Many people still use a bank. The problem is they are expensive and slower compared to many other options.
Wise and MoneyGram are some of the best known ways to transfer money, but they are very different.
Here’s the deal:
Both can transfer money but Wise can save you a bundle on fees. But MoneyGram allows you to send cash and deals with more currencies.
But who is best?
This depends on your circumstances.
In next few minutes, we will uncover everything you need to know including the reviews of others (especially the negative reviews).
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and savings on transfers if you use some of the links! For more information, see my disclosures here.
Quick Comparison: Wise Vs MoneyGram
Wise (review) (est. 2010) is leading the way for inexpensive money transfers. Wise cuts costs and pass the savings on, by being online only and focusing on bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers.
Meanwhile MoneyGram (review) has been around since before the internet (est. 1980) when people needed to send and receive cash and they still can help you with that.
As Wise say they, “make transfers up to 8x cheaper than banks”. See for yourself what you will pay with the Wise calculator (opens new tab).
The best bit:
Wise continually improves its offerings further reducing fees and increasing transfer speeds.
- Send money to 70+ countries
- Affordable and transparent fees – no markup on the exchange rate
- Fast transfers
- Available for both personal and business
- Multi-currency account for frequent travelers, freelancers, and growing global businesses
- MasterCard debit card for traveling, online shopping, or business expenses
- Excellent customer service
- No cash transfers
- Potentially better options for amounts over $7000 USD See Wise Vs OFX.
- Both online and offline transfers
- Send money to 200 countries in 100+ currencies
- Send cash, bank transfer, mobile wallet transfer
- Send money via Facebook messenger
- Set up bill payment (utilities like gas, water, automobile insurance, etc.)
- Often expensive fees and complicated fee structure (compared to Wise) but more similar to Ria (review) and WesternUnion (review)
- Customer support
1. Real Fees & HIDDEN Fees
- Transfers at the mid-market or interbank rate (no mark up)
- Low percentage service fees (generally between 0.35% to 2%) depending on the amount and currency
- Transfers funded by bank account are the most affordable
- Transfers funded by credit cards attract a 3-5% cash advance fee (charged by card issuer)
- Removes or minimizes hidden fees (sending and receiving bank fees) with local bank accounts in all the areas they service
- Relatively high fees are built into the exchange rate offered. (For example, $1000 USD included a 3.4% margin on the exchange rate offered)
- Payment Options: Credit Cards, Debit Card, Online Bank Accounts and Cash all attract additional fees. (For example, $1000 by Credit Card was 3.5%, Debit Card 1.5%, and Bank Account 0.5%)
- Receiving banks may charge receiving fees
- “Cash at Location” fees vary and are unknown until you select a pick up location.
Wise is our top choice for transfers below $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD for the transparent and low fees.
They keep the costs low by processing transfers at the mid-market rate and by removing hidden fees like sending and receiving bank fees.
Besides, their online-only service also helps you bypass agent fees.
Sending money abroad via MoneyGram can be very expensive, especially if you fund your transfer with a credit card (non-US residents don’t have an option). While debit card fees are much lower, nothing compares to the savings users could have made if they can fund their transfers from their bank account (when transfer speed is not a priority). Moreover, other fees like agent fees for cash pick ups and fees charged by receiving banks can make even sending small amounts quite pricey.
However, MoneyGram vs Wise for cash pick ups might still work for you because of their big network.
2. Are They Safe?
- Wise is regulated by, authorities such as Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (USA), the UK Financial Conduct Authority (UK), National Bank of Belgium (Europe) as an Authorised Payment Institution, the Australia Securities and Investments Commission (Australia), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (Canada) and Financial Customs and Excise Department (Hong Kong). It is also regulated in India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UAE.
- Wise keeps their customer’s money separate from their operating funds
- They have a dedicated fraud detection team and are regularly audited by various financial and IT authorities
- You’ll get real-time notifications for account activities
- Their website has an authentic and valid SSL certificate and their app uses two-factor authentication to keep your money and personal information safe
- MoneyGram is a registered and licensed financial services provider in most of the areas they serve – for example, they’re licensed and regulated by the HMRC in the UK, Authorized to do business in all 50 states, D.C. and all U.S. territories, the National Bank of Belgium in Europe.
- Robust anti-theft and anti-fraud measures adopted online and at agent locations (no cash disbursal without valid Govt-issued ID)
- Multi-tiered strategy that encompasses the networks, computers and programs throughout their entire organization to protect customers’ money and data
Both Wise and MoneyGram are licensed money transfer services and take sufficient measures to adhere to anti-theft and anti-fraud regulations, which means they can be trusted with your money.
MoneyGram (partly due to its cash business) goes a step further to continuously educate their customers and agents about fraudulent transfers (fake websites selling merchandise, catfishing scams, etc.) and maintains their no cash-disbursal policy without a valid govt-issued ID for cash pick ups.
3. Ease of Use – Some BIG Differences
- Handle everything online – from checking rates to setting up transfers
- Multi-currency account (review) and debit card (review) options for frequent travelers, freelancers, and global businesses – easy to hold, manage, and convert between multiple currencies
- Mobile app (Android and iOS for tracking rates, setting up transfers, tracking transfers, etc.)
Wise and MoneyGram have some similarities, but they’re essentially made for different users.
Wise’s users are international citizens like frequent travelers, freelancers, and growing global businesses who need the best of both worlds – a multi-currency account and affordable money transfers.
MoneyGram is meant for users who need to send cash abroad frequently to help their friends or family or are not comfortable doing everything online.
That’s why each service has features that support its area of specialization.
4. Reviews (inc. Negative Ones) — What Others Are Saying
Wise is rated 4.6/5 on Trustpilot with over 140,000 reviews, which is considered “Excellent.”
- Fast transfers
- Easy transactions
- Affordable rates
- Great for handling international money
“Quick easy transactions– Nicola Keen on Trustpilot
Safe place for money when travelling abroad”
“I’ve been using (Transfer)Wise services for a few years already, mostly to send money between Poland and Australia, but for travel (support for balances and transactions in plenty of currencies) and paying with their debit card for everyday expenses. It all works just great, the FX rates and international transfer fees are much better than at the banks, funds are transferred within 1 business day. Easy app gives access to all functions, including real-time status updates. Recommended.”– Tom on Trustpilot
- Extensive document verification
Many users were dissatisfied when Wise asked for additional documentation for some transfers. However, as a licensed money transfer company, Wise needs to conduct regular audits to keep their users’ money and data safe.
MoneyGram is rated 4.4/5 with over 14,000 reviews, which is considered “Good.”
- Efficient and consistent service
- Fast transfers to anywhere
“I’ve always had a good experience using Moneygram. Transfers are quick and the process is easy.”– Kevin on Trustpilot
“This was the most seamless process when I went to retrieve my cash. The Representative was efficient and polite. This is my first choice to receive and send funds from and to family and friends. I highly recommend MoneyGram. I’m 100% satisfied!– Joycelyn on Trustpilot
Thank you, you very happy customer.”
- Poor customer service
Moneygram’s users complained of poor customer service for a number of reasons. For one, the responses to complaints filed online can take a lot of time. Second, agents and other customer service representatives tend to display a lack of understanding or empathy if any bottlenecks come up, which can be frustrating. As a legacy remittance service, this is a major area of improvement for MoneyGram.
- Too many checks
MoneyGram requires you to submit additional documentation if you send money above a certain amount or send a specific currency. This is to comply with the anti-theft and anti-fraud regulations as a licensed financial service provider.
Both Wise and MoneyGram are strong when it comes to customer service.
They not only provide good service consistently, but focus on protecting their customers’ money and data with relevant processes and technical measures.
5. Transfer Speeds
- Wise processes popular currencies (like USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD, NZD, SGD) from within a few hours to a few days. Card transfers are also processed near-instantly.
- Transfers in exotic currencies can take longer, as do bank-to-bank transfers (3-5 days) where the banks at either end can slow up the process.
- Cash transfers
For these transfers, money is ready to be picked up almost instantly. However, weekends and public holidays may lead to delayed pick ups.
- Bank Transfers
Most payments are completed within a few hours to a day. For example, your transfer from the US to India will go through in 3-5 hours, to Canada in an 1 hour, while transfers to European countries, including the UK can take 1 day. This is the typical speed for currencies popularly traded on MoneyGram.
Exotic currencies can take 3-5 days.
- Bill Payments
These are processed instantly, unless you set it up over a weekend or holiday.
Both Wise and MoneyGram offer competitive speed for their transfers.
However, please note: most near instant transfers are funded by credit cards or debit cards, which can cost more.
Wise offers bank-to-bank transfers, which can be an affordable way to send money when the transfer is not urgent.
Delays can also be caused by internal audits (if a transfer raises a red flag) or if you set up your transfer outside banking hours (weekend or other holiday).
6. Customer Service and Support
- Online support only
- Proactive customer service and can be reach by phone, chat, or email
- Extensive FAQs section
- Both online and offline support (agent locations)
- Reach customer service by filing a complaint on their website. Option to resolve issue by email or by receiving a call back – customer service can be hard to reach
- Country-specific FAQs
According to reviews on Trustpilot, Moneygram’s customer service can be difficult to reach and problem-solving takes longer than usual.
Although Wise’s customer service is online-only, they are known for being helpful and proactive when it comes to problem solving. That’s why they win this round.
Wise wins in 2 categories and they both tie in the 4 categories but they are really great for different needs. Trustpilot backs up our view as both are considered “Good” to “Excellent.”
What is the deal?
If you can do without cash, Wise is easily our top choice for bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers below $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD.
Through the Wise calculator (opens new tab) you can see the fees you pay without signing up for the amount and currencies you want to transfer.
But if you’re looking for money transfers to both popular and exotic locations – especially in cash, MoneyGram is a solid choice for their wide coverage, fast options and respectable customer service.
Finally, if you need to transfer more than $7000 USD check out our Wise Vs OFX comparison.