Choosing the right money transfer service is not exactly an easy task. I know because I was once in the same position. This was, of course, the reason why TransferGuides was established and ultimately what led to writing reviews in the first place.
If you are relying on my commentary to evaluate a transfer service, it makes sense to understand my thought process. That way, you can be confident in my ability to make sensible judgements and articulate this to you in a clear and coherent manner.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at my review methodology.
The purpose of a review
A review is broadly defined as a critical examination. In this sense, a review aims to show you something and help you form an opinion. In the context of TransferGuides, I hope to assist you with understanding the following:
- How the foreign exchange market works
- Why a money transfer service can improve your experience
- What features a particular transfer service can offer
- My general opinion on the quality of a service
My goal is to equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision. Whether you are an individual looking to send money online for the first time, or you have previous experience with business money transfer, I am trying to help you find a service that will accomplish what you need to get done.
One of the first things you will notice about my reviews is that a score is attached to each transfer service, between 1 and 5 stars. The process I follow to arrive at this number is not an exact science, but rather subjective judgement based on my experience of using the service when compared with other services in the marketplace.
If a transfer service offers a simple product and does it well, I will probably rate it favourably – after all, it was a pleasing experience. On the other hand, if a service tries to do too much and it results in an unrefined experience, I am unlikely to recommend it despite its advanced functionality. I’d like to consider my approach as a holistic one of sorts.
In the end, I know that you don’t have all day to sit around and research what service you’d like to use. In this spirit, I aim to provide an honest review of a given service and suggest alternatives where appropriate. The scoring system is the simplest way for me to guide you towards services I deem to be of quality.
Below, I will provide an outline of the criteria I use to evaluate a money transfer service. If you would like to dive further into what to look for when doing your own research, I suggest reading my post on how to compare money transfer services.
About the company
The first thing I do when assessing a service is to look at the company, its management and its employees. In my opinion, a company is only as ever as good as its owners and the people in charge of operating it. In financial services, experience matters. It is a simple part of the process, but probably the most important.
As a part of this criteria, I will list the physical address of the company’s head office, as well as briefly touch on its international offices. If you are not located in the same country as the head office this is important, as ideally, you should only be using a service that has an office in your jurisdiction (for safety reasons).
The first thing to consider when deciding on a transfer service is whether it can send money to the country that you require. You will notice that services may refer to countries and/or currencies. Currencies are certainly useful because every country uses currency. However, some countries use the currencies of others – so I attempt to mention both, but focus on “receiving countries” to aid comparison between services.
Next, I will briefly discuss transfer limits. Most services will have minimum and maximum transfer limits, particularly those that are focused on online platforms. I will typically designate these limits in British Pounds (£) to be consistent and because London is generally considered the centre of the foreign exchange market.
Exchange rate and fees
Rather than focusing on the exchange rate offered by a service or the fee it charges for each transaction, I think it’s much more useful to consider the overall cost of a service when compared with the mid-market rate. By doing this, we can gain a better understanding of the true cost of a service, without getting sucked into the marketing gimmicks aimed to confuse us.
To measure the cost of each service in a way that is consistent, I have developed a method of arriving at an “average cost”. To do this, I compile three quotes of differing values – low, medium, and high – the exact amount depending on the capability of the service. These costs are then averaged to arrive at the overall cost.
Within each review, will show the values and currency pairings used to arrive at the average cost. It is not a perfect method of determining the relative cost of a service, however, I think it is at least a fair and consistent way of understanding its general pricing structure. It also makes for easy comparison in the form of a chart.
Depending on the business model of a particular service, the time it takes to complete a transfer, from sending to receipt, will vary. It is difficult to provide an exact answer, as the transfer speed relies on a number of factors including your own banking capability, however, I do attempt to provide an rough indication of timing based on my own experience with the service.
Then, we take a look at the features of the service. By features, I mean what payment types are possible. Not all services are the same, and some are better than others for certain use case scenarios. Here are the types of payments you can expect to be listed, as applicable:
- Spot contract
- Recurring payment
- Currency forward contract
- Foreign currency options
- Market order
- Multi-currency account
- Cash pickup
Some transfer services are not always so forthcoming with their contact email and phone number – often preferring to guide you towards chat support, etc. I still like the old methods, so I’ll do my best to locate the important contact details so you don’t have to. I’ll also provide a short opinion on what my customer experience was like.
Reputation matters. In this section of the review, I will explore some of the factors which can give us an idea of other people’s experience with the service. Typically, I will look at three elements; Trustpilot, social media and reporting in the mainstream media. These metrics aren’t perfect and can be manipulated to a certain extent, but can provide helpful insight.
Safety and regulation
Next, we take a look at security and regulation. This is not so exciting, but once again, important. For the most part, it is a quick commentary on how the service complies with government authorities, an overview of how customer funds are protected, and finally on basic website security.
If you want to learn more about how you can protect yourself online, I recommend checking out our article on how to transfer money safely.
If you are going to use a transfer service, your experience of navigating the platform is obviously going to matter. In this section, I will make some brief comments on the design of the website, including what languages it supports. I will also provide insight into the registration process, and let you know what identification is required to get started.
How it works
Before signing up with a service, its helpful to understand the transfer process. I will walk you through the typical steps required to complete a transfer, and include a few comments on my experience.
As my review reaches its conclusion, I will provide my final comments on the quality of the service, and provide you with some context about how I think it performs relative to other services in the market. If there are alternatives that I think you should consider, I will point you towards these as appropriate.
An important point to consider when reading my reviews is to understand how I am remunerated. This website does include affiliate links, and as a result, I may earn a referral fee from the services I explore. This is disclosed at the beginning of each review and is addressed more broadly in our affiliate link policy.
How you can help
If you read one of my reviews, and you think that it could be improved in some way, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.