Category Archives: Money Transfer Service Reviews

Reviews of money transfer services

Money Transfer Questions and Answers

I receive many questions from readers about money transfer services and problems and I don’t always have time to respond, so I’ve grouped together some of the easier ones here:

1. How to open a Paypal account?

pamela wrote:
i want to set up a account with paypal but i cant find the page to do so. thank you

Pennah Haimbodi wrote:
how can i get a paypal account? where can i apply for it?

yasmin wrote:
im new and i dont know how to sign up for paypel!!

Answer:

These are the steps to create a PayPal account:

Step 1: Go to https://www.paypal.com and click on Sign Up.

Step 2: Choose the purpose of your signup (Personal use or Business use)

Step 3: Fill in the details, and click on Continue/Agree and Continue.

Step 4: Enter the security code from the image and continue.

Step 5: Confirm your email and login.

Step 6: In order to send money, you need to link your bank account or credit/debit card to your newly created PayPal account. So, after logging in, click on My Account > Profile > Link Bank Account or Link Debit/Credit Card and follow the instructions.

In order to receive money, you need to give your email (the one you registered with) to the sender. After you receive money, you can withdraw it to your linked bank account.

Question and Answer

2. How to send money to a U.S. prison inmate?

E.M wrote:
Hello, can you help me to send money to prisons in USA from Finland? I have master card only.

Answer:

I researched this previously and answered it in a post, here:  How to add money to an inmate’s commissary account.

3. Was the MoneyGram cashed?

lillian day wrote:
how can i find out it a moneygram was cashed?

Answer:

Lillian, you should call the MoneyGram customer service line at 1-800-328-5678. They should be able to tell you if your MoneyGram payment was cashed or not.

4. Sending money to Nigeria?

muriel montoya wrote:
i want to know if i can send money to lagos nigeria online from my bank in america to lagos.

Gunn berit Åkre wrote:
hello i must transfer 700 dollars on november 19 to nigeria and it important that the money will be sent that day.

Answer:

Muriel and Gunn, I would first caution you to be careful who you are sending money to, and for what reason. Nigeria is the scam and fraud capital of the world. Are you absolutely sure that you are sending money for something legitimate? If so, here are your options:

1. Western Union Money Transfer (http://www.westernunion.com/nigeria)

2. MoneyGram (http://global.moneygram.com/ng/en)

3. World Remit (https://www.worldremit.com/en/nigeria)

4. Xend Pay (http://www.xendpay.com)

5. Western Union near Marplasolo, France?

karen linton wrote:
where is the western union in france? is one in marplasolo? or even near?

Answer:

Karen, I am sorry, but I can not find such a place in France.

6. How can I get my money transfer back?

eugene smith wrote:
I called the company to whom i sent a payment & discovered that they no longer
accept payments. What do I do to have the payment returned? THANKS.

Answer:

Eugene, you should first call the money transfer service you used and find out if the payment has been received. If not, then they can probably refund it to you. If the payment has been received, then you can find out who received it and request a refund from them.

7. Safest way to send money to an online gambling service?

suzanne glynn wrote:
I live in California and I would like to play poker online. Any suggestions on how to transfer funds to a safe… if it exists…online poker site with the assurance of withdrawing winnings with little or no hassle. thanks for your help….suzanne

Answer:

Suzanne, we don’t report on or research online gambling sites or issues. Sorry.

8. How to send money from the USA to the UAE?

Linda Briley wrote:
I need to send money to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) as soon as possible. for my husband to come home.

Answer:

Linda, you didn’t say where you are located but I’ll assume the USA. There are several money transfer services you can use to send money to the UAE.

There is Western Union, in which, you have to walk in to one of the Western Union agents in your city, give them the money and the details about your husband’s location and obtain a MTCN (Money Transfer Control Number). Then give this number to your husband who is in the UAE who can collect the money from one of the Western Union agents in the UAE. You can also use online transfer option from your debit/credit card or from your bank account. Log on to http://www.westernunion.com for this.

There is also MoneyGram, which you can use for transfer of money to the UAE. Even here, you need to walk in to any of the MoneyGram agents or pay online at https://www.moneygram.com.

You can also transfer money through PayPal. You will need to create an account with them on https://www.paypal.com/ and link your debit/credit card or bank account with the PayPal account, in order to transfer the money. All you need to do after linking the card/account is enter your husband’s email address and the amount you wish to transfer. If he is registered on PayPal and has linked his bank account with PayPal, he can immediately withdraw it, otherwise, he will have to sign up on PayPal with the email address you had sent the money to.

***

Do you have a question about money transfer services, gift cards, sending money to a mobile phone, or a problem you’re having with a money transfer? Calling the money transfer agent’s customer service line should be your first course of action, but if that doesn’t work then contact us through our contact form, and we’ll be happy to answer.

Sending money from Brazil with Perfect Money?

A reader named Alberto Miranda wrote:

Question:

Gostaria de saber se: http://safecashtransfer.com/ pode me ajudar – Criei uma
conta em Perfect Money e preciso enviar pelo menos 200 dólares sacando do meu
Visa internacional. É possível? E como devo proceder se minha moeda é o Real
do Brasil? – Aguardo sugestão. Obrigado – Alberto Miranda

I ran this through Google Translate and got the following translation from the Portuguese:

I wonder if SafeCashTransfer.com can help me – I created a
Perfect Money account and must send at least $ 200 of my whipping
Visa International. Is it possible? And what should I do if my currency is the Real
Brazil? – I await suggestions. Thanks – Alberto Miranda

Short Answer:

Perfect Money logo.
Perfect Money logo.

Alberto, it doesn’t look like you can fund your Perfect Money account with a Visa card. You need to do a bank transfer, or convert from another digital currency like WebMoney. You could also try an alternative e-currency service like Paypal (the leader in the field).

Long Answer:

I had actually never heard of Perfect Money, so I looked them up.

Perfect Money (http://www.PerfectMoney.com) is apparently an e-currency or digital currency provider registered in Panama and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. They also offer currency conversion and prepaid cards.

Digital currencies are accepted by some legitimate businesses, though not many. Mostly they are used to pay contractors and buy products from individual sellers. They are popular among online criminals (drug dealers, scammers, hackers) because they do not require any form of identity verification.

Many of the clients of Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve – which was known for catering to cybercriminals and was shut down when the founder was arrested on money laundering charges – have migrated to Perfect Money. In an apparent bid to avoid investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, Perfect Money declared in a release on their website that they would not accept user registrations from the United States.

That’s not to say that Perfect Money’s service is not legitimate. By all appearances it is. Here’s some specific information on the service, taken from their website and other sources:

Deposit fees
Wire from 1.5%
Conversion
USD/EUR , EUR/USD
At market rate
Interest
Added to balance: 4% per year
Transfers
Internal 0.5%
Withdrawal fees
Wire transfer from 3.75% + bank fee
Security fees
SMS Notification $0.1
Annual Service $0
Account Restoration $100

So if you use Perfect Money to send money to someone else with a Perfect Money account, the company takes 0.5%. That could be quite low or quite high, depending on how much  money you’re sending. On the whole it’s a very reasonable fee.

You can deposit funds into your Perfect Money account by the following means:

1) If you have some other electronic currency you can exchange it for Perfect Money currency.

2) Bank transfer: Minimum sum of deposit is $300 USD.

You can withdraw funds from Perfect Money by the following means:

1) Exchange for any other electronic currency (for example, PayPal) and then withdraw in any exchange office in your city.

2) Bank transfer to your account via exchange offices that are partners of Perfect Money. I would not recommend that you withdraw on your bank account directly via Perfect Money. In my opinion, the system charges too high a commission for such a service.

3) Cash transfer via Western Union and MoneyGram.

If any readers have experience with Perfect Money, I would love to hear about it. Did you find it easy to use? Did you have any problems? Was it affordable?

Xpress Money, an Online Money Transfer Service

By W. H. Abdelgawad for SafeCashTransfer.com

Update: I started researching this article four months ago, but when I checked just now I found that the website – which used to be XpressMoney.com – is down, and that the company seems to have migrated their website to XpressMoney.biz (if it is even the same company).

That seems strange and shady to me. So at this point I’d have to say that I cannot recommend Xpress Money. Nevertheless, here is the review that I started back in May 2012:

***

Xpress Money
Xpress Money logo.

I recently learned about a money transfer service called Xpress Money. Xpress was founded 12 years ago and is based in Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Their website says they have 135,000 agent locations in 125 countries. They seem to specialize in money transfers to Asia and the Middle East (they have no agents in Latin America, as far as I can see). Unsurprisingly, their corporate officers, directors and shareholders are mostly Indians and Arabs.

It looks like the Xpress Money service does not have independent money exchange centers. In Canada, for example, the Xpress Money service is offered through major banks like RBC Royal, BMO, Canada Trust and Scotia Bank, and is available to account holders at those banks.

Sending Rates and Currency Exchange

Xpress Money’s money transfer fees are reasonably low. I used their rate calculator to find out how much they charge to transfer $100 from the USA to India. Their fee is $8.

Some unscrupulous money transfer services offer low transfer fees, but hit you hard on the exchange rate. That’s where they make their profit. Is Xpress Money doing that?

In a word, no. Xpress Money’s exchange rate for the transfer is 53.36 INR (Indian rupees) for one U.S. dollar. I checked Yahoo Finance’s currency converter, and the current exchange rate on the open market is 53.79. If you sent $100 through Xpress Money, your recipient would get 5,336 INR, as opposed to 5,379 on the open market. That’s a difference of 43 rupees, or about 8 cents U.S.

So you’re losing almost nothing on the currency exchange.

Xpress Money User Reviews

I’ve never used Xpress Money’s service and I don’t know anyone who has. Their website has several positive testimonials from customers who have sent money to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But of course Xpress would not give publish negative experiences on their website.

They also have a Facebook page with 40,000 likes. It’s a mix of corporate news, interesting articles and random odd facts, like, “Eating a packet of crisps a day is equivalent to drinking five liters of cooking oil a year.” (Ha ha).

If you have used Xpress Money, please comment here and let us know if you were happy with the service or not.

Two Options for Online Money Transfers

You no longer have to go to a money transfer office to schedule money transfers.  You can send money to friends and family from the comfort of your home with online money transfer services.

Many of the traditional money transfer services now offer the option of making a transfer over the phone or online at their website.  Other companies have been started in recent years that exist solely as online services.  Here are two of them to consider.

Western Union

Western union safe cash transfer
Western Union

Western Union has been doing regular electronic money transfers for years and has now expanded into online service via the internet.  You have several options when using their online service for payment.  If you need the money to arrive quickly, you can pay with a debit or credit card.  If it is not an emergency, you can use your bank account to transfer money.

You create an online profile with Western Union that you can go back to anytime you need to send money.  Then you choose your options based on what you need.  The receiver can get their money several ways:

  • In their bank account
  • At a Western Union agent near their location
  • Delivered to their home or office
  • In their mobile wallet

If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your bank information with Western Union, they also provide WU Pay.  With this option, you can set up a payment in your Western Union account and they will send a bill.  Then you go to your bank account’s online bill pay and pay the bill like you would any other.

With all of these options, you receive email confirmation to know that the money has been sent.

Xoom

Xoom is a newer money transfer company founded in 2001 and located in San Francisco.  They handle all transfers online and send money to the following countries:

  • The Philippines
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • India
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • South Africa

You must sign up on their website before you can send money.  Once you create a profile, you will enter the recipient’s information, including their name and country, how much you want to send, and how you want them to receive the money.  You have three options on this: bank deposit, pick up in person, or delivery to their home.  The latter two options may not be available in all countries.

You will also need to know the recipient’s address and bank information (if depositing into their account) and contact phone number.  You will then enter your payment information where you have the option of paying from your bank account or with a credit card.  You will have a final chance to review the transaction before submitting.

It’s much easier to send money today with online money transfer services.  You have multiple options, which allow you to select the most affordable choice with the best features.  These are two of the best known companies, one that has expanded their services and one that only provides online services.

Good Experience With Xoom.com

Xoom corporation logo

I recently found myself needing to send $750 to a friend named Adam in El Valle de Anton, which is a small town in Panama. I went to my bank (Bank of America) and inquired about sending a money transfer. They told me I had to come back early the next morning and it would cost $45.

Instead, I went home and logged on to Xoom.com, an online money transfer service based in San Francisco.

Checking the rates, I found that it would be $27.99 to send $750 to Panama using a debit card or credit card; and only $9.99 if I funded the transaction from my bank account!

So that’s what I did. I used my bank account to send the money. Until recently money sent to Panama via Xoom could only be picked up at a few selected banks in the capital city, which is 90 minutes away from El Valle. But now Xoom has partnered with the Super99 grocery store chain as well, so money transfers can be picked up at any Super99. And there are Super99 stores everywhere, including in Coronado, only 30 minutes away from El Valle.

The money transfer was completed quickly – within an hour or so. My friend Adam told me that it was easy to pick up the money. He said he didn’t know that money could be sent from the USA to Panama so cheaply, and that he would recommend Xoom to others as well.

Overall it was a quick and easy transaction, and inexpensive. If you need to send money to Latin America, I highly recommend Xoom.com.

Send Money Online With a Credit Card, Part 3 – Moneybookers and Amazon Payments

Part 1 – Western Union, MoneyGram, Paypal
Part 2 – Xoom and iKobo
Part 3 – Moneybookers and Amazon Payments

Moneybookers
Moneybookers is an e-commerce business that allows payments and money transfers to be made over the internet.

In parts 1 and 2 I reviewed some of the major money-transfer services. I’m specifically looking at the ability to send money using a credit card. Now I’ll continue with some of the lesser-known services.

6. MoneyBookers

Recommendation: worth looking into. Possibly a good alternative to Paypal for those needing to pay by credit card; however, there are a lot of fees.

MoneyBookers, founded in 2002 and based in London, is a specifically internet-based payments and money-sending service. They also perform payment processing for websites, online auction sites, and other corporate users. So it’s a lot like Paypal. Over 100,000 merchants are registered with MoneyBookers.

As of 2012, MoneyBookers is in the process of changing their name to Skrill. Why, I don’t know. “MoneyBookers” sounds vaguely shady, but “Skrill” sounds like some kind of tiny sea-creature. MoneyBookers’ PR machine says, “Skrill is going to better represent what we are and what we will become, as well as differentiate ourselves in a crowded marketplace. Skrill was an informal term for money. But we – and you – are going to make it more than that. In the same way you ‘google’ something or ‘skype’ your friends, people will soon ‘Skrill’ money.”

Okay… grandiose wishes aside, the company’s payment systems have not changed. You can send money to over 200 countries. I have not used the service, but what I understand from the MoneyBookers website is that it works a lot like Paypal. You sign up for a MoneyBookers account, and you can send money to anyone who also has an account. The sender pays a transaction fee of 1%, and the receiver pays no fee. However, when the receiver wants to withdraw the funds from his MoneyBookers account he will pay a small withdrawal fee. The amount depends on the country, and the method of withdrawal. To withdraw by bank transfer may be free, but to withdraw by check could cost between $1.80 and $3.50.

There’s also this caveat at the bottom of MoneyBookers’ rates page:

“For transactions involving currency conversion Skrill (Moneybookers) adds 1.99% to our wholesale exchange rates for foreign currency. This charge serves as a protection against the volatility and risk associated with FX markets. The Skrill (Moneybookers) exchange rates are updated on a regular basis throughout the day.”

You CAN upload funds to your MoneyBookers account by credit card. All major credit cards are accepted: AMEX, Visa, MasterCard, JCB, and Diners Club. So that’s a big advantage over most other money-sending services. However there is a 1.90% charge to upload money by credit card.

This means there could be as many as four separate fees: one to upload money with your credit card, another to send money, a currency exchange fee if your recipient is in a foreign country, then your recipient will have to pay a withdrawal fees.

That’s a lot of fees, man. Still, MoneyBookers may present an alternative to Paypal for those needing to fund a money trnasfer with their credit card.

If any readers have experience with MoneyBookers, please chime in and let us know how it went. Was it easy to transfer money? Were the fees reasonable?

7. Amazon Payments

Amazon payments
Amazon payments is a service similar to Paypal, available to anyone who has an Amazon.com account.

Recommendation: recommended. Easy to use. Works just like Paypal.

Amazon payments lets you use the payment information saved in your Amazon.com account to send money to friends and family. You can send money to their email address or to to their U.S. mobile number. You can do this from your computer or your mobile phone.

Here’s how it works:

1. You go to the Amazon payments home page and sign in using your Amazon.com email and password (If you don’t have an Amazon.com account, you can create one).

2. The next page will ask you to confirm your contact info, and to enter your mobile number. You’ll also have to verify your identity using the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number or the month and date of your birthday. Then you set a security question, and continue.

3. Amazon Payments will send a confirmation code to your phone. It will be some weird phrase like “starry water”. Enter that code on the next page.

4. You’ll be asked to choose a 4-digit pin to authorize your mobile transactions. Pick something you’ll remember, or write it down somewhere.

5. At this point you’ll be asked to activate your account by either sending money online, or using your mobile. If you choose online for example, you will have to verify your email address and add a credit card if you have not done so already. Verifying your email just means that Amazon Payments sends you a confirmation link by email, and you click on it).

6. This will bring you to your account page which shows your balance, and you can add a bank account if you wish, view your past transactions, or add or withdraw funds.

7. If you click on the Send Money tab at the top, you have the option of adding money to your account to send money, or using your credit card. I tested out the credit card option so I could review it here. I chose a friend with an Amazon account, and sent $1. I had no money in my Amazon account, so I was prompted to select or add a credit card, which I did.

By the way, you are offered the option of sending the money either as payment for goods and services, or as a cash advance. There’s a warning for the cash advance option that says,

“Select this option if you are not sending money for the purchase of goods or services. You may be charged a cash advance or other fees by your credit or debit card issuer. Amazon Payments is not responsible for these fees. Contact your issuer for more information.”

8. I made my payment and was given a transaction ID and reference ID. The whole process was quite simple and painless, and mirrored my experience with Paypal almost exactly.

I subsequently logged into my online bank account and I learned that aside from the $1 I sent, Amazon Payments charged me a $1 processing fee. So that’s not bad at all. When I sent the money I selected the “goods and services” option and my bank does not appear to have charged anything at all. I don’t know if the fees go up with the amount of the payment. Perhaps I’ll test further in the future.

Send Money Online With a Credit Card, Part 2 – Xoom and iKobo

Sending money

Part 1 – Western Union, MoneyGram, Paypal
Part 2 – Xoom and iKobo
Part 3 – Moneybookers and Amazon Payments

In Send Money Online With a Credit Card, Part 1, I covered three major money-transfer services: Western Union, MoneyGram and Paypal.

In Part 2 I will discuss some lesser known money transfer services.

4. Xoom.com by Credit Card

Recommended.

Based in San Francisco, Xoom.com does not have their own dedicated stores, rather they partner with various financial institutions who act as their agents (this is common of course; Western Union and MoneyGram do it too). For example in Panama, Xoom partners with Citi and the Super99 grocery store chain, among others. They have 42 pickup locations in Panama, which is pretty good.

Xoom seems to specialize in money transfers to Latin America and Europe, though they do have a scattering of agents in Asia and other places. As of this writing they have agents in 30 countries. That may be a far cry from Western Union’s 200+ countries, but Xoom still provides a good service.

The fees are reasonable and you can pay with a U.S.- based credit card or debit card, or with a U.S. bank account. To take the example I used previously of sending $500 to Panama, if you paid by U.S. bank account the fee would be $7.99. If you paid with a credit card or debit card it would be $19.99. They accept Visa, MasterCard or Discover.

I have used Xoom‘s services in the past and found them to be reliable.

Caution

If you haven’t read Part 1, here’s my standard warning about funding a money transfer with your credit card:

Be aware that in addition to the normal fees that the money transfer company charges, your credit card company may impose an extra fee. They might see a money transfer transaction as a cash advance, and charge you the cash advance APR (interest rate), which can be considerably higher than your card’s default APR. It’s best to check with your bank first and find out if there are any extra charges for funding a money transfer with your credit card.

5. iKobo.com by Credit Card

Not available.

I used to use iKobo.com all the time to send money to a web development contractor overseas. Their fee to send $500 to Panama is $21.25 (I use Panama as my example because I used to live there); if you fund the transaction from your bank account you can send up to $1,000 anywhere for only $8, which is a great deal.

However, when I visited the website just now I saw the following notice on their home page:

Important Notice: iKobo money transfer is temporarily suspended while we update our services. Money transfer services will soon be restored.

I don’t know what’s going on with them.

Next: MoneyBookers and Amazon Payments.

Send Money Online With a Credit Card, Part 1 – Western Union, MoneyGram, Paypal

Send money online

Part 1 – Western Union, MoneyGram, Paypal
Part 2 – Xoom and iKobo
Part 3 – Moneybookers and Amazon Payments

If you want to use a credit card to send money online from the convenience of your home, there are several options:

1. Western Union by Credit Card

Recommended.

Western Union is one of the world’s leading money transfer companies, with almost 400,000 agents in over 200 countries around the world. If you walk into a Western Union office to send money you must pay in cash, or use a debit card. However, if you do it by phone or through their WesternUnion.com website, you can use a credit card. It must be a Visa or MasterCard, issued by a U.S. bank.

It’s safe to say that Western Union has long been the leading company offering this service of sending money online by credit card.

Advantages

The money you send will be available to the receiver literally in minutes. You can also transfer the funds directly to the receiver’s bank account. Alternatively, you can have the funds delivered to the receiver’s home or workplace by FedEx the next day.

Fees

The sender must pay a fee to send money by Western Union. The fee will vary depending on the amount, and the countries that you send money from and to.

Caution

Be aware that in addition to the normal fees that Western Union charges, your credit card company may impose an extra fee. They might see a Western Union transaction as a cash advance, and charge you the cash advance APR (interest rate), which can be considerably higher than your card’s default APR. It’s best to check with your bank first and find out if there are any extra charges for funding a Western Union transfer or other online money transfer.

2. MoneyGram by Credit Card

Recommended.

MoneyGram also allows you to send money online with a credit card. Go to their website at MoneyGram.com, and right on the home page you can choose the country you want to send money to, choose the receive option (for most countries there’s only one option – pick up at agent, local currency payout), enter the amount, and click “Get Started”.

At this point the window will change to show you a cost estimate. For example to send $500 to Panama, the fee is $31 for same-day service, in which the money will be available to the receiver in 10 minutes, or $15 for economy service, where the money will be available in 3 business days. For some reason economy service can only be funded from your bank account, but same-day service can be paid for by credit card.

The window will also give you a link to their MoneyGram location finder, which allows you to search and find a list of MoneyGram agents in any country and city. I found it rather annoying that when I clicked this link, instead of showing me the info in a pop-up page the website took me to a new page, and did not save any of the info I had just entered. So I navigated back to the home page and started over, re-entering the country and amount. Anyway, once you input the info and click “Get Started”, you’ll be asked to register and confirm your email address, then you’ll be able to send money online with your credit card, using the same-day service option.

Caution

The same warning applies that I mentioned above. Your credit card company might view this transaction as a cash advance, and charge you a higher APR. Make sure you check with your bank first and find out if there are any extra charges for funding an online money transfer with your credit card.

3. Paypal by Credit Card

Not recommended.

Paypal is another very popular service that allows you to send money to anyone who also has a Paypal account. However, Paypal no longer seems to allow the option to add funds to your account by credit card – at least my account does not. Instead, I see only two options: add funds from a U.S. bank account, or add funds from a Green Dot MoneyPak. The MoneyPak is essentially a prepaid card that you can buy at Walmart or many other locations. There’s a service fee to load money onto the card, and you can then use it to pay for various transactions.

So theoretically you could use your credit card to buy a MoneyPak, then use the MoneyPak to fund your Paypal account, then send money by Paypal. However, you’d be paying two and possible three separate service charges, so I do not recommend this option

Conclusion

There are other, smaller services that may allow you to send money online with your credit card. I will look into them in the coming weeks. However, the major ones are Western Union and MoneyGram. These companies are international, well-established and trustworthy. So I would stick with them.

RIA Money Transfer – Info and Reviews

RIA money transfer

 

Note that I receive no payment or commission for providing this information or writing these reviews. It’s all a part of my ongoing search for the best money transfer services.

RIA Financial Services is the world’s third-largest global money transfer company. Founded in 1987 in New York City with the goal of serving the Eastern Seaboard, the company now serves 134 countries. In 2007 RIA was acquired by Euronet Worldwide, which is headquartered in Leawood, Kansas, USA.

RIA describes themselves as “the most progressive money transfer company that offers the most competitive and reliable remittance payment services to the general public.”

To send money through Ria, you can contact one of their more than 41,000 paying and receiving Agents, Correspondents or RIA locations around the world. To find a location near you, check here: RIA retail locations. Or call 1-800-227-4195. RIA’s locations are not as ubiquitous as Western Union or MoneyGram, but if you’re in any large or even medium-sized city, you can probably find an agent. I’m located in Fresno, California, a city of about 500,000, and looking at RIA’s website I see they have a location here at the Fulton Mall.

Significantly for U.S. consumers, RIA recently announced that their money transfer services are now available in 5,000 7-Eleven stores.

Unfortunately RIA’s money transfer rates are not listed up front. In order to find out the rate, you are asked to visit a local agent, which in my opinion is a bit of a bother. I see no reason not to provide the information up front if the rates are as competitive as RIA claims.

Personal Experiences and Reviews of RIA

In a discussion on the Visa Journey forum, one member wrote:

“I always used Ria Money Transfer for sending money to my dad in Brazil when I was in the U.S. I usually would go to this Brazilian store, a brazilian store always have way for you to send money, and I’d only pay 10 dollars fee, I think it’s 10 dollars till $3,500, I don’t know what is the fee for your transfer if you send more. One time my husband used Western Union to send me $2,000 to Brazil we ended up paying more fees, cause they take a % of it plus a bank fee.”

Ben in London writes,

“I recently sent some money to South America (to be collected in US dollars) using Ria Money Transfer (I used the branch in Elephant & Castle shopping centre, London). They work in a similar way to Western Union but are much cheaper. They charged me £1 for the transaction and the exchange rate was only about 1.5% worse than the interbank rate – very reasonable I thought. The recipient just had to go to a local agency to collect the money in cash. I’m not sure what the rates are like for sending to the USA but it’s worth asking.”

I personally own a home in Panama and receive the rent from my tenant every month by Western Union. The fee is an odiously high $49 to send $700. Looking at the list of nations that have RIA agents, I see that Panama is included. I’m very interested to find out where the RIA agent is located in Panama, and what the rate would be for my tenant to send the rent.

Countries with RIA Agents:

Africa
Benin
Burkina Faso
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Congo Democratic Republic
Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Egypt
Ethiopia
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea (Bissau)
Guinea (Republic)
Kenya
Mali
Mauritania
Morocco
Nigeria
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Togo
Tunisia
America
Argentina
Bolivia
Brazil
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Ecuador
El Salvador
Guatemala
Guyana
Honduras
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
United States
Uruguay
Venezuela
Asia
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Bangladesh
Cambodia
China
Hong Kong
India
Indonesia
Israel
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Malaysia
Nepal
Pakistan
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Tajikistan
Thailand
Uzbekistan
Vietnam
Caribe
Antigua
Barbados
Cayman Islands
Dominican Republic
Haiti
Jamaica
Puerto Rico
Trinidad
Europe
Albania
Belarus
Belgium
Bulgaria
Estonia
France
Georgia
Germany (Domestic)
Holland
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Moldova
Poland
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Spain
Switzerland
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Middle East
Bahrain
Jordan
Kuwait
Lebanon
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
Yemen
Pacific
Australia
Cook Islands
Fiji
New Zealand
Philippines
Samoa
Tonga

Western Union Waives Fee for Money Transfers to Japan

Japan earthquake and tsunami destruction
Western Union has introduced a no-fee money transfer program to Japan

In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan recently, Western Union as of today, March 17, 2011, is waiving the fees for money transfers to that nation.

This program will continue to be available through April 17, 2011, and is subject to network and currency availability, the company said. Money transfers to Japan can be made at Western Union service locations, or online through their website, which is WesternUnion.com.

Earlier this week, the Western Union Foundation made a $50,000 contribution to Mercy Corps in support of Peace Winds Japan, its local partner, to provide for the immediate needs of Japanese disaster survivors, including supplying shelter, food, water, blankets and medicine.

Additionally, Western Union has activated a special account to enable U.S. consumers to support Japan disaster-relief efforts. People in the U.S. can donate to Mercy Corps by sending a no-fee money transfer using the Western Union Quick Collect service (code city: Japan Relief, CO) online or through any participating Western Union agent location.

The Western Union Foundation also has initiated a Japan Earthquake Relief Fund to match donations from Western Union employees.

I commend Western Union for taking these steps. This is exactly the kind of corporate social responsibility that we need to see more of. I encourage people to take advantage of this program by donating to Mercy Corps through Western Union.