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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?

Western Union

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.

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 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.

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Winner: Tie

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.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending US$1,000 to Mexico

Let’s say you want to send US$1,000 to Mexico, but you’re not sure which of these major companies is the right choice. Here are the fees and exchange rates offered by MoneyGram and Western Union when sending money for cash pickup and paying by bank transfer.

Western UnionMoneyGram
Transfer feeUS$5US$9.99
Exchange rate1 USD = 19.803 MXN1 USD = 19.921 MXN
Transfer speed0-4 business days0-5 business days
Total received19,803 MXN19,922 MXN

Based on rates when we checked, your recipient would receive about 119 pesos more if you sent your transfer through Western Union.

Who 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 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

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

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Winner: MoneyGram

Sending US$1,000 to Europe with MoneyGram could result in about 50 more euros to your recipient over Western Union.

Who’s faster?

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.

MoneyGram

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.

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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 MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
Western UnionCashMinimum and maximum varies by countryBank transfer, cash pickup, e-walletVaries from minutes to 5+ days200+ countries
MoneyGramCashMinimum and maximum varies by countryBank transfer, cash pickup, other options by locationVaries from minutes to 4+ days190+ countries and 45+ currencies

Bottom line

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.

Name Product Minimum Transfer Transfer Time Transfer Fee
WorldRemit
WorldRemit
PHP 1
1 - 2 days
USD 3.99
Use promo code FREE to send your first transfer with no fee. T&Cs apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
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