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Xe vs. Western Union

Which provider is more cost-effective when it comes to international money transfers?

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Western Union

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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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Xe and Western Union are two well-known financial services, and one of them offers the fastest option — but not always the cheapest. We compare these money transfer giants side by side to find out which one offers the best value for your money.

1 - 2 of 2
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Xe
Within minutes
$4
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Enjoy $0 fee on your first online transfer. Western Union makes money from currency exchange. Not valid on credit cards or sends to Cuba.
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries and territories around the world.
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Which has lower fees?

Xe

Xe charges a small flat fee of $4 for transfers below $500 but the fee is waived above this amount.

Western Union

Western Union’s fees vary depending on the currency, payment method and the transfer amount. For example, cash pickups generally have higher fees.

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

Xe doesn’t charge any fees above $500, making it the clear winner in this category.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 and $3,000 to Japan

Let’s compare a $1,000 and $10,000 transfer to the UK to see which provider is the better choice and if the transfer amount makes a difference.

Sending $1,000 to the UK
XeWestern Union
Transfer fee$0$0
Exchange rate1 USD = £0.8061 USD = £0.803
Transfer speed1-2 days1-4 days
Total amount received£803.18£803.00
Receiver gets£0.18 more£0.18 less
Sending $10,000 the UK
XeWestern Union
Transfer fee$0$0
Exchange rate1 USD = £0.8061 USD = £0.803
Transfer speed1-2 days1-4 days
Total amount received£8,061.64£8,030.00
Receiver gets£31.64 more£31.64 less

XE is slightly the cheaper option on the first transfer but the transfer speed is much quicker. The more money you transfer, generally XE offers you bigger savings. It’s also worth noting that Western Unions rates includes an promotional offer on your first transfer with them.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Xe

Xe adds a margin to the exchange rate, which varies based 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.

For a transfer to India:

  • Xe’s exchange rate: 1 USD = 82.2334 INR
  • Mid-market rate: 1 USD = 82.5090 INR

This is a margin around 3.3%.

Western Union

Western Union also adds a margin to its exchange rates, which widely varies 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:

  • Western Union’s cash pickup exchange rate: 1 USD = 81.5847 INR
  • Western Union’s bank transfer exchange rate: 1 USD = 82.2044 INR
  • Mid-market rate: 1 USD = 82.508714 INR

This ends up at a margin of 3.6% for a bank transfer and 11% for cash pickup.

Trophy icon
Winner: Xe

Xe generally offers better exchange rates than Western Union. Western Union’s rate for bank transfers — which can take up to five business days or more — are often close to Xe’s rates. But for larger transfers, Xe offers significantly better rates.

Which is faster?

Xe

Xe will confirm the estimated date when you set up your transfer, but the majority of transfers are initiated within the same day. While some transfers arrive the same day, transfers to specific countries can take one to four days if you send after hours. And some less popular currencies may take longer.

Western Union

Western Union cash pickups are available within minutes, but bank transfers can take up to six days. It depends on the transfer and how it’s received.

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Winner: Tie

Both Western Union and Xe can get your money there on the same day, but it will be received in different ways. Western Union offers speedy cash pickups, but Xe has faster bank transfers.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMinimum and maximum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
XeBank transferBank transferMinimum: $1

Maximum: $500,000

Within minutes100+ currencies
Western UnionBank transfer, cash transfer, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pick-up, mobile walletMinimum: $1

Maximum: $50,000

Within minutes100+ 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 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 exchange 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 below $500.

To get the best deal on your next transfer, compare other transfer providers to see how they stack up.

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 - 14 of 14
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Airwallex
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0
After spending $15k in your first 90 days, receive a one-time $500 bonus that will automatically be credited to your account on any FX conversion.
Airwallex can help you make business payments to 150+ countries in 60+ currencies.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.41%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ 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.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Enjoy $0 fee on your first online transfer. Western Union makes money from currency exchange. Not valid on credit cards or sends to Cuba.
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries and territories around the world.
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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