How to Send Money to Inmates

Guest  |  Apr 20, 2021

One of the easiest ways to help an incarcerated loved one is to add money to their commissary account. For inmates, the items purchased via the prison commissary can make miserable conditions more tolerable.

About the Commissary

The Prison Commissary functions as a prison-run store where inmates can shop for the items they need to make their stay in prison a little easier. As you would expect, shopping at a prison commissary looks very different than stopping by the local grocery store to pick up a few things. Instead, prison commissioners are generally only operated one day per week. Prisoners must fill out an order form at the commissary. After placing their order, they then wait for an attendant to gather the items requested.

What Do Inmates Need to Purchase?

Although most prisons will provide inmates with some necessities, there are many items an inmate will want to purchase to make their time in prison more comfortable. Paper and stamps to write family and friends, personal hygiene items, and snacks to supplement the bland prison food are common commissary purchases. Because inmates are not allowed to use cash, commissary accounts serve as an in-house bank account for inmates, and those in prison must have money in their account to shop at the commissary.

How to Send Money to an Inmate

There are a few different ways to send money to an inmate. Regardless of the method you choose, you will need to send the money through the prison system and not to the inmate directly.

Western Union

You may send money to an inmate’s account using the Western Union Quick Collect Program. Funds sent via this method are processed daily and post to the inmate’s account within one day.

To ensure that the money you send is applied correctly, use their inmate register number followed by their last name as the account number. List the inmate’s full name in the attention line. The code city for federal inmates is always FBOP, DC.

Western Union transfers may be submitted by visiting a Western Union location, via phone, or via the Western Union Quick Collect website.


MoneyGram is another service that allows friends and family members to add money to an inmate’s account. Funds sent via the MoneyGram ExpressPayment Program are processed daily and post to the inmate’s account within one day.

To ensure proper processing of your payment, you will use the inmate’s eight-digit registration and last name as the account number. The company name for federal inmates is Federal Bureau of Prisons, Washington, DC. The receive code is 7932 for federal prisons, and the beneficiary is the inmate’s full name.

Initiate a MoneyGram transfer by visiting a local MoneyGram location or by visiting the MoneyGram website.

The United States Postal Service

If you prefer, you may send funds through the postal service. To do so, please note that you must send a money order. The prison system will not accept cash or checks. To ensure the funds are properly credited, the money order must contain both the inmate’s eight-digit register number and their full name. Non-postal money orders will be held for 15 days before being deposited into an inmate’s account.

There are several options available to add funds to a prisoner’s commissary account, and items purchased in the commissary can make an inmate’s time in prison a bit easier.

Related News