Advertiser Disclosure

Reviews

I Tried the ‘Joy’ App and It Totally Changed the Way I Think About Spending

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.

What makes you happy? In the final quarter of 2017, amid growing interest in a growing field of a study called behavioral economics, financial services company Happy Money — formerly known as Payoff — released the Joy app to help you answer that question. At least, when it comes to your spending decisions.

What is Joy?

Joy is a personal finance app that uses psychology and financial behavior to help change the way you think about, spend and save money. The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company behind Joy claims it will help “drive awareness of how spending is connected to happiness, and to encourage people to build savings.” In other words, it may help you find the joy in handling your finances.

Joy has joined the ranks of many, many other fintech apps designed to help you keep track of your money. The app was released by Happy Money in November 2017 as one of its three core products: Joy (the app), Payoff (the loan) and soon-to-be-released Happy Money Score (a Happy Money rating).

“I think it really resonates for people. People care about happiness and want to understand how to use their money to be more happy,” said Elizabeth Dunn, Ph.D., Joy’s scientific advisor and co-author of “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending.”

In the book, she and researcher Michael Norton lay out the following five research-based principles on how to find financial happiness:

  1. Buy experiences — People gain more happiness from buying experiences than material things.
  2. Invest in others — People seem to derive more happiness on average when they use their money to benefit others, rather than themselves.
  3. Buy now, consume later — People derive happiness when they pay in advance for something they will consume later because the brain feels like it’s “free.”
  4. Make it a treat — People gain more happiness when they spend money on a “treat.”
  5. Buy time — People derive happiness when they buy time. For example, buying their way out of their a task, like cleaning the bathroom.

After finding out how handling your finances affects your well-being, Happy Money’s team of psychologists, data scientists, neuroscientists, tech experts and financial professionals came together to create the Joy App to give people a tool to track how their spending makes them feel.

Joy has two core functions:

  1. Rate your spending — After you connect your bank accounts and credit cards, the app has you rate each transaction you’ve made with a happy face or sad face.
  2. Save money with Joy Savings — Each day you open the app, you’ll be reminded to save an amount of money that Joy’s algorithm has found “safe” for you to save — called a Daily Save — to an FDIC-insured Joy Savings account.

Rating your purchases is intended to help you better recognize what kinds of purchases bring you happiness, so you can focus on making more of those and fewer purchases you’d rate with a sad face. Over time, theoretically, you’d develop a habit of making more spending decisions that make you happy as a result.

The free savings account is supposed to help you make a habit out of saving money. The app prompts you daily to save money, but doesn’t save the money for you automatically.

Dunn says that’s because you create a different association with saving money when something happens automatically than when you are involved in making it happen.

“People figure out what they themselves are like in part by observing their own behavior,” said Dunn. “It seems very plausible to me that if you engage in this habit, you will start to see yourself as the kind of person who cares about and is capable of saving money.”

The MagnifyMoney Joy review

I’m personally intrigued by ideas about how human psychology tends to influence our financial decisions.

I’m also part of the camp that isn’t always thrilled to glance back at their recent spending decisions. You know the feeling: you make a few ‘guilty’ purchases then just avoid checking up on your checking account balance or reviewing your recent transactions (which one should do because it’s sort of key to properly managing one’s finances).

That being said, I was curious about what many reading this are probably wondering now: How exactly will downloading yet another app to track my spending habits make me any happier about my spending? Or, at the very least, motivated enough to keep tracking them after a spending binge.

So, I decided to try out Joy for myself to see if the app would do what it claims.
The following is my account of how the Joy app — featuring very bright colors and a chatty robot — forced me to get face-to-face with my spending habits and and decide if they (really) made me “happy,” or, um … not so happy. Unfortunately, the app didn’t really help me save much money, but we’ll get to that later on.

What I liked about Joy:

It forces you to review your spending
I liked that the app asked me to rate whether or not my recent transactions were “happy” or “sad” spends each time I opened it up. After a few days of doing this, it started to affect my real-time spending decisions. Since I knew I’d have to decide how I felt about my spending decisions afterward, the thought began to cross my mind before I swiped my cards. For example, since I know I made a “sad” spend last time I ordered food at a restaurant I knew I couldn’t finish and ultimately wasted, I thought about my ability to actually eat the food I planned to order rather than what my tummy was saying when placing my brunch order.

Set reminders to review your spends and check your Joy Savings
I thought it was nice to be able to set a reminder prompting me at the same time each day to go over my spends and make a daily save. I set a reminder for a time at the end of the day when I’m usually relaxing, so I’d have a few minutes to think about how each of my transactions made me feel.

Since the daily safe-to-save amount can differ from day to day and isn’t automatically transferred, it was helpful for me to set a reminder to check on my Joy Savings account and decide whether or not to transfer the suggested amount.

See changes over time
A cool feature of the app is its ability to show you how you’ve been doing over time. I just had to ask my money coach a question to see details like how much I’ve spent this month versus last month, how my happy spends compare with sad spends or how I’m doing with my savings habits compared with other people with my money personality, among other stats.

Savings aren’t automatic
Because the savings aren’t automatic, there was no danger of using funds I thought I had in my checking account and accidentally overdrafting. I only keep a low balance in my main checking account and make transfers if I need to, so it’s especially important to me to avoid overdraft and NSF fees. If you keep a low balance and use an app that automatically transfers money for you, you may be thrown off if you don’t stay on top of what’s going in and out of your account.

Saving out of sight
The Joy Savings account is separate from my checking and saving accounts, so I don’t see how much money is in the account when I check my bank balances. To me, it’s like that money doesn’t even exist, so it’s a nice surprise when I do see the balance in my Joy Savings account. Because the daily save amount is a small amount that’s “safe to save,” I don’t miss the money in my main checking account at all — I don’t even notice the money’s gone.

Saving does feel good
It feels great to hit “save” each time I check the app. I have all of my other saving automated, so I don’t have to take action to save the money and I almost never see the funds. By making saving a daily action, I feel like the kind of person who actively saves money, instead of the kind of person who has to try really, really hard not to spend — or even look at — her savings.

I’m saving more money
I thought I was already saving as much as I reasonably could since I have a budget and make my saving automatic. So I didn’t expect the algorithm to calculate much of anything. I keep less than $100 in a main spending account. So it often calculated daily saves of $2 or less. Having to save money from my spending account was, for me, just extra saving, but it showed me I could actually collect a little bit more if I tried.

What I didn’t like about Joy:

Unclear how to utilize my ‘money personality’
I enjoyed taking the personality quiz, but outside of knowing I was a “free spirit” and setting me up with an AI robot to chat with, I don’t get much of any sense about how my money personality applied to my use of the app’s spending and saving features. For example, my designated personality type didn’t seem to affect the amount of money the algorithm calculated for me to save or how my happy and sad spends were split up, so while it’s nice to know, I didn’t see much opportunity to apply the knowledge within the app.

The app is only available on iOS
As of this writing, the Joy app is only available on iOS, so only those with Apple products are able to download and use the app. That was fine news for me since I have an iPhone, but anyone who doesn’t have an iPhone or iPad isn’t able to try out Joy.

My experience with customer service
I had a negative experience with customer service when I first tried to use Joy Savings. I misunderstood the instructions and accidentally linked the wrong account to my Joy Savings account. I connected it with an emergency savings account instead of my main checking account. I thought I’d easily be able to change the linked account within the app. I was wrong.

I searched the app and I asked my money coach, but didn’t see anything related to unlinking the account. So I went online to search for a solution and found out I’d have to email humans@findjoy.com for help. I sent an email asking for assistance on Dec. 19 and got a reply from a customer service representative saying they’d reach out to an engineer and let me know when they were ready to re-link my new account. So, I waited for an email.

When I didn’t receive any correspondence by Dec. 26, I emailed the same representative back. Nothing. I emailed again, including the original humans@findjoy.com, asking, “Any word yet on fixing my Joy Savings account?” Again, I didn’t get a reply back. I sent another email nearly a month after I had sent the initial request. At this point, the wrong account was still linked to my Joy Savings account and I still had no way of fixing the issue on my own.

By mid-January, I was in the middle of writing this review, so I was able to enlist the help of the company’s press representatives in resolving my Joy Savings mistake. When I informed them of the difficulty I was having with customer service, they acted promptly and were able to unlink the wrong account within a couple of hours. I linked the correct account and finally got to start making a daily save on Jan. 19 … a full month after I initially asked for help.

Ironically, I finally got an email back from the service representative who was supposed to help me, whom I emailed four times by now — on Jan. 22. He said my conversation had been lost in the queue. I sent a final email letting the representative know my issue had already been addressed, but thanking him for working on it. I hope he gets it.

Cannot change Joy Savings account in app
As of this writing, you are unable to change the account linked to your Joy Savings from within the app. A company spokesperson said the Joy app is still in its soft launch stage, and the company will soon introduce new features like having more control over connected accounts and settings.

Who the App is Best For

If you are new to personal finance, it may benefit you to use Joy to get a sense of your spending habits. The Joy app seems to be best for those who:

  • Aren’t into budgeting
  • Want to develop a habit of reviewing their transactions
  • Want to be more conscious of their spending habits and/or
  • Have a difficult time finding money to save in their budget

How to use the Joy app:

Create your account

Before you can use Joy, you’ll need to create an account using your phone number. The app will send a specific code to your phone, which you’ll need to enter to start using Joy. You should see a gif and a message welcoming you to Joy pop up on the screen for a few seconds.

Sign up for Joy.
When the gif disappears, you’ll begin a text-bubble chat with Joy. You’ll be confronted with a questionnaire designed as a text-bubble conversation.

You’ll then be asked for basic sign-up information like your name, annual income and whether you rent or own where you live. You’ll be able to respond to most of the questions with pre-made responses, almost like a multiple-choice test.

Get your money personality

Next, Joy will tell you about yourself. Joy will ask you five questions and use the responses you give to help you discover your “money personality.” There are a 12 different money personalities in total. Chris Courtney, Ph.D, Happy Money’s senior director of science, says your personality is directly responsible for how you spend your money. You can continue on to the questions, or, if you’re curious, ask Joy why it needs to know that.

Knowing your money personality upfront is also supposed to help personalize your experience with the app. Joy’s creators claim this helps you feel less judgmental toward the process compared with other existing budgeting apps that employ a cookie-cutter approach to their users’ finances.

“By taking the time to get to know each person and giving them some information and context regarding their own personality, it kind of expresses to someone we don’t expect everyone to be the same,” said Dunn.

Joy says I’m a free spirit with my finances. In my opinion, that’s fairly accurate. I’m almost never on time (just ask my editor) and I do very much hate categorizing my budget. I don’t last long with budgeting apps that make you have spending categories because my habits don’t always fall into easy-to-estimate budgeting groups. I’d much rather pay my bills and allocate my savings to end up with chunk of money I know is safe to spend, which is why I already have my bills and saving automated. Well done, science.

Get your money coach

Having your money personality also helps Joy set you up with an artificially intelligent robot dubbed your personalized money coach. You’ll meet your money coach next. There are four coaches in total — Dash, Gem, Ava and Atom. My coach is Gem.

Your money coach’s interaction with you depends heavily on your money personality. Courtney says to think of the coach like a personal trainer at a gym.

“Some people will respond well to an intense and challenging approach, while others will want small goals with a lot of positive affirmation,” said Courtney.

Everything about the way your coach interacts with you — presenting goals, celebrating victories, encouraging you to do better, punctuation, emojis, and slang — stems from your money personality. It’s supposed to make you feel more comfortable when dealing with a financial advisor, as opposed to being judged.

“People feel happier when they are with others who are similar to themselves,” said Dunn. “It creates a sense of well-being and comfort when you are interacting with people who speak like you do.”

You can start a chat with your coach whenever you want. The topics and responses are somewhat limited, but give you all the information you need to use the app. Your coach can give you stats about how you are doing with your spending or saving, for example, or how others, such as those with your money personality, are doing.

 

Add your credit cards and bank accounts

Of course, you’ll need to connect your bank accounts and credit cards to Joy so it can track your finances. You’ll see the option to link spending accounts on the spending side of the Joy app. You can add bank accounts and your credit cards. The app will use the linked accounts to pull up transactions for you to rate.

I was able to link all of my accounts easily and the app was able to bring up my recent transactions within a few minutes.

Review your recent spends.

Once your accounts are all set up, you can begin rating your spends. You’ll be asked to rate each of your recent transactions with either a happy, smiling face or a sad, frowning face in response to “how do you feel about your spends?” You’ll rate transactions in batches of ten, then, if there are more to be rated, you can continue until you’re through with your recent transactions.

Don’t overthink this part. I did, so I’m warning you. Take the $13 I spent at Zaxby’s fast-food restaurant the other day, for example. I felt conflicted when I had to rate the transaction because I thought, “Um … both?”

I was visiting my hometown in Georgia, and I really, really missed eating Zaxby’s since I live in New York now and there is no Zaxby’s up here. The food tasted magical. But, I’ve become a bit more concerned with my health since I was in college, eating Zaxby’s every week so I did sort of feel bad (physically and emotionally) after eating fast food.

So, what would I put? A happy face because the Wings-N-Things meal I’d ordered was tasty and satisfying? Or a sad face because I spent money on something that wasn’t a very healthy eating or spending choice (since my mom had “free” food made for me at home). Honestly, I didn’t need to spend the money. But, it’d been nearly two full years since I’d had Zaxby’s! I couldn’t decide. I was frustrated there weren’t more faces. Maybe a [shrug] emoji?

Dunn says the app only gives you two choices on purpose. It makes it easier for you, with everything going on in your daily life, to extract useful information.

“If every time you spent $15 you had to reflect on 17 different aspects of the emotional experience, you wouldn’t do it,” said Dunn. “This is kind of asking people to go, ‘okay what’s your overall ledger?’ You can suck up a lot of the variability in a wide range of emotions with the happy face and sad face.”

I eventually rated the spend “happy.” But, now that I know spending money on food that’s not great for my health makes me feel bad, I avoid it like the plague.

Set up your Joy Savings Account.

When your accounts are all linked, you can set up your Joy Savings account. You’ll chat with your coach to get an explanation of how Joy Savings works.

First, you’ll link an account to fund your savings account. The algorithm will use to calculate an amount you’re able to save each day, so it should be the checking account you use for most of your spending.

Each day you open Joy Savings, you should see your “Daily Save” and the option to go ahead and transfer the money to your Joy Savings account, or choose to pass on saving today. Whenever you decide you want your money, you can request to transfer the amount you’d like from your Joy Savings account to your checking account. The deposit should clear within 1 to 3 business days.

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.

Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at brittney@magnifymoney.com

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Reviews

Barclays Personal Loan 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.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. Based on your creditworthiness you may be matched with up to five different lenders.

Barclays
APR

5.74%
To
18.99%

Credit Req.

700

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 to 60

months

Origination Fee

None

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Barclays is a global bank with customers in 40 countries. ... Read More

Barclays Personal Loan Details
TermsFees and Penalties
  • Term lengths: 36 to 60 months
  • APR range: 5.74% to 18.99%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $35,000
  • Time to funding: A few business days
  • Credit check: Soft Pull
  • Origination fee: None
  • Prepayment fee: None
  • Late payment fee: None

Barclays product details

One of the most unique features of the Barclays personal loan is the complete lack of late fees — your balance will still accrue interest if your payment is late, which could increase your total loan payment, but you won’t incur a penalty.

When you check your personal loan rate, Barclays performs a soft pull that won’t affect your credit score. This allows you to comparison shop, without lowering your score. Do note, the bank will check your credit score to determine your creditworthiness after you submit an application.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: 700
  • Minimum credit history: Not specified
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Not specified

Specific eligibility requirements for personal loans are not available on the Barclays website.

Applying for a personal loan from Barclays

The Barclays personal loan application is entirely online. To begin the process, click “Check your rate,” follow the prompts and choose the options that best meet your needs. You do not need an invitation code to apply, but if you have one, click “Use my invitation code” at the top of the page to receive your customized rate.

During the application process, you’ll be asked to provide your name, address, contact information, Social Security number, employment details, and personal financial information. Barclays will send you a message through its secure application center to request written documents needed to evaluate your application. These items can be uploaded through the bank’s secure application center.

Before you sign your loan application, you’re free to cancel it at any time. If you choose to accept your loan, Barclays will issue the money within a few business days. You’re able to have the funds deposited in a U.S. checking or savings account or direct the bank to pay off up to five of your credit card balances without touching the funds yourself.

Pros and Cons of a Barclays Personal Loan
ProsCons
  • No fees: Barclays personal loans come with zero fees. This includes origination fees, prepayment penalties and late fees, which can result in significant savings.
  • Soft pulls: Checking your rate will not impact your credit score, because Barclays uses a soft credit inquiry that is not reported to creditors or credit reporting agencies.
  • Flexible terms: Choose a repayment period that fits your budget, as Barclays offers terms of 36, 48 and 60 months.
  • Competitive baseline APR: Barclays offers a baseline APR of 5.74%, which is lower than most lenders. However, rates are based on creditworthiness and length of term requested, so depending on your unique situation, you could end up with the maximum 18.99% APR.
  • Loan amounts: Barclays only offers loans between $5,000 to $35,000. This can be problematic if you’re looking for a smaller amount.
  • Time to funding: After you’re approved for a Barclays loan, it takes at least few business days to get you the money. The bank notes that delays are possible based on the policies and procedures of your financial institution.

Who’s the best fit for a Barclays personal loan?

A Barclays personal loan might be a great fit if you’re opposed to paying fees of any kind. The lack of origination fees, prepayment penalties and even late fees can result in serious savings.

Considering loan amounts range from $5,000 to $35,000, this product will only work if you need to borrow a substantial amount of cash. Due to the seriously competitive baseline 5.74% APR, it’s also a better choice if you have a low credit score. Rates are based on creditworthiness and length of term requested, so if your credit isn’t the best, you could end up with the highest rate, which tops out at 18.99% APR.

Since Barclays’s personal loans offer a fully digital experience, this is also a better choice for the tech savvy crowd. While a customer service team is always a phone call away, you might become frustrated with the self-service features and the lack of face-to-face interaction if you prefer more a more personalized banking experience.

Before deciding on a personal loan, it’s smart to read Barclays reviews and comparison shop to see what other lenders have to offer. LendingTree has a personal loan tool that can be used to quickly and efficiently explore your options. Barclays loans have no origination fees, and below are a few alternatives that also offer this benefit.

Alternative personal loan options

LightStream

APR

3.99%
To
16.99%

Credit Req.

660

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 144

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank.... Read More


Your APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 3.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $295.20.

LightStream, a division of SunTrust Bank, offers personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Rates are extremely competitive — the bank is willing to beat any qualifying lower rate offered by another lender by 0.10% — and vary by loan purpose. There are no fees attached to the loan, including prepayment penalties. This can be a good choice if you’re looking for a fee-free loan, but need a higher amount than Barclays offers.

SoFi

SoFi
APR

5.99%
To
16.99%

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 84

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More


Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 16.990% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.74% APR to 14.70% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.72% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.

See Consumer Licenses.

SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Minimum loan requirements might be higher than $5,000 in specific states due to legal requirements. Fixed and variable-rate caps may be lower in some states due to legal requirements and may impact your eligibility to qualify for a SoFi loan.

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

SoFi grants personal loans from $5,000 to $50,000. There are zero fees attached to the loans and SoFi’s unemployment protection benefit allows you to temporarily pause payments, while helping you find work if you lose your job. If you’re looking to borrow more than the maximum Barclays personal loan limit or want to spread your payments out across a longer term, a SoFi personal loan can be solid option.

Earnest

Earnest
APR

6.99%
To
18.24%

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 to 60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Instead of offering credit-based loans, Earnest has taken a very nontraditional approach using a merit-based system.... Read More

Earnest offers personal loans that range from $5,000 to $75,000 and you’re able to choose your desired monthly payment. You might also score a more competitive rate with Earnest, as the lender analyzes your entire financial profile to calculate your APR, instead of relying solely on your credit score. Earnest could be a good choice if you need more money than the maximum Barclays limit or you feel like your credit score doesn’t properly represent your financial standing.

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.

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.

Laura Woods
Laura Woods |

Laura Woods is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Laura here

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Reviews

Review of OFX: A 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.

When you need to send a large amount of money internationally, OFX could be your most affordable option. The company offers web-based money transfer solutions for individuals and businesses alike. In our review, we found that this service has some features which put them ahead of the competition. However, it also lacks other features and capabilities that might be important to you.

Although OFX money transfers can sometimes take longer than some of the company’s speedier competitors, price is where it consistently shines — it charges no additional fees for transfers beyond the standard exchange rate markup, although it requires a minimum transfer for $1,000 to start with. That means people who have smaller amounts to transfer will need to look elsewhere.

OFX’s headquarters is based in San Francisco and the company has been in business since 1998. Currently, the company has offices located in six different countries. Yet it all started a little over two decades ago when it launched its first website from a garage in Sydney.

In the past 20 years, the company has grown to more than 200 employees. OFX has managed over 1 million money transfers for more than $119 billion, with the numbers still growing.

Here’s a full breakdown of OFX’s costs, fees and a look at how it compares with its competitors in the international money transfer space.

OFX key features

  • Low exchange rates: OFX claims to have better rates and fees than many banks. Per the company, you can save up to an average of 50% on global money transfer rates when compared with using a bank. Banks make money off international money transfers by charging a markup (aka a margin) on foreign exchange rates. The reason OFX fees are lower is because they say they charge margins which are “substantially less” for money exchanges than the rates many banks charge their customers. OFX exchange rate markups are often less than 1%, they claim.
  • $0 transfer fees: Once upon a time, it did charge a flat-rate fee for money transfers. However, now OFX doesn’t charge any additional transfer fees for international money transfers. (The company does point out that your recipient’s bank might deduct a fee for the incoming transfer, but it doesn’t receive any part of those funds.)
  • No hidden fees: OFX doesn’t charge setup fees, monthly account fees or any other hidden fees.
  • Compare fees before transfer: OFX lets you check the rate you will be charged for an international money transfer in advance. However, you’ll have to create an OFX account first. This process is a bit cumbersome compared with the easy-to-access fee estimators available from some other money transfer service providers. However, it also gives you a way to compare the rate it will charge you with the rate your bank would charge you for the same transaction, so you can make sure you’re getting the better deal. This is a nice touch (though you should still estimate fees from other online money transfer providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal available). To estimate fees you’ll have to create an account, log in or use the “Get Extra” widget to see how much you could save when you transfer money with OFX instead of your bank.
  • There’s an app for that: You can transfer money, track your transfers and get current exchange rates with the OFX app, available for Apple and Android devices.
  • Membership program: If you own a business, you may be able to enjoy preferred exchange rates from OFX. Preferred rates could make sending or receiving money cheaper by helping you save more on exchange rate margins. The OFX Member Benefits Program lets you share your preferred rate with your own customers, members or employees by granting them access to your OFX network as well.
  • Referral program: The OFX Referral Program allows you an opportunity to earn a revenue share when your customers or referrals use OFX for international money transfers. You can also add the company’s free rate and currency calculators to your website, giving your users access to the most recent currency information.

Sending a money transfer with OFX

Review of OFX: A Money Transfer Provider
Transfers generally take 1-4 business days. Times may vary based upon the country to where you are transferring funds.

You should allow:
  • 1-2 business days for OFX to receive your funds plus

  • 1-4 business days for the funds to reach your recipient



*OFX provides a currency converter tool inside your account, online or using the app, which can also provide approximate delivery times.
Where can you send money?
OFX can transfer your money to over 190 countries in 55 different currencies. See a list of locations here.

How much can you send? Transfer amounts start at $1,000(minimum).

*Maximum transfer amounts are determined based on your money transfer provider and type of currency. USD can generally be transferred without restrictions.

How to transfer money

Here’s a look at the process you’ll experience if you transfer funds internationally with OFX.

Step 1:
You can sign up for a personal account or business account online or via the OFX app. For a personal account, you will need to provide the following information:

  1. Your location
  2. Your email address
  3. Your currency pair (aka where you’ll be transferring money from and to)
  4. Your estimated transfer amount
  5. Your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, nationality and occupation)
  6. Your driver’s license state and number (optional)

Step 2:
Create a password and set up a security question.

Step 3:
Verify your account by uploading one of the following:

  1. Copy of your driver’s license or passport (color)
  2. Proof of address (bank statement, utility bill or letter from a government agency)

Step 4:
Add the U.S. bank account you’ll be using to send funds.

Step 5:
Add new recipient details, including the person’s name and banking information.

Step 6:
Calculate transfer rate (if desired).

Step 7:
Transfer funds by setting up a direct debit or wiring the funds to OFX.

Step 8:
Funds are converted and delivered to your recipient.

Fees and fine print

Fees and penalties
Transfer rates
When you transfer money with OFX, the company takes a “small percentage” of the money you’re sending to cover costs.

Here’s how it works. Fees are based upon the market rate (also called interbank rate), which is a wholesale rate available to large financial institutions. Customers of OFX are charged a markup on the market rate, and that is how OFX makes money. You can check exchange rates here.


Transfer fees None
None

Compared with other money transfer options, OFX is often one of the most affordable ways to send money internationally. However, this isn’t the case 100% of the time. If you want to get the best value on your money transfer, it’s wise to compare costs among several money transfer providers.

Is OFX a good money transfer service to use?

Overall, OFX can often offer a more affordable way to send money internationally. You just have to be comfortable with the wait and minimum transfer requirements.

Pros
Cons
  • Low exchange rates mean OFX is often a cheaper way to send money.
  • Zero transfer fees keep the service affordable and simple to understand from a cost perspective.
  • 24/7 customer service support

  • No same-day delivery, (except from Australia to the U.S.)
  • Minimum transfer requirement of $1,000
  • Bank-to-bank transfers only with no cash payment or cash pick up options
  • No domestic transfers within the United States


Alternative money transfer options

MoneyGram and Western Union are international money transfer companies providing similar services to OFX.

MoneyGram

  • Where can you send money? MoneyGram has a large network. You can send money to more than 200 countries and territories around the world online or in person at one of MoneyGram’s 350,000 (approximate) global agent locations. Unlike OFX, you can also transfer money within the United States.
  • How long does a transfer take? Once you send a transaction successfully, your recipient can usually pick up cash within minutes. Just keep in mind that transfer time also depends upon operating hours and regulatory requirements.
  • How much can you send? $6,000 per online transfer is typically the cap on MoneyGram transfers, but it also depends upon the country where your recipient lives. Also, there’s a $6,000 cap per every 30 calendar days for online transfers. If you need to send more, you can. You’ll just need to a MoneyGram agent location to send additional transfers.
  • Fee to send money: MoneyGram’s costs can be a little on the high side. When compared with other competitors, MoneyGram fees are often higher plus they may include additional transfer fees. The cost to send money via MoneyGram varies quite a bit based upon where you’re sending money, how much you’re sending and how you’re paying. On the plus side, MoneyGram has a tool which can easily allow you to estimate fees online, without the hassle of being required to create an account first.

One area where MoneyGram shines is its potential speed of delivery. If timing is your primary concern when you are sending money, MoneyGram may be a good option to consider.

Western Union

  • Where can you send money? Western Union lets you send money to more than 200 countries and territories. The company also has a sizable network of over 500,000 agent locations, this can make finding a place to send or receive money in person a lot more convenient.
  • How long does a transfer take? Western Union allows you to send money in minutes in 130 currencies. Many transactions take place within minutes. Just keep in mind that factors like the service you select, your destination country, any regulatory issues, etc. could slow things down.
  • How much can you send? The amount of money you’re allowed to transfer will vary. Limits are based upon your transaction history with Western Union, the country where you are sending money, your location and the type of transfer service you choose. Based upon these factors, limits may range from $300 per money transfer up to $10,000 per transaction.
  • Fee to send money: Western Union is known for having a large network, not for being the most affordable way to send money internationally. Compared with competitors, exchange rate fees may be higher and you may be charged transfer fees on top of that. You can estimate the cost of sending money using Western Union’s online fee calculator. It’s a helpful and convenient feature, partly because you aren’t required to set up an account to access it. Also, even though Western Union may be more expensive in many cases, you shouldn’t just assume that is always the case. If you’re sending an online money transfer, it’s worth your time to see if Western Union can beat the cost your receiving elsewhere.

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.

Should you choose OFX?

OFX frequently beats competitor pricing for international online money transfers. Yet there are so many moving parts when it comes to money transfers that you shouldn’t take for granted that it is the cheapest option. If you want to save the most money possible on your international money transfers, you have to be willing to do a little homework (perhaps every time you prepare to transfer funds) and compare costs between several money transfer networks.

Of course, even if it is the least expensive option for your specific situation, the cheapest option may not be the right choice for you. OFX tends to be a bit on the slow side with regard to getting money into your recipient’s hands. Also, OFX doesn’t give you the option to pay with cash nor does it give recipients a cash pickup option. If you don’t have the capability to transfer funds directly into your recipient’s bank account, you’ll need to find a different company to handle your money transfer.

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: