XE Money Transfer vs Western Union

Should you go with XE or Western Union the next time you send money overseas?

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Western Union and XE are two well-known financial services, but which provider is more cost effective when it comes to international money transfers? We compare them side by side to find out.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 3 August 2019.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 0 1 day CAD 0.00 0.756 USD
3,782
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
CAD 1 Same day CAD 20.00 0.738 USD
3,675
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers


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.

Which has lower fees?

XE

XE doesn’t charge fees on international money transfers.

Western Union

Western Union’s fees are varied. They change from currency to currency and depend on the transfer amount as well as the transfer methods. Generally, transferring to a recipient’s bank account is cheaper than sending money for a cash pickup. Also, paying in store is usually cheaper than paying online by debit or credit card.

Because fees can vary so much, it’s important to get a price estimate using the Western Union calculator before committing so you know the exact fee.

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Winner: XE

As XE doesn’t charge fees, it’s the clear winner in this category.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 and $5,000 to Japan

Let’s compare a $1,000 and $5,000 transfer to Japan to see which provider is the better choice and if the transfer amount makes a difference. For both Western Union transfers, we’ll assume that payment is in store and that the recipient is receiving the money in store as cash.

Sending $1,000 to Japan
XE Western Union
Transfer fee $0 $25
Exchange rate 1 CAD = 79.1639 JPY 1 CAD = 76.8874 JPY
Transfer speed Same day Minutes
Total Japanese yen received JPY¥79,164.00 JPY¥74,965.22
Receiver gets JPY¥4,198.78 more
(approx. $52 CAD)
JPY¥4,198.78 less
(approx. $52 CAD)
Sending $5,000 to Japan
XE Western Union
Transfer fee $0 $60
Exchange rate 1 CAD = 79.1751 JPY 1 CAD = 76.8874 JPY
Transfer speed Same day Minutes
Total Japanese yen received JPY¥395,876.00 JPY¥379,823.76
Receiver gets JPY¥16,052.24 more
(approx. $198 CAD)
JPY¥16,052.24 less
(approx. $198 CAD)

In this case, XE clearly saves you a lot of money on both transactions, as Western Union’s fees are higher and its exchange rates aren’t as good.

Note that the Western Union exchange rates change depending on whether the money is sent as a bank transfer or cash pick-up and whether you’re paying in store or online.

Which offers better exchange rates?

XE

XE adds a margin to the exchange rate. The margin is normally between 0.4% and 2% on popular currencies, but it’s dependent on the currency. Keep in mind that the rate you’ll pay is different from what’s shown on the XE currency converter tool, which shows live market rates without the mark-up.

So, for a transfer to Singapore:

  • XE’s exchange rate: 1 CAD = 1.02250 SGD
  • Mid-market rate: 1 CAD = 1.04279 SGD

This is a margin of 2.01%.

Western Union

Western Union also adds a margin to its exchange rates, which changes greatly depending on the currency, payment method and the way the receiver would like to collect the money. The exchange rate on cash pick-ups is not as good as the exchange rate on bank transfers.

For the same example of Canadian dollars to Singapore dollars:

  • Western Union’s exchange rate: 1 CAD = 1.00980 SGD
  • Mid-market rate: 1CAD = 1.04279 SGD

This ends up at a margin of 3.16%.

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Winner: XE

XE generally offers better exchange rates than Western Union. It can vary currency to currency, but across the board, XE’s rates appear to be more consistent.

Which is faster?

XE

XE will confirm the estimated date when you set up your transfer, but the majority of transfers are made within the same day. Some less-popular currencies may take longer.

Western Union

Western Union cash pick-ups are available within minutes; however, bank transfers can take up to 5 days. It’s dependent on the transfer and receiving method.

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Winner: Tie

Both Western Union and XE can get your money there within the same day; however, it will be received in different ways. Western Union offers speedy cash pick-ups, but XE has faster bank transfers.

General features

Payment methods Receiving options Minimum and maximum transfers Transfer speeds Currencies
XE Bank transfer Bank transfer Minimum: $0

Maximum: $500,000

1 day 40+ currencies
Western Union Bank transfer, cash transfer, POLi, debit card, credit card Bank account, cash pick-up, mobile wallet Minimum: $1

Maximum: $999.99

Same day 100+ currencies

XE

Set up an account with XE, get a quote, and if you’re happy with that quote, you send XE the money. XE will then complete the transfer for you.

Western Union

Register for a Western Union account. After that, you go into your profile and select the “send money” option. Once you’ve entered all the transfer details, you choose your payment method and pay Western Union. Once your payment is received, they’ll transfer the funds.

Bottom line

Overall, XE is typically a better choice when compared side by side to Western Union. Western Union’s fees and exchanges rates are so varied that you’ll often get stung by a hidden fee. On the other hand, XE adds a smaller mark-up to the exchange rate, plus it has no fees.

See how XE and Western Union stack up against the competition in our guide to money transfer service providers.

Looking for more options?

Use our calculator below to compare additional providers and see if you can get a better rate elsewhere.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 150 1 day CAD 0.00 0.761 USD
7,610
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
CAD 0 1 day CAD 0.00 0.761 USD
7,610
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
CAD 0 Within an hour CAD 3.99 0.761 USD
7,602
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
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days CAD 0.00 0.761 USD
7,607
Aimed at larger transfers, CurrencyTransfer is an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best exchange rate. Go to site Show details
CAD 2,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.761 USD
7,610
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 7,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.761 USD
7,610
Venstar Exchange offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on large transfers over US$10,000. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers


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.

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