Western Union vs. World First

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

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World First has discontinued its services in the US effective January 30, 2019. The company will accept no new trades or transactions after this date, and inbound transfers received after 5 p.m. CT will be returned to the sender.

If you’re a personal or business customer who’s concerned about your account, call 737-226-5240 for assistance.

To find a suitable alternative, compare money transfer specialists to find the best rates, fees and turnaround you’re eligible for.

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.

Wester UnionWorld First
FeesStarts at $5$10 fee for transfers under $10,000Transfers of more than $10,000 are free
Exchange ratesUp to 6% above the mid-market rateSometimes less than 1% above the mid-market rate
SpeedVaries from minutes to 5+ daysVaries from same day to 4 days
Max Transfer AmountVaries by countryNo limit
Read ReviewRead Review

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.

Western Union

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.

World First

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.

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Winner: World First

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.

Compare other transfer services

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 0 1 - 2 days USD 1.99 18.676 MXN 93,345 Quick, affordable transfers around the world. Remitly also has an express option that can transfer your money in minutes for a higher fee. The cheaper option takes several days. Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 18.962 MXN 94,812 Offering no maximum and no minimum limit transfers with $0 fees. Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 50.00 19.058 MXN
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 18.978 MXN 94,812 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
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 18.867 MXN 94,335 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
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 18.867 MXN 94,335 No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
USD 5,000 1 day USD 0.00 18.867 MXN 94,335 Venstar will support you through the entire process of your international transactions, from start to finish. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

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.

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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.

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.

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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?

ProvidersPayment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
Western UnionBank account, credit or debit card, cash$1 minimum; maximum varies by method and paymentBank transfer, cash pickup, e-walletVaries from minutes to 5+ days200+ countries
World FirstBank account$250 minimum; no maximumBank transferVaries from same day to 4 days20+ currencies

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.

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.

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