Western Union vs. Ria
See how this industry giant compares to a growing online money transfer service to see which is faster and cheaper.
When you need to transfer money overseas, you have a lot of options. Western Union is one of the global leaders in international money transfers, but newer companies like Ria offer competitive rates, which can help you save money.
Which offers lower fees?
Western Union’s fees vary depending on the destination country, transfer amount, payment method and receiving method. Transfer fees start at $1.99 for transfers to bank accounts, assuming you pay by debit or credit.
But fees can shoot as high as $100+ if you’re paying by cash (in store) for cash transfers in large amounts.
That being said, online transfers to some countries come with zero fees.
Money transfer fees with Ria also vary based on the destination country, transfer amount, payment method and receiving amount. It’s generally cheaper to pay by debit and send to a bank account than it is to pay by credit and send funds for cash pickup.
Fee amounts typically start around $3 but can go as high as $65 for transfers at the maximum amount ($2,999).
As with Western Union, some types of transfers come with zero fees.
Which offers better exchange rates?
The midmarket rate is the “true” exchange rate between 2 currencies, or the real value of one currency when exchanged for another currency. The exchange rate you get from money transfer services like Ria and Western Union is the midmarket rate minus a small fee worth a percentage of the midmarket rate. This fee is sometimes referred to as a markup on the exchange rate.
A lower exchange rate means more of your money is pocketed by the transfer service and your recipient gets less money. A higher exchange rate means the transfer service pockets less of your money and more goes to your recipient.
Depending on the country you’re sending money to, a typical exchange rate at Western Union can be anywhere between 1% and 6%+ less than the midmarket rate. For perspective, a 4% markup on the exchange rate means you could lose hundreds of dollars on very large transfers.
Here’s how Western Union’s exchange rate markup could work if you’re sending CAD to euros (EUR):
- If the midmarket rate is 1 CAD = 0.7165 EUR
- Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 CAD = 0.6969 EUR (2.74% markup)
Ria takes a substantially smaller margin than Western Union, typically between 1% and 3%.
Here’s how Ria’s exchange rate markup could work if you’re sending CAD to euros (EUR):
- If the mid-market rate is 1 CAD = 0.7165 EUR
- Ria’s exchange rate might be 1 CAD = 0.6980 EUR (2.58% markup)
Which is faster?
Western Union’s transfer speed varies depending on the type of transfer. Sending money for cash pickup can take just minutes, but sending money between bank accounts can sometimes take up to 4 business days.
Ria’s transfer speed also depends on the way you send money. When you use your credit or debit card, transfers typically arrive within 15 minutes. Transfers funded from your bank account can take up to 4 business days.
Western Union vs. Ria: Sending $1,000 to India
Here’s how fees, exchange rates and transfer speeds break down if you send $1,000 from Canada to India through Western Union and Ria. In this example, we assume funds are sent to a bank account, payment is made by debit and the fee is charged on top of the sending amount (not deducted from it). This information is current as of March 18, 2022.
|Exchange rate||1 CAD = 59.2923 INR||1 CAD = 59.148766 INR|
|Total received||59,174.31 INR||59,148.77 INR|
In this case, Ria’s transfer fee is lower, but Western Union offers a stronger exchange rate, resulting in your recipient getting more money. This is why it’s important to check all the details of your transfer. Lower fees might not mean your recipient gets more money. Conversely, a stronger exchange rate might not mean every other features of a transfer service is better as well.
|Availability||200+ countries||Approx. 160 countries|
|Fees||Starts around $1.99 ($0 fee for some transfers)||Starts around $3 ($0 fee for some transfers)|
|Exchange rates||Typically between 1% and 6%||Typically between 1% and 3%|
|Speed||Minutes up to 4 business days||15 minutes up to 4 business days|
|How it works|
|Read our review||Read our review|
Compare international money transfer services
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Western Union and Ria offer similar options, but you can potentially save money with Ria’s competitive exchange rates. Of course, you should always compare your options to find the service that best fits your needs.
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