Remitly vs Western Union

We compare Remitly and Western Union to see which money transfer service comes out on top.

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 6 March 2020.

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
Remitly
Within minutes
From £1.49
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates for new customers

View details
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Western Union
Within an hour
From £2.90

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Which has lower fees?

Remitly

The Remitly fee structure is varied. Fees change depending on whether you do an “economy” or “express” transfer, what currency you’re transferring and how much you’re transferring.

Express transfers have higher fees, which tend to get higher the more you send. Slower economy transfers often stay quite low, around £1 to £3 no matter how much you send.

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 cash pick-up with Western Union.

Sending £100 to the Philippines
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee£2.99£0
Exchange rate1 GBP = 65.21 PHP1 GBP = 64.769 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP 6,521PHP 6,477
Receiver getsPHP 44 morePHP 44 less
Sending £1,000 to the Philippines
RemitlyWestern Union
Transfer fee£2.99£0
Exchange rate1 GBP = 65.21 PHP1 GBP = 64.769 PHP
Transfer speedMinutesMinutes
Total pesos receivedPHP 65,210PHP 64,769
Receiver getsPHP 441 morePHP 441 less

In both cases, Remitly ends up giving your receiver a few extra pesos in their pocket, even though Western Union doesn’t charge any fees in either transfer.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Remitly

Remitly will normally add a margin to the exchange rates which varies for each currency. The margin normally sits between 0.4% and 2.5%.

For example, if you want to send money to India:

  • Mid-market rate: 1 GBP = 96.55 INR
  • Remitly’s exchange rate: 1 GBP = 95.98 INR

This makes it a margin of 0.6%.

Remitly often runs promotions which 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 Brazil:

  • Mid-market rate: 1 GBP = 96.55 INR
  • Western Union’s exchange rate: 1 GBP = 94.71 INR

This makes it a margin of 1.9%.

Trophy icon
Winner: Remitly

Remitly will often offer much better exchange rates than Western Union with a smaller margin added on.

Which is faster?

Remitly

Remitly offers an “express” option which 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 pick-upMinimum: £1

Maximum: £15,000

Same day or up to 5 days30+ currencies
Western UnionBank transfer, cash transfer, POLi, debit card, credit cardBank account, cash pick-up, mobile walletMinimum: £1

Maximum: £5,000

24 hours95+ 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 and transfer.

Western Union

After registration, open your profile and choose the “send money” option. After you’ve entered your receiver’s details, which includes 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?

Table: sorted by promoted deals first
Our table below lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Choose if you want to send under or over £10,000, and you’ll be shown a list of services that can help you.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
Wise (TransferWise) for large transfers
Within an hour
From £3.75

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
TorFX
24 hours
£0

View details
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Currencies Direct
Within an hour
£0

View details
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
£0

View details
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
XE Money Transfer
Within minutes
£2
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ £25 Amazon voucher when you refer a friend

View details
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From £3.75

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
CurrencyFair
24 hours
€3
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Zero fees on your first 10 transfers

View details
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Azimo
Within minutes
From £0.99
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ First two transfers free for new customers.

View details
Azimo sends money directly to a bank account or over 280,000 cash pick-up points. It also has fast transfers to 50+ countries.
Remitly
Within minutes
From £1.49
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates for new customers

View details
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
WorldRemit
Within an hour
From £1.99
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.

View details
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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