Thursday, January 02, 2014

Beware fees and interest payments if you use credit card to wire money

Due to a family emergency I had to send money to a relative twice in two months. Each time I used MoneyGram and paid for the transaction with my VISA card.

I'd done that years ago and it worked well, but it's a bad idea now. VISA treats this transaction as a cash advance, and attaches a fee (roughly 5%) and an immediate interest charge (no grace period). Since I never pay fees or interest to credit card companies this was easy to spot on my statement.

I called VISA and, keeping my temper of course, asked if there was anything that could be done. They reversed the fees but kept the smaller interest charge.

If I had a Debit card I could have used that; there are no fees with Debit cards. I may need to get one.

Of course there are alternatives to MoneyGram (PayPal, sigh) but they require a digitally capable recipient. In this case that's not an option.

Update: If your recipient can manage email,'s danielgenser recomments

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