What Is a Cash Pickup Money Transfer?

Byron Mühlberg, writer at
Nov 22, 2021
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What Is a Cash Pickup?

A cash pickup is a way in which the recipient of a money transfer can retrieve their funds in cash from a physical location, rather than having them deposited electronically into a bank account.

Cash pickups can be instrumental to send money to someone without a bank account, with many (although not all) currency exchange services catering to this market by allowing customers to set cash pickup as a receiving method.

In these cases, the sender of money often pays a different set of fees and exchange rates to those for online transfers. Once sent, the beneficiary can then go to an agent location (often a convenience store) and show a valid photo ID along with the transfer reference number to receive their cash.

Which Services Offer Cash Pickup?

To send money abroad for cash pickup, there are many options available. Among those that performed well on Monito's comparison engine over the course of the last year were Remitly (cheapest on 20% of searches for cash pickup globally), WorldRemit (cheapest on 14%), and MoneyGram (cheapest on 5% of total transfers.)

Other notable services include Ria (cheapest on 4% of searches respectively), Small World and Xoom (cheapest on 2% of searches), and Western Union, which — despite being the largest money transfer service in the world — was the cheapest service on only 1% of global searches.

Send Money for Cash Pickup

The best way to send money overseas for cash pickup is by best comparing the market for the best deal using Monito's real-time comparison engine.

Simply run a search to discover which service will offer you the best fees and exchange rates for your next transfer abroad:

Find the Cheapest Way To Send Money for Cash Pickup

How Does Cash Pickup Work?

Cash pickups work as a receiving method (also called a pay-out method) in a money transfer. This means that it's always the recipient of the money that handles the cash, with the sender of the money typically choosing how to fund the transfer. For example, one might send US$500.00 from the US to the Philippines to be received in cash and pay for the transfer using a debit card.

Sending a money transfer for cash pickup will generally involve selecting the necessary options on the website of the money transfer service in use, for example, MoneyGram or Remitly. These services operate large networks of global partners, paying out the cash to the recipient on the sender's behalf.

Senders will usually pay a small transaction fee ⁠— either as a fixed amount or as a percentage of the transfer value ⁠— every time they send money for cash pickup. If the transfer involves currency exchange, they'll pay an exchange rate margin, usually in addition to the transaction fee. Similarly to cash pickup, cash currency exchange services (i.e. buying physical cash banknotes in a foreign currency) at the bank or bureau de change also include these fees, meaning it can be tricky to find the cheapest ways to exchange currency.

Finally, to receive their funds on the other end, cash pickup recipients are almost always required to show a valid government-issued identification document at the cash pickup location.

Cash-To-Cash Money Transfers

As discussed above, cash pickups, by definition, always involve the recipient receiving cash. However, the transfer can sometimes also be funded with cash by the sender. These transfers, known as cash-to-cash money transfers, are prevalent within or between countries where cash use is high.

However, it's well worth noting that just like with any other pay-in method, using cash to fund a cash pickup will mean that slightly more is paid in than eventually gets paid out due to the fees associated with the service. For example, using MoneyGram to send US1,000.00 in cash from the US to Nicaragua (where the US dollar is widely used) will likely mean that around US$1,013.00 will need to be paid up-front for the full amount to go through.

Cash Pickup Reference Numbers

Another important part of setting up and retrieving a cash pickup is the reference number. When transferring money for cash pickup, you'll receive a unique reference number with the receipt once you've settled your transfer, regardless of which service you use.

This number, often received by SMS or email, can usually be used to track your transfer status. However, its main purpose is at the pickup counter, where your recipient is required to show the number alongside a valid photo ID. At Western Union, these reference numbers are known as Money Transfer Control Numbers (MTCNs). At MoneyGram, they're known as Authorisation or Reference Numbers, while at WorldRemit, they are called Transaction Reference Numbers.

Where Are Cash Pickups Usually Used?

According to data from Monito's comparison engine, over the course of 2020, cash pickups were most frequently used as a receiving method in the Arab States, where they constituted 56% of all transfers made. The percentage of transfers for cash pickup made through referrals on Monito was also high to Latin America (44%) and Africa (30%).

However, for transfers to Asia, Europe, and North America, cash pickups were in the small minority, making up just 7%, 6%, and 1.5% of total transfers, respectively.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Cash Pickup

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