Transferring money online has never been easier, quicker, and safer. With just a few clicks of a mouse—or taps of your finger—you can transfer money to other people, companies, banks, merchants, and more, both locally and internationally.
Online money transfer is becoming increasingly more popular because of its convenience; whereas people used to need to go to the bank or wiring office to transfer money, today all you need is access to a computer or a smartphone.
While there’s a lot of sophisticated technology behind online money transfer, the premise is this: instead of transferring paper money, you’re transferring data. The data then translates into money leaving your account and entering the recipient’s account. However, because you’re transferring data and not paper money, online money transfer is often instantaneous. And in many cases, all you need to complete the transfer is the recipient’s phone number or email address.
Practically, in order to transfer money online, you’ll need to create an account with a money transfer service like MoneyGram, Western Union, or TransferWise. Once you create an account, you’ll have different options for sending money. You can send online to a bank account or ewallet, or you can send paper money to a physical kiosk. In some cases, the recipient will need an account with the money transfer service in order to receive the funds.
There are 4 factors that determine the fees and rates of each online money transfer:
Unless you regularly transfer the same amount of money, you probably won’t know the transaction fee until you begin the money transfer process. However, if you’d like to get an idea of how much your money transfer will cost, many companies offer fee estimates, like MoneyGram, Western Union, and TransferWise.
Just like the fees and rates of transferring money depends on a few factors, so does the amount of time it takes. Sending money from your credit or debit card to someone else’s card or to a kiosk typically takes a few minutes, whereas transfers from/to bank accounts usually take 1-2 days.
The discrepancy in transfer time is due to the banks themselves; when you transfer between banks, strict anti-fraud measures are implemented, which is why it takes longer for the recipient to get the money.
Similarly, when you transfer money to international banks, in addition to anti-fraud measures, a time delay can result due to the difference in time zones, regulatory issues in each country, and other factors.
While these delays can be frustrating, at least you know it’s because banks are trying to protect their customers.
Online money transfer services usually have limits on how much money you can transfer at one time or in the span of a certain time period. One of the reasons for these limits is for the companies to protect themselves and keep costs down; other reasons include fraud prevention and compliance with national and international regulations.
While almost every money transfer service has limits, most offer some sort of premium service for regular, verified customers that includes higher limits.
To get an idea of transfer limits, take a look at Western Union and MoneyGram. Western Union has different limits for different kinds of transactions. Typically, next day and mobile money transfer have a limit of $500 per transfer, whereas international payments have a maximum of $10,000. MoneyGram, on the other hand, has a general limit of $6,000 per transfer.
Since each service has its own transfer limits, it’s up to you to do some research if you need to send a large sum of cash.
When you transfer money, you can send to virtually anywhere in the world—and not only that, you can send to a recipient’s bank account, ewallet, or to a physical kiosk for pickup.
Not only do people have friends and family around the world, but there are hundreds of thousands of workers who work in foreign countries and send money home to their families every month. For these workers, international money transfer is literally a lifesaver.
Finding the best money transfer company means doing a little bit of online research. Reading unbiased reviews is the first step—doing so can help you weed out the scams from the legitimate services.
If you’ve read reviews and are debating between a few well-reviewed companies, you can then focus in on what’s important to you:
Rates and fees? If this is the deciding factor, you can use fee estimating tools to see which service will offer you the best rates for your transfer needs.
Security? Choose a company that is known for its security features and one that will allow you to sleep well at night.
Fast transfers? If time is of the essence to you, choose the company that offers the fastest transfers.
If one company offers better rates and another offers faster transfers, you can use each one to suit your needs for each particular money transfer. Just because you start out using one company doesn’t mean you can’t switch to a different company or use 2 simultaneously. Remember, you’re paying for the service, so you deserve to get the most out of it.