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How To Transfer Money Within the USA

Whether you’re looking to send a small sum to a friend to cover the cost of a meal you shared last night, or are looking to send some birthday cash to a loved one on the other side of the country, or something else entirely, transfering money within the USA is easier than ever.

Updated: 01/10/2021
Read time: 6 minutes
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In the modern world we live in, you’re more likely to find yourself overwhelmed with options to send money domestically rather than limited. From more traditional methods that have been around for years such as money orders, to the new and innovative apps that make sending money possible with just an email address, in this guide we’ve covered some of the most efficient, cost-effective ways to transfer money within the USA.

Quick summary

Before diving into our breakdown of the best ways to transfer money domestically within the US, let’s cover a few key points to keep in mind:

  • While international transfers almost always have transfer fees and other charges involved, you are much more likely to find a way to send your money domestically for free.
  • For sending money to friends and family instantly, the newer apps on the market such as Venmo and Zelle are a fantastic option.
  • It’s still possible to send cash across the US if you need to – it’s worth bearing in mind that this method will often have a slower transfer time than digital alternatives, however.

How to transfer money within the US:

Bank transfer

Using your bank to transfer your money within the US is a popular and convenient option, although it’s worth bearing in mind that this convenience can come at a higher cost. Your two main options when transferring money with your bank are:

Moving money within the same bank

You might be moving money within the same bank to someone else, or you might be moving money to another account that you own. Either way, transferring money within the same bank should be a straightforward and quick process as the transfer will be initiated within the bank’s own network.

Moving money to a different bank

Moving money to a different bank within the US is still a fairly straightforward process, it may just take a little more time as the transfer will be initiated via external networks – usually ACH (Automated Clearing House) or the SWIFT network. 

To transfer money via bank transfer, you’ll need to have some details for your recipient to hand. These include their full name as it appears on their account, their bank account number, routing number, and the name and address of their bank.

Pros and Cons of transferring money with your bank:

Pros
Convenient as you only need to enter your recipient’s bank details
A trusted method for many people
Depending on your bank and transfer, your transfer should be completed within 24 hours
Cons
You may be charged a transfer fee
Transfer may not be instant

Peer-to-peer services

Domestic peer to peer services are an increasingly popular way of sending money. This is because they allow for free transfers to friends and family, can be processed instantly, and require far less details than a bank transfer provided both parties have an account with the service they are using and have already synced up their bank information.

Most peer-to-peer service providers are free to sign up to and use, and you can either sync up your bank account to have funds deposited straight into your account, or you can use a mobile wallet to send and receive funds. This services are popular with the younger generations in particular as rather than needing bank details to send money, you simply need your recipient’s email address, phone number, or username. 

Popular peer-to-peer services for transferring money within the USA include:

PayPal: Founded in 1998, PayPal is one of the oldest and most well-known services for sending money to friends and family both domestically and internationally, as well as being an extremely popular payment method for online purchases and subscriptions. To send money within the USA, you simply need your recipient’s email address. 

Venmo: Venmo has been operating since 2009, and is actually owned by PayPal. With over 60 million users in the US, this app is extremely popular for sending and receiving money to friends and family for splitting the bill, holiday costs etc. An appealing feature of this app is that it allows users to add a note along with the payment.

Zelle: Zelle was developed by more than 30 major US banks, moving money directly from one account to another provided both banks are compatible with the service (most major US banks are). You simply need the email address or phone number of the person you are sending money to, and transfers are free and completed quickly. 

Cash App: Another user-friendly app that makes sending money to friends and family much easier, Cash App simply requires a phone number, username (also known as a $cashtag), or for users to can their recipients QR code to send money – ideal for friends splitting a bill at a restaurant, for example. Cash App describes itself as the ‘safe, fast, and fee’ mobile banking app.

Pros and Cons of using a peer-to-peer sending app:

Pros
Transfers are normally free to make
Your recipient should receive the funds instantly
User-friendly apps make sending money extremely easy
You don’t need the banking details of your recipient
Cons
Most of these apps aren’t suitable for international transfers
Both parties will usually need the app to be able to use the service
Several of these apps are US only

Money transfer service

Unfortunately, most money transfer services are only suitable for international transfers, rather money within the US. However, there are some services that you can use to transfer money domestically – particularly if you are looking to send cash to someone else.

A few money transfer services that may be able to facilitate this include:

  • Western Union
  • MoneyGram 
  • Ria Money Transfer

These companies have hundreds of agent locations across the US, so you can make a cash payment and arrange for your recipient to pick up the cash at an agent location near them.

Pros and Cons of using a money transfer service:

Pros
A good method for sending cash within the USA
There are hundreds of agent locations across the country making this an accessible way to send money
Cons
You may incur more expensive transfer fees to send cash domestically with one of these services
Most specialist money transfer providers are geared towards international transfers

Money Order 

Another option is to send a money order. You can get a money order at any Post Office location – often via the US Postal Service, but also at grocery stores and convenience stores. Money orders can be paid for via cash, debit card, or traveller’s check, sending up to $1,000 in a single order.

Although a convenient way of sending money around the US and considered a safe and secure sending method, money orders are fairly outdated compared to more modern services allowing users to send money instantly via an app. 

Pros and Cons of transferring money within the USA via money order:

Pros
Considered a safe and secure way of sending money
Widely available from any Post Office location across the US
Suitable for people who prefer to complete a transaction in-person rather than online
Cons
Can often mean long delays between your recipient receiving the funds
A fairly outdated method of sending money transfers
There is a capped sending limit

Bottom line

Transferring money within the USA is arguably easier and more efficient than ever. Whether you’d prefer to organise your transfer at home from your smartphone, or prefer to visit a specific location to set up your transfer, there are a wide variety of options still available to you.

Our best advice is to compare your options and stay informed of the newer ways to transfer money domestically, as you may find a more cost-effective and faster way to get your money to your recipient.

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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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