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Western Union vs. Ria: How do they compare?

We compare the well-known Western Union with Ria, a growing international money transfer service that could save you money.

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  • Track your money transfer in real time
  • Send money online, through our app, or at an agent location
  • Fast money transfers to 200+ countries and territories
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When you need to transfer money overseas, you now have many options to choose from. Western Union is perhaps the most well-known international money transfer service, but newer companies like Ria offer competitive rates to save you money.

Western Union logo Ria Logos
FeesStarts from $3.50Starts from $3
Exchange ratesAdds 1% to 5% to the mid-market rateAdd 0.25% to 4% to the mid-market rate
SpeedMinutes up to 5 daysMinutes up to 5 days
Max Transfer Amount$50,000 but this varies by country$2,999 a day or $7,999 per month limit
Read reviewRead review

Western Union and Ria: How they work

Western Union and Ria both offer online and in-person transfers.

Western Union

To transfer money online with Western Union, visit its site, enter the amount you’re transferring and to where, and confirm how much to pay for the exchange. Once complete, Western Union converts and delivers your money to a bank account or for cash pickup at locations worldwide.

Ria

To transfer money online with Ria, go to its site, enter the amount you’d like to transfer and to which country, and choose your payment and pay-out methods. On the same page, you’ll see the exchange rate and transfer fee for your particular exchange.

Which offers lower fees?

Western Union

Western Union’s fees vary depending on how much you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and where you’re sending it to. Most transfer fees start at $5, but they can skyrocket to $45 or more if you’re paying by credit or debit card or for cash pickup in certain countries. However, some transfers to high-traffic countries such as Mexico or India offer no-fee transfer options.

Ria

Money transfer fees with Ria also vary by payment method, country and the amount you’re sending. The cheapest way to send money is by bank transfer, with a typical fee that’s lower than $5. However, fees for credit card payments can be as high as $45.

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Winner: Tie
Western Union and Ria offer similar transfer fee options. Although if you’re planning to pay by bank transfer, Ria may have a slight edge.

Which offers better exchange rates?

To understand who offers better exchange rates, you’ll need to first look at the mid-market rate. This is the true exchange rate that averages the buying and selling rate of a global currency — and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves. Let’s take a look at the rates that Western Union and Ria offer compared to the mid-market rate.

Western Union

Depending on the country you’re sending money to, Western Union markup ranges from 1% to 5% above the mid-market rate. This means that If you’re sending a large amount overseas, hundreds of dollars go straight into Western Union’s pocket.

Ria

Ria takes a much smaller margin than Western Union and their markup typically adds to 1.5% to 2.5% to the mid-market rate.

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Winner: Ria
Ria’s competitive exchange rates make them the winner.

Which is faster?

Western Union

Western Union’s delivery speeds vary, depending on your transfer options. At an agent location or by phone, your transfer could be delivered in minutes (at higher costs). Transfers from your bank account can take two to five business days

Ria

Ria’s transfer speed also depends on the method that you choose to send your money. When you use your credit or debit card, the exchange typically takes 15 minutes or less. Transfers from your bank account can three to five business days

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Winner: Western Union
Both providers offer similar transfer speeds but Western Union just pips Ria to the post.

Which offers more options?

Payment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
Western UnionBank account, credit or debit card, cash$1 minimum; $50,000 maximum varies by method and paymentBank transfer, cash pickup, e-walletBank transfer takes 2 – 5 business days200+ countries
RiaBank account, credit or debit card, cash$1 minimum; $2,999 a day or $7,999 a month maximumBank transfer, cash pickupBank transfer takes 3 – 5 business days.144 countries

Case study: sending $1,000 to Italy

Imagine that you’re sending $1,000 to your aunt who has recently moved to Italy. Here’s what an online bank-to-bank transfer would be with Western Union and Ria.

Western UnionRia
Transfer fee$0$0
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.9168 EUR1 USD = 0.9145 EUR
Transfer speed2-5 days3-5 days
Total received916.80 EUR914.50 EUR

With Western Union, you get a stronger exchange rate and your aunt gets 2.30 euros more.

Bottom line

Western Union and Ria offer similar options, but are both more expensive than online money transfer providers. Based on our analysis, Western Union is a better option as they have a more extensive network and offer discounts for new customers. Of course, you’ll want to compare your options to find the service that best fits your individual needs.

Compare other transfer services

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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