Western Union vs MoneyGram

Discover where to find the best deal on your next overseas transfer.

Updated

Fact checked

Neither Western Union nor MoneyGram is the cheapest or fastest option out there – but they are the most visible. Which one is best for you depends on how much you’re transferring and how fast you need the money to arrive.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 14 February 2020.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Description Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
Western Union International Money Transfers
CAD 1
Same day
Online, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer, International Money Order
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union.
MoneyGram International Money Transfers
CAD 1
1 day
Online, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer, International Money Order
Easily transfer cash to more than 350,000 locations around the world.
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The ‘Rate’ and ‘Amount Received’ displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Which has lower fees?

Western Union

Figuring out how much you’ll pay to transfer money internationally can be difficult. Although many fees start at $5-$7, they can be tens or even hundreds of dollars when paying by credit or debit card for cash pickup in certain countries.

MoneyGram

Unless you actually initiate a transfer, it’s not easy to find out upfront how much you’ll pay. As an example, to send $1,000 to a bank account in India, you could pay $4.99 in fees if you send online and pay by debit or credit; if you send the same amount at an agent location and pay for it in cash, the transaction fee could rise to $13.

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Winner: Tie

There are several factors that affect transaction fees with Western Union and MoneyGram, so there’s no clear winner here.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $950 to Europe online and in person

Julie wants to send money to her daughter in France. She compares the cost of sending $950 online and in person at a local branch, collecting estimates from both Western Union and MoneyGram. (Assume the transfer is for cash pickup and that the fee is deducted from the amount being sent.)

Sending $950 to Europe online

Western UnionMoneyGram
Transfer fee$29.00$4.99
Exchange rate1 CAD = 0.6488 EUR1 CAD = 0.6759 EUR
Transfer speedWithin minutesWithin minutes
Total euros receivedEUR€175.82EUR€199.40
Receiver getsEUR€23.58 lessEUR€23.58 more

As you can see, MoneyGram offers better value for money when sending $950 online to Europe. In this case, transferring money online through MoneyGram allows Julie to save around $25 on transfer fees and send an extra €23 to her daughter.

Sending $950 to Europe in person at an agent location

Western UnionMoneyGram
Transfer fee$7$15
Exchange rate1 CAD = 0.6488 EUR1 CAD = 0.6759 EUR
Transfer speedWithin minutesWithin minutes
Total euros receivedEUR€611.82EUR€631.97
Receiver getsEUR€20.15 lessEUR€20.15 more

As you can see, the cost of this transaction is quite similar to the previous example. Even though transferring money in person at a local MoneyGram branch will cost Julie $8 extra in transfer fees, its higher exchange rate allows her to send an additional €20 to her daughter.

Note that the results could be different if Julie decides to send a different amount, change her payment method or change the way she wants the money to be received.

Which offers better exchange rates?

To understand who offers better exchange rates, you’ll need to first look at the mid-market rate. This is the true exchange rate that averages the buying and selling rate of a global currency – and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves.

Western Union

Depending on the country you’re sending money to, Western Union’s margins on international transfers vary, but can be between 1% and 5%. If you’re sending a large amount overseas, this means hundreds of dollars that goes straight to Western Union.

We’ll use the example of a transfer to Chinese yuan renminbi (CNY):

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 CAD = 5.27266 CNY
  • Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 CAD = 5.05960 CNY

MoneyGram

MoneyGram also skews exchange rates for a profit. Depending on where you’re sending your money, MoneyGram’s margin on the exchange rate could be between 0.5% and 10%. Like Western Union, this means hundreds of dollars on a large transfer diverted to MoneyGram’s pockets.

So if you’re sending money to China:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 CAD = 5.27266 CNY
  • MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 CAD = 4.9985 CNY

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Winner: Tie

Exchange rate margins vary greatly depending on where you’re sending your money, so we couldn’t split Western Union and MoneyGram here.

Which is faster?

Western Union

Delivery speeds vary with transfer options. When you send a cash pickup transfer from an agent location or online, your transfer could be delivered in minutes (but will cost more). However, sending money to a bank account can take up to 5 days, depending on the country.

MoneyGram

Like Western Union, delivery speed with MoneyGram varies by transfer option, with cash transfers in person delivered in minutes (again with higher costs). However, bank deposits are typically processed on the same or next day.

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Winner: MoneyGram

There’s no question that these services are similar. Both allow you to send cash to a loved one overseas within minutes, but MoneyGram has shorter processing times for bank deposits than Western Union.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western UnionBank account, credit or debit card, cashBank transfer, cash pickup, ewalletMinimum: $1

Maximum: $50,000

Same day200+ countries
MoneyGramBank account, credit or debit card, cashBank transfer, cash pickup, other options by locationMinimum: $1

Maximum: $13,750

Within an hour190+ countries and 45+ currencies

Western Union

Western Union is a major player in the world of international transfers and allows you to send funds to more than 200 countries around the world. You can send money online, in person or via a mobile app, and the funds can be deposited into your recipient’s bank account or made available as cash for collection at more than 500,000 locations. To send a transfer online, you’ll need to register for a free account and then provide your recipient’s details and specify the amount you want to send.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram also offers in-person and online transfers, and it boasts almost 350,000 agent locations in more than 190 countries around the world. It allows you to send cash pickup transfers and bank deposits, while home delivery, mobile wallet deposits and loading funds directly onto your recipient’s debit card are also available in some countries. To send a transfer online, register for a free account, specify your payment amount and then enter your recipient’s details.

Bottom line

Western Union and MoneyGram are quite similar. Exchange rates vary greatly between the 2 providers depending on where you’re sending money, so it’s worth getting a quote from each provider for your specific transaction.

MoneyGram offers faster transactions if you’re sending a bank transfer (only available in selected countries). But if it’s more important that your friends or family be able to pick up your money in cash, Western Union’s 500,000 agent locations worldwide beat MoneyGram’s 350,000.

These 2 services aside, you could do better with another money transfer specialist. Compare your options to find a provider that’s perfect for your situation.

Looking for more options?

Input the details of your transaction into the calculator below to compare fees and exchange rates across a range of money transfer services.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 1 Same day CAD 0.00 0.735 USD
7,348
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
USD 150 1 day CAD 0.00 0.736 USD
7,355
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
GBP 3,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.736 USD
7,355
Global Reach will match any competitor's exchange rates. Conditions apply.
Get no fees for both business and personal transfers when you send your money overseas with Global Reach.
Go to site Show details
CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 1.99 0.73 USD
7,302
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
CAD 0 Within an hour CAD 3.99 0.735 USD
7,348
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Go to site Show details
CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 90.00 0.738 USD
7,318
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days CAD 0.00 0.735 USD
7,353
Aimed at larger transfers, CurrencyTransfer is an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best exchange rate. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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