Western Union vs. World First: Who has cheaper transfers? | finder.com
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Western Union vs. World First

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We compare a well-established company with an online upstart to help you learn which is best for your next transfer overseas.

If you’re new to the world of international money transfers, you may be overwhelmed by your options. It’s no longer a game for only tried-and-true players like Western Union. Newer companies like World First promise to undercut the competition to earn your business.Overall, World First will save you on exchange rates and fees, while Western Union has a few more options for delivery.

Western Union logo money transfers Worldfirst sites like
Western Union World First
Fees Starts at $5 $10 fee for transfers under $10,000Transfers of more than $10,000 are free
Exchange rates Up to 6% above the mid-market rate Sometimes less than 1% above the mid-market rate
Speed Varies from minutes to 5+ days Varies from same day to 4 days
Max Transfer Amount Varies by country No limit
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Western Union and World First: How they work

Western Union and World First both offer easy online transferring to get your money where it needs to be.

With Western Union, you go to its site, enter how much you’re transferring and to where, and see how much you’ll pay for the exchange. (You also have the option of visiting an office or calling to initiate a transfer.) Once complete, Western Union converts and delivers your money to a bank account or for cash pickup at locations worldwide.

With World First, you go to its site, enter how much money you’ll be transferring, and send your funds to World First. World First then converts your currency and sends it to your recipient, who collects it via bank transfer.

Who offers lower fees?

Western Union

Fees vary depending on how much you’re transferring, how you’re sending it and where you’re sending it to. Fees start at $5 but can soar to up to $45 when paying by credit or debit card for cash pickup in certain countries.

World First

World First charges a flat $10 fee for transfers under $10,000. Transfers of more than $10,000 are free.

For business transfers, World First bases its fees on how frequently you use its services.

Exclusive offer: $0 fees with World First

Because World First is a trusted partner of finder.com, you can avoid fees on all qualifying transfers. Enjoy competitive exchange rates and pay $0 in fees by initiating a transfer through our site.

  • Winner

While Western Union offers a lower starting fee of $5, World First’s transparency and flat $10 fee make it easier to estimate what you’ll pay.

Case study: $1,000 to Spain

Say you want to send $1,000 to you daughter who’s studying abroad in Spain. Here’s what an online bank-to-bank transfer would like with Western Union and World First.

Western UnionWorld First
Transfer fee$5$10
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.88 EUR1 USD = 0.95 EUR
Transfer speed6 days4 days
Total received880 EUR950 EUR

You can save $5 on transfer fees with World First (though you can enjoy a $0 transfer fee with our exclusive offer), and your kid receives about 70 more euro over Western Union. And in two fewer days.

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.

We’ll look at the rates Western Union and World First offer compared to the mid-market rate.

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 that goes straight into Western Union’s pocket.

Let’s 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 = 0.88 EUR

World First

World First takes a smaller margin than Western Union — sometimes less than 1% above 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
  • World First’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.95 EUR

World First also provides an online side-by-side comparison against the exchange rates your bank might offer.

  • Winner: World First

Sending $1,000 to Spain with World First results in about 70 more euros to your recipient over Western Union. A much stronger exchange rate makes World First the clear winner.

World First

Why we like: World First

Pay $0 fees to transfer money in more than 140 currencies to more than 45 countries overseas.

Convenient money transfers with excellent customer service and no transfer fee every day:

  • Enjoy competitive exchange rates.
  • Lock in low rates with forward contracts and limit orders.
  • Get weekly updates on the market.

    Who’s faster?

    Western Union

    Delivery speed varies 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.

    World First

    Your quickest option is a same-day transfer. However, World First advises that you should allow four days for a US payment to clear.

    • Winner: Tie

    Your average transfer will likely take about the same time with both services, whether you pay for expedited services or not. However, World First has a slight edge given Western Union’s possible delivery of five-plus days.

    Who offers more options?

    Providers 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
    World First Bank account $250 minimum; no maximum Bank transfer Varies from same day to 4 days 20+ currencies

    Bottom line

    It’s no joke: World First has become a major competitor in the international money transfer market. If cost is your main concern, World First’s transfer fees and competitive exchange rates will save you money over Western Union. It can also be a few days faster. Ultimately, you’ll need to compare your options to find the service that’s right for you.

    Frequently asked questions

    See how Western Union and World First compare to other money transfer companies

    WorldRemit Deals (US) WorldRemit Deals (US)
    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.

    Last verified

    I want to send

    to

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    USD 0 3 - 5 days USD 0.00 20.066 MXN 100,332 Transfer up to $500,000 with no minimums and no fees. Go to site Show details
    USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 20.056 MXN 100,281 No maximum limit, no fees and competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
    USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 7.00 20.077 MXN
    100,242
    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 20.036 MXN 100,100 Use promo code FINDER to send your first transfer with no fee.
    Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.
    Go to site Show details
    1 - 2 days USD 0.00 20.016 MXN 100,079 Get live quotes on exchange rates and take advantage of no transaction fees with no limits on transfers. Go to site Show details

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    US International Money Transfers Offers

    Important Information*
    XE Money Transfer

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    WorldRemit International Money Transfers

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    Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.

    World First

    No maximum limit, no fees and competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies.

    TransferWise

    Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks.

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    US International Money Transfers Offers

    Important Information*
    XE Money Transfer

    Transfer up to $500,000 with no minimums and no fees.

    WorldRemit International Money Transfers

    Use promo code FINDER to send your first transfer with no fee.
    Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.

    World First

    No maximum limit, no fees and competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies.

    TransferWise

    Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks.

    Go to site