One of the top money transfer providers in the world, Remitly is an online remittance service originating from Seattle, USA.
As part of my comprehensive look at the international money transfer industry, I’ve spent time using Remitly, going into its functionality and fees in-depth, and checking out its ratings and customer service.
If you want to know whether Remitly’s right for you or whether you should opt for an alternative service to send your cash internationally, read on.
Remitly Review: My Verdict in 30 Seconds
Remitly is an excellent option for sending money abroad, especially for immigrants and ex-pats who need to send regular smaller amounts back home. Its focus on convenient cash pick-ups and instant transfers to mobile wallets makes it very useful for supporting family and friends in many developing countries.
The ability to choose between the affordable Economy bank transfer service and the faster Express card-funded transfers is a major plus in Remitly’s favour. Most competitors only offer one type of transfer. This flexibility allows me to decide if saving money or transfer speed is more important for each transaction.
While I wish Remitly’s exchange rate margin was more transparent, their rates are usually highly competitive compared to alternatives. In fact, Remitly consistently ranks as a top three cheapest provider for bank and cash transfers in the majority of searches, according to my analysis.
My main concerns are Remitly’s limited country availability, lack of business account options, and some users reporting poor customer service. But sending money to family internationally remains an excellent choice for personal use.
Before choosing Remitly, I would be sure to compare the specific countries, currencies, and transfer amounts to other top-rated providers. But for most typical family remittance needs, Remitly should suffice with its combination of affordable rates, instant transfers, and cash pickup options.
What are the Pros and Cons of Remitly?
- Offers fast transfer speeds, with money sometimes reaching recipients in minutes. The “Express” service allows for near-instant transfers.
- Excellent choice for cash pick-ups in many countries
- Provides low fees or no fees for transfers to many countries when using the “Economy” service funded by bank accounts.
- Good exchange rates compared to banks and traditional remittance companies.
- Numerous payout options (in certain countries), including bank deposit, cash pickup, mobile wallets, and home delivery.
- Easy to use mobile app and website.
- Limited to transfers originating from about 30 countries, primarily developed nations.
- Higher fees when using debit/credit card funded “Express” transfers.
- Exchange rate margin is not transparently shown
- Transfer limits unless more extensive verification is provided.
- Some complaints of poor customer service when resolving issues..
Who are Remitly?
Remitly is a digital money transfer service founded in 2011 and headquartered in Seattle, Washington. The company specializes in international money transfers for immigrants and expats sending money back to their home countries.
Remitly is used by over 3 million customers across the globe to send over $6 billion annually. It has raised over $100 million in funding from high-profile investors like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs, and the International Finance Corporation.
The company operates in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, European Union, and Australia. It allows funds to be sent to over 130 receiving nations using various pay-in methods like bank transfers, debit/credit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
Recipients can obtain the money via direct deposit to bank accounts, cash pickup locations, mobile wallets, and home delivery in select countries. Remitly handles translations in 11 languages and has mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Remitly competes with traditional money transfer companies like Western Union, MoneyGram, and Ria, as well as newer digital disruptors like Wise, WorldRemit, Xoom, and TransferWise. It differentiated itself by focusing specifically on immigrants sending money back home.
Remitly Fees & Exchange Rates
Remitly has a tiered fee structure depending on the transfer speed, amount, currency, and country corridor.
In my testing it found it came out as the cheapest provider approximately half of the time. But for certain locations, it was much less competitive.
For example, sending £1000 to India, it came out as the third cheapest:
|Provider||Exchange Rate Margin||Amount Received|
|Panda Remit||0.26% better than mid-market||106547 INR|
|Atlantic Money||0.08% worse than mid-market||106193 INR|
|Remitly||0.24% worse than mid-market||106020 INR|
|Western Union||0.26% worse than mid-market||105999 INR|
|WorldRemit||0.48% worse than mid-market||105767 INR|
As an alternative comparison, if I wanted to send £10,000 to Brazil, the fees came out like this.
|Provider||Exchange Rate Margin||Amount Received|
|Western Union||0.26% better than mid-market||62376 BRL|
|Remitly||0.66% worse than mid-market||61800 BRL|
|Wise||0.01% worse than mid-market||61517 BRL|
|WorldRemit||1.35% worse than mid-market||61372 BRL|
|Skrill||4.71% worse than mid-market||59281 BRL|
- Economy (bank transfer) – No fixed fees for transfers above $500-$1000 USD depending on receiving country. Delivery within 3-5 business days.
- Express (debit/credit card) – Fixed fees of $1.99 to $4.99 USD per transfer. Near instant delivery.
- Card processing fees (around 3% for credit/debit card payments)
- Cash pickup fees at partner locations
- Receiving bank fees outside of Remitly’s control
- Remitly offers competitive FX rates that are typically 0.5-2% below the mid-market rate.
- The exact exchange rate offered depends on the transfer details. Rates are locked in when the transfer is initiated.
- Remitly builds their margin into the exchange rate instead of charging an explicit percentage-based FX fee.
- Receiving in the local currency of the recipient country generally provides the best rate.
Who Should Use Remitly?
Remitly is designed for immigrants and expats who need to send regular, smaller amounts of money home digitally in a fast, affordable way. Its cash pickup and mobile-first experience give it unique advantages over banks and some competitors.
- Immigrants and expatriates sending money back home regularly: Remitly is designed for frequent smaller remittances to support family and friends internationally. Its economy pricing and cash pickup options cater to this demographic.
- People needing to make quick emergency transfers: Remitly’s Express transfers can be delivered in minutes via debit/credit card funding.
- Those sending smaller amounts infrequently: Remitly has lower minimum transfer amounts and sizes many of its fees for smaller sums. Larger or less frequent transfers may find better pricing elsewhere.
- People needing cash pickup: Remitly offers cash pickup networks in over 130 countries, often with better rates than traditional remittance companies. This is a key advantage.
- People without bank accounts: Recipients without bank accounts can use Remitly’s cash pickup option in many countries. Other digital remitters require bank accounts.
- Those wanting mobile-first experience: Remitly’s excellent mobile apps make transfers easy from iOS and Android smartphones.
- Senders in Remitly’s 28 supported countries: Remitly currently supports senders located in around 30 primarily developed nations. If you live elsewhere, it won’t be an option.
Which Users Shouldn’t Use Remitly?
Here are some cases where Remitly may not be the best option for money transfers:
- Sending large or infrequent transfers: Remitly is designed for smaller, regular remittances. For amounts over $5,000+, the fees are higher and limits more restrictive. For one-off big transfers, other providers may offer better pricing.
- Business payments: Remitly only supports personal consumer transfers for friends and family. It does not offer business accounts or higher volume business transfers.
- Obscure currency pairs: Although Remitly supports over 130 receive countries, if you need an obscure currency pair, rates and availability may be better elsewhere.
- Recipient needs physical check: Remitly does not offer check payouts to recipients. Only bank deposit, cash pickup, mobile wallets, and home delivery.
- Senders without bank accounts: Remitly typically needs a bank account to withdraw funds for Economy transfers. If you don’t have one, options will be more limited.
- Cryptocurrency Senders: Remitly does not accept cryptocurrency directly as a funding source for transfers.
- Slow delivery okay: For recipients where slower 5+ day delivery is acceptable, a bank wire may provide better rate/fees than Remitly Economy.
- Senders outside of ~30 supported countries: Remitly’s coverage only supports around 30 primarily developed nations currently as senders.
How Easy is Remitly to Use?
I found Remitly’s service to be straightforward and convenient to use. The account setup was quick – I just needed my email and some basic personal information to get started, which is less tedious than some bank forms.
The mobile app is cleanly designed and makes it simple for me to initiate transfers within a couple taps. I like that I can save my recipient details so I don’t have to re-input their information every time. Tracking the status of my transfers is also easy with the timeline feature.
Receiving SMS text and email notifications when my transfers are paid out gives me added peace of mind. I also appreciate that Remitly supports multiple languages.
The process of inputting the transfer details, delivery method, and confirming the transaction details is intuitive. I also find the rate lock feature useful – it lets me lock in a rate for a few hours so I don’t have to complete the transfer immediately.
What’s the Remitly Customer Support like?
- 24/7 phone, email, and chat support in English and Spanish
- Additional languages supported via chat: French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese
- Phone support is immediate after short automated message
- Chat support typically connects within 1 minute
- Email support response time is slower – within 1-2 business days
- Phone and chat support agents are generally knowledgeable about transfer processes, policies, and technical issues
- Provide helpful troubleshooting for error messages, transfer issues
- Agents are polite, patient and try to solve customer issues
- Explanations are clear and easy to understand
- Some reports of agents providing incorrect information
- Occasional difficulties escalating issues to a supervisor
- Follow-up on issues not always timely via email channel
Remitly Customer Ratings and Reviews
- Trustpilot – 4.1 out of 5 stars based on over 37,000 reviews. This indicates generally positive sentiment toward Remitly overall.
- Play Store – 4.8 out of 5 stars from over 182,000 reviews. The Android app experience tends to be smooth and convenient for most users.
- App Store – 4.9 out of 5 stars based on over 463,000 ratings. Similar to Play Store, the iOS app provides a positive experience.
- SiteJabber – 4 out of 5 stars based on around 1,300 reviews. Lower than other sites but still skews positive overall.
The most common positive feedback includes:
- Fast transfer speeds and easy tracking
- Smooth app and user experience
- Helpful and knowledgeable customer service
- Low fees compared to other options
Top negative themes in critical reviews include:
- Excess ID verification requests
- Transfers delayed or cancelled in some cases
- Lack of transparency about total fees
- Poor communication when resolving issues
How long does it take to send money with Remitly?
Remitly offers two transfer speeds – Express transfers are delivered in minutes when funded by debit/credit card, and Economy transfers are delivered in 3-5 business days when funded by bank transfer. The exact speed depends on the country and transfer method.
Can I cancel a transfer?
Yes, you can cancel a Remitly transfer at no charge before it is paid out. Once the transfer is completed, you can no longer cancel it.
Does Remitly accept credit cards?
Yes, Remitly allows funding transfers with Visa, Mastercard, and other major credit cards. This is typically used for the Express transfer option. An additional ~3% processing fee may apply.
What languages does Remitly support?
Remitly provides customer service and website/app translations in 14 languages including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and more.