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A 60 second guide to money transfers

By Ana Gonzalez Ribiero

Nowadays, transferring money to friends and relatives is easy. Gone are the days when the only option we had was to mail a check that would take days for the recipient to receive it, and then more time for it to clear. That was ages ago!

Now you can pay your mortgage, electric and telephone bills online or send money instantly to an ailing family member or as a gift to a friend. Want to send money, but not sure which service to use? Here's an overview of some of the most popular types of money transfers that can help you pick the best one for you.


ACH stands for "Automated Check Handling" or "Automated Clearing House." It is an electronic transfer of money done with electronic checks, but instead of going directly from bank to bank as with a wire transfer (explained next), an ACH is processed through a clearing house. The clearing house handles

the bookkeeping, it credits and debits the involved banks and then sends out the requested payment. This entire process can take 1-2 business days.

Wire transfer

A wire transfer is much quicker than an ACH. This type of request authorizes your bank to transfer or "wire" funds to another bank. Wire transfers are usually done for large sums of money because there is a higher bank fee involved for this transaction, whereas ACH related fees are lower.

Through a wire transfer, you can send funds electronically to anywhere in the world that has the capability to complete it. Some banks and credit unions charge a fee based on where the wire transfer is going; whether it is domestic or international; whether it's incoming or outgoing from your bank and based on the amount of the transfer.

Western Union

Transferring money through Western Union could take minutes or up to three days depending on which money transfer option you choose. There are several ways to transfer money through Western Union. You can send it online, in person, by phone or through a prepaid card delivered to the receiver's address.

Funds can be sent to participating Western Union locations including supermarkets, check transfers and convenience stores. You can pay with cash, credit card or a debit card and the funds are received within minutes. Some customers have their funds transferred to high interest savings account so they can get the most out of their funds.


PayPal allows members to send money worldwide. According to the site, signed up members can pay for funds using their account balances, bank accounts, credit cards or promotional financing. When transferring money through Pay Pal, you'll need the recipient's email address or mobile number. Once you input the amount and from which account you are transferring the money, the recipient will get an email or text telling them their cash is ready.

The recipient can withdraw the money by logging in or signing up to Paypal and choosing how they would like the money. They can choose to spend the money online at thousands of stores that accept PayPal, transfer it to their bank (takes 2-3 days), request a check (costs $1.50 and takes about 7 days), or if they have a Pay Pal debit card, they can use that card to access the money you sent. Funds can also be sent via mobile and transferred internationally.

Ana Gonzalez Ribeiro, MBA is a Personal Finance / Business Writer based in NYC.

Disclaimer: Discover is a paid advertiser of this site.
Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the Discover online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards.

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