Sending Money Online Instantly - Is it Possible?

If you have an urgent payment to make - either at home or overseas, you’ll be looking for a smart way to send money online instantly. This guide covers the options and a few providers for both local and international transfers which can be done instantly - or at least in minutes or hours rather than days.

Can you send money online instantly?

There are ways that you can send money online in a hurry. However, whether or not they’ll work for you depend on a few factors:

  • Are you sending locally or internationally?
  • Do you want your payment to go to a bank account, mobile money account, or be collected in cash?
  • Would you prefer to use your bank or a third party provider?

In broad terms, sending local payments is typically faster than sending money across borders. You’ll be able to choose a US based service to get your payment to where it needs to be quick - your bank may even offer instant transfers locally, at least if your recipient also has an account with them.

To get an international payment to a recipient quickly you may want to send it for cash collection at an agent near them. That’s possible but can come with high fees. Some international transfer services have extremely fast transfer times, either to get a payment to a mobile money account or bank account. These may also be worth checking out if your recipient can wait a few hours.

For many instant payments - and certainly those headed overseas - your best chance of getting your money sent instantly might be to use a third party provider. Banks tend to have more complex processes which can slow down payments - ACH transfers for example are collected in batches before being processed and sent on. We’ll cover a few options for both local and international third party payment providers, later.

Are instant transfers really instant?

Pretty much all providers - even those whose entire business model is based on being able to offer instant transfers - will add a note in the small print that says things sometimes go wrong. There are a few reasons that might happen. Maybe you’ve given the recipient’s details incorrectly. Perhaps the recipient doesn’t yet have an account with your chosen payment provider, and they need to get verified to collect their payment. Or, your bank or transfer service might need to check details or get documents from you to proceed.

If you’re sending money internationally there are even more reasons that an instant payment might get held up. 

Sending cash for collecting overseas? Check the opening hours of the agent where your recipient will get their money. You’ll also want to check there are no local holidays which can slow progress. And if you’re sending money direct from one bank account to another, remember you may need to hit fixed cut off times to get a guaranteed service - out of hours, weekend and holiday payments are harder to speed along. 

Another important factor here is how you pay for your transfer. Presenting cash to an agent means they can immediately verify the payment and get it on the way. Using a credit or debit card is also fairly instant

Using a bank transfer to cover the cost of your third party payment may slow it down, as the third party provider needs to wait for your own bank to send them the money before they can transfer it to your recipient.

Are instant money transfers more expensive?

This very much depends on the payment you’re making. Local transfers using online services are often free and fast - at least for people who already have accounts. International payments tend to be more expensive if you want to get the money to where it’s going as fast as possible. Read on for more on the options for sending money overseas instantly.

Are there any ways to send money online instantly?

There are ways to send money online instantly - but some will involve you paying a higher fee compared to slower services. 

It makes a big difference whether you’re sending money domestically or internationally. 

For domestic payments you can sign up to a service like PayPal or Venmo to send payments pretty much right away. However, these only work when your recipient has an account already. If they don’t have PayPal yet, for example, they’ll get an email saying that there’s money there for them - and will need to follow a link to sign up and create an account.

If you’re sending money internationally you can usually access instant payments by sending it cash for collection. Other options for international payments include selecting a third party service which has fast payments overall, or for your specific currency route. Many providers give you an estimated arrival time for your transfer before you confirm it - so by checking out a few you might get lucky.

What's the fastest way to transfer money internationally?

Let’s dive into the options for sending money internationally fast. You could try to arrange a payment with your bank, or choose a third party provider which might have a better range of payment options. International payment specialists often let you send money to a bank account, mobile money account or in cash. 

Sending to a mobile money account or for cash collection can be fairly fast - and depending on the currency route, specialists can often move payments direct to a bank account far quicker than a regular bank, too.

Can you send money instantly with a bank?

Most banks are simply not set up to move money abroad instantly. They’re handling huge volumes of diverse transaction types, so have processes set up to manage that complexity - rather than offering a niche instant transfer service.

Check with your bank whether instant transfers are available. It’s unusual, but on transfers using major currency routes, especially to another account held by the same organization, it may be worth a try. Don’t forget to take a look at the costs here - you may find you pay a premium fee for faster processing, and the exchange rate might not be the best out there.

Sending money with an international money transfer provider

The best way to send money internationally will depend on where you’re sending to, and the specific service you need. Check out a few providers to find the right one for you. Here are some to start you off:

Best exchange rates when sending large sums of money

Wise

Wise is a specialist in international transfers that are deposited directly in your recipient’s account. When you send a payment with Wise you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate with no markups, and a low transparent fee - you’ll also be able to see the estimated delivery time when you model your payment. Check the different delivery times based on how you fund the transfer - on popular routes payments can arrive in seconds, or may take up to 1 day.

send large amount of money overseas instantly

Remitly

With Remitly you can send money to a bank account, a mobile money account, for cash collection or - in some countries - for home delivery. How long this takes depends a lot on the service you choose. Sending cash for collection can be instant - and mobile money is fast too, if your recipient has an account. Payments for home delivery typically take a day or two, and transfers to a bank account vary. Some bank transfers, when sent with the Express service, can be very fast - from a few minutes to a few hours. With the cheaper Economy service it’ll take up to 5 business days.

send large amount of money into a bank account

OFX

As a currency specialist, OFX has services for individual and business customers. Coverage is good, and this might be an option if your recipient can wait a while for their payment. Transfers are only available into your recipient’s bank account, which means it may take a day or two for your money to reach OFX and then a further day or two for the payment to arrive in your recipient’s account

Safest international money transfer company for large amount

Currency Fair

Send international transfers with CurrencyFair which will land in your recipient’s bank account. Payment’s aren’t instant, but depending on the currency and country you’re sending to, can arrive in 24 hours. 

Best exchange rates when sending large sums of money

TorFX

Sign up to a TorFX account to get access to a range of currency services including convenient international transfers. Payments are unlikely to be instant but can arrive the same working day - or within up to 2 business days for exotic currencies.

Safest international money transfer company for large amount

Western Union

You can set up a payment through Western Union online, through their app, or in person at an agent location. There are a broad range of services to choose from, all of which come with different fees and exchange rates. To have a payment arrive quickly you can choose the Money in Minutes service and your recipient can collect their funds at an agent local to them. Mobile money transfers are also usually fast. Sending money to a bank account will take several days - although this usually also has the lowest fee.

PayPal

PayPal can be used to send and receive payments to friends and family - as well as doing your online shopping. Whether or not a payment through PayPal is instant depends on a few factors. If you’re paying with a credit or debit card - or using your PayPal balance, it should be processed quickly, and arrive in your recipient’s account. However, if you’re funding it from a bank account this can take several days. Your payment may also be delayed if your recipient doesn’t have a PayPal account yet. Once they’ve opened an account they can choose to withdraw their funds to a linked bank account - but again, this may take a few days

Sending money instantly online is possible - but does depend on a few factors. Choosing a third party service - for both local and international transfers - might be your best bet. But comparing a range of options for your specific needs is the only sure way to know which will work for you. Use this guide as a starting point and check out the services which appeal in more detail.

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By Ileana Ionescu Updated September 7th, 2021