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Western Union vs. MoneyGram
Take a look at how MoneyGram and Western Union’s money transfer services stack up against each other.
MoneyGram leans slightly cheaper and averages faster transfer speeds than Western Union – but your experience is likely to vary depending on your specific transfer. As there are so many variables – including transfer type, destination and amount – you’ll want to compare MoneyGram and Western Union against each other to see which is the best fit for you.
Compare Western Union vs. MoneyGram
How they work
The process to transfer money overseas with Western Union is nearly the same as with MoneyGram. So much so, we can describe them both at the same time: You go to their sites, enter the amount you’re sending, its destination and see how you’ll pay for the transfer.
Both services also give the option to call, visit an office or use a mobile app to transfer money. After the transaction is complete it converts and delivers your money to a bank account or makes it available for cash pickup at any location worldwide.
Who offers lower fees?
Figuring out how much you’ll pay to transfer money internationally is tricky. Although most fees start at $5, they can be as much as $100 when paying by credit or debit card for cash pickup in certain countries. But when sending money to high-traffic countries such as Mexico or India, agents offer free transfer options.
Fees vary depending on how much you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and the country you’re sending it to. Unless you actually initiate a transfer, it’s challenging to find out how much you’ll pay.
For example, to send $1,000 to India, you won’t pay anything in fees for a bank transfer, but you’ll pay $3.99 for a cash pickup. To compare, sending $1,000 to Brazil, once again you pay anything for a bank account to bank account transfer, but you’ll pay $4.99 for a cash pickup. This climbs to $34.99 if you pay by credit card.
Whether MoneyGram or Western Union offers lower fees may depend on where you’re sending the money, how you choose to pay and how your recipient chooses to receive the cash.
Who offers better exchange rates?
Depending on the country you’re sending money to, a typical exchange rate markup at Western Union can range between 2% to 4%. If you’re sending a large amount overseas, this means hundreds of dollars straight into Western Union’s coffers.
We’ll use the example of a transfer to euros (EUR):
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.90 EUR
- Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.88 EUR
MoneyGram also skews exchange rates for a profit. Depending on where you’re sending your money, the exchange rate could be 5% or more above the mid-market rate. Like Western Union, this means hundreds of dollars on a large transfer is diverted to MoneyGram’s pockets.
So if you’re sending money to Europe:
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.90 EUR
- MoneyGram’s exchange rate may be 1 USD = 0.88 EUR
Both MoneyGram and Western Union are pretty equal when it comes to the markup they apply to their exchange rates.
Who has faster transfer speeds?
Delivery speeds vary with transfer options. At an agent location or by phone, your transfer could be delivered in minutes – at higher costs. Your cheapest options could take five days or longer, depending on the country.
Like Western Union, delivery speed with MoneyGram also varies by transfer option, with cash transfers in person or by phone delivered in minutes, again with higher costs. MoneyGram’s cheaper options take two to four business days.
Winner: It depends
These services are similar enough that the time it takes to deliver your cash will depend on the country, your payment method and how your recipient chooses to receive the transfer.
Who offers more transfer options?
Western Union has an array of transfer options, many of which take advantage of its substantial global network. Customers can choose from the following ways to receive their money:
- Cash (in-store)
- Bank account
- Mobile wallet
- Prepaid card
- Pay your bills
As an established money transfer provider, MoneyGram utilises its extensive network of agent locations to provide several options for how your intended recipient can get their money:
- Bank account.
- Cash pickup.
- Debit card.
- Mobile wallet.
- Doorstep delivery.
- Pay your bills.
- Send money to an inmate.
Although both have multiple transfer options, MoneyGram offers slightly more unique services like sending money to an inmate.
Who has better coverage?
With over 500,000 agent locations worldwide in more than 200 countries, Western Union is one of the world’s largest money transfer providers. In terms of how much a customer can send, this will depend on the transfer destination, their transaction history and the type of payment they are making.
MoneyGram has around 350,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories. It does have limits to how much money customers can send on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. As these can change due to market conditions, it’s best to check before confirming your transfer.
Winner: Western Union
Both have a wide reach and an established network, but Western Union narrowly pulls ahead with its number of agent locations available worldwide.
Who has more payment options?
Each of Western Union’s payment options come with their own set of limits, fees and restrictions. You can choose to pay with a credit or debit card, bank account, with cash (in-store) or with a wire transfer.
If you are making an online money transfer, then you can pay through your bank account, or with a credit or debit card. When making an in-person transfer you can also pay with cash.
MoneyGram and Western Union are both evenly matched when it comes to payment methods. Both stand out for the facility to make cash payments in person.
Which is better: Western Union or MoneyGram?
Western Union and MoneyGram are pretty similar in terms of fees charged, exchange rates and transfer options. But if your recipient needs to pick up your transfer as cash, Western Union’s 500,000 agent locations worldwide beats MoneyGram’s 350,000.
These two services aside, you could almost always do better with another money transfer specialist. Be sure to compare your options to find a provider that’s perfect for your situation.
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