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Banking

How to Get a Debit Card

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Debit cards are a must-have for many consumers today. They’re more widely accepted than checks, safer than carrying around large sums of cash and, unlike credit cards, don’t land you in debt (unless you overdraft).

Luckily, getting a debit card with a checking account, prepaid debit card or even a savings account can be simple. This step-by-step guide on how to get a debit card covers the different types of accounts and how you can get one.

Decide what kind of account you need

There are many ways to get a debit card. The best option for you will depend on your financial situation and goals.

  • Checking account: This is a good way to safely store money you plan to use in the near future. A checking account from a bank almost always comes with one of these cards that gives you easy access to those funds. Some banks offer a bonus for opening a checking account, and there are also ones that earn rewards. If you’re after bonuses and rewards, keep in mind that these accounts often come with higher fees. Your local credit union is also a great option for a checking account — and debit card — with minimal fees. Plus, it’s smart to build a relationship with a credit union as you might want to use it for other financial needs in the future, such as a low-interest credit card, personal loan or mortgage.
  • Savings account: Some savings accounts and money market accounts will give you a debit or ATM card that allows you to make purchases and withdrawals using your savings. However, this option isn’t ideal for most people since Federal Reserve Regulation D limits savings accounts to six transactions per month. Exceeding that limit could result in fees or your account being closed.
  • Online bank account: Online banks operate without brick-and-mortar locations. Because they have fewer overhead costs, high-yield online checking accounts often have higher APYs and lower fees than traditional banks.
  • Prepaid debit card: It is possible for a financial institution to reject you for a checking account, usually because you have outstanding debt or banking fees from a prior account. Prepaid debit cards don’t require a bank account, and you can load money directly on the card with cash.
  • Debit card for teens: If you’re looking to get a debit card for your teen, look into debit cards and checking accounts specifically geared toward teens and students, which tend to come with lower fees and may not allow overdrafts.

Step-by-step guide on how to get a debit card

Now that you know what you want, follow these steps to open an account and get a debit card.

  • Research account features: Read up on account fees and features so you can choose the best one for you. Look for low-fee or fee-free checking accounts with low minimum balance requirements. Also seek out convenient features, such as mobile banking and online bill pay.
  • Gather necessary documents: If you’re opening a bank account, you’ll likely need to provide two forms of identification. These can include a passport, driver’s license, state identification card, birth certificate or Social Security card. Some banks will allow you to provide one form of identification and a bill addressed to you.
  • Bring funds to deposit: Most banks will require a minimum opening deposit to open an account, which tends to range from $25 to $100. This money goes into your account, and you can use it immediately.
  • Open an account: You’ll need to go to the bank or credit union to open an account in most cases. However, online checking accounts may allow you to open one through the bank’s website.
  • Request a debit card and load it with funds: Some accounts automatically come with a card, while others will require that you request it. You’ll also want to fund your account, which can usually be done with cash or check, or through another bank account.
  • Activate your debit card: Once you receive your card, you’ll be asked to activate it and set a PIN so that it can be used at an ATM. Make sure to do this immediately. After that, your card is ready to use.

How to get a prepaid debit card

Unlike a regular debit card, a prepaid debit card isn’t linked to a bank account. It’s useful for people who have difficulty getting approved for a bank account. They usually can’t be overdrawn, making them a good option if you’re prone to this.

You can purchase and reload prepaid debit cards at many grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores using cash or check — and sometimes direct deposit. Many come with activation, monthly, ATM and deposit fees, but the best prepaid debit cards minimize those. You can even find a few prepaid debit cards that offer rewards.

Things to remember when you have a debit card

While these cards are secure and convenient, they can also rack up fees if you aren’t careful. Pay close attention to ATM fees, which can be charged by both your card issuer and the ATM owner. Most debit cards come with a network of ATMs you can use fee-free, so stick to those. Overdraft fees can also add up quickly if you don’t pay attention to your balance. To avoid these altogether, ask your bank to set up your account so that transactions that would overdraw your account are denied.

Fraud is always a threat with debit cards, from data breaches at places you’ve shopped to ATM skimmers, who use hidden devices to skim your card information from an ATM you’ve used. With credit cards, you’re only liable for up to $50 of fraudulent charges, but with debit cards you can be held liable for $500 or more.

Keep your card information safe by visiting easily visible ATMs in high traffic areas and always covering your hand while you enter your PIN. Keep your account information and PIN private, and avoid disclosing it over the phone or through email. If you shop online, don’t make purchases while connected to public Wi-Fi.

What is a rewards debit card?

Rewards debit cards offer points or cash back in exchange for every dollar you spend. The cashback cards typically deposit your earnings directly in your account, while the points-earning cards offer points that can be exchanged for travel, merchandise and more. These types of debit cards can be tempting, but they often come with annual or monthly fees that can outweigh the rewards you earn.

As with anything, the key to getting a debit card successfully is doing your research beforehand and selecting the best option for your needs. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be on your way to faster, more secure payments in no time.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Elizabeth Aldrich
Elizabeth Aldrich |

Elizabeth Aldrich is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Elizabeth here

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Banking

How to Send Money to Mexico

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

If you have family or friends in Mexico, you’ll find that the process of sending them money from the United States is easier and cheaper than ever before. There is a plethora of services today that offer a variety of options for getting your hard-earned dollars converted to pesos and sent south of the border.

Have you been using the same service to send funds for ages? Time to figure out if you can find a better deal. We’ve looked at a range of different international money transfer companies, and tallied their options and the fees involved to send money to Mexico.

How to send money internationally

Not very long ago, there was really only one way to send money to Mexico from the United States. You’d visit a bricks-and-mortar transfer agent and send the money in person. Online remittance services have challenged the traditional money transfer agencies that maintain lots of physical outlets.

Whether you stick with the agency down the block or go online, you’ve got options for how the recipient can get their funds, via bank transfer or cash pickup. The sender can send money via cash, bank transfer, debit card or credit card.

Dan Canning, U.S. managing director at WorldRemit, cautions consumers to use a reputable money transfer service, especially ones that require you to verify your information and so you can minimize the risk of fraud.

“Online money transfer operators can mitigate some of the risks and issues involved with cash-based remittances because they are able to use advanced technology to validate customer identities and ensure the integrity of their customers’ personal information,” he said.

“The electronic footprint generated by online transfers can also act as a strong deterrent to criminal groups who seek to victimize consumers through fraud scams.”

Compare services to send money to Mexico

We’ve looked at the services of seven competing international money transfer companies to give you a feel for the competitive landscape.

Company

Cost to send $100 to Mexico

Time it takes to get to recipient

MoneyGram

At a physical office: $9.99
Online bank transfer: $1.73
Credit or debit card online: $1.99

Bank transfer: 3-4 business days
Credit/Debit card: within minutes
Cash: within minutes

Remitly

Bank transfer: $3.99
Debit card: $3.99

Bank transfer: 3-5 business days
Debit card: Within minutes

Ria

Bank transfer: $1
Debit Card: $2
Credit Card: $4
Cash: $9

Up to 4 business days

TransferWise

$2.64

1 business day

Western Union

Online to recipient’s bank account: $4.99
Online, if recipient picks up cash
Credit card: $8.50
Sending via physical branch: $4
Via bank transfer: $2.99

Anywhere from within minutes up to 5 business days, depending on how you send funds

WorldRemit

Via bank transfer: $2.99
Cash pickup: $1.99 to $4.99, depending on location

Within the same business day

Xoom

$4.99

15 minutes or less

Send money to Mexico with MoneyGram

MoneyGram MoneyGram offers a quick service feature that lets you send money within minutes for cash pickup. The company also allows you send money online once you register for a free account, or you can stop by any one of their 350,000 locations worldwide.

Beware that MoneyGram has some of the more costly options for sending money abroad, but you can minimize your costs by using a bank transfer and sending money to your recipient’s bank account. However, this low-cost option means it could take from three to four business days for funds to arrive in Mexico.

Send money to Mexico with Remitly

Remitly Remitly lets you send money via bank transfer — what it calls the economy option — or debit card — what it calls the express option. To initiate a transfer, you’ll need to register for an account online, though you’re limited to sending up to $30,000 within the first 24 hours after account registration depending on what personal information you provide. The recipient can pick up their cash at over 15,000 participating locations.

The express option gets your money to Mexico in minutes, while the economy option means your funds will arrive within three to five business days. Remitly offers a money-back guarantee if your funds don’t arrive on time.

Send money to Mexico with Ria

Ria Ria allows you to send money at any one of their 369,000 branches worldwide or online. It has partnered with the PayNearMe app where you can initiate a transfer online, then head to the nearest participating 7-Eleven to drop off the cash.

To send money, stop off at any one of their branches or create an online account. Once you verify your personal information, select how you want to pay — bank transfer, debit or credit card — and how you want the recipient to receive their funds, whether it’s through bank deposit or cash pickup.

The cheapest option is to send it money to your recipient’s bank account via a bank transfer online. You can’t send more than $2,999.99 per day, or $999.99 for Arizona and Oklahoma residents. It’ll also take up to four business days, assuming Ria doesn’t require additional safety checks.

Send money to Mexico with TransferWise

TransferWise TransferWise offers a variety of payment options — ACH transfer, bank transfer, debit or credit card payment — but the recipient will need a bank account to receive funds. Transferwise offers customers currency exchange using the mid-market rate — there are no markups and it’s based on the “real” exchange rate, like the ones you find on websites like XE.com.

To send money to Mexico, you’ll need to start off by opening an account with Transferwise and complete the verification process. Once complete, you can initiate a transfer by logging into your account and indicating how much money you want to send and the transfer method.

Transferwise lets you send up to $10,000 every 24 hours per order using ACH transfer and up to $50,000 with other methods. As soon as Transferwise receives your funds, it claims it’ll arrive in your recipient’s account within one business day.

Send money to Mexico with Western Union

Western Union As one of the largest money transfer companies in the world, Western Union offers a myriad of options to send and receive money. You can show up at any one of their 42,000 branches in the U.S., online or via their mobile app, and pay via bank transfer, cash or even Apple Pay.

Once you register for a free account online, you can select where you want to send money, the payment method and how you want the recipient to receive their funds. The cheapest option is via bank transfer and have the recipient pick up cash at a Western Union location, which can take up to four business days to arrive.

Send money to Mexico with WorldRemit

WorldRemit Launched in 2010, WorldRemit allows users to send money online or via a mobile device. You can send money in a variety of ways, including bank transfer, with a credit or debit card or via Apple Pay. Your recipient can do a cash pickup at a participating location — some locations will have higher fees than others — or receive the funds in their bank account.

You’ll need to open an online account with WorldRemit and verify your identity using an official ID. Once complete, you then select how you want to pay for the transfer and delivery method. The cheapest option is cash pickup at certain locations, and the money should be available instantly.

Send money to Mexico with Xoom

Xoom Xoom is owned by Paypal, which means you can use your Paypal account to send cash, but you can only use a linked bank account, credit card or debit card to send funds. The recipient can pick up the cash at over 35,000 participating locations or have the money sent to their bank account.

To send money, you’ll need to register for an account with Xoom. Once you provide all required documentation, you can transfer up to $50,000 every 24 hours or up to $60,000 each month. If you want to send more than $10,000, it could delay processing times — up to two to three business days on top of normal processing times even for the cheapest option.

Shop around for your best rate

When comparing money transfers services, you’ll want to see how much it’ll cost you in fees and approximate time of arrival. Money remittance services make money through fees and markups in their currency exchange rates. However, exchange rates are constantly in flux, which means that if you find a low-cost option today, doesn’t mean it’ll be true within a few days.

“Exchange rate fluctuations are caused by supply and demand changes in the FX market, which are in turn, affected by a variety of financial and economic factors,” Canning said.

Money transfer services make use of exchange rates to help you transfer money. Even if you find a good rate, it could go up within hours, meaning that $100 you send to your aunt in Mexico is no longer worth as much as it was before.

Canning also mentions that remittance services can guarantee a certain currency exchange rate with a specified amount of time. Places like WorldRemit can choose to receive email or text alerts of currency exchange rates to find optimal times to send money. If possible, sign up for these alerts so you can try to get a more favorable rate.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Sarah Li Cain
Sarah Li Cain |

Sarah Li Cain is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sarah Li here

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Banking

Western Union Money Transfer Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Western Union has been a consistent leader in the money transfer business. The company has come a long way from its founding in 1851, when it was begun as a telegram service. The first Western Union money transfer wasn’t introduced until twenty years later in 1871. In 2000, the company entered the digital age, offering online money transfers to its customers. It added on its Mobile Money Transfer Service seven years later, further expanding into the digital payments space.

Today, Western Union operates in over 200 countries and territories. In 2018, it moved more than $300 billion in principal globally, handling transactions in 130 currencies.

Although you can’t send a Western Union telegram anymore — the last one was sent back in 2006 — you can take advantage of its wide range of financial services. Let’s take a look at the ways you can send and receive money through Western Union.

Western Union key features

  • Flexible transfer limits: Your transfer limits depend on factors that include your location, the recipient’s location and payment method. Limits are variable based on the service you choose and agent location.
  • Multiple payment options: When sending money online, you can choose to make your payment through a debit card, credit card, bank account or wire transfer. You can also indicate whether your recipient wants to receive cash or a bank account transfer. If your recipient wants to receive cash, you can also initiate a transaction online and visit your nearest Western Union location to make the payment.
  • Widespread global access: If you need to visit a physical location, there are over 550,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories.
  • Track your transfers: Whether you’re the sender or the recipient, you can track your transfer both on the website and WU app.
  • Online bill pay: Western Union allows you to pay thousands of billers so you can easily make payments for your mortgage, utilities, credit cards and more, in one place. This service is available online, in the app, over the phone and at WU locations.
  • Western Union app: Available on both Android and Apple products, the WU app allows you to send money and keep track of your transfers anywhere and at any time.
  • Western Union membership program: My WU® is a membership rewards program that earns points on the fees you pay to send money. You can redeem the points for service discounts and other rewards.

Sending a money transfer with Western Union

Anyone can send and receive money with Western Union, as long as you’re at least 18 years old. You must also have your recipient’s information ready to make a transfer, including their name as it appears on their government-issued ID, street address and, if applicable, bank account information.

  • How long does a transfer take? Some transfers take only a few minutes. This includes Mobile Money Transfer and the Money in Minutes service for pickup at a location. Other transfer methods like Next Day service, Direct to Bank and Bill Payment can take one to five business days.
  • Where can you send money? You can send money to recipients in over 200 countries and territories.
  • How much can you send? Your transfer limit depends on a few factors, namely your recipient’s location and method of transfer. For example, if you’re in the U.S. and want to send money to someone in the U.S., you’re allowed up to $5,000 USD per online or app transaction. If you want to send money to someone in the Philippines, your limit increases to $19,000 USD.

Send money online with Western Union

To send money online or with the WU app, you’ll need to have a Western Union account. You can easily create one when you make your first transfer, with your name, date of birth, email and residential address. Creating an account allows you to save payment methods and recipients for further ease in the future.

Once you’re ready to send money online, you can select the destination and enter the amount and currency of your transfer. Then you choose whether your recipient will get the money through a cash pickup, bank transfer or a Mobile Money Transfer. Next, select how you would like to pay, whether by credit or debit card, bank account or with cash at a WU location. Note that you cannot pay in store if you’re sending money to a recipient’s bank account.

Send money in person at a Western Union location

You can visit a Western Union office to send money with cash or a debit card, where accepted. Western Union also allows you to start a money transfer online or on your app, then pay in cash at a location.

Send money over the phone with Western Union

If you’re sending money from the U.S. to a recipient in the U.S., you also have the option of making a transfer by calling the Telephone Money Transfer hotline at 1-800-CALL-CASH.

Western Union fees and fine print

Your fees will vary according to your payment selections, like whether you’re sending money with cash or through a bank account, or whether your recipient is collecting cash or getting a bank transfer. The amount transferred will also determine the fees charged; generally, the higher the amount, the higher the fees. Western Union has a price estimator to help you figure out the cost of your money transfer before you commit.

Let’s take a look at the different fees you could pay if you were sending $400 from the U.S. to a recipient in the U.S., depending on how your recipient is receiving the money — cash pickup or bank account transfer — and your method of payment — debit card, credit card or bank account.

 

Debit card

Credit card

Bank account

Pay in store

Cash pickup

$54.99

$66.99

$11

$5

Bank account

$15

$17

$0.99

N/A

Note that while you can use a credit card to send money, your credit card issuer will consider this a cash advance. Cash advances typically trigger an extra fee on your credit card and a higher interest rate. They also tend to begin accruing interest immediately, rather than waiting for the next pay period.

Is Western Union a good money transfer service to use?

Pros:

Cons:

  • Widespread access: Western Union has over 550,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories.
  • Flexible payment options: You can send money in the most convenient way for you from bank transfers to in-person cash payments.
  • Flexible delivery options: You can also receive money in a few different ways with Western Union, whether you want to pick up cash or receive a mobile wallet transfer.
  • Variety of products and services: Western Union isn’t only good for money transfers. You can also use it for money orders and bill payment services, and they offer a prepaid debit card.
  • Potentially high fees: Sending money to wealthier nations will cost more in fees.
  • Lacking customer service: Many reviews of Western Union have indicated some room for improvement in its customer service.
  • Hectic website: If you just need to send money, pay a bill, track a transfer or pick up cash, you can easily find buttons for those functions at the top of the site. However, if you’re looking for further information, you’ll find it a bit more difficult to navigate.

Western Union money orders and other services

In addition to its vast money transfer capabilities, Western Union also offers some other handy financial services.

  • Money orders: Money orders are alternatives to checks or cold cash. You can get a money order at any Western Union location in Canada or the U.S.
  • Prepaid debit card: The Western Union® Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® allows you to store and spend your money without needing a checking account. There’s no credit check either, so you can open a card even with bad credit or banking history. You can access the card online and on the WU app to make transfers, deposit checks and pay your bills. The card even earns cash back and offers the chance to get your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit.When you open the card, it’s automatically enrolled in the Pay-As-You-Go Plan, which charges $1 per signature purchase and $2 per PIN purchase in lieu of a static monthly fee. You can switch to either a Monthly Plan or Reduced Monthly Plan, however, which cost $9.95 and $5 per month, respectively, instead of per transaction.
  • Bill payments: Western Union allows you to pay your bills, including mortgage, auto, credit card, insurance, utility and government payments, as long as the biller is a participating entity. You can pay your bills on WU.com, on the WU app, in person and over the phone with Telephone Money Transfer. No matter how you pay, you’ll need the biller’s name, account number and amount.Paying your bills through Western Union will cost a fee, depending on how much you send and the company to which you’re sending.

Alternative money transfer options

MoneyGram and TransferWise are international money transfer companies providing similar services to Western Union.

TransferWise

TransferWise commits to keeping fees and exchange rates low, charging only what it costs to send the transfer itself. It’s also transparent about the fees it does charge when you enter your payment amount, recipient country and origin country in its pricing calculator. On the whole, the more money you send, the higher the fees will be, since TransferWise charges a percentage of the amount you’re sending, unless you send a small amount of money, which will cost a small set fee.

  • How long does a transfer take? Transfers can take as long as a few minutes to a few days. It will depend on your method of payment, the country you’re sending to and from and other factors. TransferWise’s tool can also give you an estimation of when your payment should arrive.
  • Where can you send money? You can send money between Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. Note that TransferWise is entirely digital; you cannot visit a location to send money with cash or checks.
  • How much can you send? You can send a maximum of $50,000 per day and $250,000 per year.

MoneyGram

If you still need access to a physical location, MoneyGram can be a good alternative. It has thousands of locations and reaches just about as many as countries and territories as Western Union so you can send or pick up money just about anywhere. The exact fees for sending money via MoneyGram depend on how much you’re sending and the method of sending. You can use MoneyGram’s Estimate Fees tool so you can determine the true cost of sending money before you make the transaction.

  • How long does a transfer take? If you’re sending money to be picked up as cash, the funds can usually be picked up within minutes, subject to location hours, destination country and availability. If you’re sending money to a bank account, it can take as little as an hour to the next day, depending on a few factors, including the country you’re sending to.
  • Where can you send money? MoneyGram maintains over 350,000 locations in over 200 countries and territories. There are over 30,000 locations in the U.S. and you can often send money at convenient locations like CVS Pharmacy or Walmart. You can also send money online and through the MoneyGram app.
  • How much can you send? You can typically send up to $10,000 per online transfer and up to $10,000 every 30 calendar days.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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