Western Union vs MoneyGram – which is better? | Finder NZ

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

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 Within an hour NZD 65.00 0.704 USD
658
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Show details
NZD 1 Same day NZD 20.00 0.704 USD
690
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. 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.

Trophy icon
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

Trophy icon
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.

Trophy icon
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

Within an hour190+ 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
GBP 2,500 Same day NZD 0.00 0.726 USD
7,260
CentralFX's dedicated private client team will guide you through the money transfer process from first call to final payment. Go to site Show details
NZD 250 1 day NZD 0.00 0.726 USD
7,260
Send guarantees to match any competitor’s exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Send has fee-free transfers in 30+ currencies to over 200 countries.
Go to site Show details
NZD 0 Same day NZD 0.00 0.725 USD
7,253
XE has fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
NZD 2,000 2 days NZD 0.00 0.726 USD
7,260
Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee and discounted exchange rates for all Finder customers.
WorldFirst sends 60+ currencies at competitive rates with no fees. If you find a better eligible quote, WorldFirst will beat it.
Go to site Show details
NZD 250 1 day NZD 0.00 0.726 USD
7,260
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Go to site Show details
NZD 1 Within an hour NZD 3.99 0.725 USD
7,246
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Go to site Show details
AUD 250 1 - 2 days NZD 15.00 0.726 USD
7,249
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies. Go to site Show details
NZD 1 1 - 2 days NZD 80.00 0.729 USD
7,231
TransferWise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies. Go to site Show details
NZD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.723 USD
7,233
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
CurrencyFair has 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 0.723 USD
7,231
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace. 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.

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 Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy.

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.
Go to site