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Western Union vs. Instarem

Compare one of the oldest and one of the newest money transfer services side by side.

Western Union has been sending money since 1871. But Instarem was built in a digital age, founded in 2014 to move money online. See what a difference this makes to fees, exchange rates and transfer speeds by comparing Western Union and Instarem side by side.

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
Instarem
Within an hour
$1

View details
Exclusive: Use code GET60 to save 30 USD on each transaction over 200 USD. Valid for the first two transactions and till 30 November 2021. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
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Which has lower fees?

Western Union

Western Union fees start at $0, but often run up to over $10 for standard transfers. In certain situations, such as when paying for a large transfer to certain destinations with a credit card, the fees could even exceed $100.

Instarem

Instarem fees range from 0.25% to 1% depending on the currency and amount. For example, you’ll pay a 0.5% fee to send money to Canada or a 0.75% fee to send to China.

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Winner: Instarem

Instarem’s fees are lower than Western Union’s fees across almost all transfers.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $500 and $5,000 to Indonesia

Here’s how much it may cost to send $500 and $5,000 to Indonesia with Western Union and Instarem. The Western Union fees and rates assume you’re using a debit card and paying slightly more to send for a cash pickup within minutes, rather than a slower transfer which can take up to two business days.

Sending $500 to Indonesia
Western UnionInstarem
Transfer fee$42$2.50
Exchange rate1 USD = 13,419 IDR1 USD = 14,245 IDR
Transfer speedWithin minutes1-2 business days
Total rupiah receivedIDR6,145,902.00IDR7,086,887.50
Receiver getsIDR940,985.50 lessIDR940,985.50 more
Sending $5,000 to Indonesia
Western UnionInstarem
Transfer fee$165$25
Exchange rate1 USD = 13,419 IDR1 USD = 14,245 IDR
Transfer speedWithin minutes1-2 business days
Total rupiah receivedIDR64,880,865IDR70,868,875
Receiver getsIDR5,988,010 lessIDR5,988,010 more

Across both transfer sizes, Instarem has lower fees and far better rates. On a transfer of $500, you’d end up getting almost IDR950,000 more with Instarem, equivalent to around $65. On a $5,000 transfer, this grows to over a US$400 difference.

Western Union fees are lower on slower transfers, but not enough to make them a more affordable option. For example, sending $5,000 to a bank account in Indonesia would give your recipient INR69,095,000 — which still works out to about US$125 less than they’d get with Instarem.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Western Union

Western Union’s exchange rate margins vary widely depending on the currency, but can range from about 1% to over 10% in some situations.

Here’s an example of USD to GBP:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.7672 GBP
  • Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.7187 GBP

Instarem

Instarem only offers zero-margin transfers for some currencies and during specific hours. The company doesn’t make it clear which currencies and hours this applies to.

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Winner: Tie

Although Western Unions exchange rates are generally weaker than most competitors, Instarem’s unclear rates make this category a tie. Instarem only offers zero-margin transfers for some currencies and during specific hours, the company doesn’t make it clear which currencies and hours are applicable.

Which is faster?

Western Union

Western Union can offer transfers within minutes when you pay a little bit extra for a cash pickup on the recipient’s end. Otherwise, it usually takes one to two business days for a bank transfer.

Instarem

Instarem aims to consistently offer one- to two-day speeds for its transfers.

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Winner: Western Union

Cheaper transfers are equally fast with both Western Union and Instarem, but Western Union’s express transfer options allow your money to arrive within minutes.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMinimum and maximum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western UnionCash payment, credit card, debit card, bank transferCash pickup, bank transfer, mobile walletMinimum: $1

Maximum: $5,000

Within minutes for cash pickup

3–5+ days for bank transfers

95+ currencies
InstaremBank transferBank transferMinimum: $50

Maximum: No limit

12 days15+ currencies

Western Union

To send money online with Western Union, sign up for an account and follow the steps to send your money. You can skip getting an account by visiting one of the many Western Union branches found worldwide or paying over the phone.

Instarem

You can only send money online with Instarem, which requires creating an account. Once you create an account you can enter the recipient’s details and then send your money by making a bank transfer.

Bottom line

Western Union can get your money to its destination faster, albeit at extra cost. But to get the best deal on an overseas transfer, compare other transfer providers before getting started.

Looking for more options?

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
OFX
24 hours
$0

View details
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Dunbridge Financial
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours
$0

View details
Dunbridge Financial offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on transfers to more than 120 countries.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally £5,000)

View details
Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
XE
Within minutes
$3

View details
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
WorldRemit
Within an hour
From $1.99

View details
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Instarem
Within an hour
$1

View details
Exclusive: Use code GET60 to save 30 USD on each transaction over 200 USD. Valid for the first two transactions and till 30 November 2021. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers

View details
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
MoneyGram
Within an hour
From $0

View details
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
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