You have various options for sending money within the United States. The most common way is a wire transfer, which involves moving money from your bank account to that of another person. You can also use one of the money transfer services such as Western Union and Money Gram, which do not require a bank account. Similarly, you do not need a bank account when sending a money order. Finally, PayPal offers instantaneous fund transfer from your computer, but both parties must have a PayPal account.
Wire the money directly into another person's bank account. If both you and the recipient have a valid U.S. checking account, you can simply transfer the money from one account to another. This operation can be completed directly from your computer (if you have online banking set up) or in person at one of your bank's branches. The money will appear in the other person's account during the same day if the request is received before 6 p.m. Both the sender and the recipient will have to pay a fee, however, which is between $12.50 and $25 for the sender, and around $10 for the recipient (as of June 2010).
Use a money transfer service. By employing a company that specializes in money transfers, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, you can send money quickly and conveniently without a bank account. Go to one of your chosen company's many branches and hand the money to the cashier. You will then receive a reference number. The recipient can pick up the money instantly by providing this reference number and a valid ID. If you prefer, you can also send money from your computer by using a credit card, or have the funds deducted from your bank account. Fees vary widely depending on how much you send and what payment method you use.
Mail a money order. If you can afford to wait a few days, get a money order from your local bank or post office and mail it to the recipient's postal address. Money orders are an economical method of sending money. The post office charges $1.10 for any amount up to $500, or $1.50 for amounts between $500 and $1,000 (as of June 2010). The recipient can deposit the money into a bank account, in which case there are no additional fees, or instantly receive cash at a check cashing facility that will charge a fee.
PayPal is convenient and almost instantaneous, but it requires that both the sender and the recipient have PayPal accounts. This electronic payment system is connected to your bank account, and available funds can either be deposited to your bank account or used for online payments with any merchant that accepts PayPal. Expenses can range between 0 to 3.4 percent when sending money through PayPal, depending on the withdrawal method.
Hunkar Ozyasar is the former high-yield bond strategist for Deutsche Bank. He has been quoted in publications including "Financial Times" and the "Wall Street Journal." His book, "When Time Management Fails," is published in 12 countries while Ozyasar’s finance articles are featured on Nikkei, Japan’s premier financial news service. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg Graduate School.