specific transfer requirements.

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Yasmin Purnell

Yasmin is the content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. With an English degree from the University of Nottingham and over 5 years’ experience freelancing in the personal finance niche, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers accessible and easy to understand for all. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Yasmin on her yoga mat or planning her next escape to the mountains.

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