My grandmother, known to all as Nana, always sent a little something to her grandchildren for birthdays and holidays. Once she tucked a few dollars inside a Halloween card when I was at college, telling me to spend it however I wanted. “Even on pizza,” she wrote.
Sweet memories aside, it’s risky to send cash in the mail. Mail can get damaged by postal equipment, delayed, or, unfortunately, stolen. There is no guarantee it will reach your intended recipient.
So what’s a generous grandparent to do? Take a look at these ways to send money to family, friends, or anyone, at holiday time or anytime.
1. Transfer money online for a low-cost, easy-to-use option. There are several options, including Popmoney in Online Bill Pay. It’s free if you transfer funds directly from your savings or checking account. Use it from a computer, tablet, or mobile device.
The transaction is posted in your checking account, and you can verify when the transfer goes through. All you need is an email or mobile phone number. Your account information is kept confidential and protected from fraudulent use.
2. Send a gift card. If you know the recipient likes a certain store or item, a gift card may be a good fit. To prevent unauthorized use, do not mail an activated card. Contact the recipient with details on how to activate the card, and verify that the full value is still on the card.
Avoid cards that have a fee to purchase or redeem them. You’ll spend extra money, and your recipient won’t get the full value of the gift. Also watch for restrictions or expiration dates on the card.
3. Wire transfer. You can send money securely to another person by wire. Wiring funds does involve a fee. Consider a wire if you are sending money overseas and you want to ensure your funds are secure and your recipient will have easy access to the funds.
Hanscom FCU offers both domestic and international wire services.
4. Write a check. Almost as old-fashioned as cash, checks are easy to write. Like cash, a check could still be damaged, lost or stolen in the mail. Fraudsters sometimes “wash” a stolen check, a technique that allows them to change the payee and amount and possibly drain your account.
If you do take this route, make your check payable to a specific person. Making it out to cash is dangerous, because anyone can legally deposit the check. Use a safety envelope rather than a greeting card envelope, and be sure to put your mail in a secured post box or bring it right to the post office.
The recipient will need to deposit the check at his or her financial institution. If they don’t, you may have to follow up and possibly pay a fee to cancel your check.
My Nana would be amazed by today’s choices. We have so much more control and safeguards around sending money than even a few years ago. It makes sense to consider all the options and choose one that works for both you and your recipient.
Grandma Jenny has news to share with her friends. Watch our video to see how easy it is to use Popmoney.