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Remitly vs Western Union

We compare Remitly and Western Union to see which money transfer service comes out on top.

Western Union is one of the most well-known international transfer services in the world, but let’s see how it compares to Remitly, an up-and-coming provider, to see which transfer service can take your dollar further.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 22 July 2019.

Name Product Offer Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
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Which has lower fees?

Remitly

Remitly’s fees are as low as $0 but go up as high as $99.99, depending on the currency, how much you’re transferring and the speed of the transfer. Higher fees are applied on “express” transfers.

If you’re sending through the slower option, the fees are generally between $2 and $4 and can even be free in some cases.

Western Union

Western Union’s fees for an online money transfer vary greatly currency to currency and can either be a flat fee or calculated based on a percentage, so it’s vital to check the currency you’re exchanging using the Western Union price estimator.

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Winner: Remitly

Although there is a lot of variety with both, Remitly often has lower flat fees for slower transfers than Western Union.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $100 and $1,000 to the Philippines

To see how these two services stack up, let’s compare how Western Union and Remitly fare for two different transfer amounts to the Philippines. Keep in mind, rates vary for other countries.

In this example, we’ll be using the quickest transfer possible. This means Remitly’s “express” option and cash pick-up with Western Union.

Sending $100 to the Philippines
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee$6.99$12
Exchange rate1 CAD = 38.53 PHP1 AUD = 38.3786 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP₱3,583.68PHP₱3,377.32
Receiver getsPHP₱206.36 more
(around $5 CAD)
PHP₱206.36 less
(around $5 CAD)
Sending $1,000 to the Philippines
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee$6.99$30
Exchange rate1 CAD = 38.53 PHP1 CAD = 38.1838 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP₱38,260.68PHP₱36,542.40
Receiver getsPHP₱1,718.28 more
(around $44 CAD)
PHP₱1,718.28 less
(around $44 CAD)

In both cases, Remitly ends up giving your receiver a few extra pesos in their pocket. The exchange rates are quite close, but it’s mostly Remitly’s lower fees that win out in the end.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Remitly

Remitly will normally add a margin to the exchange rates which varies for each currency. The margin normally sits between 0.4% and 2.5%.

For example, if you want to send money to Brazil:

  • Mid-market rate: 1 CAD = 2.8502 BRL
  • Remitly’s exchange rate: 1 CAD = 2.8200 BRL

Making it a margin of 1.06%.

Remitly often runs promotions which offer an exchange rate better than the mid-market rate for your first transfer on certain currencies.

Western Union

Western Union also adds a margin, but it tends to be quite a bit higher, ranging from 1% to 6%.

For example, if you want to send money to Brazil:

  • Mid-market rate: 1 CAD = 2.8502 BRL
  • Western Union’s exchange rate: 1 CAD = 2.7188 BRL

Making it a margin of 4.61%.

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Winner: Remitly

Remitly will often offer much better exchange rates than Western Union with a smaller margin added on.

Which is faster?

Remitly

Remitly offers an “express” option which will get your money to the destination near instantly, but it does come with a higher fee. If you opt for the cheaper “economy” option, you’re looking at a transfer time of 2-5 business days.

Western Union

Some Western Union transfers arrive the same day, while some take up to 5 business days. It also depends on the transfer and receiving method but in general, bank account to bank account transfers will take the longest and be the cheapest.

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Winner: Tie

Both Remitly and Western Union can transfer your money quickly, but they also take up to 5 business days for some transfers.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
RemitlyBank transfer, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pick-upMinimum: $10

Maximum: $18,000

3 – 5 days30+ currencies
Western UnionBank transfer, cash transfer, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pick-up, mobile walletMinimum: $1

Maximum: $7,500

Within minutes95+ currencies

Remitly

Once you have an account with Remitly, you log in on either the website or through the app, then enter the amount, currency, recipient’s information and your payment information. After that, Remitly will convert and transfer.

Western Union

After registration, open your profile and choose the “send money” option. After you’ve entered your receiver’s details, which includes bank name and code as well as their bank account number if a bank transfer, you choose your payment method. Once you’ve paid, Western Union will transfer the funds. You also have the option to send money in-store at an agent location.

Bottom line

Remitly offers both lower fees and better exchange rates, with the option to send money just as fast as Western Union. However, it doesn’t offer as many currencies as Western Union and this could be the deciding factor.

It’s a good idea to compare a range of international money transfer services before committing to any provider to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Looking for more options?

Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Name Product Offer Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
24 hours
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From $0
Use code HELLO to get $20 off on first two transfers on a min transfer of $250. Valid until November 30, 2023.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Africhange
Within minutes
From $0
Send money in CAD to Africa on this blockchain and P2P powered provider.
Remitly
Finder Award
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
MoneyGram
Finder Award
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $4.99
For a limited time, get $0 fees on your first money transfer from Canada. Conditions apply.
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
Finder Award
OFX
24 hours
$0
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
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