We take a look at a big name in international money transfers against the newer, simpler CurrencyFair.
MoneyGram is a well-known name in international money transfers, but it’s no longer your only option. Newer peer-based CurrencyFair offers competitive exchange rates through peer-to-peer services to earn your business loyalty.
MoneyGram and CurrencyFair: How they work
With MoneyGram, you go to its site, enter the amount you need to transfer and confirm your payment and how it should be received. (You also have the option of visiting or calling an agent.) Once you approve the exchange rate and fees you’ll pay, MoneyGram converts and delivers your money to your recipient’s bank account or for cash pickup at locations worldwide.
CurrencyFair allows you to set the exchange rate that you’d like for your desired currency. Then you’re matched with someone willing to make the exchange. Once your currency is converted, CurrencyFair transfers it to your recipient’s bank account.
Who offers lower fees?
Fees vary depending on how much money you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and the country you’re sending it to. Unless you actually initiate a transfer, it’s not easy to find out up front how much you’ll pay. As an example, to send $1,000 to China from a bank account, you’ll pay $8 in fees; to pay for that same amount by credit or debit card, you’ll pay $48. To send $1,000 for cash pickup in the Philippines, it’s $4.99 from a bank account and $10 by credit or debit.
CurrencyFair charges a fee on the total amount of an exchange. If you’re able to find another CurrencyFair user with whom you can exchange your money, CurrencyFair charges 0.15% of the total transfer amount. If you exchange with CurrencyFair, that percentage jumps to 0.4% to 0.6%.
Although CurrencyFair charges a higher rate if there’s no one to exchange currency with, this rate is generally between 0.4% and 0.6% — which comes in much lower than the average transaction with MoneyGram.
Who 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.
We’ll look at the rates that MoneyGram and CurrencyFair offer compared to the mid-market rate.
Depending on where you’re sending money, the exchange rate with MoneyGram could be 5% or more above the mid-market rate. This translates to big profits for MoneyGram, at your expense.
Let’s look at the example of a transfer to euros:
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.96 EUR
- MoneyGram’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.87 DOP
Because CurrencyFair is a marketplace that matches users, your exchange rate will vary. But CurrencyFair takes a much smaller margin than MoneyGram, with rates that are usually within 0.5% of the mid-market rate.
Using the same example of a transfer to euros:
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.96 EUR
- CurrencyFair’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.94 EUR
CurrencyFair’s competitive exchange rates edge out MoneyGram’s rates for most transfers. Its website also compares its rates and fees with those of your local bank side by side to help you make an informed decision.
MoneyGram’s delivery speeds vary by transfer option. In-person and phone deliveries can occur within minutes, although at higher costs. MoneyGram’s cheaper options take two to four business days.
Depending on which method you use, it can take up to two days to send money to CurrencyFair. It then takes one or two business days for CurrencyFair to convert your money and send it to your recipient. (If you’re using an Irish debit card, however, your transfer is completed nearly instantly.)
CurrencyFair is far more transparent about when your recipient will have access to the money you send. And MoneyGram offers faster delivery options at higher costs. However, the cheapest options for both MoneyGram and CurrencyFair will get your money where it needs to go in in about same time.
Who offers more options?
|Payment methods||Minimum and maximum transfers||Delivery methods||Transfer speeds||Countries and currencies|
|MoneyGram||Bank account, credit or debit card, cash||Varies by country||Bank transfer, cash pickup, other options by location||2–4 business days||190+ countries and 45+ currencies|
|CurrencyFair||Bank account, debit card (Irish only)||None||Bank transfer||2–4 business days||15 currencies|
$1,000 to New Zealand
Susan wants to send $1,000 to her daughter Ellie who is studying abroad in Auckland. Here’s what an online bank-to-bank transfer would look like for this transaction with MoneyGram and CurrencyFair.
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 1.34 NZD||1 USD = 1.39 NZD|
|Transfer speed||2–4 business days||2–4 business days|
|Total received||1,343 NZD||1,381 NZD|
If Susan uses CurrencyFair for her transfer, she’ll saves a bit on transfer fees, but her daughter will receive almost 40 more New Zealand dollars.
MoneyGram offers more flexibility when it comes to transfer methods, but CurrencyFair will generally save you more money with lower transfer fees and stronger exchange rates.
Because the exact cost of your exchange can fluctuate depending on your specific circumstances, compare your options to find a provider that makes the most sense for your situation.