Advertiser Disclosure

Banking

MoneyGram Money Transfer Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

MoneyGram is a widely-used money transfer service, and in our review, we found that it stacks up well against the competition in some areas, and not so great in others. If you’re looking for a way to send or receive money quickly, MoneyGram is certainly convenient and hard to beat — but if you’re looking for the most affordable option to send money, however, MoneyGram probably won’t make you happy.

The company traces its roots back to 1940, with the founding of Travelers Express Co., based in Minneapolis. Travelers Express went on to become one of the world’s largest processors of money orders and a key player in the electronic payments industry.

In 1998, Viad Corp (the parent company of Travelers Express) purchased a company known as MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc. MoneyGram Payment Systems itself had originally been founded a decade earlier in 1988. The acquisition lead the way for MoneyGram to become a globally recognized and well-trusted brand in the money transfer industry.

Keep reading for our full takeaway on MoneyGram.

ProsCons
  • Speedy same-day delivery within minutes may be an option when using a debit card or credit card.
  • Wide variety of transfer options including online transfers, transfers via the app, in store transfers, and cash (in store) transfers.
  • Send money to more than 200 countries and territories with MoneyGram’s large network (30,000 locations in the U.S. and 350,000 global locations).
  • Transfer money 24/7 to a bank account online.

  • May be expensive when compared with alternative money transfer services.
  • The cost and fees for transfers will vary depending on where you’re sending the money, how much you’re sending and your method of payment. If you use a bank account (must be a U.S. checking account) to pay for your transfer, it will generally cost less; debit or credit card transfers cost more. MoneyGram does provide a tool so you can estimate fees in advance.

MoneyGram key features

Large network: MoneyGram’s sizable international transfer network makes it more convenient to send money to friends and family members around the world.

Multiple ways to send and receive money: One area where MoneyGram stands out from competitors is in how many options the service has available to send and receive money. You can send money online, from MoneyGram’s mobile app (see below for details), or in person at a MoneyGram location. You can pay for your transfer in cash, with a bank account transfer, via credit card or debit card. Depending upon where your recipient is located, he or she may be able to receive the funds in a bank account, on a mobile wallet, or by picking up cash at one of the locations.

International and domestic money transfer capability: This service allows you to send money within the United States and abroad. That option isn’t available with all money transfer providers.

There’s an app for that: MoneyGram has launched a mobile app in the United States and 14 additional countries. The app makes it easier for customers to send and receive money from their smartphone or tablet.

Membership program: MoneyGram Plus Rewards is a membership program which rewards you every time you send money. The program offers you the opportunity to enjoy benefits such as:

  • 20% off the fee of your second money transfer
  • 40% off the fee after every fifth money transfer
  • Special “member-only” promotional offers
  • Premier status (after your fifth money transfer) with even more benefits

Sending a money transfer with MoneyGram

How long does a transfer take?
Many transfers may arrive in minutes, even to many international locations, but it varies. The actual time by which funds are available will depend on operating hours, regulatory requirements, destination and other factors, the company says.
Where can you send money?Money can be sent to 350,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe (including over 30,000 locations in the United States).
How much can you send?For online transfers, send up to $6,000 for most countries per transfer. There is also a $6,000 maximum per every 30 calendar days.

*If you need to send more money, you may send additional funds in person from a MoneyGram agent location.

MoneyGram has numerous options for sending money, both in the United States and abroad. This makes it easier to find the solution which best fits your needs.

Sending money online

  • Step one: Set up your online account
    Provide your name, email address, mobile phone number, and address.
  • Step two: Select your receiver
    Provide MoneyGram with information about who you’re sending money to, the country where he/she is located, how your recipient wishes to receive the money, and how much you want to send.
  • Step three: Choose how to pay
    Select from payment options such as your credit card, debit card, or your bank account itself.
  • Step four: Review the details of your transfer and send

Sending money in person

  • Step one: Find a location
    MoneyGram provides a location lookup tool online.
  • Step two: Bring your information
    Provide MoneyGram with information about your recipient, including name (which matches his or her I.D.) and location. Be sure to bring your I.D., and be prepared to provide your full name to the MoneyGram agent as well.
  • Step three: Give the agent your money
    Bring the cash you want to send (plus fees) to provide your MoneyGram agent.
  • Step four: Review the details of your transfer and send

Transfering money to international bank accounts

  • You can send money to an international bank account either online or in person. Just follow the appropriate steps above, based upon how you will be sending the funds.

Sending money to a mobile wallet

  • Step one: Select a recipient
    If you’re sending money online or via the MoneyGram app, choose who you are sending money to, how much you wish to send, and provide the recipient’s mobile number (including international dial code for transfers outside of the United States). You may also send money to a mobile wallet in person at a MoneyGram location — just remember to bring your receiver’s information, including mobile number and international dial code. It is also worth noting that mobile wallet transfers may only be available in certain countries, so make sure you confirm that it can be used where you’re sending your money.
  • Step two: Choose “Account Deposit” as the receive option
  • Step three: Enter the amount you wish to send.
  • Step four: Select your payment option
    You can choose from credit card, debit card, or bank account.
  • Step five: Verify your identity
  • Step six: Review the details of your transfer and send

Fees and fine print

MoneyGram transfers are often convenient, though that convenience can come at a hefty price.

Moneygram fees may vary widely based upon where you’re sending money, how much you’re sending, and how you’re paying. Fees are generally lower if you use a bank account to transfer funds (U.S. checking accounts only). If you pay with your debit or credit card, fees will be higher. MoneyGram does allow you to estimate fees in advance to see how much a transfer will cost.

In an estimate using MoneyGram’s Estimate Fees feature, a $1,000 transfer to Ontario, Canada, was estimated to cost $19.99 if sending funds through an online bank account, $61 if sending cash from a MoneyGram location, or $95 if using your credit or debit card.

When compared with other competitors, the cost of sending funds through MoneyGram is often higher and may include additional transfer fees.

Fees and Penalties
Transfers Within the United States:
Fees will vary based upon the payment method you’re using to send funds. If you are using a credit card or debit card to pay for a transfer, expect higher fees. You can use the “Estimate Fees” tool to get exact pricing for your domestic money transfer.

International Transfer Rates:
Once again, MoneyGram fees for international transfers can vary based upon a variety of factors, including how you will sending the money and where you will be sending it. You can use the “Estimate Fees” tool to get exact pricing for your domestic money transfer.

Alternative money transfer options

Want to compare other options? Here are a few alternative money transfer services to consider.

OFX

  • Where can you send money? Send money to over 190 countries in 55 different currencies. (Transfers within the United States are not available.)
  • How long does a transfer take? Transfers generally take 1 to 4 business days. Times vary based upon the country where you are transferring funds.
  • How much can you send? Unlike many online marketplaces, OFX does not have a maximum limit on the amount you can transfer. (Certain currencies may be subject to limits due to government regulations.)
  • Fee to send money: OFX does not charge any transfer fees, but makes its money by charging you a markup on the foreign exchange rate. These markups (also called margins) are often less than 1% with OFX. By contrast, banks often charge you as much as 5% on your foreign exchange transfers, with extra fees added on top of that. However, some online competitors might still beat OFX prices depending upon where and how you’re sending money. It’s smart to estimate and compare fees from a number of websites to try to get the best deal available.

The best perk which OFX has to offer is the ability to save money on many transactions. If cost is your primary concern, OFX may be a good choice.

Western Union

  • Where can you send money? You can send money to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide through Western Union’s network of over 500,000 agent locations.
  • How long does a transfer take? Send and receive money in minutes in 130 currencies to over 200 countries and territories. (Factors like the service selected, destination country, regulatory issues, etc. may impact delivery time.)
  • How much can you send? The maximum amount you can send can vary based upon several factors. These include your Western Union transaction history, the country where your recipient is based, your country and state, and the service selected. Based upon these factors, limits may range from $300 per money transfer to $10,000 per transaction.
  • Fee to send money: Despite the convenience it offers, Western Union may not be the most affordable way to send money internationally. Compared with competitors, exchange rate fees may sometimes be higher and you may be faced with transfer fees as well (though it really depends upon where you’re sending money and how you’re sending it). You can estimate the cost of sending money using Western Union’s online fee calculator — your best bet is always to estimate fees from a few competitors to see who will give you the best price.

Western Union stands out for its convenience and speed. With over 500,000 agent locations worldwide, it may be easier to find a place to send or receive money with Western Union versus another provider.

Is MoneyGram a good money transfer service to use?

Although MoneyGram can sometimes be a bit pricey, it is still a decent money transfer option. The conveniently large number of locations and the potential for fast, same-day transactions can be helpful if you need to send or receive money in a hurry. MoneyGram also shines for people who need to send or receive cash without using a bank account or debit/credit card as part of the process.

If you’re not in a rush, however, an alternative option might be available at a lower cost. Because money transfer fees vary so widely based upon where you’re sending money and how you’re sending it, your best bet is to estimate and compare fees first. You can estimate fees with MoneyGram plus one or more competitors to see who will offer you the best deal for your specific situation.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Michelle Black
Michelle Black |

Michelle Black is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Michelle here

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Banking

What should you do if you get fake money from an ATM?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

There are at least 41.6 billion individual Federal Reserve Notes — more commonly known as dollar bills — in circulation, and about 0.0093% of them are counterfeit.

If you happen to receive fake money from an ATM, consider yourself both very special and probably out of luck. Special because the odds of you actually getting fake currency from an ATM are infinitesimally small, and probably out of luck because there’s very little chance you’ll be able to trade in the fake bills for the real McCoy.

It’s hard to exchange fake money for real cash

Getting counterfeit money from an ATM, particularly if the ATM is from a reputable bank and not a graffiti-covered disaster in a shady alley, can cause justified outrage. After all, that $100 you just got has been deducted from your account, and as far as the bank’s concerned the money’s been withdrawn and is now your problem.

Marching up to a bank teller and waving the fake money in his face doesn’t guarantee you’ll get reimbursed. “How would [the customer] prove that they received that bill from the [bank’s] ATM?” said Nessa Feddis, senior vice president and deputy chief counsel at the American Bankers Association.

Banks employ machines to check the authenticity of all the currency they receive before placing it back in circulation via teller or ATM, so an instance of someone getting fake money directly from a bank would be considered a rarity.

“It’s pretty remote that banks would be giving customers counterfeit bills because they check them,” Feddis said, though she still acknowledged it as a possibility. “Something could fall through the cracks, but even then the onus is on the person who has the counterfeit bill to prove that they didn’t create it themselves, that they received it from the bank and they didn’t receive it from somebody else.”

Don’t expect the government to be any better at reimbursing you for the fake money you’ve received. In its instructions on how to return a counterfeit bill to the proper authorities, the Treasury Department notes “there is no financial remuneration for the return of the counterfeit bill, but it is doing the ‘right thing’ to help combat counterfeiting.”

You probably won’t like the fact you have to take a loss on counterfeit money, but at least you can take solace in knowing that nobody else will get burned by that particular forgery in the future.

Insurance to the rescue?

While neither the bank nor the government are a good bet when it comes to getting your money back, salvation can come from an unlikely source: homeowners or renters insurance. Some policies allow you to claim receiving counterfeit money (the exact limit to how much you can claim depends on your individual policy).

How to spot fake money

Given the heartbreak that comes with receiving counterfeit money from an ATM, you may want to pay it forward and learn how to spot fake money to avoid taking bogus bills in other transaction (such as getting change from a retail store).

You may have seen clerks and cashiers occasionally scratch at a bill you’ve given them with a pen meant to detect counterfeit bills, but the federal reserve claims these tools aren’t always accurate.

Fortunately, each denomination of paper money contains security features you can spot to help you determine if the bill in your hand is genuine, so long as you know what you are looking for. The $100 bill for instance contains:

  • A security thread (visible when holding the bill to the light) immediately to the left of Ben Franklin’s head with “100” and “USA” alternating in a line.
  • A 3-D security ribbon woven into the bill down its center. When you rotate the bill side to side, you should see “100”s move up and down. When you tilt the bill back and forth, these “100”s will move side to side.
  • A color-shifting image of the Liberty Bell in the copper inkwell at the bottom of the bill, visible when holding the money to the light and tilting it up and down.
  • On the right side of the bill a faint watermark portrait of Ben Franklin should be visible when holding the bill to the light.
  • The “100” on the bottom right corner of the bill should change color when tilting back and forth under the light.

A more detailed breakdown of each denomination security features can be found at the website for the U.S. Currency Education Program, a federal government entity charged with educating users of U.S. currency about the ins and outs of paper money.

What happens if you pass the buck?

Suppose for a second you lack any sort of moral compass or conscience—what’s the worst that could happen if you just try and spend that $20 you know is counterfeit? The answer is up to 15 years in prison and as much as a $15,000 fine, according to the law.

Instead, if you receive counterfeit money from an ATM, the first thing you should do is go to the bank, which will take care of it from there. If you can’t (or simply don’t want to) go to the bank, the Treasury Department recommends against confronting whomever passed you the fake currency in case doing so would place you in personal danger. You also should:

  • Not return the bill to the passer
  • Try and delay the passer if possible
  • Observe as many details of what the passer (and any of his or her friends) look like and even write down their license plate should the opportunity present itself
  • Contact the local police or local Secret Service office
  • Write your initials and the date on the white margins of the bill
  • Not otherwise handle the bill and instead place it in some sort of container, such as an envelope
  • Hand it off to a Secret Service official or police officer
  • Mail the bill to your local Secret Service office if you can’t make direct contact with a Secret Service official or police officer

If that sounds like a pain… well, it is. But while you lose money, you gain the satisfaction of getting to play Elliot Ness for a day.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Banking

Debit Card Rewards Programs: Are They Worth It?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Just about everybody likes to get something for nothing, and that’s exactly what debit card rewards programs offer. Swipe your debit card to pay for everyday purchases, and rack up points that earn you extra interest on your account, cash back, travel rewards and other perks. 

However, there may also be some minor downsides to these programs that you should understand before you swipe. Read on for the whole story on debit card rewards, and a list of programs that deserve your attention.

Everything You Need to Know about Debit Card Rewards

A brief history of debit card rewards

Every time you make a purchase with a debit card, the retailer has to pay a fee to the bank that issued your debit card. Before 2010, these fees were largely unregulated, and debit card reward programs were abundant. Then along came the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which put a cap on the fees banks could charge via the act’s Durbin Amendment.

This was good for merchants, as they payed lower fees, but it also meant banks made less money from debit card transactions. As a result, many banks got rid of their debit card rewards programs, and while some programs are still around, they’re not nearly as commonplace as they once were.

Are debit card rewards worth it?

Debit card rewards programs may be an easy way to earn cash back and other perks, but the rewards aren’t always as rewarding as they seem at first glance. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Get debit card rewards for everyday purchases: If you’re using a debit card to pay for regular purchases all the time, you might as well get rewarded for it. Enroll in a debit card rewards program and just keep spending like before — it takes zero extra effort to start racking up rewards.
  • There are many fee-free debit card rewards programs to choose from: Generally there are no initial or recurring fees for debit card rewards (avoid the few programs that do charge fees). In most cases, you have nothing to lose by enrolling, although some accounts require a minimum balance to open an account.
  • Debit card rewards avoid the risk of racking up interest charges: Credit card rewards programs generally offer more attractive rewards, but interest accrues if you don’t pay off your balance each month. The cost of interest almost always outweighs any benefit you would get from rewards. With debit cards, you’re never at risk from interest charges.

Cons

  • They’re less common than they once were: Due to the Durbin Amendment regulatory reforms mentioned above, there are fewer debit card rewards programs to choose from these days. Fewer programs means fewer options, so it could be more challenging to find the one that’s right for you.
  • There are more credit cards rewards programs, with better rewards: Credit card rewards programs weren’t affected by the Durbin Amendment, so there are more credit card rewards programs, and they often offer more generous rewards.
  • It can take a lot of time to build up rewards: The rate at which debit card rewards programs accumulate rewards is lower than with credit cards. Because it takes more time to accumulate debit card rewards, you have to be more patient before you see material gains.
  • Debit card rewards may expire: In addition to being patient, you also should be persistent in staying on top of your rewards, as some may expire if you don’t use them within a certain window.

Find a debit card rewards program

While not as abundant as they once were, there are some solid programs still standing that are worth looking at.

BankAmeriDeals

Bank of America customers can participate in the BankAmeriDeals program, which provides cash back on deals from a variety of retailers, including hotels, restaurants and other merchants. You activate your deals online, then earn cash back (typically 10% to 15% of what you spend) when you use your BofA debit card or credit card.

Discover Cashback

This no-fee checking account from Discover allows you to earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. That means you can earn up to $360 a year just by shopping as you normally would.

Chase Disney Visa Debit Card

This one’s for devoted Disney fans. You don’t earn rewards with the Chase Disney Visa Debit card, but you are rewarded with shopping, entertainment and vacation perks. For example, you save 10% when shopping at Disney.com, and when you visit the parks or take a Disney cruise, cardholders are privy to special savings on dining and souvenirs and get access to special character events.

American Express Serve Cash Back Card

This prepaid debit card from American Express rewards you with 1% cash back on all of your purchases. There are no fees, no minimum balance and no limit as to how much you can earn.

Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Formerly known as Bank of Internet USA, Axos Bank offers a Cash Back Checking account with up to 1% cash back on all signature-based purchases. There are no monthly fees nor minimum balance requirements; however, you will earn less (0.50%) if your balance falls below $1,500.

Delta SkyMiles World Debit Card

For those who like to travel, this SunTrust Delta SkyMiles World Debit Card may give you wings. You get 5,000 miles for your first purchase, then 1 mile for every $2 spent, up to 4,000 miles each month. Your miles never expire, and they can be used for travel and travel-related things, like seat upgrades and membership to the Delta Sky Club.

Redneck Rewards Checkin’ Account

This bank may have some quirky advertising, but it also offers a pretty serious rewards checking account. You need $500 to open an account, but once you do, you earn 3.00% on up to $10,000 (Note: This rate is subject to change). Any amount you spend over that, you earn 0.50%. You’re required to make at least 10 transactions each month to reap the rewards and need to open the account with at least $500, but there are no monthly service fees and no monthly minimum to maintain it.

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

This Free Rewards Checking Account from Consumers Credit Union offers three levels of rewards, ranging from 3.09% to 5.09% in interest on balances up to $10,000, depending on which requirements you meet.

To qualify for the lowest tier of rewards, you must make 12 debit card transactions each month that add up to at least $100, and at least $500 in direct deposits or ACH credits must post to your account each month. Once your balance surpasses $10,000, the interest for all tiers drops to 5.09% for balances between $10,000.01 and $25,000 and to 0.10% for balances above that. There are no maintenance fees nor minimum balances required.

The final word on debit card rewards programs

If you qualify for a solid debit card rewards program, there’s usually no harm in enrolling, and you just might earn some great rewards along the way. But keep in mind that the rewards may not always be all that rewarding, and patience is required.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Julie Ryan Evans
Julie Ryan Evans |

Julie Ryan Evans is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Julie here

TAGS: