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Money transfer regulations: How you’re protected

Federal law prohibits companies from charging hidden fees or unclear exchange rates.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulates money transfers and lays out what your legal rights are when sending money domestically or internationally — and what you can do if they’ve been violated.

Learn more about costs, rates and delivery in our guide to international money transfers.

Who regulates money transfers?

Things have changed since 2010, when Congress passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the fallout of 2008’s financial crisis. Until 2010, regulation was fragmented among consumer protection agencies whose terminology didn’t always agree.

Dodd–Frank immediately set to expand the 1978 Electronic Funds Transfer Act to include disclosures and procedures that protect consumers when sending, withdrawing or moving around their money.

Importantly, Dodd–Frank established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which regulates the financial products Americans use every day: credit cards, loans — and even international money transfers. Today, the CFPB enforces compliance with the Remittance Transfer Rule that applies to international remittances of $15 or more.

What does the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau do?

The CFPB is an independent US government agency authorized by the Dodd–Frank Act of 2010 to protect consumers doing business with banks and credit unions, mortgage providers, payday lenders, foreclosure services, debt collectors and independent money transfer specialists.

Its priorities began with mortgages, credit cards and student loans but since expanded to other consumer financial products and services. In short, it provides protection from any financial institution — traditional or otherwise — you might come in contact with when moving around your money.

It not only regulates protections, but it also solicits and publishes consumer complaints to the public to help others make more informed financial decisions.

What rights do I have as a consumer?

The CFPB’s Remittance Transfer Rule requires most banks, credit unions and independent financial services to provide you with clear, detailed information upfront and after any money transfer of $15 or more.

Before your money transfer

Before you agree to your money transfer, your provider must provide you with:

  • The exact exchange rate you’ll receive.
  • The total fees and taxes you’ll pay for your transfer.
  • Fees you’ll pay to any overseas agent involved in the process.
  • The total your recipient will receive on their end.

Your bank or provider is also required to disclose and define any important terms you don’t understand, how it will resolve any problems and how you can cancel your transfer.

After your money transfer

Your provider must provide you with:

  • A receipt confirming your payment, expected arrival, instructions on your right to cancel and how you can report a problem.
  • The right to cancel your transfer without penalty up to 30 minutes after you’ve initiated it, unless your money is picked up or deposited into your recipient’s account.

If you discover a problem with your transfer — your money isn’t received as promised, for instance — you have up to 180 days to report it for investigation. At that time, your bank or provider has 90 days to work through any problems and report its outcome. In some cases, you can get a refund or resend your transfer at no additional cost.

The CFPB under fire

In June 2017, the Trump administration proposed making good on its campaign promise to curb the Dodd–Frank Act and how the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau regulates financial industries overall based on what it considers an overreach of power.

Soon after, in September 2017, the State Education Department ended its agreements with the CFPB to share data on student loans, limiting the agency’s oversight into student lending.

Time will tell how far President Trump limits this watchdog agency’s regulatory oversight. But it doesn’t appear that the CFPB will go without a fight: In October 2017 — after five years of haggling with Congress — it finalized a rule that prevents rollover charges and refinancing on payday loans, much to the chagrin of the lending community.

Common questions about transfer protections

Whether products shown are available to you is subject to individual provider sole approval and discretion in accordance with the eligibility criteria and T&Cs on the provider website.

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
OFX International Money Transfers (Business)
24 hours
Business customers: Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates.
Within minutes
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Within minutes
From $0
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
24 hours
From 0%
New Instarem customers will get a special FX rate and zero-fees on their first transfer.
Instarem offers offers rewards on every transaction.
Xe Money Transfer for Business
24 hours
Save your time and money with Xe Money Transfer for business.
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
24 hours
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
WorldRemit - 4free
Within minutes
From $0.99
Use promo code 3FREE and pay no fees on your first 3 transfers. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
24 hours
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
PayPal (business)
Within minutes
Provides business solutions for small business owners in over 24 currencies worldwide. Try 3 months free of Spotify Premium when you sign up with PayPal.
Wise (TransferWise) International Money Transfers Business
Within minutes
From $8.16
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies, while saving up to 90% over local banks.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.41%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.