How to Send Money Quickly
September 21, 2012 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to send my mother a re-loadable gift card, but I'm overwhelmed with the options available. Can you help me send money instantly, with little to no fees, on a regular basis?

My mother needs $25 to $50 here and there. She lives in a different state. I want a quick way to send her money that doesn't cost 10% of what I'm sending. I'm looking into reloadable Mastercards or Visas, but I've never owned one. I'm confused by all the choices listed here, for example:

Some of the cards listed seem to charge for everything, including spending money. Mastercard's website isn't much better; I'm not sure I can reload one of their cards without using Moneypak, which sounds like it'll cost $5 per load.

Please help me find something that meets these requirements:

* Free or inexpensive for both of us.
* Instant to 1-2 day loading times. (Ideally, I could give her money within an hour.)
*Reloadable online without direct deposit or Moneypak. I'd like to reload it using a debit or credit card.
*Preferably something I can have mailed directly to her. It's okay if she has to give me the card number to set up an online account.

Have you ever owned a reloadable Mastercard/Visa? Do you have a better idea on how to go about all this? Give me advice, please!
posted by plaintiff6r to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some cards may have limits on how much you can reload them (due to money laundering laws).

Would it work to open a checking account you would both have access to, that you could deposit money in when your mom needs it?
posted by drezdn at 4:13 PM on September 21, 2012

What does she need the money for? Walmart's gift card system is really easy, if she has a printer.

You could also think about Paypal. If she sets up an account and gets their debit card, you could Paypal her money on a regular basis.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:24 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't have a good solution for you, but wanted to warn you about something I missed when I did the same thing for my Mom. I got a Walmart card that works like a credit card (she could use it at places other than WalMart). Unfortunately they deduct about $3.50 from her card every month if she does not use it. I didn't read the fine print, I guess, so a head's up to you.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:33 PM on September 21, 2012

Could you open another checking account at the bank you use, and then give her a debit card for it? I can move money between my own bank accounts instantly, and the debit card would mean that she can spend the money anywhere without the hassles that often go along with using gift cards to pay for things.
posted by decathecting at 4:49 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

What does she need the money for?

Copays mostly, but also gas and sometimes groceries. Occasionally, small home improvement projects. I like the Paypal idea. I use Paypal nearly every day, but it just didn't occur to me that my mom could also use Paypal... Can new Paypal accounts get a debit card right away? If so, this is perfect and something we can get started on.

drezdn and SweetTeaAndABiscuit, thanks for the heads up! That's the kind of stuff I was afraid of.
posted by plaintiff6r at 4:49 PM on September 21, 2012

You should get started on it right away but it takes 2-4 weeks for the card to come once she's approved. I think a new account can get the debit card, but it might need to be linked to her bank account or otherwise verified first.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2012

If one or both of you have a Chase checking account, you can do Chase Quickpay. My husband and I use it often to transfer money between our accounts. (not affiliated)
posted by Night_owl at 5:18 PM on September 21, 2012

Chase charges money for their checking accounts every month if you don't have direct deposit, though, so if your mother doesn't already have an account with them that would be something to factor into it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:06 PM on September 21, 2012

PNC Bank

Joint free checking you both have access to, separate from your personal (PNC) checking accounts.

You can do an instant, free transfers online (even on your phone) from your checking account to the account you both hold.

Give her the check card.

She can access the money in that account , but not in your personal account.

No fees, no hassles, and easy.

It works. I know from personal experience.
posted by sandra_s at 6:38 PM on September 21, 2012

I transfer money to my mother's account all the time using Chase Quickpay, and she has a credit union account. It's easy, all she has to do is click on the link, and the money is transferred pretty quickly.
posted by lemonwheel at 7:40 PM on September 21, 2012

I'm wondering how bitcoins would help here. It is fast, usually about 15 minutes for the transfer to be adequately confirmed, and there are essentially no transfer fees. Like buying a foreign currency, you do have to pay a small charge when purchasing them at an exchange, which you could theoretically get almost as much back as when selling them again for USD.

Buying them on short notice is not easy, you do need a days or two notice, but you could buy a bunch and keep them on hand perhaps. Try, their fees are in the 1 percent range if you bought a bit.

The problem is that spending them on things in real life can be a bit tricky as they are not widely accepted. However there are some gift cards like the MySimon card, and prepaid mastercards, which are widely accepted and can be purchased with bitcoins. Check out the bitcoin wiki for more options on spending bitcoins.
posted by Nish ton at 3:55 PM on September 22, 2012

There may not be 1 perfect solution, but several small ones might help. Gas companies have gift cards. The grocery she shops at probably has cards you can buy and/or refill online. I'm guessing she's on a fixed income. Could you take over a monthly bill, like water or electricity, to free up some cash?
posted by theora55 at 6:03 PM on September 22, 2012

Ask her to create a paypal a/c and get a paypal Debit card. The debit card is free.
You create a paypal a/c, then transfer money to her paypal a/c for free instantly.
posted by bbyboi at 11:46 PM on October 21, 2012

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