A friend of mine is stuck in Spain without a debit card, and I'm trying to send her some cash by whatever means available from here in the US. None of the bank branches near her are American, they're all European banks, mostly CaixaBank, Deutsche Bank, and Banc d'España.

She's a dual American/German citizen, and she has both passports with her. She also has a Wells Fargo account, and could even set up a European bank account if needed as a German citizen.

I have accounts with a few American banks (TD Bank, Wells Fargo, etc.), along with cash.

Is there any way she can walk into a bank in Spain with her passports, with me standing in a bank in the US, and for me to transfer money to her in cash?

  • 87
    I am obliged by my conscience to check this is not something that leads to a scam... If not, this is indeed a great question.
    – B.Liu
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 14:33
  • 18
    Western Union is great for such situations. Their fee is high but they get the job done in an instant. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 16:34
  • 19
    @barbecue Video chat, it’s definitely her, and she’s got two passports proving it Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 17:10
  • 9
    Note that the Banco de España is the national central bank and the supervisor of the financial entities, but not a bank that offers banking services to individuals, they themselves warn to distrust people portraying them in such way.
    – Ángel
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 17:27
  • 9
    If by "without a debit card" you mean her card got lost or stolen, she should call her bank immediately to notify them. She can ask if they have options for an emergency replacement card and/or an emergency cash service. This is common for higher-end credit cards, but it may be possible in other situations. Don't forget to ask about the fees, though.
    – jcaron
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 21:12

5 Answers 5


I second the comment by B.Liu. Make really sure this is not a scam.

I once used Western Union to send money to a relative abroad. They are still in business and so are several other providers. (Andrew mentioned Moneygram in his comment. I'm not suggesting a specific provider based on my limited transactions. Check their websites and FAQs.)

  • Your friend might need identity documents. That should be on the site. Back when I used it, all I had to send a number, but since 9/11 things got more stringent.
  • Think about a way to make sure if it is really your friend who is asking. Probably less of a problem today if you can skype.

PS -- US embassies will provide emergency loans to Americans abroad for repatriation, so if this is a sob story and you have the slightest doubt, refer your friend there. Same for the German embassy.

  • 2
    I haven't used them much, but I have only good experiences with Western Union. Their agencies often look more like a sleazy money laundring service, but the company is legit enough and their services seem to work reliably. In Spain, Western Union is also represented by the Spanish postal service (Correos), so it should be easy to find an agency nearby. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 16:35
  • 25
    We video chatted, and just to be sure I snuck in a few questions only she’d be able to answer and she answered exactly like herself Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 17:12
  • 21
    This doesn't appear to be a scam, but people landing on this page be warned: often your friend is being impersonated. Having said that, I had a good experience with with Moneygram and their fee was half of Western Union's at the time. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 17:22
  • 4
    The Embassy will only loan you money needed to return to the USA. From a random (Brazil) US Embassy page: Consular officers have no funds available for welfare services because the United States Congress does not provide funds to give or loan to United States citizens in need in foreign countries. They do say they can help you get home: If no other resources are available, citizens can apply for a repatriation loan to purchase a one-way ticket directly back to the United States.
    – Johnny
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 22:14
  • 4
    @Rg7xgW6acQ3g - I think that depends a lot on the purpose of your journey. If you're a 20 year old backpacking across Europe and someone steals your backpack with all of your money, then getting cash from family/friends to continue the journey sounds reasonable. If you're a 70 year old that just got beaten and robbed, then maybe getting home is the better course of action. But just losing your money isn't necessarily a reason to end the trip.
    – Johnny
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 21:39

In addition to what has already been said (and I second the Western Union or Moneygram option if you are 100% sure it's not a scam), if your friend's cards were stolen or lost, she could also ask for assistance from her travel insurance (of course, provided she has travel insurance - sometimes some debit/credit cards have this for the holder, under certain conditions - and it covers these kinds of situations).

Depending on the coverage they even go so far as to get their local offices to give you cash.


The best way would be to send Bitcoin, which arrives in minutes.

Your friend can get cash from a Bitcoin ATM 24/7, without dealing with a person and normally without any identification.

Have your friend go to a BTC ATM and complete the process to withdraw cash, have them send you a picture of the QR code, you send the BTC directly to the ATM using the QR code, and your friend will have the cash in minutes.

  • 4
    Do you have an address of one in Spain? Because I have never ever seen one.
    – MSalters
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 15:11
  • 3
    Not sure why this was downvoted. The answer is good one, and avoids a number of practical issues (especially the requirement for identification), and is usable as long as you have a secure method of communication (so that you can be sure the recipient isn't being impersonated) and they are in a location where the facility is available.
    – Jules
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 16:54
  • 3
    How do I buy/find/convert money to bitcoins? I have never had to deal with them and do not understand how easy or hard it will be.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 17:44
  • 2
    The fastest way is by going to a Bitcoin ATM to buy the coins if you have an ATM nearby and meeting someone in person from localbitcoins.com if not. The safest way is coinbase.com but they may hold your money for a few days, depending on how risky their system thinks you are. You can send bitcoins directly from one ATM to the other with QR codes. You should do more research if you use this method because you can lose your money if it's not done properly. Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 18:00
  • 4
    Are BTC transactions really guaranteed to complete within few minutes? I have heard horror stories about them being stuck for hours due to some global limit of amount of transactions concurrently running. Standing in front of ATM waiting for it to clear for more than 1-2 minutes might be tricky. Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 9:04

Depending on the amount of money being sent, and the time period in which it is needed, if you both already have a money sharing/payment application setup such as Venmo, PayPal, Google Wallet, etc; you can send her money, have her transfer it to her bank, and then walk into the bank and withdraw it.

If you both have Wells Fargo, it might be easiest to work with them, though again, this will likely take several (business) days. However, you can transfer money to your friend's Wells Fargo account, and then she can add a local (German) bank account and transfer the money there. https://www.wellsfargo.com/online-banking/transfers/

The other option may be a mobile check deposit to a local (German) bank and again, after several days of it clearing will be available for withdrawal.

Overall, if the timeline doesn't matter as much, and she just needs it within the next week or so, then there are a few ways of doing it for free. However, if expediency/ease is of importance here, then a wire is likely your best bet, though you'll definitely pay for the convenience, and there are some other great answers to this end.


If she has a few days to set things up, using a prepaid debit card is possibly the most cost-effective way. It's easy to pick up a card in most places in Europe, and a lot of cards can be directly topped up from another credit or debit card. The only problem is that in order to accept top-ups from another card, she may need to prove identity and address, which may be difficult for a non EU citizen, and the process of approval may take a day or two. It may however also be possible to use a bank transfer to top up the card (to a certain limit) without proof of identity; this is something you'd need to check with individual card issuers.

The fees for this service are usually much lower than those for traditional money transfer services.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .