For Fast, Fast Relief

When you have to get money to someone in a hurry, a check might serve if it is delivered fast. Use a commercial overnight delivery service or the post office’s Express Mail. If the recipient has nowhere to cash the check, use one of the following quick delivery systems:

An ATM card; if the recipient has a card you can put money into his or her U.S. bank account. It can be withdrawn at a cash machine abroad and you will get the wholesale rate on your currency exchange.

Postal money orders sent by Express Mail; but you can count on rapid delivery only within the United States. International money orders are governed by country to country agreements and may take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive.

Western Union; some agents, and the 800 service, are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Cash can be transferred within the Unite State, Puerto Rico, and to more than 100 foreign countries in 15 minutes or less. Funds wired elsewhere usually take at least 2 business days because delivery goes through local banks. The recipient can pick up the money at any Western Union agency. For the address of the closest one, ask the local agent or the 800 operator.

The State Department; it’s the agency of choice if your son was robbed in Bangladesh. In an emergency, it will send cash within 24 hours to any American embassy or consulate for a fee of $15. All you have to do is get the money to the State Department, using Western Union, bank wire, overnight mail, or regular mail.

Your bank, for big money transfers within the United States. It can wire money to another bank for pickup the same day or one day later. But mistrust banks for international transfers. Unless the foreign bank pays a lot of attention, a transfer that ought to take a day can take a month.

Ask what identification the recipient will need in order to pick up the money. Usually, two proofs are required, like a passport and driver’s license with a picture attached. Sometimes he or she will also need a code word or authorization number that you furnish.

If you run short of cash or travelers checks, or your wallet is stolen, there are several ways to rescue yourself, get some at home to send you money, using one of the techniques just described.