We compare the well-known Western Union with Ria, a growing international money transfer service that could save you money.
When you need to transfer money overseas, you now have many options to choose from. Western Union is perhaps the most well-known international money transfer service, but newer companies like Ria offer competitive rates to save you money.
Western Union and Ria: How they work
Western Union and Ria both offer online and in-person transfers.
To transfer money online with Western Union, visit its site, enter the amount you’re transferring and to where, and confirm how much to pay for the exchange. Once complete, Western Union converts and delivers your money to a bank account or for cash pickup at locations worldwide.
To transfer money online with Ria, go to its site, enter the amount you’d like to transfer and to which country, and choose your payment and payout methods. On the same page, you’ll see the exchange rate and transfer fee for your particular exchange.
Who offers lower fees?
Western Union’s fees vary depending on how much you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and where you’re sending it to. Most transfer fees start at $5, but they can skyrocket up to $45 if you’re paying by credit or debit card or for cash pickup in certain countries. However, some transfers to high-traffic countries such as Mexico or India offer no-fee transfer options.
Money transfer fees with Ria also vary by payment method, country and the amount you’re sending. The cheapest way to send money is by bank transfer, with a typical fee that’s lower than $5. However, fees for credit card payments can be as high as $45.
Western Union and Ria offer similar transfer fee options. Although if you’re planning to pay by bank transfer, Ria may have a slight edge.
Who 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.
Let’s take a look at the rates that Western Union and Ria offer compared to the mid-market rate.
Depending on the country you’re sending money to, a typical exchange rate at Western Union can be up to 6% above the mid-market rate. This means that If you’re sending a large amount overseas, hundreds of dollars go straight into Western Union’s pocket.
We’ll use the example of a transfer to euros (EUR):
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.96 EUR
- Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.86 EUR
Ria takes a much smaller margin than Western Union, with rates that can be less than 1% on the mid-market rate.
Using the same example of a transfer to euros (EUR):
- If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.96 EUR
- Ria’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.92 EUR
Ria’s competitive exchange rates make it the clear winner here.
Western Union’s delivery speeds vary, depending on your 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.
Ria’s transfer speed also depends on the method that you choose to send your money. When you use your credit or debit card, the exchange typically takes 15 minutes or less. Transfers from your bank account can take up to four days.
Although Western Union and Ria have similar delivery options, most transfers with Ria using your bank account will be delivered in four days or less without having to pay extra for faster service, giving Ria a leg up.
Who offers more options?
|Payment Methods||Minimum and maximum transfers||Delivery methods||Transfer speeds||Countries and currencies|
|Western Union||Bank account, credit or debit card, cash||$1 minimum; maximum varies by method and payment||Bank transfer, cash pickup, e-wallet||Varies from minutes to 5+ days||200+ countries|
|Ria||Bank account,credit or debit card,cash||$1 minimum; $2,999 a day or $7,999 a month maximum||Bank transfer, cash pickup||15 minutes to 4 business days||144 countries|
Send $1,000 to Italy
Imagine that you’re sending $1,000 to your aunt who has recently moved to Italy. Here’s what an online bank-to-bank transfer would be with Western Union and Ria.
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 0.86 EUR||1 USD = 0.92 EUR|
|Transfer speed||6 days||4 days or less|
|Total received||864.81 EUR||920.60 EUR|
With Ria, you get a stronger exchange rate, and your aunt gets 55 euros more — and at least two days sooner.
Western Union and Ria offer similar options, but you save money with Ria’s competitive exchange rates and faster delivery speeds.
Of course, you’ll want to compare your options to find the service that best fits your individual needs.