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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
$50 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.821 EUR 4,105 InstaReM offers quick and simple international money transfers with the ability to earn loyalty points. Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 0.805 EUR 4,010 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 Union InstaReM
Transfer fee $42 $2.50
Exchange rate 1 USD = 13,419 IDR 1 USD = 14,245 IDR
Transfer speed Within minutes 1-2 business days
Total rupiah received IDR6,145,902.00 IDR7,086,887.50
Receiver gets IDR940,985.50 less IDR940,985.50 more
Sending $5,000 to Indonesia
Western Union InstaReM
Transfer fee $165 $25
Exchange rate 1 USD = 13,419 IDR 1 USD = 14,245 IDR
Transfer speed Within minutes 1-2 business days
Total rupiah received IDR64,880,865 IDR70,868,875
Receiver gets IDR5,988,010 less IDR5,988,010 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 methods Receiving options Minimum and maximum transfers Transfer speeds Currencies
Western Union Cash payment, credit card, debit card, bank transfer Cash pickup, bank transfer, mobile wallet Minimum: $1

Maximum: $5,000

Within minutes for cash pickup

3–5+ days for bank transfers

95+ currencies
InstaReM Bank transfer Bank transfer Minimum: $50

Maximum: No limit

12 days 15+ 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
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.818 EUR 4,088 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
$1 Same day USD 0.00 0.822 EUR 4,111 XE offers fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
$10 Within an hour USD 1.99 0.809 EUR 4,046 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
$1 1 - 2 days USD 40.00 0.826 EUR
4,097
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.822 EUR 4,109 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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