How to send money to someone without a bank account

It’s a myth that you need a checking account to send money.



Elissa Suh

Elissa Suh

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa Suh is a senior editor of estate planning at Policygenius in New York City. She has researched and written extensively about wills, trusts, and personal finance since 2019, with an eye towards making difficult (and at times gloomy) topics easy to understand for readers. Her articles and data stories has been cited by the likes of MarketWatch, CNBC, PBS, Inverse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more.

Published June 4, 2019|4 min read

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If you’re looking to transfer money between banks, you can read our guide here.

But if your landlord doesn’t have a checking account and you don’t want to pay in cash, or you don’t have a bank account and need to pay back a friend who lives in a different state, continue reading to learn about how you can send money.

In this article:

How to transfer money

There are lots of ways to transfer money through banks, but not having an account at one doesn’t limit your options. Similarly, if you want to send money to someone else who doesn’t have a bank account, there are traditional methods, like money orders, as well as a slew of new internet-based payment services that have you covered.

And if you decide you want to use a bank to send money after all, read out guide to what you need to open a bank account.

Get a money order

A money order is printed certificate for a set amount of money issued to a specific person. It’s a convenient way to send money without a bank account — in fact, neither you nor the recipient needs a bank account for a money order.

To buy one, you’ll pay for a specified amount of money, plus a small fee. Since you’re paying up front, the funds are guaranteed to be available for your recipient. Unlike a personal check, a money order cannot bounce.

You will also need a photo ID, and the details about who is receiving the payment, including their name, phone number, and address. You track the status of the money order with your receipt, which will also provide you instructions on what to do if you think your money order has been lost or stolen.

Where to get a money order:

  • Bank or credit union

  • Post office

  • Western Union

  • Some big box stores, like Walmart and Kmart

  • Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, Circle K, Super Stop, ShopRite, Speedway, Acme, and Kwik Trip

  • Grocery stores, such as Publix, Kroger, Meijer, Safeway, Hy-Vee, Giant Eagle, and Food Lion

Not every location that sells the money order can cash them. But if they do, it’s the best place to do so, since it will cut down on any extra fees. Transfer limits and fees vary by institution. Money order limits are usually capped around $1000 while fees can cost a few dollars.

Money order fraud

Money orders are more secure than checks since no bank account numbers are involved. However money orders can easily be written over and counterfeiting does occur, so make sure the money order is not fake if you the sender is not a trusted source.

Prepaid debit cards

If you don’t have a bank account, you can use a prepaid card to send money. Prepaid cards don’t require credit checks or checking accounts, and some issuers will let you load the card using cash. You also typically have the ability to send and receive money through card-to-card transfers.

In the event that whomever you’re paying doesn’t have a checking account or prepaid card, you might be able to write them a check.

Some prepaid cards even come with check writing, so you can make one out to your recipient.

A prepaid debit card will be useful for the other methods of money-transfer that we’ll discuss next, so getting one might be a good place to start.

Use a peer-to-peer payment service

Internet-based peer-to-peer (P2P) payment services offer a few ways for you to send money with the ease of your computer or smartphone. You can load money onto the account with at least one of the following: bank account, prepaid card, or credit card. Alternatively, someone else with a bank account can also put money into your account, and you can use those funds, too. With the following methods, your recipient can still get the money without being tied to a bank.


PayPal remains a popular and trusted method of sending money through the internet. You only need the recipient’s email address. Once they receive the funds, Paypal can send them a check in the mail for a nominal fee if they don’t have a linked bank account on file.


The social network based payment app Venmo also lets users send money to each other. The only requirements are that you’re located in the U.S. and have a mobile phone number. While you will need at least a prepaid card (or funds already from someone else) to send a payment to a friend, Venmo can issue them a prepaid Mastercard with their funds if they so choose.

Cash App

Developed by credit card processing company Square, Cash App enables mobile payment transfers between its users. You will need a debit card (prepaid cards are not accepted) to send money, but your recipient can get the money on a free reloadable debit card with ATM access.