Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

MoneyGram vs. Western Union vs. PayPal

We put three major providers to the test when it comes to sending cash overseas.

International money transfers are no longer a game for only tried-and-true players like Western Union and MoneyGram. Newer companies, like PayPal, promise to undercut the competition to earn your business. Here we compare three major players — MoneyGram vs. Western Union vs. PayPal — to see which one offers the better deal.

How do they work?

MoneyGram, Western Union and PayPal each offer an easy online process to exchange and send money around the world.

MoneyGram and Western Union

The way you go about sending a transfer with MoneyGram is nearly indistinguishable from the same process with Western Union.

So much, in fact, that we can describe them both in one shot: You go to their sites, enter how much you’re transferring and to where and see how much you’ll pay for the exchange.

With either service, you also have the option of visiting an office, calling or using a mobile app to initiate a transfer. And once complete, they convert and deliver your money to a bank account or for cash pickup at locations worldwide.

PayPal

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

Back to top

Who offers better exchange rates?

To understand who offers better exchange rates, you’ll need to first look at the midmarket 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.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram skews exchange rates for a profit. Depending on where you’re sending your money, the exchange rate could be 5% or more above the midmarket rate. This means hundreds of dollars on a large transfer diverted to MoneyGram’s pockets.

Western Union

Like MoneyGram, depending on the country you’re sending money to, a typical exchange rate at Western Union could be up to 6% above the midmarket rate. If you’re sending a large amount overseas, this is a lot of money straight into Western Union’s coffers.

PayPal

To calculate the exchange rate it offers to customers, PayPal takes the midmarket rate and adds a 2.5% margin. The best way to find accurate exchange rates is by using PayPal’s currency exchange calculator, which you can find after you log in to your account.

Trophy icon
Winner: PayPal

For your typical overseas transfer, you’ll get a stronger exchange rate with PayPal.

Back to top

Who offers lower fees?

The most effective way to compare MoneyGram, Western Union and PayPal is to look at a case study.

Case study: Sending $1,000 to Germany

Malcolm wants to send $1,000 to his sister, a military wife living at the Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany.

He’s tempted by the convenience of his local bank, despite its reputation for high fees and weak exchange rates. Before he decides, he compares how much he’ll pay to deposit the money to his sister’s bank account with MoneyGram, Western Union and PayPal.

MoneyGramWestern UnionPayPal
Transfer fee$4.99$5$33,99 + 0.35 EUR
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.9167 EUR1 USD = 0.8652 EUR1 USD = 0.9451 EUR
Transfer speed4 business days6 business days1 business day
Total received912.12 EUR860.87 EUR912.62 EUR

Malcolm analyzes his options to understand how the complexity of fee structures and transfer options ultimately affect how much he’ll pay. There’s no question that PayPal offers the strongest exchange rate, but because its transfer fee is a percentage of the total transfer amount, Malcolm will pay the highest fee by going with PayPal.

If time isnt on Malcolm’s side, PayPal wins again with a delivery time up to five days sooner than MoneyGram or Western Union.

Ultimately, he’ll need to weigh which element is more important before making his transfer.

Back to top

Who’s faster?

MoneyGram

Delivery speed varies by transfer option, with cash transfers in person or by phone delivered in minutes — at higher costs. MoneyGram’s cheaper options take two to four business days for receipt.

Western Union

Like MoneyGram, delivery speed with Western Union too varies by transfer option. At an agent location or by phone, your transfer could be delivered in minutes — at higher costs. Your cheapest options could take five days or longer, depending on the country.

PayPal

With PayPal, transferring among existing PayPal accounts is instantaneous. Payments from your PayPal account to another bank account are delivered by the next business day.

Trophy icon
Winner: PayPal

Whichever way you send your money, it’ll get to your recipient more quickly with PayPal. For deposits to an account, up to four days sooner.

Back to top

Who offers more options?

Payment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
MoneyGramBank account, credit or debit card, cashMinimum and maximum varies by countryBank transfer, cash pickup, other options by location2–4 days190+ countries and 45+ currencies
Western UnionBank account, credit or debit card, cashMinimum and maximum varies by countryBank transfer, cash pickup, e-walletVaries from minutes to 5+ days200+ countries
PayPalBank transfer, credit or debit card, PayPal creditMinimum varies by country (about $0.02); maximum $10,000 per transferPayPal transfer, bank transferVaries from minutes to 1 day202 countries
Back to top

Bottom line

That you’ll get stronger exchange rates with PayPal is clear-cut. But depending on how much you’re sending, you could pay higher transfer fees with PayPal. Then if your recipient doesn’t have a bank account, MoneyGram’s or Western Union’s cash pickup may be your best option.

Ultimately, you’ll want to compare money transfer specialists to find a provider that’s right for your situation.

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.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
OFX
24 hours
$0

View details
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally £5,000)

View details
Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
Dunbridge Financial
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours
$10

View details
Dunbridge Financial offers diverse transfer options to more than 120 countries.
XE
Within minutes
$3

View details
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers

View details
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
WorldRemit
Within an hour
From $1.99

View details
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
MoneyGram
Within an hour
From $0

View details
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    IzrailMay 31, 2019

    What is the cost of transferring $60 Odessa, Ukraine?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      BellaJune 1, 2019Staff

      Hi Izrail,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      The fees apply to money transfers vary depending on the amount of money you’re sending, where you’re sending it to and the method you use to pay for your transaction.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

Go to site