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Western Union vs WorldFirst
Find out whether the well-established company or the online upstart is best for your next transfer overseas.
International money transfers are no longer just for the tried and tested companies and newer companies like WorldFirst have emerged to undercut the established competition. We compare them both side by side on fees, rates and transfer times.
The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 24 February 2020.
Which has lower fees?
Fees vary depending on how much you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and where you’re sending it to. Fees start around $5 – $10 but can soar when paying by credit or debit card for cash pick-up in certain countries.
For example, an online transfer of $800 from Canada to France would cost $10 in fees with a bank transfer but around $40 with a credit card.
WorldFirst does not charge any fees. However, its minimum transfer amount is $2,000, so not everyone will be able to take advantage of this.
WorldFirst charges $0 for money transfers, provided you’re sending more than $2,000.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $2,000 to the United Kingdom
The tables below show how much it would cost to send $2,000 online to the UK with Western Union and WorldFirst, so you can see the actual price difference when factoring in both fees and exchange rates. Assume the fee is deducted from the amount being transferred rather than paid on top of it.
Sending $2,000 to the United Kingdom
|Exchange rate||1 CAD = 0.5465 GBP||1 CAD = 0.5786 GBP|
|Transfer speed||Within minutes||1-4 days|
|Total British pounds received||GBP£881.54||GBP£1,099.34|
|Receiver gets||GBP£217.80 less||GBP£217.80 more|
WorldFirst is more cost-effective, charging no fees while simultaneously offering more competitive exchange rates. But in this case it’s also slower than Western Union.
Which offers better exchange rates?
Western Union’s exchange rates, relative to the mid-market rate, vary widely by currency. In the case of Canadian dollars to British pounds, Western Union can take around 6% margin on exchange rates.
But for conversions from Canadian dollars to euros, Western Union takes around 7%. On the other hand, it only takes 2.40% on conversions from Canadian dollars to Indian rupees.
The exchange rates vary widely depending on currency, and change constantly, so it’s important to check rates prior to making a transfer, and not to assume that they will be equivalent for every currency.
WorldFirst’s exchange rates also vary by currency, but tend to be more favourable and less variable than Western Union’s. You’ll also get different rates depending on how much money you’re sending, with larger transfers typically enjoying better rates.
For a $2,000 transfer of Canadian dollars to British pounds, WorldFirst only takes a margin of about 0.5%. It takes a similar cut for the same sized transfer to euros.
Although its rates vary by amount sent and currency, it still tends to be lower and more consistent than Western Union’s exchange rates.
WorldFirst’s rates aren’t always going to be better than Western Union’s for every currency, but they usually are.
Which is faster?
Western Union offers different speeds depending on your preferred transfer method. At its fastest, funds can arrive in just a few minutes with cash deposits or credit card payments, depending on your location and the destination. For bank transfers, it might take several business days.
WorldFirst transfer times will also differ depending on your location and the destination.
If you’re sending British pounds, US dollars or euros, the recipient can usually get their funds on the same or next day.
But other currencies will generally be slower, taking 1-4 business days to reach their destination.
Winner: Western Union
Western Union is able to do faster transfers to a wider range of destinations, in a wider range of currencies, than WorldFirst can.
|Payment methods||Receiving Options||Max and Min||Transfer speeds||Currencies|
|Western Union||Cash deposit, credit card, bank transfer||Cash pick-up, bank transfer, mobile payment||Minimum: $1|
|Same day||100+ currencies|
|WorldFirst||Bank transfer||Bank transfer||Minimum: $2,000|
Maximum: No limit
|1 day||60+ currencies|
You can create an account to send money online, send it over the phone or walk into one of its many branches with cash in hand. Western Union also has one of the widest ranges of countries you can send to.
You’ll need to create an account to send money with WorldFirst as well as see the exchange rates on offer. Although you can call WorldFirst to send money over the phone, you’ll generally be doing it online with a bank transfer.
WorldFirst is competitively priced compared to Western Union when you can use it, but it’s not suitable for smaller transfers, and won’t let you send money overseas in a hurry.
Looking for more options?
If you still haven’t found an option that works for you, or want to see if anyone else can beat WorldFirst on price, browse the table below to see how much your transfer will cost with different providers.
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