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Western Union vs MoneyGram
Get the best rate for your next transfer overseas by comparing MoneyGram with Western Union.
MoneyGram leans slightly cheaper and averages faster transfer speeds than Western Union — but your experience may vary depending on your specific transfer. Because there are so many variables, you’ll want to compare Western Union and MoneyGram against one another to see which is best for you.
How they work
The process to transfer money over Western Union is nearly the same with MoneyGram. So much so, we can describe them both in one shot: You go to their sites, enter the amount you’re transferring, its destination and see how much you’ll pay for the exchange.
Both services also give the option to call, visit an office or use a mobile app to transfer money. After the transaction is complete, it converts and delivers your money to a bank account or makes it available for cash pickup at any location worldwide.
Who offers lower fees?
Figuring out how much you’ll pay to transfer money internationally is tricky. Although most fees start at US$5, they can be as much as US$45 when paying by credit or debit card for cash pickup in certain countries. But when sending money to high-traffic countries such as Mexico or India, agents offer free transfer options.
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 challenging to find out up front how much you’ll pay.
For example, to send US$1,000 to India, you’ll pay US$6 in fees for a bank transfer or US$13 for a cash pickup. To compare, sending US$1,000 to Brazil, it’s US$9.99 for either a bank transfer or a cash pickup.
Whether MoneyGram or Western Union offers lower fees may depend on where you’re sending the money, how you choose to pay and how your recipient chooses to receive the cash.
Who offers better exchange rates?
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 straight into Western Union’s coffers.
We’ll use the example of a transfer to euros (EUR):
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.94 EUR
- Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.86 EUR
MoneyGram also skews exchange rates for a profit. Depending on where you’re sending your money, the exchange rate could be 5% 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 Europe:
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.94 EUR
- MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 USD = 0.91 EUR
Sending US$1,000 to Europe with MoneyGram could result in about 50 more euros to your recipient over Western Union.
Delivery speeds vary with transfer options. 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.
Like Western Union, delivery speed with MoneyGram also varies by transfer option, with cash transfers in person or by phone delivered in minutes, again with higher costs. MoneyGram’s cheaper options take two to four business days for receipt.
Winner: It depends
These services are similar enough that the time it takes to deliver your cash will depend on the country, your payment method and how your recipient chooses to receive the transfer.
Who offers more options?
|Payment Methods||Minimum and maximum transfers||Delivery methods||Transfer speeds||Countries and currencies|
|Western Union||Cash||Minimum and maximum varies by country||Bank transfer, cash pickup, e-wallet||Varies from minutes to 5+ days||200+ countries|
|MoneyGram||Cash||Minimum and maximum varies by country||Bank transfer, cash pickup, other options by location||Varies from minutes to 4+ days||190+ countries and 45+ currencies|
While Western Union and MoneyGram can appear similar, you may get a stronger exchange rate with MoneyGram — which is especially important for larger transfers. But if your recipient needs to pick up your transfer as cash, Western Union’s 500,000 agent locations worldwide beats MoneyGram’s 350,000.
These two services aside, you could almost always do better with another money transfer specialist. Be sure to 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.
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