How Do I Send Money to a Federal Inmate?

How Do I Send Money to a Federal Inmate?

The average fee for sending an inmate money in the USA is 19% but can be higher or lower depending on the state. But, that's not the only barrier stopping people from reaching loved ones in jail.

Often, it's hard to find information regarding the name and whereabouts of people through the state system. So, if you're wondering, how do I send money to a federal inmate? You've come to the right place. 

Keep reading to find out all bout sending money to a federal inmate and how to do it correctly, so you don't need to repeat the process and pay more fees. 

How Do I Send Money to a Federal Inmate?

When you think of a jail, the last thing on your mind might be sending money to an inmate. However, for many people, this is the only way they can still help and look after a loved one. 

There are three ways you can send money to an inmate. You can send the cash through the United States Postal System, Western Union, or MoneyGram. If this is your first time doing this, you might not know what these terms mean.

So, let's look at the different ways to send money, so you don't have to keep searching the question "how do I send money to a federal inmate?" online. 

Postal System

The easiest way to send money to a federal inmate is through the mail. Typically, the money is deposited into an inmate trust fund account accessed via the FBOP's National Lockbox. 

This method might take longer than the other options, but it's the most straightforward way to ensure someone receives the money. 

Simply send a government check to the FBOP mail address with the full name of the inmate and inmate register number. 

Your information should also be written in the envelope, so the government has the sender's details. Here are some things to keep in mind when sending money through the post:

  • Never send cash
  • Double check the inmate has arrived at the prison
  • The funds must be in U.S currency
  • Get the correct inmate information

If you have all the correct information, you'll be able to send the cheque, and the inmate will receive the money in no time. You won't be charged a fee for sending money by mail.

Western Union

Another option is to send money through Western Union. However, this method is more costly as you will have to pay a fee that will vary based on the amount of money you send. 

If you decide to use Western Union, you must show up at the location in person and submit a cheque or call a customer service line. Alternatively, you can visit the funds on the inmate's page through an automated system. 

The same rules apply for sending money with the Western Union as when you send money via mail. You will need the complete information of the inmate and ensure the money is in U.S currency. 


The third option for sending money to an inmate is using MoneyGram. Funds for inmates can be deposited into an account through the Express Payment Program. 

With MoneyGram, the money can reach the inmate's account within a few hours, which is ideal if you need to get money sent quickly. But, there's also a fee for sending money with this method. 

So, the choice will depend on your timeline, the fees, and which option is better for you. 

Why Is Money Important for Inmates?

Although someone is in jail, that doesn't mean they don't need money for the things they want. Like in life outside prison, you still need money to buy essentials like toiletries and clothing. 

Some other benefits of having money in prison are the following:

  • Telephone calls
  • Postage stamps
  • Recreational supplies
  • Commissary purchases 
  • Electronics

It's possible to get work while in prison, but these jobs pay very little, so it's good to give your loved one extra money if you want them to have essentials and be able to buy things for themselves. 

Understanding Inmate Trust Funds

Typically, inmates don't have physical money. Instead, they use a trust fund created by outside family or friends that allows them to buy items inside the prison. 

When you send money to an inmate, it will go to the central institutional account and then be transferred to a personal checking account that your loved one can use. 

The only difference is they might never see any actual money. Their expenses are counted as "TRU Unit" purchases such as telephone calls, postage stamps, etc. Then, they are deducted from their overall amount. 

It's very similar to a regular bank account, just without cash. 

In some situations, inmates can bring money when they self-surrender to prison, but this is not common. Mostly, inmates rely on outside friends and family to send them money while in jail. 

If you're thinking of sending money to an inmate but don't have all the necessary information, we can help. 

At Jail Exchange, we believe everyone is entitled to know where their family member or loved one is in the state prison system. We aim to give you the facts and be transparent. 

That way, you can find crucial information that allows you to support a prisoner and send them money. Click on our website and find out more here. 

Sending Money to Inmates Made Easy

Now, you have all the information to the question, "How do I send money to a federal inmate?" all you need to do is pick the best option and fill out the relevant information. 

Of course, all these methods require the inmate's register number and complete details, so you must ensure you have all the documents before you can send money. 

Luckily, there's a quick solution if you don't.

You can browse our sections for an inmate search and find out where your loved one is and how you can reach them.

And, if you need any help, just let us know

We're happy to assist you with anything you need.