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Western Union vs. PayPal

We compare a popular provider with a digital giant to see which is better for overseas transfers.

Western Union is nearly synonymous with international money transfers, and if your recipient needs cash pickup, it might be the way to go. But depending on the currency, PayPal may offer a better exchange rate and fast transfer speeds. We compare Western Union and PayPal to help you pick the best option for your transfer.

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
PayPal
Within minutes
From $0

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Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
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How do they work?

Western Union and PayPal both offer straightforward online processes to exchange and send money around the world.

Western Union

Go to the Western Union site, enter how much you’re transferring and confirm how you’re sending it and how it should be received. You also have the option of visiting or calling an agent.

Once you’ve approved the exchange rate and fees you’ll pay, Western Union converts and delivers your money to your recipient’s bank account or for cash pickups at locations worldwide.

Read review: Western Union

PayPal

To transfer money through PayPal, you’ll need to create a free PayPal account. You then send a transfer to your recipient’s PayPal account, funding the transfer with your PayPal balance, bank account, credit or debit card or PayPal Credit. After your recipient receives the money, they can either keep the funds in their PayPal account or withdraw the money to their bank account.

Read review: PayPal

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Which offers lower fees?

Western Union

Figuring out much you’ll pay to transfer money internationally with Western Union can be muddied. Although most fees start at $5, they can be as much as $45 when paying by credit or debit card for cash pickup in certain countries. When sending money to high-traffic countries such as Mexico or India, however, some agents offer fee-free transfer options.

PayPal

How much it costs depends on how much money you send, where you send it and how you pay for the transfer.

When you pay for an international transfer using your PayPal balance or linked bank account, you’ll pay a fee between $0.99 to $4.99 — the fee is waived if you’re sending to the US.

When you pay with a credit or debit card, Amex Send Account or PayPal Credit, PayPal charges a fee of 2.9% of the transaction amount, a fixed fee based on currency and a fee ranging from $0.99 to $4.99 depending on how much is sent.

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Winner: It depends

If you’re sending smaller amounts, you could pay minimal fees with PayPal — again, depending on where you’re sending it. For larger amounts, Western Union may be the more ideal provider. For instance, sending $100 using Western Union can cost you as much as 10%, while PayPal transfers can come up to $8.

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Compare other transfer services

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 and save $30 on each transaction over $200. Valid for the first two transactions and till 31st July 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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Compare up to 4 providers

Code exclusive

WorldRemit: First Transfer FREE

You first transfer is free with WorldRemit when you use this coupon code. Send or pick up cash in the US or around the world.

Which offers better exchange rates?

To understand who offers better exchange rates, you’ll need to first look at the mid-market rate. This is the true exchange rate that averages the buying and selling rate of a global currency — and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves.

Western Union

Depending on the country you’re sending money to, a typical exchange rate at Western Union could be up to 6% above the mid-market rate. If you’re sending a large amount overseas, this means hundreds of dollars straight into Western Union’s coffers.

PayPal

To calculate the exchange rate it offers to customers, PayPal takes the wholesale rate it gets from its bank and adds a 2.5% margin. PayPal updates this rate twice a day.

But because you can’t know what PayPal’s wholesale rate is, it’s difficult to determine on your own what exchange rate you’ll get. The best way to find accurate exchange rates is by using PayPal’s currency exchange calculator, which you can find after you log in to your account.

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Winner: Paypal

For your typical overseas transfer, you’ll get a stronger exchange rate with PayPal.

Who’s faster?

Western Union

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.

PayPal

With PayPal, transferring among existing PayPal accounts is instantaneous. Payments from your PayPal account to another bank account are delivered by the next business day.

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Winner: PayPal

Whichever way you send your money, it’ll get to your recipient faster with PayPal. For deposits to an account, up to four days sooner.

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Who offers more options?

Payment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
Western UnionBank transfer, credit or debit card, cashMinimum and maximum varies by countryBank transfer, cash pickup, e-walletVaries from minutes to 5+ days200+ countries
PayPalBank transfer, credit or debit card, PayPal credit, Amex Send AccountMinimum varies by country (about $1.00); maximum $5,000 per transferPayPal transfer, bank transferVaries from minutes to 1 business day200+ countries
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Bottom line

That you’ll get stronger exchange rates with PayPal is clear-cut. But depending on how much you’re sending, you could pay higher transfer fees with PayPal. Then if your recipient doesn’t have a bank account, Western Union’s cash pickup may be your best option.

Ultimately, you’ll want to compare money transfer specialists to find a provider that’s right for your situation.

Frequently asked questions

Does Western Union work with PayPal?

No, you cannot pay for a Western Union transfer with PayPal. Read our guide to learn what payment methods Western Union supports.

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CondexAugust 12, 2018

    Which is cheaper WU or Paypal to send £60 from UK to Wife In Indonesian.
    1. From my PP balance
    2. From my Debit card reg with PP
    3. OR, the cheapest mode using any service available

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaAugust 23, 2018Staff

      Hi Condex,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      According to our page, the answer to your question is it depends on the amount you will send. Generally, if you are going to send a smaller amount, PayPal would be ideal. However, you will be better off with WU if you are going to send a bigger amount of money.

      So, among the three options you provided, there is really no straightforward answer. What I suggest is for you to try both WU and PayPal. Before checkout, both of these platforms will tell you how much it will cost to use their services. From there, you would be able to know which one would give you a better deal.

      Other than WU and PayPal, you may also explore other money transfer service providers.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

    Default Gravatar
    TINMarch 10, 2017

    Hello. I want to know how I can send money by PayPal using the Western Union. I mean I want to buy a book online and payment is either by PayPal or credit card and they don’t accept Western Union transfer so is there any way that I can send money using the Western Union?

      Default Gravatar
      LiezlJuly 28, 2017

      Hi Tin,

      Thanks for your question.

      I’m not sure if you can load money to your PayPal account through the Western Union. I suggest you visit the nearest Western Union agent to ascertain this.

      You may, however, add cash to your PayPal account via PayPal CASH. Simply log in to your account and select your preferred retailer. A custom barcode will be created and you can either print it out or present on your smartphone. You then bring your cash and barcode to the register at the retailer. Kindly note a service fee of $3.95 will apply. You can add anywhere between $20 and $500 to your PayPal account during each transaction. You’ll receive an email confirmation once your money has been added to your PayPal account.

      I hope this has helped.

      Best regards,
      Liezl

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