Thanks to the internet, you have a lot more options for transferring money abroad. New online money transfer services let you send funds from anywhere using their website or app; you don’t have to visit a branch in person. This not only gets money to your destination sooner, it also lowers costs.
Remitly is one of these newer companies getting attention in the money transfer industry. They’ve got some big investors and are expanding fast. We created this Remitly review so you can learn more about this firm and see whether their service is right for you.
What is Remitly?
Remitly is a mobile payment service that specializes in helping immigrants in the United States transfer money back to family members around the world. They only process international transfers and do not handle domestic transactions.
The Seattle-based company, which launched in 2011, operates in all 50 states and Washington D.C. But because it is digital-only service, it does not have physical branches where you can meet someone in person.
Since its founding, Remitly has raised $200 million in venture capital funding and their investors include Bezos Expeditions, the venture arm of Jeff Bezos. According to Forbes, Remitly was the largest independent digital remittance firm in the United States in 2017.
Remitly money transfer highlights
You can send money to 40 countries around the world. As of Jan. 30, 2019, Remitly allowed transfers to 40 countries with another 10 coming soon. However, they do not allow domestic transfers in the United States.
Same day transfers, for a charge. Remitly offers an Express service where the person receiving the money transfer can get the funds within minutes. This extra speed is more expensive. Depending on the country, you’ll pay a higher fee or receive a worse exchange rate versus a standard transfer that takes three to five business days. For example, in the Philippines the exchange rate is the same but there was a $3.99 fee for express transfer as of this writing.
Wide range of payment and pickup options. You can fund a Remitly money transfer with your credit card, debit card or bank account. The pickup options depend on the country but can include bank transfer, pickup from a store, mobile payment and even home delivery.
Higher fees for using credit cards. If you fund the transfer with a credit card, this company charges an extra fee of 1-3% of the total, depending on the country. They do this to offset charges from the credit card company.
Bonuses for new customers. On your first money transfer, the company offers a better promotional exchange rate. If you refer a friend to use the service, you also receive a cash bonus when the other person makes their first transfer.
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How to transfer money with Remitly: Step by step
To start using this service, you need to set up a free account through their website or mobile app. All you need to provide is your email and come up with a password to start the process
Next, choose how much you’d like to send, the delivery speed and how the other person will receive money. You need to pick between Economy and the faster but more expensive Express service. Depending on the country you’re sending to, the other person will be able to get their money by bank deposit, cash pickup, mobile money and home delivery.
You then enter in the name and address of your recipient, followed by your name and contact information.You’ll need to submit your full name, address and DOB. You can also submit the last 4-digits of your SSN, if you have one, so Remitly can more quickly verify your identity. However, this step is optional. If Remitly cannot verify your identity electronically, they might ask you to send some proof like a form of ID, a bank statement or an official piece of mail.
Finally, you decide how you’ll pay for the money transfer. Remitly accepts payment by debit card, credit card or bank transfer. There’s an extra fee of 1-3%, depending on the country, when you use a credit card.
Send the funds and track them. After you enter in all this information, Remitly will process your money transfer. You can track the payment delivery through your online account. They guarantee the payment will arrive on schedule or they will refund your fee.
Remitly is an online-only service. You can’t apply at a physical branch. If you need help, they offer phone and email customer service. Customer support is available in English 24/7 and in Spanish everyday from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. PST.
If you’d like to learn more about your other options to transfer funds, besides using a service like Remitly, be sure to check out our guide to moving money from one bank to another.
Pros and cons of Remitly
- Send money around the world within minutes. When you use the Remitly Express service, they guarantee delivery within minutes for international transfers.
- Free to set up an account with limited paperwork. You can open an account just by entering in your name and contact information. There’s no fee to get started and they only ask for ID if they have trouble verifying your identity.
- Excellent customer service. Remitly offers phone customer service in both English and Spanish every day of the week. Their English support line is 24/7.
- Bonus for new customersWhen you sign up, Remitly will give you a better exchange rate on your first transfer. If you refer someone else to use their service, Remitly pays you a cash bonus.
- No way to send in the United States. Remitly does not make money transfers to the United States, Canada or western Europe, but there are plenty of apps you can access that do.
- Exchange rates aren’t the best, especially for fast transfers. When you pick Remitly’s Express service, they give you a worse exchange rate or charge a higher fee for the transfer. If the other person isn’t in a rush to get the money, you could get a better deal elsewhere.
- Higher fees for credit cards. Remitly charges a 1-3% fee on the amount sent when you use a credit card, instead of debit card or a bank account. The amount depends on the country.
- No in-person customer support.Remitly is online only. There’s no way to meet someone in person for help.
What people are saying about Remitly
Remitly has been an accredited business with the BBB since early 2013. They currently have a B rating with 32 closed customer complaints over the past 3 years, with 13 closed in the last 12 months.
For customer reviews, the company has a rating of just over 1 star out of 5. This is based on only 30 customer reviews though, so the sample is quite small.
The most common complaint seems to be that Remitly failed to transfer money as quickly as possible. Customers expected to transfer money in an urgent situation and Remitly did not send the money as quickly as promised. Either it took longer for the other person to receive payment or something went wrong, Remitly had to cancel the transaction and then took several days to refund the money to the sender.
Commenters also complained about a lack of help from customer service. On the actual complaint page, the company responded to each one with a reasonable response. For example, a customer was angry they couldn’t use Remitly but it turned out they lived in a country that does not allow outbound transfers (Kenya.)
It is not ideal that Remitly’s BBB score is so low but readers should also weigh that there were not very many reviews submitted. It seems only customers motivated by a bad experience responded.
Alternative money transfer options
TransferWise is another online money transfer service. Their service network is even larger than Remitly and more than 70 countries, including the United States. Sending money through TransferWise takes more time as international transfers can take about a week. However, their exchange rates are better than Remitly and they charge lower fees. If the other person can afford to wait, they will receive more if you use TransferWise.
- Where can you send money? With TransferWise, you can send money to more than 70 different countries, including the United States.
- How long does a transfer take? It depends on how you finance the transfer and the country you’re sending to. It can about a week for international transactions.
- How much can you send? Up to $50,000 per day and up to $250,000 per year from the United States.
- Fees to send money: Depends on the country and amount sent. For example, to send to India, the fee is 0.65% of the amount sent plus $1.00.
MoneyGram is the second-largest money transfer service in the entire world. You can use them to send money to over 200 countries and territories. Their service is fast and the other person should receive an international transfer by the next day at the latest. With cash deposit and pickup, it can take minutes. There are over 350,000 MoneyGram agent locations where you can pay for or pick up a money transfer. In exchange for this convenience, MoneyGram’s fees are on the high side.
- Where can you send money? More than 200 countries and territories.
- How long does a transfer take? Fast. Within minutes for cash pickup in some countries. Their delivery time typically ranges between an hour to the next day, depending on the country.
- How much can you send? Online, you can send up to $6,000 per transfer and $6,000 total every 30 days. You can send more in person from a MoneyGram agent location.
- Fees to send money: Depends on the country and how you pay for the transfer. To send $1,000 to the Philippines, it costs $3.99 for bank transfer, $7.99 for credit/debit card and $16.00 at a physical location like CVS.
If you need to transfer money abroad as soon as possible, this service provider could be a solid choice. They guarantee that their Express service will deliver the funds within minutes. Of course, this speed comes at a cost as there are other online money transfer services out there with lower fees and better exchange rates. But they take longer to complete your transaction.
Before you sign up, you should also make sure they cover the country you want. They only send money to 40 countries, with another 10 being set up for the future. This is well short of the over 200 covered by a company like MoneyGram. The United States is also not on the list so Remitly won’t work for domestic transfers.
Because of this limited market, Remitly is not a good fit for everyone. But if they handle the countries you want and the other person needs money urgently, Remitly’s online service will get the job done fast.