Are you transferring cash to a friend across the table or sending to a family and acquaintances halfway around the world? Either way, you deserve access to the most affordable, secure, fast, and reliable money transfer service provider.
For ages, banks have had a field day when it comes to both local and international money transfers with their exorbitant fees. Thanks to the numerous hidden charges and unreasonably marked up exchange rates, even the smallest overseas cash transfer will leave huge hole in your bank balance, or force you to cut back on the amounts you intended to transfer.
Advancements in technology and the entrance of numerous financial technology (FinTech) operatives to the industry have, however, brought about positive disruptions.
These have come up with more secure, faster, and cost-effective ways of transferring funds from one account to another. You will be particularly interested to note that most of these don’t even have physical branches. In a bid to make money transfer more efficient they have completely digitized their services in the name of web portals and mobile apps.
You must, however, appreciate the fact that the extensive marketing embraced by most of these apps doesn’t always live to the hype and your expectations. And some have turned out to be no more than just another online scam. How then do you single out an effective app from the swindlers? Even more importantly, how do you tell of the most effective money transfer company from the pool of companies and apps currently flooding the cash transfer industry?
We have scoured the internet, tried and tested different digital money transfer apps and companies before coming up with a list of what we consider the best seven money transfer companies. Here is the list of these cash transfer service providers, compared against each other and ranked accordingly.
Note: Money transfer companies have for the longest time tried to operate independently of commercial banks by operating independent cash pick up agencies. The digitization of the cash transfer process, however, means that the online bankers have to turn back to the banks for top up and withdrawals. Some are combining the independence of the cash pick up agencies with the flexibility of digital apps to make the entire process even more independent.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a money transfer company (over banks)
They are relatively fast
Most are quite inexpensive in terms of both transfer fees and exchange rates
They are easily accessible on smartphones, tablets, and PCs
Regulation by government agencies weeds out scams
Most guarantee the safety of your funds through refunds (chargebacks) and insurance
Most are not fully independent as you still have to link them with conventional banks
They don’t accept cash and cheque payments
Have capped maximum transfer limits, often slashed at $500,000
Criteria used to compare these money transfer service providers:
Security of personal information and data encryption
Fees and charges
Foreign exchange rates
Ability to track transactions
Regulation and authorization
Cash transfer speeds
Local and international outreach
Comparing the best money transfer companies
1. Western Union – Best overall
Don’t be too hard on yourself if Western Union is the first and probably the only option that comes to mind every time you think of international money transfers. Having been around for more than 160 years, it is only right they have morphed into a global household name. But this isn’t the only reason we consider it the best cash transfer company, they also have one of the most extended global outreach that includes setting up over 500,000+ agency locations in over 200 countries.
Additionally, as industry pioneers, Western Union can be credited for coming up with some data protection tools and policies that were eventually accepted as industry standards. Key among this is the verification code sent by the sender to receiver and tracking the progress of transferred funds. Sending money here is also relatively fast and with the minimum transfer limit set at $1.
Western Union transactions fees and exchange rates:
The maximum you can send using Western Union’s app is capped at $2999 per day and $2500 for payments arranged over the phone with its support team. There is however no limit to the mount you can send at an agency location. To understand the fees, we take an example of a U.S resident sending $1,000 to Canada. It would cost them about $10 for agency transfers and up to $95 for debit card transfers. The cash transfer agent will also add an unspecified markup on the exchange rates, a fact that is disclosed on their terms and conditions.
Fast cash transfer processing, less than 10 minutes
Available in over 200 countries
500,000 agent locations simplify cash sending and pick
Has a highly intuitive mobile app
High cash transfer fees eat into the received funds
You might also consider their exchange rates expensive and uncompetitive
With more than 350,000 cash pickup agency locations across the world and an active presence in over 200 countries, MoneyGram takes up the first runners up post on our list of the best money transfer companies. Like Western Union, Money Gram specializes in both local and international travels. The company has however built its name around the international cash transfer topic.
It maintains a competitive number of agent locations, like the 25,000 currently active in Africa, and also offers more competitive charges for international money transfers. For instance, while sending cash to such countries as China through Western Union attracts a transaction fee of up to $75.00, the maximum MoneyGram can charge for the same is $49.99.
Transfer fees and charges
If you were to transfer $1000 from united states to the United Kingdom, your recipient would collect £746 from one of the money grams cash pick up location in the country. This translates to a $31 transaction charge. And if you sent the same amount from one of money grams location in the country for cash collection at similar location in the U.K, you would be charged $21.
Maintains an extensive global network of agents
Offers fast, same-day transfers to virtually every part of the world
Dedicated multi-lingual customer support across the world
Relatively cheaper than western union
You can only send a maximum of $6,000 per day
A complicated fee structure that depends on such factors as payment type and destination
Doesn’t support currency exchanges before cash transfer for its United States clients
Wise is probably the cheapest cash transfer company you will ever come across. It rides on the spirit of transparency and value for money by providing a platform where you can convert your cash at competitive mid-market rates, no mark-up, and no additional costs. However, unlike most other cash transfer companies, Wise is more of a peer-to-peer currency conversion site that connects different individuals looking to convert currencies.
To illustrate how straightforward their conversion rates are, they have come up with an online calculator that lets you understand how much you will pay for a particular transaction as well as how much your receiver will get. The minimum transfer amounts start from $1 while minimum and maximum transfer fees for amounts of up to $36 million stands at $3 and 1% respectively.
Transaction fees and other charge
If you hoped to transfer $1000 electronically while in the United States to an individual in the United Kingdom, you would incur a $6.90 charge. The most unique aspect of Wise is that they aren’t looking to benefit from marked up exchange rates and this explains why they are always avail the real time exchange rates to you.
Easily accessible on the go through the Android and iOS mobile apps
No hidden fees and exaggerated currency exchange rate mark-ups
Has one of the highest maximum transfer limits
Attractively low transaction fees that start from $3.
No agencies for cash pick-ups, money has to be transferred to a bank account
Limited global reach, of about 58 countries
Converting less popular global currencies may take time – up to a week
Are you looking for a purely online money transfer company whose service extends far beyond sending and receiving cash and into bill payments? You will probably like Venmo, a mobile-first money transfer app. Sending or receiving money here starts with registering for the service and linking the app with your bank account for top-ups and withdrawals. Instead of withdrawing received funds, you may choose to use the app to pay bills for goods and services across the world.
Even more interesting is the fact that debit card transactions on the app are generally free while such services as bill payments are largely dependent on the merchants. Some of Venmo’s additional features include a slick user-interface, strong-data encryption, and a solid reputation. The fact that it is purely online also implies that it has an untamed global reach. Note:Venmo was recently acquired by PayPal, though it continues running its operations independently.
Venmo transfer fees and other charges
Venmo cash transfers attract a standardized currency exchange rate of 3% of the total amount. It will however be waived if you use your Venmo, bank or debit card balance. The unwaived 3% fee on credit card funded transfers originated from the card issuers and Venmo just passes them along. Howevr, it will charge you 1% for all withdrawals with a minimum of $0.25 and a maximum of $10 per withdrawal.
Near instant electronic cash transfers
Highly secure with no history of significant data breaches
Offers more than just cash transfer processing
Boasts of added social features like messaging
Not independent but has to be linked to a bank account
PayPal is to the electronic money transfer scene, what Western Union is to the conventional money transfer systems. It is a pioneer fin-tech company and probably the most popular brand in the electronic peer-to-peer cash transfer industry. Its services are available in 203 countries around the world and operate both personal and business accounts.
And while it started out a web service, it has immersed into the world of digital apps and is now available on both Android and iOS-powered smartphones and tablets. Some of the apps most unique features that help the brand feature on this list include its super-fast cash transfers, a strong emphasis on security through encryption and multi-layered protection like two factors authentication, and proven reliability.
You might find it relatively pricier than your typical mobile cash transfer service given that unlike most traders electronic cash transfer apps, PayPal charges for debit card transactions. It, however, covers this up with more relaxed transfer limits that can hit up to $10,000 (£7,500). They also have a rather elaborate transfer and payment of goods and services fee structure for different countries on their website.
PayPal transfer fees and other charges
If you were a Canadian national looking forward to sending cash internationally you would have to part with $2.99 CAD when sending to United States and Europe and $4.99 CAD to any other country for transfers funded by your PayPal balance or a linked bank. Transaction as funded by a credit or debit card attracts an additional 2.9% plus a fixed fee depending on the base currency when sending to any part of the world.
Relaxed cash transfer limits for both personal and business accounts
Offers such additional services as automated payments
Accessible on both the mobile app and web platforms
Relatively fast account opening process as you only need a valid email and phone number
Relatively expensive and charges debit card transactions
Has to be linked with banks for top-ups and withdrawals
Want the fastest and one of the most secure money transfer companies handling your local and international payments? You will want to consider WorldRemit and their highly adaptive digital platforms that promise to “send money from your mobile as quickly as a text message.” The near-instant cash transfer is available in over 140 countries across the world. And even more fascinating is their broad range of cash access options where the sent funds can be cashed out at a WorldRemit agency location, deposited into a bank account or received as an airtime (mobile credit) top up. All these made available within minutes regardless of the part of the world.
WorldRemit also argues to have partnered with numerous governmental agencies across the world as well as leading data security companies to come up with the most advanced data security protocols. This starts with high-end data encryption and sending a text message to both the sender and receiver once the money hits your account. Charges and transfer fees depend on such factors as the type of transfer, the receiver’s country of residence, and amounts being transferred. The money transfer company will, however, not charge you for the first WorldRemit transaction.
World Remit fees and other charges
Your first transaction on World Remit will be free of charge. Additional transfers will attract a flat rate fee of $3.99. They also offer near-market level exchange rates.
Near instant cash transfer across the globe
Highly secure transactions
Dedicated customer support
One might consider their pricing model complicated
Unlike the popular brands in the world of global cash transfer like PayPal, Western Union, and MoneyGram that have over the years morphed into household names, Azimo is relatively new. But its innovative approach to the international cash transfer that involves a real-time funds transfer process tracking system that lets you monitor the different stages of cash monitoring right from sending the cash to its reception and withdrawal. Its highly secure apps are available in both iOS and Android versions for both smartphones and tablets.
Transaction fees here depends on such factors as how much you plan on sending and whether you are transferring it to another Azimo account holder or debiting to a bank account. The app developers are also keen on eliminating the bureaucracies associated with bank withdrawals, a move that has seen them establish more than 200,000 agency cash pickup locations all over the world. They are also running a popularization campaign where you can have an infinite number of persons to join Azimo and get £10 ($13) as a bonus when they transfer their first £100 ($130) on the platform.
Azimno transfer fees and other charges
Your first two transactions here will be fee-free. Subsequent cash transfers will be subjected to an £11.99 charge regardless of the amount being transferred. You, however, get to benefit from near-market rate foreign exchange rates for your transfers.
Highly intuitive app and user interface
Readily accessible in over 200,000 locations globally
Provides you with real-time updates on the transfers
No phone number for support, predominantly email-based communications
How to decide on the best cash transfer service provider
Check the security:
The last thing you want is bugs in the money transfer company software losing you cash or, even worse, exposing your personal data to hackers. The first thing you will, therefore, want to check with a money transfer company before subscribing to their service is the level of security around their systems. And since everyone claims to have the most fortified systems, you are better off consulting different review sites and news outlets for any reported cases of data loss and hacking in relation to your preferred money transfer company.
Check the speeds
You also need to ensure that you are dealing with a reliable money transfer company. What is their delivery speeds and do they actually live up to their promises? For instance, if World Remit promises instant transfers, what is the likelihood of system lags and other unforeseen eventualities dampening these delivery speeds? You can also use these review sites to check on your preferred money transfer company’s customer satisfaction on the speeds and overall reliability.
There are well over 200 countries and independent territories in the world? With a presence in over 203 of these regions, PayPal has the widest global reach when it comes to money transfers. It is therefore imperative that you consider confirming your preferred mobile money transfer provider’s availability in the cash receiver’s region, and their ease of use, before you even consider registering with their service.
Check the level and quality of customer support
When dealing with issues involving money and having your personal and financial information on the line, you want to know that any issues or concerns about the data or cash transfer can be promptly handled. You need an assurance that should anything happen, maybe send money to the wrong address, send more than initially intended and or lose access to your account to hackers, the customer support could be of assistance and in the fastest times possible. You have to consider registering for a money transfer service provider that offers dedicated 24/7 and multi-lingual customer supports services.
Take into account the fees and conversation rates
Western Union charges as much as $49 to send between $50 and $1,000 to China. PayPal on the other hand will charge a transaction fee for sending cash to another user and subject the cash to yet another fee should the receiver decide to load it to a debit card or wire it to a bank account. These often high transaction costs and double charges have the net effect of eating into how much the receiver gets. Vet the company transaction fees and charges on their website or terms and conditions before subscribing to their service..
The number of money transfer companies currently available across the world for both local and international transfers is countless. And they all have unique approaches to the industry that endears them to their local and international clients. In a bid to guarantee more efficient services, most combine the use of technology in the form of digital apps and conventional operation in the form of cash pick up points. Some have paid more attention to transfer speeds and security, while others have concentrated on low fees. It is up to you to decide what matters most to you and the receiver before going back to this comparative review and identifying a legit transfer company that’s most suited for the task.
Are all money transfer companies the same?
The only similarity between most of these companies is their shared goal of helping you transfer this cash. They, however, embrace different approaches to fulfilling this ask like using different encryption techniques and clearing houses.
What is the best money transfer service provider?
The answer to this is highly dependent on the type of service needed. If you are looking for a reliable and readily available company, you are better off with PayPal or western union and if you are looking for low-cost cash transfers, you might want to register with Wise or Venmo.
Is the transfer money instant?
Yes, most of these companies offer near-instant cash transfer services. WorldRemit, for instance, promises to send you cash as fast as an ordinary text message. Payments processed by most other senders will take between a few minutes to less than a day to reflect on the receiver’s end.
Do I always have to go through the bank when sending money?
No, most of these cash transfer companies operate a broad international network of agency cash pick up points. This helps them avoid the bureaucracies associated with most bank transfers. Some, especially the pure-electronic companies like PayPal or Venmo will, however, require you to link your account with a banker if you wish to top up or withdraw the funds therein.
Do banks charge to link my account with a money transfer company?
No, you will not be charged to link your bank account with an electronic cash transfer company or service provider. Most will, however, charge deposits into your account hosted with the funds transfer service provider, with most choosing to treat it as a transfer out.
Is transferring money through an online money transfer company safe?
Yes, most of these have scaled great heights to secure their networks and encrypt the data contained therein. You first have to appreciate the fact that while online financial institutions may be more prone to cyber-attacks, traditional banks and their sluggish wire transfer systems aren’t safe either. The level of technological advancements in this filed that includes embracing blockchain technology has also greatly reduced the incidence and impact of these hacks.
Are the money transfers companies regulated?
Yes, all of the money transfer companies listed here are licensed by not just the financial regulatory agencies in their countries of origin but in every other country and territories they operate in. PayPal, for instance, is licensed and regulated by the SEC in the United States while Azimo operates under the watchful eye of United Kingdom’s FCA.
Edith is an investment writer, trader, and personal finance coach specializing in investments advice around the fintech niche. Her fields of expertise include stocks, commodities, forex, indices, bonds, and cryptocurrency investments. She holds a Masters degree in Economics with years of experience as a banker-cum-investment analyst. She is currently the chief editor, learnbonds.com where she specializes in spotting investment opportunities in the emerging financial technology scene and coming up with practical strategies for their exploitation. She also helps her clients identify and take advantage of investment opportunities in the disruptive Fintech world.
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