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MoneyGram vs. TransferWise

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We compare a popular service with a relative newcomer to see how they compare on fees, rates and speed.

When it comes to international money transfers, you’ve inevitably 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 TransferWise 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 need to get pounds to someone in the UK, TransferWise will find someone in the UK looking to send dollars to the US, essentially swapping your funds.

Both MoneyGram and TransferWise will safely get your money where it needs to go, but TransferWise 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.

moneygramtransferwise
MoneyGramTransferWise
FeesStarts from $4.99From 0.5% to 1.5% of your transaction
Exchange rates5% or more above the mid-market rateMid-market rate
Speed2–4 days1–4 days
Max Transfer AmountVaries by countryPrivate individual – $49,999 per day and $199,999 per year
Business – $199,999 per day and $1,000,000 per year

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MoneyGram and TransferWise: How they work

MoneyGram and TransferWise both offer easy online processes to exchange and send money around the world.

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.

TransferWise

TransferWise is a fully online process. You’ll need to create a free TransferWise 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 Google+, Facebook or PayPal 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.

Who 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 $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.

TransferWise

Fees depend on where and how you’re sending money. They range from 0.5% to 1.5% of your transaction — and sometimes a bit higher, depending on the currency you’re transferring to. To send $1,000 to China, you’ll pay 1.5% of your transaction (or $15); to the Philippines, the fee drops to 1% ($10). You can easily find out what you’ll pay by visiting its “How much does TransferWise cost?” page.

  • Winner: TransferWise

With consistently lower fees, TransferWise takes the lead.

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.

MoneyGram and TransferWise 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 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 $1,000 to the UK:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.82 EUR
  • MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 USD = 0.768 GBP

TransferWise

Exchange rates is where TransferWise shines. It’s one of the only money transfer services that offers you the mid-market rate. So if you’re sending $1,000 to the UK and the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.82 EUR, that’s the rate you’re going to get.

  • Winner: TransferWise

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

Case study: Sending $1,000 to Italy

Lesley wants to send $1,000 to her daughter Rory, who is studying in Rome. She wants to send money from her bank account and initially thought she’d just wire the money from her local bank. But after speaking with well-traveled friends, she looked into comparing the services of MoneyGram and TransferWise to see which has better exchange rates and fees.

MoneygramTransferwise
Transfer fee$4.99$9.90
Exchange rate EUR1 USD = 0.9218 EUR1 USD = 0.9401
Processing time2–4 days1–4 days
Amount received in euros921.80 EUR940.10 EUR

By going with TransferWise, Lesley saves almost $5 in fees over MoneyGram. Not only that, but Rory gets an extra $20 for books and other necessities.

Who’s faster?

MoneyGram

Delivery speed varies with transfer options. At an agent location or by phone, your transfer could be delivered in minutes (though with higher costs). In general, your cheaper options will take two to four business days for receipt.

TransferWise

Depending on the currencies involved and your payment method, it could take up to four business days for your recipient to see your cash.

  • Winner: Tie

Your average transfer may take about the same time with both services.

Who offers more options?

ProvidersPayment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
MoneyGramBank account, credit or debit card, in personMinimum and maximum varies by countryBank account, cash pickup, other options by location2–4 days190+ countries and 45+ currencies
TransferWiseBank account$1 minimum; $36,000 maximumBank account1–4 daysNearly 40 currencies

Bottom line

TransferWise 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.

Frequently asked questions

See how MoneyGram and TransferWise compare to other money transfer companies

I want to send

to

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 20.56 MXN 102,799 Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
No-limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour USD 3.99 20.436 MXN 102,097 Use promo code FINDER to send your first transfer at no fee to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
USD 100 3 - 5 days USD 0.00 20.622 MXN 103,110 Transfer money into 20 currencies and schedule regular payments. $5 fee waived for transfers over $5,000. Go to site Show details
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 20.498 MXN 102,489 Exclusive exchange rate discounts
No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 3 - 5 days USD 75.00 20.705 MXN
101,971
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BlancaMay 21, 2018

    How much Naira will my family receive if I send $600 U.S.dolars?

    • Staff
      joelmarceloMay 22, 2018Staff

      Hi Blanca,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      If you send 600USD to Nigeria, there will be a 13USD transfer fee. The recipient will get 211935NGN if you send it today. If you would like to compare in sending money to Nigeria, please click here.

      Cheers,
      Joel

US International Money Transfers Offers

Important Information*
HiFX International Money Transfers

Transfer money into 20 currencies and schedule regular payments. $5 fee waived for transfers over $5,000.

WorldRemit International Money Transfers

Use promo code FINDER to send your first transfer at no fee to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.

World First Foreign Exchange

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
No-limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies.

TransferWise International Money Transfers

Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks.

Go to site