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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.

Compare money transfer services

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
OFX
24 hours
$0

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OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Dunbridge Financial
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours
$0

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Dunbridge Financial offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on transfers to more than 120 countries.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally £5,000)

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Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
XE
Within minutes
$3

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XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
WorldRemit
Within an hour
From $1.99

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WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

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Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Instarem
Within an hour
$1

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Exclusive: Use code GET60 to save 30 USD on each transaction over 200 USD. Valid for the first two transactions and till 30 November 2021. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers

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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.
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
MoneyGram
Within an hour
From $0

View details
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
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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

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