Instarem review [2024]: How does it work, fees, pros & cons

Adam Rozsa

Instarem¹ money transfer service is a cost-effective way for individuals and businesses to transfer funds around the world. Founded in 2014, Instarem lets people send international payments funded by bank transfers in over 55 currencies with exchange rates which beat the banks.

Instarem uses competitive rates for currency exchange - but there’s still a markup added to the mid-market rate, which can push up costs. To help you save money, we’ll also highlight the free Wise account, which lets you send money with the mid-market exchange rate. That can save you 6x compared to normal banks. More on that later.

Save up to 6x with Wise

📝 Table of contents

How does Instarem work?

This Instarem review covers all you need to know about how the Instarem site works, Instarem’s exchange rates when you send money overseas and how to set up your own international money transfer. Let’s start with the key question: how does Instarem work?

Instarem allows customers to make international payments direct to bank accounts in 55 countries around the world. You’ll be able to set up your transfer online or in the Instarem app. Once your money is received by Instarem, it’s deposited in your recipient’s account in their local currency. Simple.

Instarem also offers business payments and services through its NIUM brand. This guide will focus on the personal payment proposition only, but you can find out more on the Instarem website about business services if you’re interested.

Instarem InstaPoints

One interesting feature of Instarem accounts is that you can earn reward points when you send money. From the US, you’ll start receiving points on any transfer worth over 100 USD, and can then cash in the points on a future transaction which is 500 USD or more in value. You’ll also get points when you open your account in the first place, and whenever you refer a friend to the service.

instarem review

What type of transfers can I make with Instarem?

The majority of Instarem payments are sent directly to the recipient’s bank account. The only exception to this is in the Philippines, where a cash collection facility is also available to customers.

What payment methods can I use?

If you’re in the US, there are three payment methods available for you with Instarem:

  • Pay for your Instarem transfer by ACH
  • Set up Instarem as the payee
  • Wire transfer

How long does it take to receive money with Instarem?

Many Instarem payments are instant. However, the exact time it takes to deliver your transfer will depend on where you’re sending to and the processes in place at the recipient’s own bank. In some cases, it could take up to 2 full business days for your money to arrive².

Can I cancel my Instarem transfer?

Whether or not you can cancel your Instarem transfer will depend on the step you’re at in the transfer process. If you haven’t yet sent the money to Instarem it’s easy to cancel. Just click Cancel in the transaction history on your Instarem account. If you’ve already sent the money to Instarem you’ll have to get in touch with the Instarem customer support team to ask them to cancel the transaction.

If the payment has already been transferred to your recipient, you will not be able to cancel it.

Instarem’s exchange rates and fees

When you choose an international money transfer service, safety and convenience are important - and so is the cost. Let’s dive into how Instarem works out their customer exchange rates and what fees they charge.

Exchange rates

Instarem calculates their customer exchange rate by adding a markup² - a percentage fee - to the mid-market rate. The mid-market rate is the one you’ll find on Google or when you use a currency converter tool. This rate is often not available to retail customers. Instead, providers add an extra fee into the rate they offer, which can be tricky to spot and pushes up the price overall.

Using an exchange rate markup or margin is extremely common. Instarem uses a markup which is likely to be lower than that used by traditional banks. That can mean using this service is still cheaper than sending a wire transfer from your bank account to an account overseas.

It’s good to know not all services use a markup. Wise offers the mid-market rate and has transparent fees, so it’s easy to see what you’ll pay for your international transfer. More on that in a moment.

Fees

You need to create an Instarem account to get the full details of how much your transfer will cost. Fees vary between payment corridors, and are usually between 0% and 1% of the transfer value.

You might wonder, what does this mean in terms of real life? To see an example, say you’d like to send 1000 dollars to your friend living in the Philippines:

InstaremWise
Exchange rate1 USD= 50.7846 PHP1 USD = 51.2400 PHP
Transfer fee0 USD7.82 USD
Amount to receive50,784.6 PHP50,839.3 PHP


(02/26/2022)

As you can see, Instarem offers a fantastic exchange rate and zero transfer fees. However, compared to another provider, Wise, you may end sending less money to your friend after all.

Try Wise - and save up to 6x compared to banks

So, if you’d rather use an international money transfer service which offers the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees, you need Wise.

Wise international payments can be sent directly to bank accounts in 80+ countries. You’ll always see exactly what you’re paying for the transfer, and how much your recipient will get in the end.

If you make frequent international transfers or need to receive payments in foreign currencies, you might be even better off with the Wise multi-currency account. Hold and exchange 50+ currencies in the same account, and get local bank details to get paid fee free from 30 countries.

No hidden fees and no hassle - just fast, secure transfers which can be 6x cheaperthan using a regular bank.

It takes just minutes to get a free account.

avoid-big-transfer-costs

Join Wise today

Instarem Pros and Cons

Not sure if Instarem is right for you? Check out these key advantages and disadvantages to help you decide.

Pros

  • Bank beating exchange rates
  • Send money to 55+ countries
  • Transfer online and in-app, 24 hours a day
  • Earn points on transfers and use them to cut the costs of future payments
  • Safe and fully regulated provider
  • Well rated by customers overall

Cons

  • Exchange rate markups apply
  • Transfers may take up to 2 working days
  • No credit or debit card payments from the US

instarem review

Is Instarem trustworthy?

Instarem was set up in Singapore back in 2014 and has expanded to a range of countries including the US since then. As a money transfer service, Instarem must be authorized and regulated by various global bodies. In fact, it’s covered by 9 regulatory bodies

In the US, Instarem is the trading name of NIUM Inc., and operates under a program sponsored by Community Federal Savings Bank.

As a licensed and regulated provider, Instarem is trustworthy and a safe way to send international payments. ​Licensed international transfer services must safeguard customers’ money and keep it separately to their own funds, and also follow rules around the amount of available capital they must have on hand at all times. Online services like Instarem also have a broad range of security features and complete regular stress testing to make sure their processes are robust and customer funds are safe.

Is Instarem safe?

Instarem is a safe provider. As well as the regulatory requirements laid out above, Instarem has its own security measures in place including a thorough account verification process, anti fraud technology and authentication for account users.

Instarem is also certified by the global ISO body as a safe provider which looks after customer data and funds. This certification demonstrates that Instarem is trustworthy and has all appropriate measures in place to keep customers’ money and personal information secure.

Is Instarem legal in India?

Instarem was approved by the Reserve Bank of India in 2017³, and is a safe and legal way to send and receive international payments in India.

You’re able to send money to India using Instarem. You can also send from INR in 8 different currencies, including USD.

instarem review

Instarem customer reviews

Sending money overseas can be daunting, so you’ll want to know the service is reliable and there’s someone on hand to help if you need it.

Instarem has a high customer rating on Trustpilot:

  • 4.5/5 Excellent rating, from 6,000+ reviews⁴

Overall, an impressive 67% of reviewers gave Instarem the top 5-star rating, with 9% choosing the bottom 1-star rating. Where customers have reported issues, a common theme is that it’s tricky to get through to the Instarem customer support team. However, Instarem has replied to all recent negative reviews and looks to resolve problems when they arise. Another common issue is with promotional offers either running out too soon or not being easy to activate. Overall, though, Instarem users are a pretty happy bunch⁵.

Does Instarem have a mobile app?

All of Instarem’s services are offered online and through their mobile app for convenience. The apps are available for both Apple and Android phones, and customers rate them as follows:

  • 3.8/5 on the Apple app store⁶
  • 4/5 on Google Play⁷

Bottom line

Instarem offers personal payments from the US to a range of countries. You can either pay for your transfer by ACH, wire transfer or set up Instarem as the payee, and it’ll be deposited in your recipient’s own bank account directly. Payments are arranged online and through the Instarem app for convenience.

Instarem’s transfer services offer bank beating exchange rates, although they may not be the very best rates available. Compare the costs of using Instarem against Wise international payments to see which may work best for you.

Frequently asked questions

Still have questions? Here are some common questions and answers about Instarem.

Which is better: Instarem vs Wise (formerly TransferWise)?

Instarem payments are offered to 55 countries and include an exchange rate markup. Wise on the other hand can arrange payments to 80 countries and uses the mid-market exchange rate with no hidden costs and low, transparent fees. If Wise covers your destination country, you might find you can get a better deal with them compared to using Instarem.

Is Instarem legal in India?

Instarem is legal in India. The service is approved by the Reserve Bank of India, and you can send payments from INR to 8 destination currencies. You can also send USD to accounts in India to be received in INR.


Sources:

1]Instarem US homepage
2]Instarem Help Page
3] Instarem press release
4]Trustpilot - Instarem
5] Instarem reviews
6] Instarem App store
7] Instarem Google Play

All sources checked on 26 January 2022


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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