Hack 10 Send Money to Anyone

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Use PayPal's most basic feature to send money to anyone with an email address, even if the recipient doesn't have a PayPal account.

It's a little-known fact that you can send money to anyone who has an email address: the person to whom you send money doesn't need a PayPal account! The only information you need is the recipient's email address and, of course, the amount of money you would like to send.

Back in the days when PayPal was giving away $10 for each new account referred, some entrepreneurial students would send $.20 payments to every kid in their school in hopes that the recipient would create an account. If no one claimed the payment, the money would eventually go back to the sender. Not a bad moneymaking scheme, even if only 1 in 20 recipients signed up! Today, with over 50,000 new users each day, PayPal doesn't offer such a bounty for referral. However, you can still enjoy the fun of surprising someone with a "You've got cash" email.

2.2.1 Sending a Payment via Email

To send money to someone (whether they have a PayPal account or not):

  1. Log into your PayPal account.

  2. Click the Send Money tab, and then click the Pay Anyone subtab.

  3. Enter the recipient's email address.

  4. Enter the amount to send and select the currency you wish to use.

  5. For Type, select Goods or Service if you are paying someone back for a good or service they provided you.

    If you select Quasi-Cash and pay with a credit card or debit card, your card issuer might treat the transaction as a cash advance and charge you a cash advance fee.

  6. Enter a Subject and a Note (both are optional). The Subject is important, because it appears as the subject of the email sent to the recipient of your payment. The note, however, is less likely to be seen, because it appears buried in the email. If you need to include important details, it is best to send them in a separate email.

  7. Click Continue when you're finished with this page. The next page shows a summary of the payment.

    At this point, if the recipient does not have a PayPal account, you'll see, "This recipient is not yet registered. PayPal will send an email to the recipient explaining how to open an account and receive your transaction." See the next section of this hack for details on what to do if your recipient doesn't open an account.

  8. Click More Funding Options to choose how to fund your payment [Hack #11] .

  9. If you are just sending money to a friend, select "No shipping address required" in the Shipping Information section. Otherwise, if you are paying for an item that will be shipped to you, you'll most likely want to provide your address. Note that some sellers will refuse your payment if you don't include a confirmed address [Hack #3].

  10. Click Send Money when you're done.

To confirm that everything has gone as planned, PayPal will send you a "Receipt of your payment" email to notify you that you have indeed sent the money. If the recipient has a PayPal account, she will receive a similar email letting her know that she has received money. If the recipient doesn't have an account, PayPal will send a "You've got cash" email, along with instructions to sign up for a PayPal account. Only after signing up for an account will the recipient be able to access your payment.

If you pay with a credit card and the recipient has a Premier or Business account, the money will be deposited directly into the account. If you're sending money to a friend, you might want to send it to her personal account to avoid the PayPal fees, although this means you won't be able to fund the payment with a credit card [Hack #11] .

2.2.2 What If They Don't Sign Up?

If you send money to someone without a PayPal account, it's possible that the recipient won't sign up and claim the money. This can happen, for instance, if the recipient confuses PayPal's "You've got cash" email with unsolicited spam. Also, many people feel uneasy about signing up for a service like PayPal, thinking that they might be charged a bunch of fees or that they'll be victimized if they share their financial information over the Internet. For this reason, you might need to reassure skittish payees before sending them money with PayPal.

If, for whatever reason, the recipient doesn't sign up and claim the payment within 30 days, PayPal will return the funds to your account (or refund your credit card, if that's how you funded the payment). PayPal will also reverse the payment if you try to send a credit card-funded payment to a Personal account and the recipient doesn't upgrade to a Business or Premier account within 30 days to accept the payment. Either way, you can try to resend the money, but your best bet is to contact the recipient separately via email to ensure you have the right email address and that they understand what they need to do to get the money.

Just as you would look someone in the face before handing over a fistful of cash, be sure to double-check the email address of the recipient before you send money, because there isn't any easy way to get your money back if you send it to the wrong person. See [Hack #16] if this happens to you.

If you decide to cancel an unclaimed payment for any reason, you can reverse the transaction before the 30-day automatic reversal period only if the recipient has not signed up and claimed the money. To cancel a pending payment, log into your PayPal account and click the History tab to view your transaction history. Find the payment you'd like to reverse and click the Cancel button.