Western Union vs MoneyGram

Discover where to find the best deal on your next overseas transfer.

Updated

Fact checked

Neither Western Union nor MoneyGram is the cheapest or fastest option out there – but they are the most visible. Which one is best for you depends on how much you’re transferring and how fast you need the money to arrive.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 16 April 2020.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
NZD 250 1 day NZD 65.00 0.635 USD
594
Easily transfer cash to more than 350,000 locations around the world. Show details
NZD 1 Same day NZD 20.00 0.636 USD
623
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

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

Which has lower fees?

Western Union

Figuring out how much you’ll pay to transfer money internationally can be difficult. Although many fees start at $5 or less, they can be tens or even hundreds of dollars when paying by credit or debit card for cash pickup in certain countries. However, fee-free transfers are available to selected destinations, including India and the Philippines, when you pay for your transaction with POLi Payments.

MoneyGram

Fees vary depending on how much money you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and the country you’re sending it to. Unless you actually initiate a transfer, it’s not easy to find out upfront how much you’ll pay. As an example, to send $1,000 to a bank account in India, you’ll pay $8 in fees; if you send the same amount for a cash pick-up, the transaction fee rises to $18.

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Winner: Tie

There are several factors that affect transaction fees with Western Union and MoneyGram, so there’s no clear winner here.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $300 and $1,000 to Europe

Julie wants to send money to her daughter in France. She wants to send the funds as quickly as possible, so she compares the cost of sending $300 and $1,000 for cash pickup with Western Union and MoneyGram.

Sending $300 to Europe

Western UnionMoneyGram
Transfer fee$35$30
Exchange rate1 NZD = 0.5587 EUR1 NZD = 0.5779 EUR
Transfer speedWithin minutesWithin minutes
Total euros received148.06 EUR156.03 EUR
Receiver gets7.98 EUR less7.98 EUR more

As you can see, MoneyGram offers slightly better value for money when sending $300 to Europe. Not only does MoneyGram allow Julie to save $5 on transfer fees, but it also allows her to send an extra €8 to her daughter.

Sending $1,000 to Europe

Western UnionMoneyGram
Transfer fee$35$60
Exchange rate1 NZD = 0.5587 EUR1 NZD = 0.5779 EUR
Transfer speedWithin minutesWithin minutes
Total euros received539.15 EUR543.23 EUR
Receiver gets4.08 EUR less4.08 EUR more

As you can see, the cost of this transaction is quite similar with both Western Union and MoneyGram. While using MoneyGram will cost Julie $25 extra in transfer fees, its higher exchange rate allows her to send an additional €4 to her daughter.

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.

Western Union

Depending on the country you’re sending money to, a typical exchange rate at Western Union could be up to 6% above the mid-market rate. If you’re sending a large amount overseas, this means hundreds of dollars that goes straight to Western Union.

We’ll use the example of a transfer to Chinese yuan (CNY):

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 NZD = 4.71 CNY
  • Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 NZD = 4.64 CNY

MoneyGram

MoneyGram also skews exchange rates for a profit. Depending on where you’re sending your money, the exchange rate could be 6% or more above the mid-market rate. Like Western Union, this means hundreds of dollars on a large transfer diverted to MoneyGram’s pockets.

So if you’re sending money to China:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 NZD = 4.71 CNY
  • MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 NZD = 4.65 CNY

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Winner: Tie

Exchange rate margins vary greatly depending on where you’re sending your money, so we couldn’t split Western Union and MoneyGram here.

Which is faster?

Western Union

Delivery speeds vary with transfer options. When you send a cash pickup transfer from an agent location or online, your transfer could be delivered in minutes (but will cost more). However, sending money to a bank account can take up to five days, depending on the country.

MoneyGram

Like Western Union, delivery speed with MoneyGram varies by transfer option, with cash transfers in person delivered in minutes (again with higher costs). However, bank deposits are typically processed on the same or next day.

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Winner: MoneyGram

There’s no question that these services are similar. Both allow you to send cash to a loved one overseas within minutes, but MoneyGram has shorter processing times for bank deposits than Western Union.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western UnionBank account, cashBank transfer, cash pick-upMinimum: $1

Maximum: $50,000

Same day200+ countries
MoneyGramBank account, credit or debit card, cashBank transfer, cash pick-up, other options by locationMinimum: $250

Maximum: $10,000

1 day190+ countries and 45+ currencies

Western Union

Western Union is a major player in the world of international transfers and allows you to send funds to more than 200 countries around the world. You can send money online, in person or via a mobile app, and the funds can be deposited into your recipient’s bank account or made available as cash for collection at more than 500,000 locations. To send a transfer online, you’ll need to register for a free account and then provide your recipient’s details and specify the amount you want to send.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram also offers in-person and online transfers, and it boasts almost 350,000 agent locations in more than 190 countries around the world. It allows you to send cash pickup transfers and bank deposits, while home delivery, mobile wallet deposits and loading funds directly onto your recipient’s debit card are also available in some countries. To send a transfer online, register for a free account, specify your payment amount and then enter your recipient’s details.

Bottom line

Western Union and MoneyGram are quite similar. Exchange rates vary greatly between the two providers depending on where you’re sending money, so it’s worth getting a quote from each provider for your specific transaction.

MoneyGram offers faster transactions if you’re sending a bank transfer (only available in selected countries). But if it’s more important that your friends or family be able to pick up your money in cash, Western Union’s 500,000 agent locations worldwide beat MoneyGram’s 350,000.

These two services aside, you could do better with another money transfer specialist. Compare your options to find a provider that’s perfect for your situation.

Looking for more options?

Input the details of your transaction into the calculator below to compare fees and exchange rates across a range of money transfer services.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
NZD 250 1 day NZD 0.00 0.655 USD
6,553
SendFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Fee-free transfers in 30+ currencies to over 200 countries.
Go to site Show details
NZD 0 Same day NZD 0.00 0.655 USD
6,547
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
NZD 2,000 2 days NZD 0.00 0.655 USD
6,553
Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee and discounted exchange rates for all Finder customers.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in more than 60 currencies.
Go to site Show details
NZD 250 1 day NZD 0.00 0.655 USD
6,553
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply. Go to site Show details
NZD 1 Within an hour NZD 3.99 0.654 USD
6,541
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Go to site Show details
AUD 250 1 - 2 days NZD 15.00 0.655 USD
6,544
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies. No fee if you transfer over AUD$10,000. Go to site Show details
NZD 1 1 - 2 days NZD 80.00 0.658 USD
6,527
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
NZD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.653 USD
6,528
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
NZD 10,000 1 - 2 days NZD 0.00 0.653 USD
6,527
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.

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