14 great MoneyGram alternatives for international transfers


If you need to send money abroad, MoneyGram has long been among the most popular options. It offers online transfers and also has a huge network of physical locations around the world which you can use to send and receive money.

But there are plenty of other options, too, including many specialist providers that have been set up in recent years. And, even though the name MoneyGram is familiar, there’s no guarantee that they offer you the best deal. After all, whenever you make an international transfer, you should compare the exchange rate you’re being offered to the mid-market exchange rate - the rate the banks use among themselves. If you’re being offered a worse rate than this, you’re losing out.

So take a look at this list of alternatives to MoneyGram and see if they might bring you any closer to a truly fee-free international transfer.

1. Wise

Since 2011, Wise has offered a way to avoid the hefty, unpredictable fees that banks charge when you try to make an international transfer. Thanks to its network of local bank accounts in countries around the world, Wise isn’t dependent on constantly moving its customers’ money between countries. It simply pays out through a local account in the destination country, which allows them to usethe mid-market exchange rate - the same rate you’ll find if you look it up on Google, andthe only rate it’s really fair to use.

Instead of marking up the exchange rate, which is how many banks and international transfer providers make their profits, there’s only one fee with Wise - a low percentage of the transfer value, always stated upfront so that you know exactly what the full cost will be as well as how much your recipient will get.

And if you spend a lot of time between countries or dealing with people abroad, a borderless multi-currency account might help too. It’s free for both individuals and businesses, with no monthly fees, and lets you hold money in dozens of different currencies and transfer to a great many countries. It gives you virtual account details, too, for receiving money locally in EUR, GBP, and AUD - so if you need to receive money from any of those currencies, the sender doesn’t have to pay international transfer fees, either.

2. Western Union

One of the best-known players on the international transfer scene, Western Union has been going since the 19th century.¹ Today Western Union offers international transfers online, by phone or in person via hundreds of thousands of agent locations around the world. There are various options for receiving money, too - you can request a cash pickup as well as a bank transfer, and they offer transfers to mobile wallets in certain locations. The company also offers other services, including facilitating bill payments, for customers living in the USA.²

Don’t forget to check what it’ll cost you, though. There are different fees depending on how you make the transfer and how the receiver gets it. And there’s the exchange rate to consider. As they admit in their terms and conditions, Western Union’s exchange rate may be less favourable than some publicly reported commercial exchange rates used in transactions between banks or other financial institutions. Any difference between the currency exchange rate offered to customers and the currency exchange rate received by Western Union will be kept by Western Union (and, in some instances, its agents, mobile phone provider, or account provider) in addition to the transfer fees., which means that they charge rates that are worse than the mid-market rate and keep the difference.³ Additionally, the rates they quote are subject to change without notice, so there’s an element of uncertainty to the process as well. However, in terms of their global reach, Western Union is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

3. Xoom

If you’re based in the US, Xoom is another popular option that’s been in business since 2001. PayPal has owned it since 2015.⁴ Using Xoom, you can send money from the US to dozens of countries around the world - they are most popular for sending to Latin America and several Asian countries.⁴ Like with MoneyGram, cash pickup is an option in some destinations, and so is delivery⁷. This might be useful if you’re sending to someone without a local bank account.

As for the cost, again it depends on the exact nature of your transfer, with credit and debit card transfers potentially being more expensive.⁵ As they admit on their website, they also make money from marking up their exchange rate, so you won’t get the mid-market rate if you transfer with Xoom.⁵ They’re a popular and easy-to-use option, though.

4. PayPal

Xoom’s parent company PayPal is best known for facilitating online payments of all sorts, not just international transfers. But they do offer that service as well, and it could be useful if both you and the recipient have a PayPal account. As you’d expect from a big organization like PayPal, they can process transfers between many currencies and very many countries.⁶

While the convenience factor shouldn’t be overlooked, remember to take a look at PayPal’s fees, which can end up being far greater than you realize, especially if you’re sending money abroad. That includes PayPal business payments. What’s the exact cost? That depends on how much you’re transferring and how, and also on whether PayPal needs to convert the currency.

5. WorldFirst

This London-based company has been operating since 2004, and its focus is on higher-value transfers - the minimum amount you can transfer is USD 1,000.⁸ They only offer transfers between bank accounts, so there’s no cash pickup option.

The focus on larger transactions means that their fee structure is a little bit different, with a flat fee for transfers less than $10,000 and no fixed fee for transfers above it.⁸ Where they make their money, as they state on their website, is by marking up the mid-market exchange rate.⁸ You should also be aware that there can be additional fees for business clients, in addition to the exchange rate markup.

6. WorldRemit

The similarly named WorldRemit is also based in London, and was founded in 2010⁹. While it offers transfers to over a hundred countries, it has a particular focus on Africa - over half their transfers go there.¹⁰

As well as bank transfers, there are cash pickup options to some countries, and in some instances, there are options to pay into mobile wallets or top up airtime.¹¹ They generally show their exchange rates upfront, which means that you get to check what they’ll charge before you commit to the payment.¹¹ So head over to an online currency converter and make sure you’re satisfied with the rate that you’re getting.

7. Bitcoin

For the financially intrepid, Bitcoin could be another option for you to send money abroad. It’s not a specialist international transfer provider like most of the companies listed here, but if both you and your recipient are able to cope with it, then you can always have a go at making the transfer in the ubiquitous cryptocurrency.

All you really need to do is send enough bitcoin to your recipient, using whatever exchange rate you like, and it’ll then be down to them to either keep it in bitcoin or withdraw it in their local currency.¹² If they choose to withdraw it, of course, that’s another conversion that needs to be made, from bitcoin to the recipient’s local currency - so there are 2 different exchange rates involved in the transfer.¹² Coupled with Bitcoin’s notorious volatility, this might make you want to consider a safer option. So might the fact that many banks remain wary about Bitcoin because of money laundering regulations. However, if this sounds like the right method for both you and the recipient, it could be worth giving Bitcoin a try.

8. Ria Money Transfer

Ria pre-dates many of the internet-focused providers on this list, having been founded in 1987. Ria users can transfer money to over 140 countries worldwide. You can transfer the money online from several countries, and use one of their agent locations to send money to many others.¹³

For cash pickup, Ria can be especially useful because it has a substantial network of agent locations all around the world. In terms of fees, it depends on the exact method you use - it’s different if you do it online or in person. That applies to the exchange rates, too, so be sure to check all your options before committing yourself.¹³

If you’re in the US, Ria also offers domestic money transfers - which might be worth considering if you usually use a bank for these²⁵.

9. XE

The name XE might well be familiar to you if you’ve ever looked up exchange rates online - they’re well known for listing the mid-market exchange rates for international currencies. But they also offer international transfers.¹⁴

From several countries, you can transfer money across borders with XE, and their exchange rates update regularly, just like they do on the main site. However, watch out for what that rate actually is. As they state themselves on their website, personal clients and small to medium businesses don’t have access to the mid-market rate for their payments via XE - instead, you’ll be charged a rate that isn’t quite as good.¹⁴

Like Ria, XE is part of the larger American company Euronet Worldwide.

10. Remitly

While some transfer providers boast of the number of different countries and currencies they service, Remitly is more of a specialist provider to a handful of countries in Asia and Central or South America.¹⁵ So you’ll need to check carefully to see if they offer the service you’re looking for - but if you do, you might be in luck.

The fees and exchange rates they offer vary depending on the details: Remitly offers express and normal-speed transfers, which are charged differently, and the amount you’re transferring affects the cost as well. Of course, which actual countries are involved also affects the fees. So be sure to check all your options before you commit, and think about how fast you need to send the money. You’ll get a better rate with Remitly if you’re willing to wait a few extra days.¹⁶

11. Skrill

Skrill might be a familiar name to you if you’ve encountered it while buying something online - it also provides a way of making digital payments. It’s based in London and was set up in 2001.

And yes, it offers international money transfers as well. Via their own system of ‘mobile wallets’, you can send money from one Skrill account to another, and you can do this across borders and in various currencies.¹⁷ If the recipient doesn’t have a Skrill account, they’ll get an email inviting them to sign up for one, so that they can access the money you’ve sent them²⁶.

Skrill might, on occasion, advertises no-fee international transfers.¹⁸ But be aware that there could end up being fees for various aspects of the transaction: uploading money into a Skrill account can sometimes cost, and so can sending the money, converting it into a new currency, and withdrawing it out of a Skrill account. What’s more, you should make sure to check the exchange rate they offer against the real mid-market exchange rate you’ll find on Google. If it’s any worse than that, the transfer isn’t really as cost-free as it might seem.

12. OFX

Founded as OzForex in 1998, OFX is based in Australia with an international reach. Its focus is on transferring money from various countries, they have a list of “standard” and “exotic” currencies, too many countries around the world.¹⁹ You can use it directly as an individual, but they also provide services to other industry figures, such as MoneyGram²⁰. While they show great exchange rates on their website, these might not be the rates you’ll actually get from OFX: find out what that rate is before hitting send.

For very smaller transfers it isn’t an option - the minimum transfer amount is USD 1000.²¹ But for larger transfers, and if you’re after a tailored business service, it might be worth a look. OFX offers various additional services, so if features like recurring payments appeal to you then you might be in luck.

13. Transfast

With New York-based Transfast, you can send USD or Canadian dollars around the world, either by bank transfer or with the recipient going out and receiving the money in cash. Transfast offers either normal or fast transfers, for users who are active and verified²².

You should be shown the exchange rate you’ll get before you make the transfer.²² That isn’t a given with international transfer providers, so it’s a very useful feature because it allows you to check what you’re being offered against the mid-market rate. Be aware too that the rates and fees Transfast charges vary depending on whether you make the transfer online or use an agent location. So always do your research, and make sure you’re happy with what you’re being offered.

14. Payoneer

Payoneer, also based in New York, is aimed at businesses and professionals, so if you’re sending money back home to friends or loved ones, it probably isn’t for you. But for a company with international clients or contractors, it could be worth a look.²³ Their goal is to streamline international transactions so that they’re easier to deal with than if you rely on the banks. So in addition to sending payments internationally, Payoneer gives customers account details in several different currencies so that it’s easier to receive money from abroad.

They, therefore, offer a slightly different service to most of the providers on this list, but they are similar in terms of the fees they charge: for certain specific services you’ll have to pay a markup on the mid-market rate, and for some others there’s a percentage cut of the transfer to pay.²⁴ So it’s always worth double checking the exchange rate, as well as the fees before you make a transfer.

As you’ll have seen, you’re not short of options if you’re tired of MoneyGram and looking for an alternative way to move money abroad. There’s bound to be at least one out of these that looks like it might work for you. But remember - while a lot of the options listed above have different focal points or target markets, the most important question is very simple: which one is the most cost-effective?

When you’re making that decision, always remember to keep your eye on the sum total of all the costs they charge - not just the fixed fees, but also the markup on the exchange rate. That can make just as much difference to what the transfer really costs you. Before you commit to the provider of your choice, make sure to check the exchange rate they offer against the one you can find on Google or use an onlinecurrency converter.

Wise always offers you the mid-market exchange rate, and is suitable for both personal and business payments. You could consider opening a borderless multi- currency account as well if you need to hold money is several currencies, or want to be able to receive payments in AUD, EUR and GBP. You always see the fees for your payment upfront, there aren’t any hidden fees involved, so you know what to expect.

Good luck in finding the best solution for your next international wire transfer.

1.http://www.payment-solutions.com/history.html (July 13, 2018)
2.https://corporate.westernunion.com/consumer-services.html (July 13, 2018)
3.https://www.westernunion.com/de/en/terms-conditions.html (July 13, 2018)
4.https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/02/business/paypal-acquires-xoom-for-stake-in-digital-money-transfers.html (July 13, 2018)
5.https://www.xoom.com/united-kingdom/fees-fx (July 13, 2018)
6.https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/country-worldwide (July 13, 2018)
7.https://www.xoom.com/xoom-locations?receiveCountryCode=VN (July 13, 2018)
8.https://www.worldfirst.com/us/support/faq/ (July 13, 2018)
9.https://www.worldremit.com/en/news/worldremit-raises-40m (July 13, 2018)
10.https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/06/worldremit-nabs-40m-at-a-670m-valuation-to-boost-its-money-transfer-business/ (July 13, 2018)
11.https://www.worldremit.com/ (July 13, 2018)
12.https://www.finder.com/how-bitcoin-compete-money-transfer-market (July 13, 2018)
13.https://www.riamoneytransfer.co.uk/help/faq (July 13, 2018)
14.http://www.xe.com/faq/rates_buyorsellrates.php (July 13, 2018)
15.https://www.remitly.com/us/en/faq/89/What-countries-can-I-send-money-to (July 13, 2018)
16.https://www.remitly.com/us/en/faq/105/Why-are-there-two-different-exchange-rates-for-sending-to-India (July 13, 2018)
17.https://www.skrill.com/en/siteinformation/fees/ (July 13, 2018)
18.https://www.skrill.com/en/transfer-money/international-money-transfers/ (July 13, 2018)
19.https://www.ofx.com/en-us/faqs/what-currencies-can-i-transfer-with-ofx/ (July 13, 2018)
20.https://money.moneygram.com.au/information/about-us (July 13, 2018)
21.https://www.ofx.com/en-us/faqs/what-is-the-minimum-transfer-amount/ (July 13, 2018)
22.https://www.transfast.com/faq/getting-to-know-transfast (July 13, 2018)
23.https://www.payoneer.com/fees/ (July 13, 2018)
24.https://blog.payoneer.com/how-to/general/everything-you-need-to-know-about-conversion-rates/ (July 13, 2018)
25.https://www.riamoneytransfer.com/countries/send-money-to-us (July 13, 2018)
26.https://www.skrill.com/en/support#/path/PAYMENTS/Send-Money/905758432/Who-can-I-send-money-to-using-Skrill.htm (July 13, 2018)

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