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Western Union vs. InstaReM

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

Updated

Fact checked

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.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 0.867 EUR 4,319 The biggest name in money transfers can get your funds to friends, family, or businesses in almost every corner of the globe. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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 certain 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 certain hours, the company doesn’t make it clear which currencies and hours this applies to.

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 12 business days for a bank transfer.

InstaReM

InstaReM aims to consistently offer 12 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 then follow the steps to send your money. You can skip getting an account by visiting one of the many Western Union branches all over the world 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?

Use the calculator below to find providers in your area, and see how much it could cost to use each. Enter the details of your transfer to get started.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 0.881 EUR 4,403 No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.881 EUR 4,403 Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
For larger transfers, get no transaction fees and no maximum send limits.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 Same day USD 0.00 0.885 EUR 4,427 Offering no maximum and no minimum limit transfers with $0 fees. Go to site Show details
USD 2,000 1 day USD 0.00 0.881 EUR 4,403 $0 transfer fees with rates at never more than a 2% markup. Go to site Show details
USD 0 1 - 2 days USD 1.99 0.872 EUR 4,357 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 40.00 0.889 EUR
4,412
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.886 EUR 4,425 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
Image source: Supplied, photographer: Western Union, InstaReM

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