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World First Money Transfer Review: Personal Service, Good Rates

Banking, Money Transfer
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World First
NerdWallet’s rating: 3.5 / 5.0

3.5 stars out of 5

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  • Better-than-average costs for sending $10,000 and up
  • Limited payment and delivery options
  • Standard transfers take 2 to 3 business days
Learn more at World First

World First is an international money transfer platform that has served individuals and businesses for almost 13 years. It lets you send money from the U.S. to more than 120 countries.

The company’s advantage lies in transfers of $10,000 — at which point the transfer fee drops — and above. Costs are better than average for the standard service with delivery in two or three business days. But the sender and recipient both must have a bank account to facilitate a transfer. The minimum you can send is $1,000.

>>MORE: Compare money transfers

The bottom line

We rated World First at 3.5 out of 5 stars based on its transfers from the U.S. to six of seven benchmark countries. Where the provider shines: In transfers of $10,000 or more and its 24-hour delivery service, which is available if you pay your bank a fee to wire funds to World First. Where it falls short: No transfers of amounts below $1,000 and limited options for payment and delivery.

Country overall ratings
Average rating for all countries4.0 stars out of 5
Mexico4.0 stars out of 5
ChinaN/A
India3.5 stars out of 5
Philippines4.0 stars out of 5
Germany4.0 stars out of 5
Canada3.5 stars out of 5
United Kingdom4.0 stars out of 5
  • World First’s transfers can be delivered within 24 hours with expedited service option
  • Transfers require bank accounts on sending and receiving ends
  • Minimum amount per transfer is $1,000; there’s no maximum
  • Transfers to China are available only to business customers

Overview

For each country, we analyzed World First’s money transfers based on four categories: transfer costs, speed offerings, transfer methods and options, and customer experience. We took the average of all countries’ category ratings to determine World First’s overall ratings:

Overall Ratings
Transfer costs3.5 stars out of 5
Speed offerings4.0 stars out of 5
Transfer methods and options4.0 stars out of 5
Customer experience3.5 stars out of 5
Overall3.5 stars out of 5

Transfer costs

$10 fee for transfers of less than $10,000 and low rate markups
3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

Transfers under $10,000 have a $10 flat fee, but there aren’t any fees for transfers above that. Exchange rate markups generally range between 0.5% and 1.3% above the mid-market rate, depending on the currency and the amount sent. For example, the rates tend to be slightly better for sending $10,000 versus $1,000.

Even for $1,000 transfers, World First’s range of exchange rate markups are competitive with other transfer providers. For example, the maximum markups on the same bank-account-to-bank-account service of the three largest providers are higher: 2.6% for Ria, 3.8% for MoneyGram and nearly 7% for Western Union.

The mid-market rate, also called the interbank rate, is the exchange rate that big banks use to swap currencies among one another. Most providers give customers an exchange rate that’s the mid-market rate plus an additional percentage, or markup, to make a profit on the transfer.

Example: If the mid-market rate for U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos is 20 pesos per dollar, then a 2% markup means the provider would give you 19.6 pesos per dollar. For a $500 transfer, that’s the difference between 10,000 pesos from the first rate and 9,800 pesos from the second, post-markup one. The higher the markup, the less your recipients get in their currency.

Speed offerings

Delivery possible within 24 hours
4.0 stars out of 5
4.0 / 5.0

The delivery speed depends on the currency. Transfers can take two to three business days if you have World First debit your bank account. But the delivery can happen within 24 hours if you send funds to World First with a domestic wire transfer. That wire transfer will incur an additional fee from your bank — about $25 on average.

Transfer methods and options

Payment and delivery done only via bank accounts, but there are three sending options and no upper transfer limit
4.0 stars out of 5
4.0 / 5.0

  • Sending channels: World First’s website, mobile app and by phone with a customer service representative
  • Payment options: Bank account only
  • Delivery options: Bank account only
  • Transfer limits: No maximum; minimum per transfer is $1,000

Customer experience

24/7 customer service, but it’s hard to find some information on website.
3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

It’s not easy to find World First’s FAQs section on its website. It doesn’t offer a list of currencies or countries for making transfers. Instead, you’ll need to open an account and select the countries from a drop-down menu.

Although its simple fee structure is in the FAQs, you have to log in to see the provider’s exchange rates. But the rates for some currencies like Indian rupees aren’t shown online, so you have to call the company.

Customer service is available 24/7, with representatives in various offices worldwide. When you become a customer, World First assigns you a dedicated customer service agent to answer questions or book transfers during business hours on weekdays.

World First’s iOS mobile app hasn’t received enough reviews to be rated, but its Android app gets 4.2 stars.

Suited for large transfers

WorldFirst
Learn more
at WorldFirst
World First specializes in enabling transfers of large sums of money. On amounts of $10,000 and higher, the flat fee drops and exchange rates tend to be more competitive. Standard transfers rely on bank hours and processing, but you can wire your money to World First (by paying a fee to your bank) and accelerate delivery. And World First provides you a dedicated customer service agent to help with transactions.

If you aim to send less than $10,000, however, or want to compare exchange rates between providers online, you might want to consider other options.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd.


METHODOLOGY

We analyzed 11 top money transfer providers that work in the U.S., including major players and smaller, innovative companies in the international money transfer industry, based on market research, experts, cost analysis and U.S. internet traffic.Providers considered: MoneyGram, OFX, Placid Express, Remitly, Ria, Transfast, TransferWise, Western Union, World First, WorldRemit 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

How we rate money transfer providers