Methodology for rating money transfer providers |

Methodology for rating money transfer providers

The money transfer industry is notorious for a lack of transparency. That’s not a good fit for the potentially complicated, expensive process in getting your money to loved ones and businesses around the world.

Our team analyzes money transfer providers offering services in the US — from big names to digital upstarts. We rank each service on rates and fees, speed, services and user experience, running them through a gauntlet comprising live transfers, user testing, quotes and verification.

The providers

  • TransferWise
  • World First
  • XE
  • OFX
  • WorldRemit
  • Currencies Direct
  • Western Union
  • RIA Money Transfer
  • MoneyGram
  • Remitly
  • Payoneer
  • Remit2India
  • Xoom
  • PayPal

Our ratings

We rate these providers using a system of one to five stars.

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our testing

Finding the top money transfer provider for your needs often involves a complicated variety of options that can dramatically affect how much you ultimately pay to get your money from A to Z.

Our team of researchers tests each provider within four main categories: rates and fees, speed, services and user experience.

We use our research to grade each provider — with 5 representing the best of all available options.

How we rank fees and rates

We look at fees to confirm how providers profit from your transfers — whether it’s a flat cost per transfer or a percentage of how much you’re sending.

We also collect advertised rates for each provider, comparing them against the mid-market rate to determine “hidden” fees that result from a markup on the exchange rate. We then rank providers based on overall cost.

How we rank speed

We select the fastest transfer method available, clocking the time required for delivery against any estimate provided. Because speed often depends on payment and delivery options, we rank like options across providers.

How we rank services

We look at a provider’s global reach and overall flexibility in transferring your money abroad. We count the number of countries and territories that you can send money to and weigh the ability to send a transfer from all 50 states.

We look at flexibility in how you can send and receive money, whether to or from bank accounts, debit cards or storefronts as cash pickups. We weigh the availability of payment against delivery options, weighing more heavily those providing options beyond bank-to-bank transfers.

How we rank user experience

User experience is twofold, measuring how easy it is to use the provider and the accuracy of its claims.

We look at potential barriers to sending a transfer, confirming that you can see rates and fees without committing to a transfer or entering payment. We also check on the government-issued ID require to send a transfer — including a driver’s license, passport or Social Security number.

To confirm that providers update rates regularly with the market, we collect quotes for transfers from various currency pairs that include USD/MXN, USD/GBP and USD/EUR. We use these rates to further confirm the accuracy of how providers explain they profit from your transfers and any hidden fees.

Kelly Waggoner

Kelly Waggoner is a senior editor with She's worked with publishers, magazines and nonprofits throughout New York City, including ghostwriting a how-to on copyediting for the Dummies series. Between projects, she toys with words, flips through style guides and fantasizes about the serial comma's world domination.

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