If you want to use a credit card to send money online from the convenience of your home, there are several options:
1. Western Union by Credit Card
Western Union is one of the world’s leading money transfer companies, with almost 400,000 agents in over 200 countries around the world. If you walk into a Western Union office to send money you must pay in cash, or use a debit card. However, if you do it by phone or through their WesternUnion.com website, you can use a credit card. It must be a Visa or MasterCard, issued by a U.S. bank.
It’s safe to say that Western Union has long been the leading company offering this service of sending money online by credit card.
The money you send will be available to the receiver literally in minutes. You can also transfer the funds directly to the receiver’s bank account. Alternatively, you can have the funds delivered to the receiver’s home or workplace by FedEx the next day.
The sender must pay a fee to send money by Western Union. The fee will vary depending on the amount, and the countries that you send money from and to.
Be aware that in addition to the normal fees that Western Union charges, your credit card company may impose an extra fee. They might see a Western Union transaction as a cash advance, and charge you the cash advance APR (interest rate), which can be considerably higher than your card’s default APR. It’s best to check with your bank first and find out if there are any extra charges for funding a Western Union transfer or other online money transfer.
2. MoneyGram by Credit Card
MoneyGram also allows you to send money online with a credit card. Go to their website at MoneyGram.com, and right on the home page you can choose the country you want to send money to, choose the receive option (for most countries there’s only one option – pick up at agent, local currency payout), enter the amount, and click “Get Started”.
At this point the window will change to show you a cost estimate. For example to send $500 to Panama, the fee is $31 for same-day service, in which the money will be available to the receiver in 10 minutes, or $15 for economy service, where the money will be available in 3 business days. For some reason economy service can only be funded from your bank account, but same-day service can be paid for by credit card.
The window will also give you a link to their MoneyGram location finder, which allows you to search and find a list of MoneyGram agents in any country and city. I found it rather annoying that when I clicked this link, instead of showing me the info in a pop-up page the website took me to a new page, and did not save any of the info I had just entered. So I navigated back to the home page and started over, re-entering the country and amount. Anyway, once you input the info and click “Get Started”, you’ll be asked to register and confirm your email address, then you’ll be able to send money online with your credit card, using the same-day service option.
The same warning applies that I mentioned above. Your credit card company might view this transaction as a cash advance, and charge you a higher APR. Make sure you check with your bank first and find out if there are any extra charges for funding an online money transfer with your credit card.
3. Paypal by Credit Card
Paypal is another very popular service that allows you to send money to anyone who also has a Paypal account. However, Paypal no longer seems to allow the option to add funds to your account by credit card – at least my account does not. Instead, I see only two options: add funds from a U.S. bank account, or add funds from a Green Dot MoneyPak. The MoneyPak is essentially a prepaid card that you can buy at Walmart or many other locations. There’s a service fee to load money onto the card, and you can then use it to pay for various transactions.
So theoretically you could use your credit card to buy a MoneyPak, then use the MoneyPak to fund your Paypal account, then send money by Paypal. However, you’d be paying two and possible three separate service charges, so I do not recommend this option
There are other, smaller services that may allow you to send money online with your credit card. I will look into them in the coming weeks. However, the major ones are Western Union and MoneyGram. These companies are international, well-established and trustworthy. So I would stick with them.