XE Money Transfer vs Western Union
Should you go with XE or Western Union the next time you send money overseas?
Western Union and XE are two well-known financial services, but which provider is more cost effective when it comes to international money transfers? We compare them side by side to find out.
The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 2 March 2020.
Which has lower fees?
XE doesn’t charge fees on international money transfers. However, it does highlight that there may be some third-party charges, such as financial institution fees. To find out, check with the recipient bank.
Western Union’s fees are varied. They change currency to currency and depend on the transfer amount as well as the transfer methods. For example, if you’re transferring to a cash pick-up, the fees increase by a large amount. It’s important to get a price estimate using the Western Union calculator before committing so you know the exact fee.
As XE doesn’t charge fees, it’s the clear winner in this category.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending £1,000 and £3,000 to Japan
Let’s compare a £1,000 and £3,000 transfer to Japan to see which provider is the better choice and if the transfer amount makes a difference.
For the £1,000 transfer, we’ll look at a Western Union cash pick-up, while for the £3,000 transfer, we’ll look at a Western Union bank transfer. Keep in mind that these elements change the fees and rates for Western Union transfers.
Sending £1,000 to Japan
|Exchange rate||1 GBP = 137.04 JPY||1 GBP = 126.83 JPY|
|Transfer speed||1-2 days||Within minutes|
|Total Japanese yen received||JPY ¥137,046||JPY ¥126,832|
|Receiver gets||JPY ¥10,214 more||JPY ¥10,214 less|
Sending £3,000 to Japan
|Exchange rate||1 GBP = 137.04 JPY||1 GBP = 135.11 JPY|
|Transfer speed||Same day||4 days|
|Total Japanese yen received||JPY ¥411,139||JPY ¥405,354|
|Receiver gets||JPY ¥5,785 more||JPY ¥5,785 less|
XE clearly saves you money on both transactions, as Western Union’s fees are higher and its exchange rates aren’t as good.
Transferring the £1,000 with XE gives you JPY ¥10,214 (around £70) more and the £3,000 with XE gives you JPY ¥5,785 (approximately £40) more.
Note that the Western Union exchange rates and fees change depending on whether you’re doing a bank transfer or cash pick-up.
Which offers better exchange rates?
XE adds a margin to the exchange rate. The margin is normally between 0.4% and 1% on popular currencies, but it’s dependent on the currency. Keep in mind that the rate you’ll pay is different from what’s shown on the XE currency converter tool, which shows live market rates without the mark-up.
So for a transfer to Singapore:
- XE’s exchange rate: 1 GBP = 1.95 AUD
- Mid-market rate: 1 GBP = 1.96 AUD
This is a margin of 0.51%.
Western Union also adds a margin to its exchange rates, which changes greatly depending on the currency, payment method and the way the receiver would like to collect the money. The exchange rate on cash pick-ups is not as good as the exchange rate on bank transfers.
For the same example:
- Western Union’s exchange rate: 1 GBP = 1.92 AUD
- Mid-market rate: 1 GBP = 1.96 AUD
This ends up at a margin of 2%.
XE generally offers better exchange rates than Western Union. It can vary currency to currency, but across the board, XE’s rates appear to be more consistent.
Which is faster?
XE will confirm the estimated date when you set up your transfer, but the majority of transfers are made within the same day. Some less-popular currencies may take longer.
Western Union cash pick-ups are available within minutes; however, bank transfers can take up to five days. It’s dependent on the transfer and receiving method.
Both Western Union and XE can get your money there within the same day; however, it will be received in different ways. Western Union offers speedy cash pick-ups, but XE has faster bank transfers.
|Payment methods||Receiving options||Minimum and maximum transfers||Transfer speeds||Currencies|
|XE||Bank transfer||Bank transfer||Minimum: £1|
|Same day||40+ currencies|
|Western Union||Bank transfer, cash transfer, POLi, debit card, credit card||Bank account, cash pick-up, mobile wallet||Minimum: £1|
|Same day||100+ currencies|
Set up an account with XE, get a quote, and if you’re happy with that quote, you send XE the money. XE will then complete the transfer for you.
Register for a Western Union account. After that, you go into your profile and select the “send money” option. Once you’ve entered all the transfer details, you choose your payment method and pay Western Union. Once your payment is received, they’ll transfer the funds.
Overall, XE is typically a better choice when compared side by side to Western Union. Western Union’s fees and exchanges rates are so varied that you’ll often get stung by a hidden fee. On the other hand, XE adds a smaller mark-up to the exchange rate, plus it has no fees.
Looking for more options?Use our calculator below to compare additional providers and see if you can get a better rate elsewhere.
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