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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

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
$0 1 - 2 days USD 1.99 47.497 PHP 237,389 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 47.254 PHP 235,327 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
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee$3.99$4.99
Exchange rate1 USD = 50.5800 PHP1 USD = 49.5864 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP₱4,856.19PHP₱4,711.20
Receiver getsPHP₱144.99 morePHP₱144.99 less
Sending $1,000 to the Philippines
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee$3.99$10
Exchange rate1 USD = 50.5800 PHP1 USD = 49.5864 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP₱50,378.19PHP₱49,090.54
Receiver getsPHP₱1,287.65 morePHP₱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 methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
RemitlyBank transfer, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pickupMinimum: $0

Maximum: $20,000

1 - 2 days30+ currencies
Western UnionBank transfer, cash transfer, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pickup, mobile walletMinimum: $1

Maximum: $5,000

3 - 5 days95+ 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
$1 Same day USD 0.00 48.248 PHP 241,240 XE offers fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
$0 1 - 2 days USD 1.99 47.497 PHP 237,389 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 1 - 2 days USD 50.00 48.466 PHP
239,907
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 48.263 PHP 241,120 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
$50 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 48.175 PHP 240,877 InstaReM offers quick and simple international money transfers with the ability to earn loyalty points. 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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