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MoneyGram vs. Wise (TransferWise)

We compare Wise with MoneyGram to see how each compares on fees, rates and transfer speeds.

Both MoneyGram and Wise will safely get your money where it needs to go, but Wise is superior to MoneyGram in a few key areas. However, if your recipient needs to pick it up in cash, you may find that MoneyGram has a slight edge.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 1 1 - 2 days N/A N/A N/A Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies. Go to site Show details
CAD 1 Within an hour N/A N/A N/A MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

How they work

When it comes to international money transfers, you’ve probably heard of MoneyGram. MoneyGram is a major player that has been sending money overseas since 1940 to more than 200 countries worldwide.

On the other hand, UK-based newcomer Wise is a fundamentally different way to send money online. Using peer-to-peer technology, it matches users looking to send money in one currency with customers in other countries looking to receive the same money. So if you need to get pounds to someone in the UK, Wise will find someone in the UK looking to send dollars to Canada, essentially swapping your funds.

MoneyGram

With MoneyGram, you go to its site, enter how much you’re transferring and confirm how you’re sending it and how it should be received. You also have the option of visiting or calling an agent. Once you’ve approved the exchange rate and fees you’ll pay, MoneyGram converts and delivers your money to your recipient’s bank account or for cash pickups at locations worldwide.

Wise

Wise is a fully online process. You’ll need to create a free Wise account, but it’s easy to set one up at the same time of your transfer. You also have the option of signing in with your existing Apple, Google or Facebook account.

To send money, you go to its site, select the currencies you are exchanging and indicate how much you want to send. After reviewing your rate and fee, money is pulled from your bank account.

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Which offers lower fees?

MoneyGram

Fees vary depending on how much money you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and the country you’re sending it to. It’s difficult to pin down exactly how much you’ll pay to send money internationally without actually initiating a transfer.

As an example, to send $900 to France and pay by debit or credit, you’ll pay $4.99 in fees. To pay for that same amount by cash card, you could pay $15. To send $900 for cash pickup in the Philippines, it’s $4.99 if you pay by debit or credit and $8 if you pay by cash.

Wise

Fees depend on where and how you’re sending money. They range from 0.55% to 2.35% of your transaction, plus a fixed fee depending on the currency you’re transferring to.

To send $900 to France and pay by direct debit, you’ll pay 0.25% of your transaction (or $2.24) plus a fixed fee of $5.32. To the Philippines, the fee rises to 1.54% ($13.82) plus a fixed fee of $6.70. You can easily find out what you’ll pay by visiting its “How much does Wise cost?” page.

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Winner: Wise

With consistently lower fees, Wise takes the lead.

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Which offers better exchange rates?

To understand who offers better exchange rates, you’ll need to first look at the mid-market rate. This is the true exchange rate that averages the buying and selling rate of a global currency — and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves. MoneyGram and Wise have two very different approaches when it comes to respecting the mid-market rate.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram makes its money from transfer fees and by skewing the exchange rate for a profit, also called “padding” the rate. Depending on where you’re sending your money, the exchange rate could be up to 5% or more above the mid-market rate. If you’re sending a large sum, this means hundreds of dollars that goes straight into MoneyGram’s coffers.

Say you’re sending $900 to the UK:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 CAD = 0.58 GBP
  • MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 CAD = 0.56 GBP

Wise

Exchange rates is where Wise shines. It’s one of the only money transfer services that offers you the mid-market rate. So if you’re sending $900 to the UK and the mid-market rate is 1 CAD = 0.58 GBP, you’ll get that rate.

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Winner: Wise

There’s no denying the power of paying the mid-market rate.

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Which is faster?

MoneyGram

Delivery speed varies with transfer options. At an agent location, online or by phone, your transfer could be delivered within minutes or hours. The timing could be longer depending on the destination country and when transfers are sent (for instance, outside of normal banking hours or on statutory holidays).

Wise

Depending on the currencies involved and your payment method, it could take up to 2 business days for your recipient to see your cash. However, many transactions funded by credit card process within minutes. Bank transfers could take more time.

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Winner: MoneyGram

While the average transfer time with both services could take minutes, MoneyGram offers quicker transfers for most types of transactions.

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Which offers more options?

Payment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
MoneyGramBank account, credit or debit card, cash$0.01 minimum and $990 CAD maximum if you transfer online. Varies by country if you send money in person at an agent location.Bank transfer, cash pickup, other options by locationMinutes to hours190+ countries and 45+ currencies
WiseBank account$1 minimum; $36,000 maximumBank accountMinutes up to 2 business days60+ countries and 50+ currencies
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Bottom line

Wise is the new kid on the block that offers easy, secure transfers online in 40 currencies around the world. Real-time mid-market exchange rates and low fees crush MoneyGram’s often complicated fee structure.

But if you don’t have time on your side, you may opt to pay more with MoneyGram to get it there faster or in cash. Ultimately, you’ll need to compare your options to find the service that’s right for you.

Still looking for other options?

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 1 Same day CAD 0.00 0.778 USD
3,889
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
CAD 10 Within an hour CAD 1.99 0.773 USD
3,864
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 45.00 0.782 USD
3,874
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Frequently asked questions

What does Wise or MoneyGram charge extra for business transactions?

Neither service differentiates between business and individual users. That said, frequent users of both types may qualify for benefits or better rates.

What are the penalties for cancelling a transaction with Wise or MoneyGram?

There’s no penalty to cancel your Wise transaction at any time before it’s complete. If the transfer has already gone through, you have options, but fluctuations in the exchange rates will affect the amount you’re ultimately refunded. MoneyGram does not charge to cancel a transfer, but it could take up to 10 days for you to see your refund.

Who offers better customer service: Wise or MoneyGram?

Both make it easy to reach customer support. The expert team at Wise offers support via live chat, phone, email and Twitter. MoneyGram is available 24/7 by email or phone.

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