Western Union vs MoneyGram

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

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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 21 February 2020.

Quick verdict

Compare Western Union to Moneygram

Table: sorted by a combination of service offering and the amount your recipient will receive

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
GBP 1 Same day GBP 0.00 1.155 EUR
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union, now with a new mobile app. Show details
GBP 1 Within an hour GBP 210.00 1.136 EUR
Fast cash pick-ups to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
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Which has 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; if you send the same amount for a cash pickup, you’ll be charged £3.99.

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Winner: 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£24.90£3.99
Exchange rate1 GBP = 1.78 AUD1 GBP = 1.87 AUD
Transfer speedWithin minutesWithin minutes
Total AUD receivedAUD $891AUD $938
Receiver getsAUD $47 lessAUD $47 more

Which 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 = 9.10 CNY
  • Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 GBP = 8.66 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 = 9.10 CNY
  • MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 GBP = 8.82 CNY

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Winner: Tie

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

Which is faster?

Western Union

Delivery speeds 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.

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Winner: 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.

-General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western UnionBank account, credit or debit card, cashBank transfer, cash pickup, ewalletMinimum: $1

Maximum: $5,000

Same day200+ countries
MoneyGramBank account, credit or debit card, cashBank transfer, cash pickup, other options by locationMinimum: $1

Maximum: $13,750

Within an hour190+ countries and 45+ currencies

Western Union

Western Union is a major player in the world of international transfers and allows you to send funds to more than 200 countries around the world. You can send money online, in person or via a mobile app, and the funds can be deposited into your recipient’s bank account or made available as cash for collection at more than 500,000 locations. To send a transfer online, you’ll need to register for a free account and then provide your recipient’s details and specify the amount you want to send.


MoneyGram also offers in-person and online transfers, and it boasts almost 350,000 agent locations in more than 190 countries around the world. It allows you to send cash pickup transfers and bank deposits, while home delivery, mobile wallet deposits and loading funds directly onto your recipient’s debit card are also available in some countries. To send a transfer online, register for a free account, specify your payment amount and then enter your recipient’s details.

Bottom line

Western Union and MoneyGram are quite similar. Exchange rates vary greatly between the two providers depending on where you’re sending money, so it’s worth getting a quote from each provider for your specific transaction.

MoneyGram offers faster transactions if you’re sending a bank transfer (only available in selected countries). But if it’s more important that your friends or family be able to pick up your money in cash, Western Union’s 500,000 agent locations worldwide beat MoneyGram’s 350,000.

These two services aside, you could do better with another money transfer specialist. 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.

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