Western Union vs MoneyGram

Discover where to find the best deal on your next overseas transfer.

Neither Western Union nor MoneyGram is the cheapest or fastest option out there – but they are the most visible. Which one is best for you depends on how much you’re transferring and how fast you need the money to arrive.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 3 March 2021.

Western Union and MoneyGram at a glance

Western UnionMoneyGram
Overall rating★★★★★★★★★★
Arrange transfers online
Arrange transfers through app
Arrange transfers by phone
BasedDenver, US
FCA reference436869502639

Compare Western Union to Moneygram

1 - 2 of 2
Name Product Filter values Finder score Pay by Receiving options Fastest transfer Fee (pay by bank transfer) Key benefits
Western Union
Cash, Credit card, Debit card, Bank transfer
Cash pickup location, Bank account, Mobile wallet
Within minutes
From £0
Cash, Credit card, Debit card, Bank transfer
Cash pickup location, Bank account, Mobile wallet, Home delivery
Within minutes
From £0

Who offers lower fees?

Western Union

Figuring out how much you’ll pay to transfer money internationally can be difficult. Although many fees start at around £2, they can be tens or even hundreds of pounds when paying by credit or debit card for cash pick-up in certain countries. However, fee-free transfers are available to selected destinations, including India and the Philippines, when you pay for your transaction with POLi.


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 not easy to find out upfront how much you’ll pay. As an example, it’s free to send £1,000 to a bank account in India; but if you send the same amount for a cash pickup, you’ll be charged £3.99.

Trophy iconWinner: Tie

There are several factors that affect transaction fees with Western Union and MoneyGram, so there’s no clear winner here.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending £500 to Australia

Western UnionMoneyGram
Transfer fee£4.90£3.99
Exchange rate1 GBP = 1.665 AUD1 GBP = 1.736 AUD
Transfer speedWithin minutesWithin minutes
Total AUD receivedAUD $832.50AUD $868.11
Receiver getsAUD $35.61 lessAUD $35.61 more

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 where 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 that goes straight to Western Union.

We’ll use the example of a transfer to Chinese yuan (CNY):

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 GBP = 9.05 CNY
  • Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 GBP = 8.59 CNY

MoneyGram also skews exchange rates for a profit. Depending on where you’re sending your money, the exchange rate could be 6% 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 China:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 GBP = 9.05 CNY
  • MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 GBP = 8.86 CNY

Trophy iconWinner: Tie

Exchange rate margins vary greatly depending on where you’re sending your money, so we couldn’t split Western Union and MoneyGram here.

Coverage and payout

Western UnionMoneyGram
Coverage rating★★★★★★★★★★
Number of available currencies141
(including: EUR, USD, CNY, INR, PHP, PKR, ZAR)
(including: EUR, USD, CNY, INR, PHP, PKR, ZAR)
Number of supported countries210201
Cash pick-up facility
Speed rating★★★★★★★★★★
Fastest transfer speed24 hoursWithin minutes

Who is faster?

Delivery speeds with Western Union vary with transfer options. When you send a cash pickup transfer from an agent location or online, your transfer could be delivered in minutes (but will cost more). However, sending money to a bank account can take up to five days, depending on the country.

Like Western Union, delivery speed with MoneyGram varies by transfer option, with cash transfers in person delivered in minutes (again with higher costs). However, bank deposits are typically processed on the same or next day.

Trophy iconWinner: MoneyGram

There’s no question that these services are similar. Both allow you to send cash to a loved one overseas within minutes, but MoneyGram has shorter processing times for bank deposits than Western Union.

Payment methods

Western UnionMoneyGram
Bank transfer
Debit card
Credit card

Forex features

Western UnionMoneyGram
Facilities rating★★★★★★★★★★
Recurring transfer facility
Forward contracts facility
Limit orders facility
Stop loss orders facility
Customer servicePhone, Live chat, EmailPhone, Email
Personal account manager
Price matching facility
We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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