Remitly vs. Western Union

For most transfers, Remitly comes out on top for both fees and exchange rate.

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Remitly vs Western Union

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Western Union is one of the most well-known international transfer services in the world. But let’s see how it compares to Remitly, an up-and-coming provider, to see which transfer service can take your dollar further.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of August 6, 2019.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$10 3 - 5 days USD 5.00 50.785 PHP 253,670 Go to site Show details
USD 1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 50.015 PHP 249,077 The biggest name in money transfers can get your funds to friends, family, or businesses in almost every corner of the globe. 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?

Remitly

Remitly’s fees are as low as $0 but go up as high as $99.99, depending on the currency, how much you’re transferring and the speed of the transfer. Higher fees are applied on express transfers.

If you’re sending through the slower option, the fees are generally between $2 and $4 and can even be free in some cases.

Western Union

Western Union’s fees for an online money transfer vary greatly currency to currency and can either be a flat fee or calculated based on a percentage, so it’s vital to check the currency you’re exchanging using the Western Union price estimator.

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Winner: Remitly

Although there is a lot of variety with both, Remitly often has lower flat fees for slower transfers than Western Union.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $100 and $1,000 to the Philippines

To see how these two services stack up, let’s compare how Western Union and Remitly fare for two different transfer amounts to the Philippines. Keep in mind, rates vary for other countries.

In this example, we’ll be using the quickest transfer possible. This means Remitly’s express option and paying with debit card for cash pickup with Western Union.

Sending $100 to the Philippines
Remitly Western Union
Transfer fee $3.99 $4.99
Exchange rate 1 USD = 50.5800 PHP 1 USD = 49.5864 PHP
Transfer speed Minutes Minutes
Total pesos received PHP₱4,856.19 PHP₱4,711.20
Receiver gets PHP₱144.99 more PHP₱144.99 less
Sending $1,000 to the Philippines
Remitly Western Union
Transfer fee $3.99 $10
Exchange rate 1 USD = 50.5800 PHP 1 USD = 49.5864 PHP
Transfer speed Minutes Minutes
Total pesos received PHP₱50,378.19 PHP₱49,090.54
Receiver gets PHP₱1,287.65 more PHP₱1,287.65 less

In both cases, Remitly ends up giving your receiver a few extra pesos in their pocket. Remitly offers both lower fees and a better exchange rate.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Remitly

Remitly will normally add a margin to the exchange rates which varies for each currency. The margin varies from currency to currency

For example, if you want to send money to South Africa:

  • Mid-market rate: 1 USD = 14.9263 ZAR
  • Remitly’s exchange rate: 1 USD = 14.79 ZAR

In this case, Remitly’s markup is about 0.9%

Remitly often runs promotions that offer an exchange rate better than the mid-market rate for your first transfer on certain currencies.

Western Union

Western Union also adds a margin, but it tends to be quite a bit higher, ranging from 1% to 6%.

For example, if you want to send money to South Africa:

  • Mid-market rate: 1 USD = 14.9263 ZAR
  • Western Union’s exchange rate: 1 USD = 14.6855 ZAR

This is a margin of about 1.6%.

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Winner: Remitly

Remitly will often offer much better exchange rates than Western Union.

Which is faster?

Remitly

Remitly offers an express option that will get your money to the destination near instantly, but it does come with a higher fee. If you opt for the cheaper economy option, you’re looking at a transfer time of two to five business days.

Western Union

Some Western Union transfers arrive the same day, while some take up to five business days. It also depends on the transfer and receiving method but in general, bank account to bank account transfers will take the longest and be the cheapest.

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Winner: Tie

Both Remitly and Western Union can transfer your money quickly, but they also take up to five business days for some transfers.

General features

Payment methods Receiving options Maximum and minimum transfers Transfer speeds Currencies
Remitly Bank transfer, debit card, credit card Bank account, cash pickup Minimum: $10

Maximum: $20,000

3 - 5 days 30+ currencies
Western Union Bank transfer, cash transfer, debit card, credit card Bank account, cash pickup, mobile wallet Minimum: $1

Maximum: $5,000

3 - 5 days 95+ currencies

Remitly

Once you have an account with Remitly, you log in on either the website or through the app, then enter the amount, currency, recipient’s information and your payment information. After that, Remitly will convert your money and transfer it to your recipient.

Western Union

After registration, open your profile and choose the “Send money” option. After you’ve entered your receiver’s details, which includes their bank name and code as well as their bank account number if a bank transfer, you choose your payment method. Once you’ve paid, Western Union will transfer the funds. You also have the option to send money in-store at an agent location.

Bottom line

Remitly offers both lower fees and better exchange rates, with the option to send money just as fast as Western Union. However, it doesn’t offer as many currencies as Western Union and this could be the deciding factor.

It’s a good idea to compare a range of international money transfer services before committing to any provider to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

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
USD 0 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 51.093 PHP 255,463 Offering no maximum and no minimum limit transfers with $0 fees. Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 50.00 51.298 PHP
253,924
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour USD 3.99 51.082 PHP 255,208 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 50.785 PHP 253,924 No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. 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.

Image source: Supplied, photographer: Remitly, Western Union

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