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Remitly vs. Western Union

For most transfers, Remitly comes out on top for both fees and exchange rate.

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Western Union is one of the most well-known international transfer services in the world. But let’s see how it compares to Remitly, an up-and-coming provider, to see which transfer service can take your dollar further.

Which has lower fees?

Remitly

Remitly’s fees depend on the currency you’re sending, how much you’re transferring and the speed of the transfer. Higher fees are applied on express transfers.

If you’re sending through the slower option, the fees are generally between $2 and $4 and can even be free in some cases.

Western Union

Western Union’s fees for an online money transfer vary greatly currency to currency — from $3.50 up to $100 or more — and can either be a flat fee or calculated based on a percentage, so it’s vital to check the currency you’re exchanging using the Western Union price estimator.

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Winner: Remitly

Although there is a lot of variety with both, Remitly often has lower flat fees for slower transfers than Western Union.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $100 and $1,000 to the Philippines

To see how these two services stack up, let’s compare how Western Union and Remitly fare for two different transfer amounts to the Philippines. Keep in mind, rates vary for other countries.

In this example, we’ll be using the quickest transfer possible. This means Remitly’s express option and paying with debit card for cash pickup with Western Union.

Sending $100 to the Philippines
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee$3.99$4.99
Exchange rate1 USD = 50.5800 PHP1 USD = 49.5864 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP₱4,856.19PHP₱4,711.20
Receiver getsPHP₱144.99 morePHP₱144.99 less
Sending $1,000 to the Philippines
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee$3.99$10
Exchange rate1 USD = 50.5800 PHP1 USD = 49.5864 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP₱50,378.19PHP₱49,090.54
Receiver getsPHP₱1,287.65 morePHP₱1,287.65 less

In both cases, Remitly ends up giving your receiver a few extra pesos in their pocket. Remitly offers both lower fees and a better exchange rate.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Remitly

Remitly will normally add a margin to the exchange rates which varies for each currency. The margin varies from currency to currency.

For example, if you want to send money to South Africa:

  • Midmarket rate: 1 USD = 14.9263 ZAR
  • Remitly’s exchange rate: 1 USD = 14.79 ZAR

In this case, Remitly’s mark-up is about 0.9%.

Remitly often runs promotions that offer an exchange rate better than the midmarket rate for your first transfer on specific currencies.

Western Union

Western Union also adds a margin, but it tends to be quite a bit higher, ranging from 1% to 6%.

For example, if you want to send money to South Africa:

  • Midmarket rate: 1 USD = 14.9263 ZAR
  • Western Union’s exchange rate: 1 USD = 14.6855 ZAR

This is a margin of about 1.6%.

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Winner: Remitly

Remitly will often offer much better exchange rates than Western Union.

Which is faster?

Remitly

Remitly offers an express option that will get your money to the destination near instantly, but it does come with a higher fee. If you opt for the cheaper economy option, you’re looking at a transfer time of two to five business days.

Western Union

Some Western Union transfers arrive the same day, while some take up to five business days. It also depends on the transfer and receiving method but in general, bank account to bank account transfers will take the longest and be the cheapest.

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Winner: Tie

Both Remitly and Western Union can transfer your money quickly, but they also take up to five business days for some transfers.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
RemitlyBank transfer, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pickup, mobile walletMinimum: $10

Maximum: $20,000

Within minutes30+ currencies
Western UnionBank transfer, cash transfer, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pickup, mobile walletMinimum: $1

Maximum: $2,500

Within minutes95+ currencies

Remitly

Once you have an account with Remitly, you log in on either the website or through the app, then enter the amount, currency, recipient’s information and your payment information. After that, Remitly will convert your money and transfer it to your recipient.

Western Union

After registration, open your profile and choose the Send money option. After you’ve entered your receiver’s details, which includes their bank name and code as well as their bank account number if a bank transfer, you choose your payment method.

Once you’ve paid, Western Union will transfer the funds. You also have the option to send money in-store at an agent location.

Bottom line

Remitly offers both lower fees and better exchange rates, with the option to send money as fast as Western Union. However, it doesn’t offer as many currencies as Western Union and this could be the deciding factor.

Compare a range of international money transfer services before committing to any provider to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Looking for more options?

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
1 - 12 of 12
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.41%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
Cash App
Within minutes
From $0
With this peer-to-peer payment app make payments to your friends and family with no transfer fees within the US or from the US to the UK or EU.
Instarem
24 hours
From 0%
New Instarem customers will get a special FX rate and zero-fees on their first transfer.
Instarem offers offers rewards on every transaction.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $0
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
OFX International Money Transfers (Business)
24 hours
$0
Business customers: Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates.
CurrencyTransfer for Business
24 hours
$0
Increase business efficiency with zero transaction fees and same-day transfers.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfer for Business
24 hours
$0
Save your time and money with Xe Money Transfer for business.
Currencies Direct (business)
24 hours
$0
Minimizes costs of international transactions and offers custom solutions for business clients. Currencies Direct may call you to confirm your transfer, so be prepared for a phone call shortly after initiating a transfer.
Xe
Within minutes
$3
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
Currencies Direct
24 hours
$0
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates. Currencies Direct may call you to confirm your transfer, so be prepared for a phone call shortly after initiating a transfer.
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