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Methodology: How We Rate Money Transfer Providers

Feb. 4, 2019
Banking, Money Transfer
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PROVIDERS

We analyze seven providers that work in the U.S., focusing on major players in the international money transfer industry, based on market research, experts, cost analysis and U.S. internet traffic.

They are: MoneyGram, OFX, Remitly, Ria, TransferWise, Western Union and Xoom (owned by PayPal).

What the ratings mean:

5 stars out of 5 — Excellent
4 stars out of 5 — Above average
3 stars out of 5 — Average
2 stars out of 5 — Below average
1 star out of 5 — Poor

Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

More on ratings

A provider’s international money transfers vary from country to country in multiple ways, including cost, speed and delivery options. NerdWallet considered each provider’s money transfers from the U.S. to up to four benchmark countries: Germany, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Factors we consider, depending on the category, include: fees; the foreign exchange rate the provider uses; same-day delivery options; delivery time when using a bank account; availability of sending channels, payment methods and delivery options; sending limits; the quality of user-facing tech; and customer service availability.

HOW WE SELECT BENCHMARK COUNTRIES

Two of the countries — Mexico and India — consistently make the list of the top four places that receive the most remittances from the U.S., according to WorldBank data. Remittances are transfers sent by expatriate workers to their home countries. The other two — Germany and the U.K. — form part of the Group of Seven, which makes up almost 50% of the global economy’s aggregate GDP. This mix of countries accounts for a broad demographic and socioeconomic range of people who send money from the U.S.

HOW WE LOOK AT FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATES

We first collect available foreign exchange rate quotes or estimates on all providers’ websites for the various currency pairs (USD/EUR, USD/GBP, USD/INR and USD/MXN). All data on rates are collected daily from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. PST for two consecutive days. For providers with rates that vary by payment or delivery option, we only gather rates for online transfers sent using bank accounts as payment and delivered to a foreign bank account.

Provider rates are then compared with the daily median foreign exchange rates on the Bloomberg Markets website to determine each markup. For analysis, we take the median of each provider’s rate markups across the two days.

TRANSFER AMOUNTS

Fees and rates can differ by the amount sent, so for comparison purposes, we analyze transfers of $200, $500, $1,000 and $10,000 when available for each provider.

EXCEPTIONS AND LIMITS

For providers that don’t send personal transfers to all four countries, we only consider the countries where they’re available. This has not negatively affected those providers’ ratings.