Western Union vs WorldFirst

Find out whether the well-established company or the online upstart is best for your next transfer overseas.

Last updated:

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.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 1 Same day CAD 20.00 0.689 USD
1,708
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details

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

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

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.

Trophy icon
Winner: WorldFirst

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
Western UnionWorldFirst
Transfer fee$49$0
Exchange rate1 CAD = 0.5465 GBP1 CAD = 0.5786 GBP
Transfer speedWithin minutes1-4 days
Total British pounds receivedGBP£881.54GBP£1,099.34
Receiver getsGBP£217.80 lessGBP£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

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

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.

Trophy icon
Winner: WorldFirst

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

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

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.

Trophy icon
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.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving OptionsMax and MinTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western UnionCash deposit, credit card, bank transferCash pick-up, bank transfer, mobile paymentMinimum: $1

Maximum: $999.99

Same day100+ currencies
WorldFirstBank transferBank transferMinimum: $2,000

Maximum: No limit

1 day60+ currencies

Western Union

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.

WorldFirst

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.

Bottom line

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.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 150 1 day CAD 0.00 0.71 USD
7,102
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 0.71 USD
7,102
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 2 days CAD 0.00 0.71 USD
7,102
$0 online transfer fee with access to a 24/7 online platform. Go to site Show details
CAD 2,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.71 USD
7,102
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 1.99 0.705 USD
7,051
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 0.71 USD
7,095
Use code FINDERCA and pay zero fees on your first transfer. 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 0.713 USD
7,067
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
CAD 1 1 day CAD 0.00 0.71 USD
7,095
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days CAD 0.00 0.71 USD
7,100
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.

Ask an Expert

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Go to site