If cash is king, money transfer services are its queen. Money transfer companies allow customers to send money directly to another person without using banks or credit cards.
A wide variety of transfer services exist, letting people send money to loved ones living or traveling abroad and friends easily pay one another for shared expenses. Different companies cater to specific types of customers’ needs, so consumers should become familiar with all their choices before using a transfer service.
Top 9 Best Rated Money Transfer Apps and Services
Western Union has more than 140 years of experience in the money transfer industry. Individuals and businesses can send and receive money in person, by phone, online and through the WU mobile app.
|Read 530 Reviews|
Money transfer service Xoom is a part of Paypal. The company allows users to send money, pay bills and reload mobile phones in a variety of international locations online or through a mobile app.
|Read 205 Reviews|
PayPal operates around the world and in many different currencies. The company specializes in secure online payments at millions of merchants but also offers other money transfer and bill pay services.
|Read 1262 Reviews|
MoneyGram is a publically-traded company that lets customers send money, pay bills and load gift cards and mobile phones. Money can be sent within the United States and to select international locations.
|Read 384 Reviews|
TransferWise, founded in 2010, is headquartered in London. The company lets customers transfer money between currencies using the mid-market exchange rate and has clear up-front fees. It offers referral bonuses and online support.
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WorldFirst, founded in 2004 in the United Kingdom, operates in several countries and helps consumers exchange currencies, make foreign transfers, make payments in different currencies and run global online businesses.
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Ria Finanical Services, owned by Euronet Worldwide, offers several financial services, including money transfer and currency exchange. They operate globally, and some services can be completed online or using the company’s app.
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TRANSFAST, established in 1988, offers money transfer services around the world. They have more than 200,000 agent locations for in-person transfers and offer options for mobile and online transactions.
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Venmo, popular among college students and other millennials, allows users to transfer money to one another easily, and often freely. The company was established in 2009 with headquarters in New York City.
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What features matter most when selecting a money transfer company or app?
Most money transfer services charge fees for different services. These are added to the amount you want to transfer, so make sure you’re aware of the fees before making a transfer.
- Transfer fee: Transfer fees are charged when sending money from one person to another. These fees will vary between companies and may change based on how much money you plan to spend, the way you give the company the money to send—dropping cash off at a local office, approving an online bank draft or charging it to a credit card—and the way the recipient receives the money—having funds directly deposited into a bank account, withdrawing them from an ATM, picking up cash from an agent or having it couriered to a residence.
- Exchange rate: If you’re sending or receiving money from one currency to another, the company will provide you with an exchange rate. The higher the rate, the more money you or the recipient will receive after the transfer. Companies should offer a binding quote so you can compare rates before you make a transfer.
- Free transfer: Some services allow you to make transfers for free if the transfer meets certain requirements. Requirements may stipulate that the transfer is over or under a certain dollar amount or have a specific origin, like a US bank account.
Most companies have a mobile app that allows you to complete transactions on the go.
- Send money: Some apps let you send money within the app. These apps make it easy to complete a transaction from anywhere.
- Track transfers: Most apps allow you to track transfers you’ve made. This feature lets you see when their transaction is approved and when the recipient has access to the money.
When you transfer money, you may be far away from the recipient. Make sure you use a service that operates in their area.
- Global: Many companies cater to those who need to send money from one country to another. Determine whether the company limits the types of transfer you can make and whether it offers a competitive exchange rate.
- Domestic: If you’re not sending money internationally, you can use a service that only operates in your country. These services may be more beneficial if you simply need to split housing expenses with a roommate, pay for your portion of a meal out or make another casual financial exchange.
- Mixed: Some companies offer only a few of their services internationally or only allow you to send money from a single country or in a single currency.
When you need to send money to someone, time is frequently an important factor. Make sure you understand how long it will take before the recipient has access to their funds. Several factors affect how long a transfer will take.
- Method of transfer: How you send money will often be a key element in the period your recipient must wait. Different payment methods will take different amounts of time, and you should check with the company to learn about their specific schedule. Usually, a cash payment at an agent’s location will make the money available the fastest.
- Pick up: The way the recipient plans to get their money will also influence the timeline. Picking up cash from an agent will usually be the quickest choice.
- Location: Transfers across international borders often take longer to process than domestic transactions.
- Business hours: Although sending and receiving money at an agent’s office is typically the fastest option, sending money online or from a mobile app might be quicker if you need to start the transaction over the weekend or after the agent’s office is closed.
Many money transfer services allow you to pay bills or make purchases using their app or your account with them.
- Retail purchases: Some companies offer online or mobile apps that allow you to set up an account with them and then make online purchases using that account. This feature may make online payments easier and more secure.
- Bills: Many utilities, credit card companies and other financial services accept payments from money transfer services.
Different companies offer extra services to help them stand out and make it simple for customers to use their services for multiple kinds of business.
- Mobile phone reloads: Several companies allow you to add money to a prepaid phone account, refilling the user’s minutes.
- Gift card reloads: Some companies offer gift card reload services so you can add funds to a recipient’s prepaid gift card.
- Credit accounts: A few companies offer credit services, which allow you to make payments using your account with them and pay off the balance over time. These options are subject to credit approval.
- Rewards program: Many companies have rewards and/or referral programs that let you earn points that can be redeemed for free transactions, gift cards or cash rewards.
What are different types of money transfer companies?
Money transfers have traditionally been used to send money to someone far away. Many companies still focus primarily on those who need such a service. These companies usually have an extensive network of agents where individuals can send or pick up cash.
The Internet allows individuals to send money from anywhere, without needing to see an agent face-to-face. Most companies allow users to make some transactions online, but some companies cater to this group with easy-to-use websites and a large number of online service options.
Although most companies have an app, newer companies and those that focus on small transfers between friends have robust apps that let customers handle every stage of their transaction from their mobile devices.
Some companies cater to individuals who live outside their country of origin, international travelers and/or those who own businesses that operate in multiple countries.
Who uses money transfer services?
Individuals may need to transfer money to loved ones far away or to roommates, friends and acquaintances for shared expenses. Individual consumers may also use the extra features some companies offer to make online payments.
Travelers and their loved ones
Anyone who has traveled knows the worry of losing their wallet while far from home. They can use money transfer services to have a friend or family member send them money in an emergency.
People that have online businesses, especially those who use Internet marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon Marketplace, Big Cartel and other sites, can use money transfer services to accept online payment or to transfer payments from one currency to another.
Business owners whose companies operate in multiple countries can use transfer services to convert money from one currency to another.
Non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can use money transfer services to get money to individuals in areas that don’t have traditional banks or to areas affected by disasters that may be limiting other financial transactions.
Western Union (WU) was founded in 1851 as an American telegraph company, and it began offering money transfer services in 1871. Now, Western Union is one of the world’s largest and most well-known money transfer companies. In 2015, it facilitated the transfer of more than $150 billion. It offers consumers and businesses options for sending and receiving money.
- Best for Western Union has services that meet most customers’ needs, including individuals, entrepreneurs, business owners and charitable organizations.
Xoom is a money transfer service that allows customers to send money from the United States to other parts of the world, including Central and South America, Asia, the Philippines and more.
- Best for Xoom is best for anyone who has a US bank account and needs to send money or pay bills internationally.
MoneyGram was established in 1988 and took its current form in 1998, but it has a history going back to 1940 with the Travelers Express Company. It became a publically-traded company in 2004 and is headquartered in Dallas. MoneyGram offers money transfers, bill pay services, money orders and other financial services.
- Best for MoneyGram has services to meet most consumers’ needs, including individuals, business owners and travelers.
PayPal was founded in 1998, and eBay acquired it in 2002. The company now has nearly 200 million active customers, and in 2015 the company hosted approximately 4.9 billion transactions. Customers in more than 200 countries can use the company’s services and hold money in their accounts in 25 different currencies. Consumers can use the service to transfer money to other individuals, pay bills, make online purchases, make donations and obtain financing.
- Best for PayPal is best for individuals who want to make payments online with more security and/or transfer money to family and friends.
TransferWise is a service that allows customers to transfer money between different currencies; it cannot be used to transfer money that starts and ends in the same currency. The company was founded by two friends who lived in different parts of Europe and deposited different currencies in each other’s bank accounts to avoid the hidden fees charged by banks. Today, the company operates in countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
- Best for TransferWise is best for individuals who need to transfer money to someone using a different currency.
WorldFirst is a currency exchange service. It was established in 2004 and is headquartered in London with other offices the Netherlands, the United States, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore.
- Best for WorldFirst has services to meet the needs of most consumers who need to change money from one currency to another, with special benefits for online sellers.
Ria was established in 1987 in New York. The company is now one of the world’s largest money transfer firms, operating in nearly 150 countries. Their services include money transfer, mobile phone refill, currency exchange, bill payment and check cashing. Ria Financial is owned by Euronet Worldwide, an electronic financial transfer provider.
- Best for Ria Financial is best for individuals, especially those who regularly send money to central Europe.
TRANSFAST was founded in 1988 and specializes in online money transfer services. The company’s headquarters are located in New York, and it operates in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. Consumers can use TRANSFAST for both in-person and online money transfers as well as domestic and international payments.
- Best for TRANSFAST is best for individuals who need to make transfers either domestically or internationally.
Venmo, owned by PayPal, was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in New York. The service lets individuals easily pay one another for their part of a restaurant check, group-purchased gift, utility bill and more. It is popular among younger customers and college students.
- Best for Venmo is best for individuals who frequently split checks or bills with friends or family members.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.