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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

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Banking

Make Saving Fun with the 52-Week Money Challenge

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.

Everyone should treat saving money as a serious effort to accomplish serious goals. Building an emergency fund, accumulating a down payment for a home or saving up for a big purchase are all key objectives for your financial life, after all.

But sometimes it’s OK to take a more lighthearted approach to savings, like the 52-week money challenge. It’s a great way to gamify the process of stashing cash — although just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s an easy win. If you keep up with this unusual challenge for a whole year, you could end up saving nearly $1,400.

The 52-week money challenge explained

The 52-week money challenge — also referred to as the 52-week savings plan — makes saving a decent sum feel achievable by breaking it down into small steps.

Here’s how it works: You start by putting $1 in your savings account in the first week of the challenge. Then you stash away $2 in week two, $3 in week three, $4 in week four, all the way to $52 in the final week. At the end, you’ll have saved $1,378.

The idea is that by saving a little bit more each week, you’ll see your savings grow quickly and stay motivated to continue putting away money after the challenge is over.

“The 52-week money challenge gives you a place to start and have it all mapped out. If you can focus on it once a week, you can make it happen and know where you’re going to end up at the end of the year,” said Kelly Crane, CFP, president and chief investment officer of Napa Valley Wealth Management.

Why the 52-week money challenge works

Many people credit the 52-week money challenge with jump-starting their savings game. Here’s why:

  • It makes saving a habit: The 52-week savings plan forces you to commit to saving. When you visit your bank and transfer money from your checking account into your savings account each week for 52 weeks, saving becomes a habit.
  • You end up with a decent amount saved in the end: An abstract goal of “saving money” may not motivate everybody. For some people, the big prize at the end of the year helps them follow through with the savings habit.
  • It helps you set bigger financial goals: Your savings account balance is just a number — what you do with the money is what really matters. The balance saved in the challenge lets you think about the financial goals you’d like to accomplish, such as paying down student loans or accumulating a down payment for a mortgage.

Tips for nailing the 52-week money challenge

Ready to take the challenge? Here are a few things you can do to ensure you stick with the plan from week one through week 52.

  • Automate your savings: Most banks allow you to schedule deposits into your savings account. The simplest way to accomplish the challenge is to arrange ahead of time transfers to your savings account for the correct amount for each of the 52 weeks.
  • Don’t go in order: The order of the scheduled deposits helps make the challenge simple, but you don’t have to follow it to a tee. If you feel like you need to make deposits out of order, print out a copy of the plan and cross off different weekly amounts as you accomplish them. For example, if you get a tax return in the spring and can afford to save $52—the biggest weekly deposit—do it then and cross it off.
  • Engage in friendly competition: Find a savings buddy and start the challenge at the same time. Competition will keep you motivated to save, and maybe even open the door to sharing financial tips with each other.
  • Set reminders and smaller goals to stay on track: If you don’t want to automate your savings, set reminders on your phone, calendar or computer so you won’t forget. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the higher amounts later in the challenge, break them down into smaller goals. In week 40, you could save $20 on Monday and another $20 on a Friday to hit your weekly goal in more manageable chunks.
  • Keep the challenge going for a second year: Once you hit the end of the 52 weeks, keep the momentum going into a second year. You could even try doubling the amount you save each week in year two. Try cutting out expenses that match the amount you save in a given week. Stash the second year’s funds in a CD to boost your savings.

Who might not like the 52-week money challenge

While this 52-week savings plan has universal appeal, it might not be the right choice for everyone. For some people, there are reasons to think twice:

  • People with a large amount of high-interest debt: Saving money can feel pointless if you’ve got a lot of debt collecting interest, said Crane. You might consider using your funds to pay down high-interest debt before pursuing the 52-week money challenge.
  • People with inconsistent income: Does your paycheck fluctuate week to week? You might feel like your income isn’t consistent enough to keep up with the plan.
  • If you tap into the savings too early: As you start to see your savings grow, it can be tempting to withdraw money to cover expenses or buy something you want. But tapping the savings too early might throw you off track and undermine the driver of the whole challenge: Ending up with a full $1,378 at the end of the year.

The bottom line on the 52-week money challenge

If you want to save money but you’re not sure how to start, the 52-week money challenge can give you the structure you need to finally get your finances in order — but it’s just a tool. Don’t be afraid to modify the plan to suit your needs, or ditch it altogether in favor of a more aggressive savings strategy.

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.

Joni Sweet
Joni Sweet |

Joni Sweet is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Joni here

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Banking

How to Ensure Your Mobile Check Deposit is Successful

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.

Banking on the go is one of the great conveniences of owning a smartphone. All major banks offer some form of mobile banking, and uptake among consumers is extremely strong. A 2018 Citibank ranked-choice survey found that 31% of respondents said mobile banking was their most-used app, behind only apps for social media and weather.

Not using mobile banking? Time to join the revolution. Read on for some basic tips that should help make you a mobile banking power user.

Get started with mobile banking

Mobile banking is broadly similar to logging on to your account online with a home PC or laptop. Nearly all banking apps let you check your balance, deposit checks, transfer money and set up custom account alerts. To get started, visit the app store offered by your mobile device and search for your bank or credit union. Carefully evaluate that you are selecting the correct app for your institution, then download and install the app.

Once you’ve installed the app, you will probably be required to set up a mobile account. This may be different than your existing online login, or the credentials may be the same for the standard online experience. Either way, the app should prompt you with easy-to-understand instructions.

One other point: Keep the app updated to ensure that the latest security measures are in place and bugs are fixed from previous versions. Newer versions of an app may have newer features. Many apps update automatically, but you should still check the settings on your phone to ensure you’re getting the updates you need.

Tips for a successful mobile check deposit

One of the premier features for mobile banking users is the mobile check deposit feature: Just take a photo with your device of the checks you wish to deposit, and submit them to the app. To ensure that the mobile check deposit process goes smoothly, follow these tips:

Take a clear photo

You want to make sure the photo is clear so that the information is prominently displayed. Consider putting the check on a table or a flat surface instead of holding the check. In addition, don’t have other objects in the frame such as other paperwork and use good lighting. Your mobile app may have a rectangular guide to show you how to take your photo, which makes sure you get it right.

Remove any check stubs

You want to make sure that your deposit only shows your check. If your check has a pay slip or another form of attachment like a check stub or voucher, detach it before taking a photo.

Enter the correct information

Even if your photo is clear, your deposit could get rejected if you’ve entered incorrect information. For example, your check may show an amount of $660, but if you accidentally enter $760 the deposit will be rejected. Double check all information before submitting your deposit.

Avoid redeposits

Mistakes happen. Maybe you forgot you’d already deposited a check, or someone in your family did so and never told you. If you redeposit a check, most places will either send you a notification of a duplicate deposit. Others may reject both deposits or charge you a fee. You may want to consider organizing your checks, perhaps by writing on the check itself that you deposited it, or putting it away in a separate folder.

Check to see if your mobile check deposit was successful

Your app should let you know if a mobile check deposit has gone through, and some banks also send a text or email confirmation message — but even if you receive this message, checks can still get rejected. Double-checking to see if the mobile check deposit went through is the safest bet, by looking at your account balance in your checking account. Depending on your bank, a mobile check deposit can take several business days to show up in your account.

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.

Sarah Li Cain
Sarah Li Cain |

Sarah Li Cain is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sarah Li here

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