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The Best Ways to Send Money Online

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Sending money online is no longer exotic. It’s actually a simple and hassle-free way to send dollars to that friend who bought you lunch yesterday, pay a freelance artist for designing your small business logo or purchase that robot-themed necklace on Etsy. And today, consumers have more options when they want to send money online, from well-known services, such as a PayPal and Google Pay Send, to newer options, such as Venmo and Zelle.

These services let you send money to friends, family members, businesses, contractors and freelancers — basically anyone who’s waiting for a payment from you. By sending money online, you eliminate the need to provide recipients with your credit card information, you don’t have to worry about writing checks and you won’t have to scramble to find an ATM to withdraw cash.

The big question: Which service should you use to send money online?

Not surprisingly, the answer varies depending on whom you are paying and what you are buying. Here’s a quick look at some of the more popular ways to send money online and the pros of each service.

Best to send money online to friends and family

Venmo

Send money online via Venmo
Image source: iTunes

You can use Venmo on your mobile device to pay for items on your own, or split up payments among your friends and family members. You can also use Venmo to deposit money in your bank account, make purchases through several apps and pay for items in physical stores.

To use the service, you’ll need to create an account with Venmo first, either through the Venmo’s app or on its website. You can then link your Venmo account with your bank account, and debit or credit cards. This way, you won’t have to add any money to your Venmo account to make purchases.

Features: Venmo’s biggest advantage is its flexibility. You can send money to people through Venmo by using the recipient’s email address or phone number. If these people already have Venmo accounts, the money will be transferred automatically. If a recipient does not have an account, they’ll first need to create a Venmo account to accept your payment.

Downside: It’s usually free to send money through Venmo. But if you use your credit card to send money to a recipient, you will pay a fee equal to 3% of the amount you send.

There are limits to how much money you can send through the service, too. Before Venmo verifies your identity, you can spend and send as much as $299.99 per week. Once Venmo verifies your identity, you can send a maximum of $2,999.99 each week in payments to recipients.

Zelle

Image source: iTunes

Zelle works much like Venmo, allowing you to send money to anyone whose email or phone number you know. However, you don’t have to download a separate app to use Zelle. Instead, many of the biggest banks across the country embed Zelle within their online banking platforms as a service to their consumers.

Some of the banks that already use Zelle include Associated Bank, Chase, Citi, Fifth Third Bank, Bank of America and SunTrust. If you bank with Chase, for example, then you simply send money through your Chase app. But if your bank does not offer Zelle, you still can use the service by downloading the Zelle app.

Features: If your bank or credit union offers Zelle, you can use the service to send money to anyone who has a bank account in the United States. If your bank does not offer Zelle, and you are using the Zelle app on your own, then the people you send money to must have Zelle through their bank or credit union.

Fees are a positive feature. Zelle does not charge consumers anything to send money. Zelle, though, does recommend that users check with their personal bank or credit union to make sure that these institutions don’t charge any fees.

Zelle is fast, too. If you send money to someone who already has access to Zelle, the money should show up in that person’s bank account in minutes. If you send money to someone who is not yet enrolled in Zelle, it will take from one to three business days for the money to show up.

Downside: You might be limited with Zelle according to your bank’s policies. As Zelle says, to determine how much money you can send each week through the service, you’ll need to check with your bank or credit union. If your financial institution doesn’t offer Zelle, you can send a maximum of just $500 a week with the service.

Zelle also doesn’t let you use a credit card to send money. You will need to connect the service with a bank account or debit card.

Google Pay Send

Image source: Google App Store

 

Like its competitors, Google Pay lets you send money to people by using their name, email address or phone number. You might remember this service as Google Pay. Last year, though, Google added the “Send” part of the name to signify that the service now combines the features of Google Wallet and Android Pay.

To send money online, you’ll need to link Google Pay Send to your bank account or debit card. Then, when you make a payment, the money is taken from these linked accounts. To get started with the service, you can sign in to pay.google.com on your computer or you can download the mobile app.

Features: Google Pay Send is completely free to use. The service is fast, too. Google says that linking Google Pay to a debit card results in the fastest transactions, usually within minutes. However, linking to a bank account can result in slower transactions. Google says it can take as long as five business days for the funds to be withdrawn from your account.

Downside: You are somewhat limited in how you can send money with Google Pay Send. You can use your debit card and bank account to send money through the service. You cannot, however, use credit cards or PayPal to send money through Google Pay Send.

There are limits, too, on how much you can send with Google Pay Send. You can send a maximum of only $10,000 in a single transaction, and as much as $10,000 altogether in a seven-day period. In addition, if you want to send someone more than $2,500 in a single transaction, then the recipient must add a bank account in order to receive the funds.

Cash App

Image source: iTunes

The Cash App is offered through Square. To use it, download the app onto your phone. To send money through the service, you’ll have to link it to either a debit card, credit card or the funds already available in your Cash App.

When you send the money, you’ll enter the recipient’s name or mobile phone number. The recipients receive an email or text telling them that they’ve received cash.

Features: It’s easy to send money through this app at no charge. You just can’t use a credit card. Sending money with your debit card or Cash App balance is always free. Sending money through a credit card, though, costs 3% of the amount of money you are sending.

Downside: There are limits to how much you can send through Cash App. If you send more than $250 in one week, Cash App will ask you to verify your name, date of birth and Social Security number. If you provide this information, you can then send as much as $2,500 in a week.

Best for business transactions or purchasing items online

PayPal

Image source: iTunes

PayPal might be the best known of all the platforms to send money online. And it’s easy to use via your computer or phone. You create a free account and then link it to your bank account, credit card or debit card. To send money online, you enter your recipient’s email address or mobile phone number.

PayPal then notifies recipients that they have received money. This money is directly deposited into their own PayPal accounts. If recipients don’t have an account, they are prompted to open one.

Features: You won’t have to pay to send money with PayPal as long the money is coming from your PayPal balance or bank account. However, you will be charged if your payment is funded by a credit card or debit card. PayPal has a particularly far reach, too. You can use PayPal to send money to recipients across the globe.

Downside: The biggest downside to using PayPal to send money online? It comes down to fees. If you fund your payment with a debit card or credit card, you’ll be charged a fee equal to 2.9% of the amount you are sending. You might also be charged a separate fixed fee depending on the currency of the transaction. If you are sending U.S. dollars, you’ll be charged an additional fee of $0.30.

The recipients of your funds also might need to pay fees. But, recipients won’t pay any fees when you send them money through PayPal’s friends or family option. However, if you send someone money for goods or services provided — which PayPal considers a commercial transaction — then that person must pay 3.4% plus $0.30 if you are making a domestic payment with PayPal’s standard rates. If you are sending an international payment, recipients from most countries must pay 3.9% plus $0.30 to receive the funds if you are sending in U.S. dollars.

Best for sending money abroad

TransferWise

TransferWise allows you to send international payments online, after you set up an account. To do this, you must first set up an actual payment through your account. When you do this, you enter how much you want to send and the recipient’s bank details. When it’s time to send your payment, you have the option of specifying how you want to pay.

Features: TransferWise allows you to pay in several ways. You can pay directly from your bank account, with a debit card or a credit card, or through an Automated Clearing House (ACH) service. Sending money internationally can get complicated when it comes to fees and exchange rates. But TransferWise will tell you the fees upfront when you set up your payment.

When it comes to exchange rates, TransferWise always charges the mid-market rate. It will also tell you the exchange rate it is charging when you set up your payment.

Downside: It’s not especially cheap to send money through TransferWise. TransferWise charges a fee of 0.6% of the amount you send plus $1.

Western Union

Western Union allows you to send money to more than 200 countries and territories. You can send this money online or by visiting a physical Western Union location. You can send money to recipients’ bank accounts directly online by using your credit card or debit card. You can also do this by transferring money from your bank account.

How long it takes for your money to arrive will vary according to your destination. Western Union says that you’ll be able to see these various arrival times as you enter your payment details.

Features: Western Union does make it easy to pay. You may download the Western Union app to start the payment process, or visit the company online to send payments. However, if you would like an agent to handle the transaction for you, then you can send money from more than 500,000 Western Union locations across the globe, and 43,000 in the U.S. alone.

Downside: You will have to pay to send money through Western Union. For instance, Western Union says it costs $5 to send a maximum of $500. You will, though, have to check what the fees might be for sending specific amounts to specific locations.

There are also limits on how much you can send through Western Union. When sending online, you can send a maximum of $2,999 per money transfer. If you are sending a transfer through Western Union’s mobile app, you can send as much as $500 per transfer.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram is another big player in the transfer business. This service also allows you to send money to overseas recipients either online or by visiting a MoneyGram location. With MoneyGram, you can send money directly to a recipient’s bank account or mobile wallet.

To send money online, you may pay with a credit card, debit card or directly from your bank account. You will need to tell MoneyGram to whom you are sending money and how this person wants to receive the funds.

Features: The biggest plus of MoneyGram is its flexibility. You can find in-person locations if you prefer to speak with a representative by visiting this page. MoneyGram offers you as many options to send money internationally as it does domestically.

Downside: You will have to pay fees to send funds through MoneyGram. How much depends on the amount you send and where you are sending it. For instance, if you want to send $1,000 to a recipient in Australia, it will cost you $32. If you want to send $500 directly to the bank account of someone in Great Britain, it will cost you $7.

You can estimate your fees before you send money here.

As with some of the other services, there are limits as to how much you can send online. MoneyGram says that you can send a maximum of $6,000 in most countries for every single online transfer. You can also send a maximum of $6,000 in most countries every 30 days.

How to send money online safely

Sending money online is convenient. But you do have to be careful. There are opportunities for scammers. The most common scams are when criminals try to trick you into sending them money online. Be sure to carefully read the fraud protection programs offered by these services. They do vary by provider.

MoneyGram provides a useful list of some of the most common scams criminals use to trick people into sending them money online. For example, scammers might call you, saying that they are from the Internal Revenue Service, and asking that you send them money to pay taxes that you owe. Others might say that they are from the Federal Trade Commission and they need you to send a payment so that they can refund you money from a legal settlement.

The bottom line? Don’t ever send money online to someone who calls you. And never send money online to someone you don’t know or trust adequately.

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.

Dan Rafter
Dan Rafter |

Dan Rafter is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dan here

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Banking

Can You Still Get a Piece of the Wells Fargo Settlement?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The Wells Fargo settlement is still being distributed to eligible customers, but the deadline for customers to get a piece of the settlement passed as of July 2018. So the short answer is no, you cannot still get a piece of the Wells Fargo settlement.

That said, the Wells Fargo settlement is an important example of people working together to bring a big institution to justice for its bad actions. Studying it can provide lessons in case you ever find yourself eligible to take part in a similar class-action lawsuit.

“Class actions are an important tool to compensate harmed consumers and hold companies accountable,” said Matthew Preusch, attorney at Keller Rohrback LLP, part of the team that represented consumers in the Wells Fargo lawsuit. “You should always be on the lookout for official court-approved notices advising that you be entitled to compensation.”

What is the Wells Fargo settlement?

The Wells Fargo settlement exists to compensate current and former Wells Fargo customers who were victims of fraud when the bank’s employees opened up accounts in their names without consent. Some customers who purchased identity theft protection were also part of the suit.

“Wells Fargo employees opened unauthorized lines of credit, savings accounts and checking accounts for a lot of customers ,” explained Ken Tumin, founder and editor of DepositAccounts, a subsidiary of LendingTree. “They did it to meet their sales targets.”

All in all, Wells Fargo employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by consumers. Once it was discovered, a class-action lawsuit was launched to go after Wells Fargo on behalf of the customers affected. This means there are just a few plaintiffs who sued Wells Fargo, but additional “class members” can join the suit.

In July 2017, Wells Fargo settled the lawsuit, agreeing to pay $142 million to victims in the form of cash benefits. This amount was intended to reimburse any fees that people were charged for the unauthorized accounts, and compensation for any potential harm done to people’s credit related to the unauthorized accounts. Any leftover money will pay additional compensation on a per-account basis.

In addition to the settlement for the victims, Wells Fargo was also hit with a $100 million fine to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Civil Penalty Fund; an additional $35 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; and another $50 million to the city and county of Los Angeles.

Besides the troubles stemming from the fraudulent accounts scandal, in December 2018, Wells Fargo also agreed to pay a $575 million settlement with the attorneys general of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. for tricky practices with their auto loan and mortgage products.

Who was covered by the Wells Fargo settlement?

According to the official Wells Fargo settlement website, there are three main qualifications for people to be a part of the settlement:

  • If you had one or more unauthorized Wells Fargo accounts opened in your name between May 1, 2002, and April 20, 2017.
  • If you had one or more unauthorized Wells Fargo accounts applied for in your name between May 1, 2002, and April 20, 2017, regardless of whether that account was opened.
  • Or, if you obtained identity theft protection services from Wells Fargo between May 1, 2002, and April 20, 2017.

How do you get restitution under the Wells Fargo settlement?

The deadline to file a claim was July 7, 2018, so only those who are already signed up will be part of the settlement. If Wells Fargo had a record of a complaint about Unauthorized Accounts that you made to Wells Fargo, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or the CFPB, you might have been automatically enrolled in the class-action settlement. (If you’re not sure if you were included in the settlement, you can request more information by calling 1-866-431-8549.)

“For this case, Wells Fargo did send out letters to many that were affected with instructions about how to file claims,” said Tumin. The lesson here is that “[….] it makes sense to pay attention to what you receive from your institutions,” he added.
For those who did pay attention to their mail, or for those who were automatically enrolled, getting cash in hand from the settlements is expected to take a very long time. “There won’t be anything paid out until appeals have been exhausted, and that can take many years,” said Tumin.

What’s more, payment to class members can be made only after class members’ damages are calculated in accordance with the settlement. Then, the claims have to be processed and the damages must be determined based on credit bureau data analysis. At that point, checks can begin to go out to all eligible class members at the same time.

Do I need to hire a lawyer to participate in the Wells Fargo settlement?

The courts have already appointed Keller Rohrback LLP to represent all class members as “Class Counsel.” Anyone who is part of the lawsuit will not be charged a fee. If you did participate in the settlement, however, that also means you gave up your right to sue Wells Fargo and related parties on your own for related claims.

Those who opt to hire their own lawyers or pursue their own lawsuits will be treated separately from the class-action suit.

Lessons learned from the Wells Fargo settlement

Whether or not you’re involved in the Wells Fargo settlement, it’s a good reminder that keeping tabs on your financial life is important. “It shows how beneficial it can be to get online access to your accounts and keep track of them,” said Tumin. That way, you can quickly spot anything that is amiss, such as an additional, unauthorized account with one of your banking institutions.

The other big takeaway is that when your consumer rights are on the line, there are protections in place and by going through the appropriate channels, there will be consequences for the offending institution.

Should you ever find yourself in the situation of receiving a notice that you may be eligible for a class-action lawsuit, take the time to review it carefully, says Tumin. “Claims forms can be a hassle and the benefit is often small in terms of money victims sometimes see,” he said. “But, you can look at it as an indication that a megabank did something wrong and you were able to have a little bit of justice.”

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.

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Dawn Papandrea |

Dawn Papandrea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dawn here

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Banking

Annuity vs. CD: What’s the Difference?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Saving money for the future while growing your nest egg is the core of all financial planning. Developing a portfolio of investments that ensures a strong financial future can be complex, however. Between savings accounts, stock options, bonds, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s, there’s a lot to consider.

Among these great options are also annuities and certificates of deposit (CDs). Let’s take a closer look at these two products, define how they function and help you decide which one you should choose as part of a solid savings plan.

Annuity vs. CD: What is an annuity?

An annuity is a financial contract between you and an insurance company, primarily used to save for retirement. Annuities assure retirees a fixed stream of income. When working with annuities, you make contributions in a lump sum or through a series of payments. From there, the insurance company will disburse periodic payments beginning at a predetermined date, whether immediately or years down the line.

Annuities are usually sold by an insurance company, which takes your money and invests it for you. Your funds accrue interest over time and grow tax-free, which means you won’t have to pay any taxes on gains from the investment until you withdraw the funds. When you take distributions from an annuity, they are taxed as regular income.

There are three types of annuities — fixed, indexed and variable — and two ways to receive distributions — immediate annuities and deferred annuities. Immediate annuities begin paying you benefits as soon as you fund them, while deferred annuities don’t begin distributing benefits until a future date. Both varieties pay out on a regular basis, and some offer death benefits. If you die before the total annuity has been paid out, a beneficiary may continue to receive payments.

Fixed annuities

Fixed annuities guarantee a minimum interest rate and a fixed number of payments over time. The annuity provider is required to make these payments in a specific dollar amount. You’ll be able to agree to receive payments over an agreed-upon amount of time — 15 years, for example — or for the duration of your lifetime or a beneficiary’s lifetime. Fixed annuities are regulated by state insurance commissioners.

Indexed annuities

Indexed annuities distribute payments to you based on the performance of a stock market index, typically the S&P 500. The annuity provider delivers a payout minimum determined at the time investment, no matter the performance of the stock index over the course of the investment period, plus additional amounts when the index performs well. When the index doesn’t perform well, all you get is the minimum payout. Indexed annuities are regulated by state insurance commissioners.

Variable annuities

Variable annuities offer greater flexibility than fixed or indexed annuities. You may choose to invest your payment into a range of investments, most typically mutual funds. Your payouts and payment periods will differ based on the size of your investment, expenses incurred and investment option’s performance over the course of the investment period. These are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Annuity vs. CD: What is a CD?

CDs are offered by banks and credit unions, primarily to save money for short- and medium-term goals. With a CD, you agree to place a fixed amount of money into an account for a set amount of time, called a term, lasting from three months to 10 years. Each financial institution offers different rates for CDs, and the interest paid out generally compounds over the term of the CD. The financial institution pays interest on the CD principal, but the interest is only accessible and paid out to you once the term of the CD is complete.

After the term of the CD ends, you withdraw your funds plus the interest that has accrued. You can purchase CDs through federally insured banks, which insure the investments up to $250,000. This Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance combined with the steady interest growth make CDs one of the safest options for those looking to save for their future.

Annuity vs. CD: What are the differences?

There are key differences between annuities and CDs. First and foremost, these two financial instruments pay out very different amounts on very different payment schedules. When investing using annuities, you’ll have the option to receive regular payments over time, which may include part of the principal investment as well as interest earned. In all but a few cases, CDs pay out principal and earned interest only at the end of the term, once the CD matures.

CDs and annuities are insured differently. The FDIC insures CDs up to $250,000, while fixed and indexed annuities are regulated by state insurance commissions. When buying an annuity, you must research whether your state has a guarantee association that provides some level of protection for when an insurance company in that state fails. Also note that variable annuities are considered to be a security, and as such, are regulated by the SEC. Variable annuities are covered by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

You need to consider the differing tax treatment of annuities versus CDs. While interest from both investment vehicles are taxed as regular income, the principal from a CD is never taxed. However, with annuities, both the principal and interest are taxed, even when purchased with pretax funds out of an IRA. A set amount of an annuity’s payout that was purchased with after-tax dollars is taxed as regular income, while another portion is not subject to taxes. Annuities offer tax-deferred growth, however, which means you won’t have to pay any taxes on growth until you withdraw the money.

Breaking Down Annuities vs. CDs

AnnuitiesCDs

Payment

Receive portion of principal investment and interest in regular payments over time.Receive a single payment of principal and interest once the CD has matured.

Insurance

Varies on a state-by-state basis, depending on the rules of each state’s guaranty association.Insured by FDIC up to $250,000.

Taxation

Portions of both interest and principal may be taxed as regular income.Interest is taxed as regular income. Principal is never taxed.

Annuity vs. CD: Which should you choose?

Because individuals usually use CDs for terms ranging from six months to 10 years, CDs are a strong option for those who are pursuing short- or medium-term savings goals. People making longer-term plans for retirement down the line, however, may want to do more research on investing in annuities. Because these investments give you the option to receive steady payments for a fixed amount of time, say 20 years or until you pass away, they can act as a good option for retirees who would like to receive regular income payments throughout their retirement. Annuities can act as a partial substitute for income once you’ve retired from the workforce.

Bottom line

When planning for your financial future, you’ll want to consider a variety of investment opportunities, including both annuities and CDs. Everybody’s financial situation and saving goals are unique. Are you looking to invest now to receive fixed payments over the course of 20 years once you’ve retired? Or are you hoping to earn some interest over the course of a year or five in a more secure fashion? Perhaps you’re looking to do a bit of both.

Most importantly, keep doing research. When evaluating your investment portfolio, think through the pros and cons of annuities and CDs, what they have to offer and how they fit into your long-term goals.

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.

Anne Bouleanu
Anne Bouleanu |

Anne Bouleanu is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Anne here