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Get the Most Out of Your Money Transfer Service

by Miriam De Dios

Today we have several options to send money to loved ones in the U.S. or outside the U.S. Hispanic stores, Wal-Mart, and a variety of financial institutions offer money transfer services or remittances —many places may offer five or six options. Maybe you've used services like MoneyGram, Western Union, Vigo, and Directo a Mexico. These are some of the most popular services, but there's many more. Some services specialize in making transfers to certain parts of Latin America, whether it is South America, Central America or Mexico. Others are only available online, and still others specialize in other ways. Most of these services allow you to send money to loved ones in Latin America for a one-time fee based on the amount of money you send and the country you're sending it to.

Before using a money transfer service, first consider the following:

1. Compare the benefits and costs of various services. Start by visiting your local credit union. Besides the traditional electronic funds transfer services, known as "wire" services, your credit union may offer you a service such as Viamericas or Vigo. It is important to find out the fee and currency exchange rate if applicable to ensure that you are sending the highest amount of money to your loved ones.

2. Determine if the recipient must have a financial account to receive the money. This is not a requirement for all services. There are some services that do not require either you or the recipient to have an account.

3. Ask if they charge the receiver when collecting the money. It is not always necessary for the recipient to pay for collecting the money. Most services only charge an initial fee to the sender and no fee to the receiver.  

4. Ask if there are discounts or special pricing available for you to use the service more than once. Institutions that offer these services want your repeat business and may even offer you the first transaction without a fee or a discount for using the service more than once.

5. Consider opening a savings or checking account if you do not have one. When you open a credit union account, you will have a safe place to save money and will avoid having to carry cash. You may also qualify for an ATM or debit card for easy access to your funds. In some cases you can even schedule automatic transfers from your account to your loved ones. Visit your local credit union to open an account.

Because there are many money transfer services, it's important that you find the one that will be most beneficial to you and your family. Make sure that you are informed before making your next money transfer.

Published 03/15/2010

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