How Do I Send Money to Someone Without a Bank Account?


Sending money from one bank account to another is simple, but what do you do if your intended recipient doesn’t have a bank account? Over 14 million adults in the U.S. don’t have a bank account, which means a significant proportion of the population relies on alternative methods to transfer funds. 


Known as ‘unbanked’ or ‘underbanked’, these 14 million people may have access to alternative accounts, but a lack of a bank account prevents straightforward transactions. Fortunately, there are other options available. If you want to know how to send money to someone without a bank account, check out the alternative methods you could use now:


1. Pre-Paid Gift Cards

Most people assume you need to have a credit or debit account if you want to pay for something by card, but this isn’t the case. You can purchase a gift card with a pre-set amount or have a card loaded with the amount of your choice. While most gift cards are linked to a particular store or brand, a pre-paid gift card from Visa or another major payment network gives recipients the option to use their card in a variety of ways. Almost every merchant that accepts cards will allow you to make transactions via the major payment networks, so a pre-paid gift card can be used to purchase almost any product or service.



What’s more, pre-paid gift cards give people the flexibility to make purchases online too. As well as being accepted by stores, hotels, and leisure venues all over the world, Visa and Mastercard are used for the vast majority of online transactions too.


This means that sending a pre-paid gift card to someone is one of the most effective ways of transferring money to someone that has no bank account. If you live close by, it’s always best to deliver a pre-paid gift card in person, as this reduces the risk of it getting lost or stolen. However, they can be sent in the mail too. If you do want to send a pre-paid gift card in the mail, it’s always advisable to send it via tracked or recorded delivery. Furthermore, if the provider offers an option to dispatch the card straight to the recipient’s address, this can be safer than sending it yourself.


In addition to this, pre-paid gift cards can also be sent online. This reduces the risk associated with sending them through the mail and also means that you can send funds to people more quickly. If the recipient is located in another state or on the other side of the world, for example, an online gift card can be sent digitally and received within seconds. Although they’ll only be able to use the information to make online transactions, the funds can be accessed swiftly and securely.


2. Money transfer agents

Often used to facilitate overseas transactions, a money transfer agent essentially acts as an intermediary between you and the recipient. Every money agent has their own procedures but, generally, you simply need to transfer the funds to them, pay the relevant fee or commission, and the recipient can collect the cash from them. To reduce the risk of fraud, many money transfer agents issue you with a PIN when you transfer money to them. An individual who attempts to collect the funds will then be asked for the number before the cash is released to them so that the agent can be sure that they are the intended recipient.


Although using a money transfer agent can sound risky if you’ve never done it before, it’s actually a widely used method of transferring funds. Major money transfers agencies transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars every day and are used by millions of people worldwide. Similarly, the largest money transfer firms have over 100,000 pick-up points around the globe, so you can send funds to almost any country in the world when you’re using this type of transfer method.


If you do plan to use a money transfer agent to send funds, you’ll want to ensure that they’re reputable. A simple search online will tell you who the biggest providers are and how they’re regulated, so this will give you some idea of which ones are the most reliable.


In addition, you’ll want to confirm that the recipient can access a pick-up point relatively easily so that they don’t have any problems collecting the cash. Another key factor in deciding which money transfer agent to use is the method in which you can deposit funds to then. Some encourage bank transfers or debit card payments while others also offer cash deposits, for example. Depending on your own financial facilities, you may prefer one method over another.


The final point regarding money transfer agents is the costs involved in making a transaction. In most cases, the fees for sending funds are relatively low, which is why it’s such a popular way of transferring funds to people without bank accounts. However, do confirm the cost involved before you begin a transfer so you can determine whether it’s the best option for you.


3. Sending check, cash, or money orders in the mail

If you’re looking for a simple and straightforward way to send money to someone who doesn’t have a bank account, you can also simply write a check, or send cash or a money order in the mail.  Although many people assume that it’s illegal to send cash via the U.S. Postal Service, you are actually permitted to do so. However, there are limits as to how much cash can be sent and how much currency can be covered by postal insurance.


Sending a check is easy and fast, as you already have access to your checkbook, but consider how the recipient would need to cash the check.  Without a bank account, they often must pay expensive fees at a check cashing facility or at another bank.


Despite being legal, sending cash in the mail isn’t usually advisable. The risk of it being lost, damaged, or diverted means that your cash could end up in someone else’s hands and you’ll have very little recourse.



If you want a simple way to transfer funds to someone without a bank account, sending a money order may be a safer option. These can be purchased at any Post Office, in a range of denominations. Typically, a money order costs $1.25 for amounts from $0.01 to $5.00 and


$1.75 for money orders between $500.01 and $1,000, so they’re an inexpensive way to transfer money.


Once the recipient has the money order in their hands, they can take it to a Post Office and obtain cash for the value of the order. Although they will need to present photographic I.D. to do this, they aren’t required to have banking facilities of any kind.  


When you purchase a money order, you’ll be given a receipt and it’s important to keep hold of it. In the unlikely event that the order goes astray in the postal system, the information on your receipt can enable Post Office staff to track its movements. If you plan on sending a money order to someone through the mail, do ask Post Office staff the best mail service to use.


A next-day delivery service will enable you to send funds more quickly, for example, and more offer increased insurance too. Alternatively, a ‘signed-for’ delivery can increase security when sending anything in the post and will give you peace of mind that the money order has reached the recipient safely.


4. Use POP Money

Here at Prairie Community Bank, we have a peer-to-peer payment system called POP Money that you can use if you have a Prairie bank account.  The recipient need not have a bank account.  It’s an increasingly-popular option for payments to friends and family that do have a bank account as well.


Choosing the Right Way to Make Money Transfers

As you can see, you don’t have to have a bank account in order to be able to receive funds from someone. Now you know how to send money to someone without a bank account, you’ll be able to choose which method is the easiest and most convenient option for you. With a combination of online and offline options, most people don’t have any trouble transferring money to someone who isn’t in possession of a formal bank account.


Despite this, making money transfers via a bank account remains one of the simplest ways to send funds. In addition to this, the increased security associated with bank transfers makes them the first-choice method of transferring funds for many people. What’s more, most bank transfers can be completed in seconds, so you can send and receive money swiftly if both parties have access to bank accounts.


If you’re one of the 14 million American adults who doesn’t have a bank account, you may want to explore the possibility of opening one. At Prairie Community Bank, we’re always happy to welcome new customers and our team will be on hand to discuss the requirements for opening an account with us.


Whether you’ve never had a bank account before or bad credit has left you without access to banking facilities, there are numerous options available to you. To learn more, call any of our convenient locations today.