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Review of Ria: An International Money Transfer Provider

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.

With over 350,000 locations worldwide and a robust online presence, Ria is a convenient option for people who need a no-hassle way to send money internationally.

Launched in 1987 as a single New York City storefront, Ria has expanded exponentially in more than thirty years in operation. In 2007, Ria merged with Euronet worldwide and now provides wire transfer services to 149 countries. Money transfers are available to be sent from the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Australia.

Customer service is available by phone during business hours — including Saturdays and Sundays — and a pricing tool allows you to see exactly how much a transfer may cost, making price comparison simple.

In addition to money transfer services, Ria also offers other services like money orders, check cashing, bill payment and prepaid debit cards.

Whether you’re doing business with a client in another country or sending money to family members abroad, it’s important to find a transfer company that delivers money securely, with minimal and transparent fees. You may also look for a money transfer company that’s available both online and in person, in the United States and around the globe. Comparing rates and capabilities helps you choose the best money transfer service for your needs.

In this review, we’ll cover all you need to know about Ria and how it stacks up to competitors.

Ria highs and lows

  • Transparent pricing. Ria has a price calculator tool that allows customers to see a price quote of a potential transfer, making price comparisons between service providers simple. This is a rare feature, as many big name transfer services don’t make it quite as simple to see how much a transfer will cost before you make it.
  • Multiple payment options. In addition to allowing patrons to send payments online and via their app (available on Apple and Android devices), Ria has a partnership with PayNearMe. This program allows customers to pay a transfer with cash at a local 7-Eleven convenience store.
  • Global reach for recipients; limited reach for senders. With storefronts in 149 countries and over 350,000 locations, Ria can be an easy option for those sending money from the U.S. abroad. That said, currently money can only be sent through Ria from four countries: the United States, the U.K., Australia, and Spain. If you’re frequently making transfers and requesting money from elsewhere, Ria may not be the best option for you.
  • Limited daily and monthly transactions. While it may be possible to send more money if you work through an agent (as opposed to exclusively online), Ria only allows you to send up to $2,999.99 a day, or up to $7,999 a month.

Sending a money transfer with Ria

Options for receiving funds depend on where the recipient is located. Ria has a courier delivery service available in Vietnam, Peru, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Money can also be transferred for in-person pickup at a Ria agent location or deposited in a worldwide bank location.

Funds can be sent from bank accounts, credit cards, or debit cards, with additional fees that differ based on which option is chosen. Cash payments can be enabled by the company’s partnership with PayNearMe, which allows customers to use cash to start a transfer.

How long does a transfer take?

Transfer time is dictated by the transfer method chosen by the sender. Credit card and debit card transfers should take 15 minutes. Credit card transfers tend to be the fastest, and are also the most expensive due to processing fees.

Bank transfers can be the most economical option, but are also the most time-consuming, taking up to four days to reach a recipient’s account. In addition, bank accounts require you to set up your bank account through Ria’s platform, which can cause a delay as you’ll need to validate your bank account info.

Where can you send money?

Right now, money can be sent to 149 countries on six continents, as well as within the U.S. It’s important to note that some countries have differing services — for example, it’s only possible to send money to Nigeria through bank transfer, and many countries don’t currently offer courier money services.

How much can you send?

If you’re sending money online, Ria caps transactions at $2,999.99 a day or $7,999.99 a month. It may be possible to send more money if you’re working directly with an agent.

Fees and fine print

Fees vary depending on country, the payment method and payout method, but it’s not uncommon for fees to be about 0.5% to 1.5% of the total amount you’re sending.

Ria’s price calculator tool provides transparency into how much you pay in fees based on how you’re sending the funds. There may be different fees based on whether you send the transfer online or work with an agent. In addition, you may be charged a retail exchange fee if you want the payout for your recipient to be in local funds, rather than dollars.

So how do Ria’s fees stack up to other money transfer services? These fees may be lower than transferring money internationally through your bank, but it really depends on all the factors we outlined above, so be sure you compare. Wire transfers from your bank may charge a one-off fee (regardless of how much you’re sending) of $20 to $35 per transaction, and may also charge a fee for the recipient who receives them.

Is Ria a good money transfer service to use?

A thirty-plus year history in international money transfers and a robust presence abroad could make Ria a good option, depending on your needs. Here, some potential things to consider:

ProsCons
  • Robust global and online presence. A variety of agent locations as well as bank transfer options makes it seamless to transfer abroad.
  • Brick-and-mortar or online options. Having a brick-and-mortar storefront with agents may be an appealing option if you’re planning to
  • Easy cost comparison. The online calculator tool is helpful in planning the most cost-effective transfer method and can be used when pricing out potential alternatives.


  • Minimal app features. Although a mobile app is available, there are mixed online reviews with some customers complaining about a lack of features.
  • Limited origination countries. Right now, Ria can only be used to send money from the United States, the UK, Australia, and Spain. If you’re frequently sending and receiving money, using a service that allows money transfers from the countries you regularly exchange money with may make sense.
  • Limited transfer amounts per month. While you may be able to transfer higher amounts, the limits of $2999.99 per day and $7999.99 per month may be low for some customers doing extensive business abroad.





Alternative money transfer options to Ria

Western Union and TransferWise are international money transfer companies providing similar services to Ria.

Western Union

  • Where can you send money? Western Union’s very large network of 500,000 agent locations lets you send money to more than 200 countries and territories.
  • How long does a transfer take? Most Western Union transactions take place in minutes, although like many other transfer services, factors like the destination country and source of funds can slow things down.
  • How much can you send? Limits depend on where you are sending money from, the destination country, your transaction history with Western Union and the type of transfer service you choose.
  • Fee to send money: Western Union is not known as the least expensive option: exchange rate fees may be higher and there are other transfer fees. You can estimate the cost of sending money using Western Union’s online fee calculator.

Western Union stands out among competitors for its conveniently large network and speed. With more than 500,000 agent locations, finding a convenient spot to send or receive money may be easier than with other service providers.

TransferWise

  • Where can you send money? TransferWise lets you send money to more than 70 countries.
  • How long does a transfer take? Transfers take one to four business days, depending on destination, payment method, and how long it takes the recipient’s bank to process the transaction.
  • How much can you send? How much you send from the U.S. may depend on which state you live in and local laws that apply to international transfers. You can transfer up to $15,000 per order via ACH and up to $1,000,000 via other methods; this upper limit is not applicable in Nevada or Hawaii, or in the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • Fee to send money: TransferWise’s fees vary depending on the currency you are transferring from and the source of the funds, with extra fees for debit cards and credit cards. It offers a handy online pricing calculator to help you estimate transfer costs and fees.

TransferWise is a relative newcomer to the international money transfer market. Among its unique features is a “borderless account,” or an account where you can keep money in 40+ currencies, transferring them when needed. Like other money transfer options, TransferWise has an online pricing calculator to help you estimate transfer costs and fees.

Should you choose Ria?

Ria’s robust global presence, including a very large number of brick-and-mortar locations and variety of delivery options, make it a great choice for people who need flexibility in transferring smaller amounts to diverse recipients. However, it’s less-than-stellar app and lower monthly transfer ceilings may limit its utility for some users.

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.

Anna Davies
Anna Davies |

Anna Davies is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Anna here

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Banking

What Are Liquid Assets?

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.

You’ve heard it countless times: Build your assets and invest for the future. It’s sound advice, but if you needed money right now, how easily could you turn your assets and investments into cash?

All of your assets have value, but liquid assets are the ones you can quickly turn into cash without incurring any significant fees or penalties. Non-liquid assets either take time to sell or may lose value if you need to quickly turn them into cash.

The money you have in your checking and savings accounts, accessible on demand with a debit card? That’s a highly liquid asset. The RV parked in your driveway? It takes time and expense to sell, making it a non-liquid asset.

All of your assets and investments can be liquidated, if necessary. But before you sell anything, financial planners say you need to take stock of your asset portfolio and understand the liquidity of your holdings.

What to know about liquid assets

Simply put, liquidity is your ability to convert assets into cash. A liquid asset is often defined as cash or an investment with a maturity of 12 months or less, according to Marty Reid, president of Reid Financial Consulting and a certified financial planner. Holding liquid assets is important in case you need cash for emergencies, unexpected expenses or to make big purchases on short notice.

When explaining liquidity to clients, some financial advisors illustrate a pyramid of assets, with cash on hand or money in a savings or checking account at the top as the most liquid, and items or properties that take more time, effort and expense to sell, such as a house or a boat, towards the bottom.

Some assets that can fall into a gray area between liquid and non-liquid are stocks, mutual funds and longer term government securities. You can liquidate these investments for cash, but it could take up to a few days to get your money. You could also face penalties or costs, including brokerage fees, changes in market value, forfeiting interest gains or possible tax implications.

With stocks in particular, when you go to sell, you’re at the whim of the markets and it can take up to three or four days to get your funds. “What if the market is down the day you need money? If the market is down or volatile and you need money, you could be forced to sell and lose money,” said Kaya Ladejobi, a CFP and founder of New York-based Earn Into Wealth Strategies.

Examples of liquid assets:

  • Cash: Hard cash you physically have on hand to pay for expenses.
  • Checking or savings account: Money on deposit with a bank or credit union that you can access immediately.
  • Money market account: A money market, or MMA, is a high-interest savings account that can have check-writing privileges. MMAs may have more restrictions than a typical savings account, including higher minimum balances and limited number of withdrawals.
  • Certificate of deposit: Also known as a CD, this can have a duration that ranges from a few months to several years and offers higher interest rates than savings accounts. If you cash in your CD before the term expires, you could face a penalty on your accrued interest.
  • Treasury bills, notes and bonds: Government-issued securities with maturities ranging from a few weeks to 30 years. Shorter term securities are more liquid than long-term holdings. Interest rates are higher on longer securities. If you sell before maturity, you could lose value and possibly pay broker fees.

What to know about non-liquid assets

Non-liquid assets can be very valuable and marketable. These fixed assets should not be considered as a source of funds for your daily lifestyle or basic needs, but rather as tools to build long-term financial success, said Reid. If you try to sell a long-term asset on short notice, you might not receive the full benefit of their value and you could incur excessive fees associated with a hurried sale. Most of all, the sales process can be slow, which is the very reason they are not liquid assets.

That’s not to say there isn’t a market for these non-liquid assets. On the contrary, when you sell real estate or personal effects like jewelry or collectibles, you can realize considerable financial gains. Likewise, the long-term investment accounts, including IRAs and 401ks, can appreciate over time, but you’d lose value if you sold early, including potentially steep tax penalties.

“Any time you have to pay transaction costs, like using a broker, to sell something, it might be more costly. In addition to that, when you have to find a buyer and the pool of buyers is limited to turn an asset into cash, that makes it challenging,” Ladejobi said.

Examples of non-liquid assets

  • Real estate: Homes and land hold considerable value, but would take time and expense to sell, making real estate one of the most non-liquid assets.
  • Cars, RVs and boats: Recreational vehicles can also have strong monetary value, but take time and resources to sell.
  • Jewelry: Individual pieces and collections can fetch large sums, but you’ll need to find a buyer or possibly a broker to handle the transaction.
  • Furniture and collectibles: Like jewelry, these personal effects can appreciate strongly and may have enthusiastic buyers, but you’ll need to handle marketing and transactions, or work with a broker.
  • Retirement accounts (401ks, IRAs and investment accounts): These long-term investments will grow over time, eventually funding your retirement. If you cash out early (usually before you’re 59 1/2 years old), you could face steep penalties and tax implications. If you take money out of an IRA early, it could be included in your taxable income and incur a 10% additional tax penalty (there are some exceptions).

Why is asset liquidity important?

You never know what hardships or adventures life might throw your way. That’s why it’s important to have liquid assets at your disposal. Many investment advisors often urge clients to keep between three to six months of cash on-hand to pay living expenses, including housing, food and utilities.

Amit Chopra, a CFP and managing partner of Ramsey, N.J.-based Forefront Wealth Planning and Asset Management, often adjusts his advice based on a client’s age and expectations. Younger clients, he said, may want to keep six to 12 months of living expenses on hand in cash in case they decide to pursue a less stable job, such as at a startup, or a personal adventure. “Having a little more cash gives them the flexibility to do that,” he said. With older clients, who may be more established in their careers and personal lives, Chopra recommends setting aside enough cash for six to nine months of expenses.

As you prioritize how much liquidity you need in your financial portfolio, there are some additional considerations, including your tolerance for risk with investments and your long-term financial goals. To determine what’s right for you and how much liquidity you might need, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recommends investors take stock of their personal financial needs and determine the right mix of liquid and non-liquid assets. While cash and cash-equivalents are the safest investments — and the most liquid — they also yield the smallest returns.

Liquidity is a balancing act. Having cash on-hand is important for emergency car repairs or medical bills, and to fund lifestyle expenses, such as home improvements or a wedding, Reid noted. He encourages clients to mix liquidity with long-term investments.

“In real estate, they say, location, location, location. With investing, it’s diversification, diversification, diversification. How you diversify depends on your financial position, your risk tolerance level, and your long term and short term objectives,” said Reid.

The final word on liquid assets

When it comes to financial flexibility, cash is king. From there, your personal liquidity plan is a very personal choice, based on how much cash you think you need to be secure and comfortable. There’s no single right answer.

However, when it comes to realizing the value of your assets, not all investments are created equal. If you need funds quickly, with minimal headache and minor expense, cash and cash-equivalents are the easiest and fastest way. If you have more time to put into selling an asset or a longer timeline for needing money, non-liquid assets can be transformed into liquid ones, but it takes both planning and an active market to realize their fullest value. One thing is certain: The cash in your wallet and your checking and savings accounts are the ultimate liquid asset.

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.

Alli Romano
Alli Romano |

Alli Romano is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alli here

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Review of BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card

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.

The BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card provides the convenience of paying for purchases with plastic for people who might not be able to qualify for a traditional checking account. In addition, the BBVA ClearSpend card offers handy budgeting features that can help you keep your finances on track.

This prepaid debit option is an excellent choice for users looking to avoid fees for loading funds onto the card. BBVA charges no fees for most funding options, although it’s worth noting that you cannot deposit regular checks onto this card, only paychecks via direct deposit. Before you rush to apply, read on to learn more about using this alternative financial product.

BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card features

The BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card is simple to use. You load money onto the card via one of the following five methods:

  • From a BBVA debit card, no fee
  • At a BBVA bank branch, no fee
  • At a Visa ReadyLink location, $4.50 fee (can vary by location)
  • Via direct deposit, no fee
  • Via a transfer service, such as Paypal, Popmoney, or Venmo, no fee

Once the money is loaded onto the card, you can spend it anywhere Visa is accepted. You can use the card to make purchases, pay bills or get cash out of an ATM. However, you can only spend up to a limit of $3,500 in transactions per day or $600 cash withdrawals from an ATM per day. If you try to make a charge that would overdraw your account, BBVA simply rejects the transaction.

This card also comes with handy app-based automatic budgeting tools. Use the card normally for 30 days. After this period, the BBVA ClearSpend app automatically generates a budget for you, complete with spending limits and an automatic spending tracker. If you have a secondary cardholder on your account, the budgeting tool will track spending for each user, letting you monitor each other’s spending patterns.

BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card fees

BBVA has few fees, most of which are relatively easy to avoid. If you plan your card usage strategy in advance, it’s entirely possible to use the BBVA ClearSpend card and not pay any fees at all.

One of the downsides of using the BBVA card is that there are certain loading limits in place. You can load up to a maximum balance of $6,500 onto the card. Each time you load it up with money, you’ll have to load at least $25 onto the card, up to a maximum amount of $2,500 per day. If you’re using the Visa ReadyLink service to load funds onto the card, you’re even more restricted: you can only load $600 per day onto the card via this route.

BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card Fees

Activation Fee

$0

Reload Fee

$0 if you load cash from a BBVA bank branch, from a BBVA debit card, or from a transfer service such as Paypal or Venmo. A fee of $4.50 if you load cash from a Visa ReadyLink location, although this fee may vary by location.

Direct Deposit Fee

$0

Check Deposit Fee

There is no way to deposit checks written out to you.

ATM Fees

$0 when using a BBVA ATM. $2 for each out-of-network domestic ATM withdrawal and $3 for each out-of-network foreign ATM withdrawal, although your first withdrawal of the month is free. Out-of-network ATMs may also charge their own fees in addition to BBVA fees.

Card Replacement Fee

$0. However, you are only allowed three replacement cards.

Monthly Service Charge

$4, unless you load at least $400 per month onto the card.

Foreign Transaction Fee

3% of the purchase amount

ATM Balance Inquiry Fee

$0 at any domestic ATM. $1 at any foreign ATM. You might also be charged a separate fee by the ATM’s owner for using an out-of-network ATM.

Express Delivery Fee

$20 per card

Paper Check Fee

$15 if you want a paper check for the remaining balance mailed to you when you close your account.

Using the BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card mobile app

Most of the day-to-day management for your account can be completed through the BBVA ClearSpend app. You can even download it first and apply for the card through the app. Downloading the app also allows you to do certain things:

  • Lock your card if you lose it or want to stop spending on it
  • Load money onto your card with a transfer service such as Paypal, PopMoney, or Venmo, or with a BBVA debit card
  • Get spending alerts from secondary account holders
  • Use the automatic budgeting and spending tracker feature

The mobile app lets you to manage your card from your account, but it gets rather mixed reviews on the iTunes store — 2.5 out of 5.0 stars — and the Google Play app store — 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.

Opening a BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card account

Getting a BBVA ClearSpend card is as simple as it is to use. There are three ways you can get one of these cards:

  • Through the app
  • Online through the BBVA website
  • In person at a local BBVA branch

BBVA does not run a credit check or use ChexSystems when deciding whether to approve you for a card. Even if you’ve had trouble being approved for a checking account in the past, you will still qualify for a BBVA ClearSpend card as long as you pass fraud security measures. This involves identity theft and fraud alert checks through the Visa Prepaid Clearinghouse Service.
Your card will be mailed to you 7-10 days after you apply online, or you’ll be issued it immediately at a BBVA bank branch if you apply in person.

Overall review of BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card

Two things make this option particularly useful for prepaid debit card users. First, this card provides handy budgeting and spending tracking tools that can help you manage your money. Second, it’s relatively easy to avoid fees by doing the following things:

  • Load at least $400 per month onto the card
  • Only use BBVA ATMs to make cash withdrawals, or limit yourself to one cash withdrawal per month at a non-BBVA ATM.
  • Avoid using Visa ReadyLink locations to load cash onto your card

Follow these rules, and the BBVA ClearSpend card is a great prepaid debit card and an excellent alternative to a checking 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.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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