XE Money Transfer vs Western Union

Should you go with XE or Western Union the next time you send money overseas?

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Western Union and XE are two well-known financial services, but which provider is more cost effective when it comes to international money transfers? We compare them side by side to find out.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 13 March 2019.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
NZD 0 1 day NZD 0.00 0.634 USD
3,169
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
NZD 1 Same day NZD 30.00 0.618 USD
3,073
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers


The “Rate” and “Amount Received” displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

Which has lower fees?

XE

XE doesn’t charge fees on international money transfers.

Western Union

Western Union’s fees are varied. They change currency to currency and depend on the transfer amount as well as the transfer methods. For example, if you’re transferring to a cash pick-up, the fees increase by a large amount. 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

As XE doesn’t charge fees, it’s 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 $3,000 transfer to Japan to see which provider is the better choice and if the transfer amount makes a difference.

For the $1,000 transfer, we’ll look at a Western Union cash pick-up, while for the $3,000 transfer, we’ll look at a Western Union bank transfer. Keep in mind that these elements change the fees and rates for Western Union transfers.

Sending $1,000 to Japan
XE Western Union
Transfer fee $0 $9
Exchange rate NZD$1 = JPY¥77.58 NZD$1 = JPY¥73.48
Transfer speed Same day Same day
Total Japanese yen received JPY¥77,580 JPY¥72,818.68
Receiver gets JPY¥4,761.32 more JPY¥4,761.32 less
Sending $3,000 to Japan
XE Western Union
Transfer fee $0 $15
Exchange rate NZD$1 = JPY¥77.58 NZD$1 = JPY¥76.30
Transfer speed Same day 4 days
Total Japanese yen received JPY¥232,740 JPY¥227,755.50
Receiver gets JPY¥4,984.50 more JPY¥4,984.50 less

XE clearly saves you money on both transactions, as Western Union’s fees are higher and its exchange rates aren’t as good.

Note that the Western Union exchange rates change depending on whether it’s a bank transfer or cash pick-up. As the $3,000 Western Union transfer is an example of a bank transfer, both the rate and fees are lower than those of the $1,000 transfer.

Which offers better exchange rates?

XE

XE adds a margin to the exchange rate. The margin is normally between 0.4% and 1% on popular currencies, but it’s dependent 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.

So for a transfer to Singapore:

  • XE’s exchange rate: NZD$1 = SGD$0.96422
  • Mid-market rate: NZD$1 = SGD$0.969336

This is a margin of 0.53%.

Western Union

Western Union also adds a margin to its exchange rates, which changes greatly 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 exchange rate: NZD$1 = SGD$0.9310
  • Mid-market rate: NZD$1 = SGD$0.969336

This ends up at a margin of 3.95%.

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Winner: XE

XE generally offers better exchange rates than Western Union. It can vary currency to currency, but across the board, XE’s rates appear to be more consistent.

Which is faster?

XE

XE will confirm the estimated date when you set up your transfer, but the majority of transfers are made within the same day. Some less popular currencies may take longer.

Western Union

Western Union cash pick-ups are available within minutes; however, bank transfers can take up to five days. It’s dependent on the transfer and receiving method.

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Winner: Tie

Both Western Union and XE can get your money there within the same day; however, it will be received in different ways. Western Union offers speedy cash pick-ups, but XE has faster bank transfers.

General features

Payment methods Receiving options Minimum and maximum transfers Transfer speeds Currencies
XE Bank transfer Bank transfer Minimum: $0

Maximum: $500,000

1 day 40+ currencies
Western Union Bank transfer, cash transfer, POLi, debit card, credit card Bank account, cash pick-up, mobile wallet Minimum: $1

Maximum: $5,000

Same day 100+ currencies

XE

Set up an account with XE, get a quote, and if you’re happy with that quote, send XE the money. XE will then complete the transfer for you.

Western Union

Register for a Western Union account. After that, go into your profile and select the “send money” option. Once you’ve entered all the transfer details, 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 exchanges 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.

Looking for more options?

Use our calculator below to compare additional providers and see if you can get a better rate elsewhere.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
NZD 250 1 day NZD 0.00 0.638 USD
6,376
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 1 day NZD 0.00 0.638 USD
6,376
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 0.638 USD
6,376
Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee and discounted exchange rates for your first trade only.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in more than 130 currencies.
Go to site Show details
NZD 2,000 1 day NZD 0.00 0.638 USD
6,376
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 0.637 USD
6,364
An online money transfer service with cash pickup, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available. Go to site Show details
AUD 250 1 - 2 days NZD 15.00 0.638 USD
6,367
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 0.64 USD
6,350
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 0.635 USD
6,352
Go to site Show details
NZD 10,000 1 - 2 days NZD 0.00 0.635 USD
6,350
Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers


The “Rate” and “Amount Received” displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

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