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Western Union vs PayPal money transfers

We compare a popular provider with a digital giant to see which is better for overseas transfers.

Western Union is nearly synonymous with international money transfers. And then there’s the electronic payment giant PayPal, which also allows you to send money overseas. Which is cheaper and faster for sending funds to friends, family and businesses outside Hong Kong?

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Same day HKD 0.00 0.128 USD
可匯款至全球超過200個國家. Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Show details
$1 3 - 5 days HKD 145.00 0.125 USD 606 Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

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

How do they work?

Western Union and PayPal both offer easy online processes to exchange and send money around the world.

Western Union

Go to the Western Union site site, enter how much you’re transferring and confirm how you’re sending it and how it should be received. You also have the option of visiting or calling an agent.

Once you’ve approved the exchange rate and fees you’ll pay, Western Union converts and delivers your money to your recipient’s bank account or for cash pickups at locations worldwide.

Read review: Western Union


To transfer money through PayPal, you’ll need to create a free PayPal account.

You then send a transfer to your recipient’s PayPal account, funding the transfer with your PayPal balance, bank account, credit or debit card or PayPal Credit. After your recipient receives the money, they can either keep the funds in their PayPal account or withdraw the money to their bank account.

Read review: PayPal

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Which has lower fees?

Western Union

Western Union’s remittance fees depend on how much money you’re sending, and where you’re sending it. It uses a tiered fee structure, in which the cost of sending money will increase at round numbers as the amount you send increases.

When sending money from Hong Kong, fees start from $0 depends on the payment method. Some payment methods like bank transfer or Tap & Go are free. If you use credit card to pay for the transfer, the fee starts from 15.00 HKD and would be 30.00 HKD for larger transfers.


PayPal has a complex fee structure. There is a fee per percentage and a fix fee. Read our guide to find out the fee structure.

If you use existing balance to send money transfer, the fee is 38.99 HKD. If you use other sources to fund your transfer, PayPal charges a fee of 38.99 HKD + 3.40% +2.35 HKD.

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Winner: Western Union

Mostly likely PayPal fees will be higher than Western Union’s for the same transfer.

In most cases it’s likely to cost less in fees to send money from Hong Kong with Western Union than PayPal. To find the actual cheaper option, though, you’ll also need to factor in exchange rates.

Compare other transfer services

Use our calculator below to compare fees, exchange rates and transfer speeds of other international money transfer services. Just enter the details in the calculator to see what fees and exchange rates you would get.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 10 1 - 2 days HKD 140.00 0.128 USD
以透明的匯率,低收費及低最低金額的網上服務作匯款。 Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies. Go to site Show details
USD 10 1 - 2 days HKD 25.00 0.127 USD
新客戶可享有首三個月無限次免手續費匯款。New customers get 3 months of unlimited free transfers.
可用15+種貨幣匯款,享有超越銀行的匯率以及快速轉賬時間。 CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
SGD 1 1 day HKD 42.00 0.128 USD
你首兩次港幣$15,000或以下的匯款,手續費全免。Pay no fees on your first two transfers, up to HK$15,000.
象徵式收費以及中間價匯率,可匯款至高達30多個國家。 SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
Go to site Show details
USD 50 1 day HKD 35.00 0.128 USD
獨家優惠:使用代碼FINDER10,你的頭一次匯款即能享有$10美元折扣。Use code FINDER10 to receive US$10 off your first transaction.
InstaReM 提供簡單的匯款服務,大部分的匯款劃一收取0.5%的手續費。InstaReM offers simple transfers with a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour HKD 20.00 0.128 USD
使用優惠代碼FREE,你的首次匯款即可享免手續費。條款及條件適用。Use promo code FREE to send your first transfer with no fee. T&Cs apply.
提供現金提取、銀行戶口之間轉賬與及Airtime匯款選擇的網上匯款服務,。 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days HKD 0.00 0.126 USD
可匯款至20+個國家,無手續費。 CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace. Go to site Show details
USD 2,000 1 day HKD 0.00 0.126 USD
TorFX保證提供最佳的匯率。需受條款約束。TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate.
以30種貨幣匯款到全球。登記後,將會有一個客戶經理提供支持和引導。 TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
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.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Western Union

Western Union’s exchange rates for HKD to USD are equivalent to about 0.23% above mid-market rates. This is essentially equivalent to an exchange rate “fee” of 0.23%.

As is typical for Western Union, and most other remittance companies, the exact exchange rates will fluctuate over time and will vary by currency.


PayPal’s margin, depends on what currency you’re sending to. In general:

  • To other currencies: 4% added to the exchange rate

There is also a currency conversion fee of 2.5% included in the exchange rate.

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Winner: Western Union

Western Union wins, coming out with much more favourable exchange rates than PayPal will typically offer customers.

Which is faster?

Western Union

The speed of your transfer is mostly dependent on the transfer method. Cash pick-up or mobile money app deposits can be available in just a few minutes, while bank account transfers might take several days.


PayPal money transfers might take a week or more end-to-end, depending on circumstance and destination.

If you don’t already have funds in your PayPal account it might take several days to top it up, and after that it might take another few days to finish the transfer.

Trophy icon
Winner: Western Union

Western Union offers payments within minutes, although it costs extra and won’t necessarily be suitable for every situation. Its bank transfers will typically take several business days to clear. PayPal’s bank transfer speeds are similar, with the added burden of needing to top up or link your bank account first.

If you want to get verified and send money as fast as possible, Western Union has a clear advantage over PayPal.

Who offers more options?

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western UnionBank transfer, cash, credit and debit card, Tap & Go WalletBank account, cash pick-up, mobile money appMinimum: 1.00 HKD

Maximum: 392,000 HKD

Same day95+
PayPalPayPal account, bank transfer, credit and debit cardPayPal account, bank transferMinimum: $1

Maximum: $80,000 HKD

1 day20+

Bottom line

The most cost-effective and convenient option will depend on the circumstance. If you’re paying by card, it’s worth being aware of the additional fees this incurs at both PayPal and Western Union.

Similarly, it’s worth checking the exchange rates for your currency ahead of a transfer. While PayPal’s rates are at a set amount above mid-market, Western Union’s will vary widely from currency to currency.

Frequently asked questions

Does Western Union work with PayPal?

No, you cannot pay for a Western Union transfer with PayPal. Read our guide to learn what payment methods Western Union supports.

How long can money stay in Western Union before pickup?

In most cases, Western Union will hold onto unclaimed transfers for 45 days, after which they can no longer be picked up by the recipient. If more than 45 days have passed and you are the sender, contact Western Union to arrange for a refund.

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