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OFX Review (2019)

7 Things You Need to Know Before Signing up with OFX

We have personally used money transfer companies including OFX for over 10 years, we have learned that OFX is great in most circumstances. However in recent years their competition has caught up.

What's best for you now?

Before we get into the juicy details for OFX, let's check out the Pros and Cons!

Pros

Cons

OFX is a leading money transfer company with offices globally including Australia, UK, USA and Canada. It is mostly focused on customers transacting online and has a strong phone based support network globally which can be very helpful.

Once you have signed up, you can see exactly what you are going to get for an exchange rate.

OFX may charge a fee of $15, however if you click here you can avoid this fees all together.

The 7 Things 

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  1. Trustworthy Reviews?
  2. The Real Costs (inc. Hidden)
  3. When OFX Works (and When they Don't)
  4. How OFX Works
  5. Safety?
  6. Fast?
  7. Best for You?

1. Trustworthy Reviews

Most review sites are pretty positive when it comes to reviews, but not all.

While Trustpilot gives a rating of 8.9/10 with ‎3,368 reviews indicates OFX is pretty awesome there are others that show 4 stars and even 3.5 stars.

Who is showing the truth?

Possibly all of them. Some review sites just seem to attract negative reviews.

The key is to go deeper into what the reviews are really telling us - these can be found in the negative ones - the one and two stars.

Why not just read them?

We tried that.

If you are anything like us, reading hundreds of reviews is pretty unhelpful and honestly a waste of time (unless you do categorise them).

This is because different currencies, different countries, different amounts and different banks all make for very different experiences.

There is however a lot of great information to be gained when you put the issues into categories, and see the bigger picture.

The Gold 

First, we must point out that we only focused on the one and two star reviews from Trustpilot in 2018. We did this because we wanted the most recent information and enough data to learn something meaningful. 

Interestingly OFX actively solicits reviews for Trustpilot after you complete your first transaction. This seems to be an automated process which does not descriminate if the review will likely be positive or negative.

These one and two star reviews make up 6%.

After categorizing all the one and two star reviews we found 3 main categories:

  1. Lost/Delayed Funds
  2. Getting Signed Up
  3. Better Rates/ Fees

1.1 Lost/Delayed Funds 2.5% of reviews

Almost all these complaints (some even claiming OFX is a scam) are related to the time it takes money to arrive. As we discussed below in "How Fast?", the time it takes OFX to get the money to you is a 3 step process. This is the case with all companies like OFX and in most cases this is simply miscommunication.

Some very isolated transactions go on longer than 6 days and in these cases it appears that the incorrect bank details or some other problem with the receiving bank. In all cases OFX looks to be actively working to sort out the issue, even if it is no fault of their own. In the cases where money seemed to go missing for longer, it does seem like the person eventually gets the money back.

1.2 Getting Signed Up 2.2% of reviews

Almost all these bad reviews come from people who have difficulty signing up with OFX and meeting the requirements to sign up. This is frustrating no doubt for those who have trouble, but as we discuss below in "Safety", OFX is highly regulated and for those that have no problems this is a good thing.

1.3 Better Rates/ Fees - 1.3% of reviews

A handful complain about getting better rates elsewhere or hit with hidden fees. Most of these are related to banks charging "Hidden Fees" which we discuss below and also explain that OFX is hard to beat when if comes to keeping these bank fees low or zero. One reviewer also mentioned the $15 fee which you can get removed by simply clicking the link above or below before you sign up!

 

2. The Real Costs

Companies like OFX charge you fees in two ways - Fixed Fees + The Exchange Rate they offer.

In addition to this there are Hidden Fees that no one else seems to talk about, but I will be! 

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2.1 Fixed Fees

Many money transfer companies have fixed fees so that they can cover costs especially for smaller transactions.

Others have no fixed fees, but they limit limit the size of the transactions or simply making more money on the exchange rate. 

OFX may charge a small fee of $15, however if you click here you can avoid the fees all together.

2.2 OFX Rate

Banks and large financial institutions (like OFX) give you an exchange rate that is different to the exchange rate they use when they swap money with each other.

This difference in exchange rates is by far the biggest contributor to your costs and their bottom line.

Money transfer companies often proclaim "No Fees" or "Fee Free" but they never give you the so called interbank rate they get or they would not be in business.

Fortunately with OFX you can work out the difference (after you sign up) and the rates they offer are very competitive especially as the amounts you transfer increase. For smaller amounts, OFX is still very competitive compared to a bank or PayPal but there are possibly better alternatives if paying the least fees is you main concern. See: (When They Don't Work below

Here is How they Compare

Service

% Costs including Fixed Fees

Banks 3 - 7%
PayPal 6 - 8%
OFX 0.5 - 2%
Other Similar Services 0.4 - 3.5%


To work out the fees they charge.

Look up the interbank rate for your currencies at a particular point it time and compare it with the exchange rate offered.

You can do this after you have signed up, but after many years of using them I have noticed their fees have remained pretty steady for major currencies.

2.3 Hidden Fees

One of the biggest costs associated with money transfers is not talked about!

This is the fees banks charge you at each end.

You might think, "but that has nothing to do with OFX" or any other money transfer company like them, however you would be wrong I am afraid.

One of the most important things companies like OFX can do is have local bank accounts in as many countries as possible. This enables very cheap and often no fees to be charged by banks that have to be used at both ends.

For example, if OFX only had bank accounts in the UK and you wanted to transfer money from Canada to Australia your bank would charge you a fee to get the money to OFX and the receiving bank would also levy a fee to accept funds from the overseas bank.

Fortunately OFX has one of the most comprehensive network of local bank accounts in the business.

At the time of writing OFX claims a "global network of 115 bank accounts" which is very impressive and a testimony to their focus on driving fees down

It is hard to get exact details on this and it changes all the time, but because they have offices in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia they are very well covered which means in most cases they will be one of the best services to use when it comes to reducing these fees.

3. When OFX Works (and When They Don't)

There is lots to consider beyond fees and the reviews of others - however now we have enough to decide with confidence if OFX is the right service for you needs or if you should consider another service.

Better Options?

OFX has faced some stiff competition over recent years and for some people the alternatives may be better.

The biggest competition has come from Peer-2-Peer (P2P) companies like TransferWise. When it comes to smaller amounts the fee structure for P2P is hard to beat. Moving smaller amounts, less than $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/$9500 AUD) will most likely be slightly cheaper.

Beyond these amounts and difference in the costs narrows, but two main advantages which make OFX a better choice.

TorFX is also a very worthy competitor who is more telephone oriented with offices in Australia and the UK. If you really like the idea of getting personal assistance at each step, TorFX is possibly a better choice for larger amounts like OFX.

3.1 Smooth Sailing

Because OFX was designed to transfer larger amounts right from the outset all the necessary ID checks are done when you set up the account. This means there are no surprises when larger amounts are transferred and anti money laundering laws kick in. So while the P2P providers tend to make it a little easier to sign-up they also have a tendency to ask for more ID and other proof as the amounts increase. This can cause issues like frozen accounts, making OFX a much better choice in our opinion. 

3.2 Less Hassle

Some people would prefer to be able to do everything online. As it turns out when you are dealing with different banks and different regulations world-wide it can be really helpful to have telephone support. The reason is if there are any problems with signing up or you simply need help understanding how a bank works being able to speak to someone 24/7 (who is knowledgable and helpful) is a huge advantage. Not to say the P2P providers don't have telephone support - they do, the difference is that OFX has "dealers" in Australia (Asia), Canada (North America) and the UK (Europe) which makes their dealers very knowledgable in their regions for the different banks who all have different rules and ways of working. 

4. How OFX Works

  1. Sign Up
  2. Verify Identity
  3. Moving Money
  4. OFX App

    A little video from OFX you might like:

 

4.1 Sign Up

Initial sign up is very straight forward. 

At the outset, you will be asked if you are operating a business or if you are an individual.

Registration then takes less than five minutes if you have all your information at hand, then you’ll be on your way to verifying your identity.

4.2 Verify ID

OFX now uses the latest systems to check you identity online this can mean that automated checks help you to sail through. 

Generally it is as simple as providing some scanned documents or photographed documents and uploading them.

You may also get a call from someone at OFX which can be really helpful in answering any questions you have. 

4.3 Moving Money

Once everything is set up, you can log in online and "Get a Quote" and the "Lock In" the deal after checking your bank details.

From here you can head over to the "Notifications" tab in so that you can see when "OFX funds are paid out to your recipients". Email is automatic, but you may also like to choose SMS as an option.

4.4 OFX App

The latest verion of the App enables transactions on the go and has a very simple and user friendly design for IOS and Android.

5. Safety?

Having been around for over a decade and transacted over $84 Billion, I feel quite confident in their ability to move my money safely.

Like a bank, they also have to maintain a bunch of licences but in addition to this they are also regulated in numerous countries including Australia, UK, NZ (registered), Canada and the USA. Part of this is safeguarding your money should something happen.

OFX also is also obligated to comply with international anti-money laundering laws of these countries.

5.1 OFX Security

OFX claims to have very strong secuity including:

6. Speed

In practice this is 3 to 6 working days end to end.

There are really three steps to the whole process

  1. Time to receive funds from sending bank
  2. Time it takes OFX to process
  3. Time to send funds to the receiving bank

When it comes to money transfers, the time it takes the banks at either end makes up most of the time it takes to transfer your money.

6.1 Time to receive funds from you

 

From

Time

Australia(AUD) 1 day
Canada (CAD) 1-2 days
Europe (EUR) 1-2 days
Hong Kong (HKD) 1 day
Japan (JPY) 1-2 days
New Zealand (NZD) 1 day
Singapore (SGD) 1 day
USA (USD) 1-2 days
UK (GBP) 1 day

 

6.2 Time for OFX to process funds

Hard to know exactly how long OFX takes to pool your funds with that of others and it possibly depends on the currencies and amounts. In practice this step seems to be same day and practically instantaneous. For small currencies and countries this might take a little longer. Ultimately though this helps them to keep keep costs low and is insignificant to the time it takes the banks at both ends.

6.3 Time to reach your recipient

 

From

Time

Australia(AUD) 1 day
Canada (CAD) 1-2 days
Europe (EUR) 1-2 days
Hong Kong (HKD) 1-2 days
India (INR) 2 days
Japan (JPY) 1-2 days
New Zealand (NZD) 1 day
Singapore (SGD) 1 day
Thailand (THB) 4 days
USA (USD) 1 day
UK (GBP) 1 day

The two charts supplied are directly from the OFX website. In our experience these seem slightly optimistic. In our experience if you consider that OFX itself might have you money for 1 day and add on another day you will be pretty close to the actual time it takes. For smaller countries it may take longer.

7. Best?

No one money transfer company is the best for everyones needs.

For smaller amounts, if you are happy to do everything online and want to get every last cent to your destination a P2P provider might be a better bet.

For larger amounts, OFX is hard to beat because of its cost structure, mix of telephone and online services and international reach and knowledge.

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