Context: Settling small amount of personal debts to people in the US from the EU

When Paypal isn't available, in what ways can small amount of cash (<~$100) be sent from the EU to the US, with minimal fees & administration?

Specifically tried so far:

  • transferwise requires Electronic / check routing number & account number (disclosing this is highly uncomfortable for friends)
  • Standard international bank transfer have high fees
  • Paypal isn't available

Any other suggestions?

  • 2
    What about opening a USD account, making a large-ish transfer to it (to minimise fees), then send your USD payments out from that?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 12:56
  • 1
    Surely you mean "small amounts of money," not "small amounts of cash." The ways to send cash are pretty limited--in person, or some courier service (such as the postal service).
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 18:13
  • I'm surprised nobody mentioned transferwise. I started using this recently when sending small amounts of money from country to country and it's a lot cheaper than the bank. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 16:36

6 Answers 6


If the people involved are family or friends, you could perhaps pay something for them. For example, you could add a credit to a prepaid account they have in the US (where permitted), buy them an online-only prepaid visa card, or buy them an emailed Amazon US gift card, using your EU credit or debit card. In other words, pay for something online they would otherwise pay for themselves. For minimal fees, try to use a credit card that has no foreign exchange fees.

Literally sending cash is an option, but as it's becoming increasingly expensive to send letters (especially with insurance), and you need to exchange the physical money at one end or the other, it's not really that cheap anymore.

If it's a wider range of people you're paying, on a regular basis, there are specialist international payments companies like payoneer.com, but that's really a business solution, outside the scope of expats and personal finance.


Bitcoin is worth investigating - I have also used that.

Also, I know you said PayPal isn't available - but I have found this is the best way EU - US.

Could you use someone else's PayPal?

  • Bitcoin could easily be the most efficient method to do this, additionally providing some privacy. With localbitcoins available virtually everywhere, it's easy to obtain bitcoins for euros, send the bitcoins to the US, and then exchange them for dollars. On both ends it can be done without anyone even leaving their home. Commented May 12, 2014 at 17:37

I have used Skrill (formerly MoneyBookers) quite often over the last ~15 years to send various sums of money over the years to family and friends from EU to US. I admit I haven't used them in a couple years, but according to their website it's still pretty cheap:

Sending money to merchants is completely free of charge.

Sending money to other individual customers incurs a fee of 1% of the total sent, capped at a maximum of €10 (or the equivalent in your currency).

This means that even if you send a large amount, the maximum send money fee you will pay is €10 –regardless of the location of the recipient.

If you want to send money in a currency different from your account currency, a conversion fee will be applied. Where applicable, we will inform you of the charge prior to the transaction.

Taken from the Fees calculator page:

For transactions involving currency conversion Skrill adds a fee of between 2.99% and 4.99%** to the wholesale exchange rate we offer.

NOTE: You have to first upload funds into your account, which may take a few days. Afterwards you can send money to various places such as email addresses (which provide instructions how recipient can receive funds).

  • What are their exchange rates (FX) like though? That's often where places make their money, through having rates a fair way off the mid-market ones
    – Gagravarr
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 8:40

Venmo is an app for small payments among friends that's gaining some popularity in US. However, from outside US you'd probably have to use credit card, which would incur 3% fee.


I used CurrencyFair a couple of times to transfer money from Australia to Europe. It takes usually only 1 or 2 days until the transfer is finialised. Sending money costs 0.35% of the amount exchanged and a fixed €3 transfer fee. The fixed rate might be costly if the amounts are really small.


Western Union or Moneygram are fast and easy ways of sending money between countries. They have a huge network of places where you can send or pick up money. The fees are quite small.

On the receiving end it's all cash; when you send a payment you get a transaction number that you give your friend. They use that number and their ID to pick it up.

  • 3
    Given that he considers bank fees to be too high, I doubt that will be an option. For a wire of ca. $100, the fees will be around 10%, pretty much the same thing as a bank would take.
    – scozy
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 19:41
  • You're right. The constraints as posted are difficult to satisfy; sending money just isn't cheap!
    – Christian
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 20:11
  • 1
    I think Western Union is the opposite of cheap: It's what you do when you have no other option (e.g. getting money to people with no access to the banking system).
    – Gala
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 8:49
  • "The fees are quite small." That is completely misleading. The fees are ridiculously high.
    – vartec
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 9:53

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