We compare a tried-and-true company with a newer digital provider to help you learn who’s best for your next transfer overseas.
At some point, you’ll have a need for fast and easy international money transfers. You’ve certainly heard of Western Union, which has been around for more than a century. But online companies like WorldRemit are establishing a name for themselves with many unique benefits that help you save money.
|Fees||Fees start at $5||$3.99 (for most countries)|
|Exchange rates||Up to 6% above the mid-market rate||Less than 1% above the mid-market rate|
|Speed||Varies from minutes to 5+ days||Varies from minutes to 3 days|
|Max Transfer Amount||Varies by method and payment||Varies by country and method of payment|
|Read review||Read review|
Western Union and WorldRemit: How they work
Western Union and WorldRemit both offer ways to transfer your money online.
To use Western Union, 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, calling or using a mobile app 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 WorldRemit, you go to its site, enter how much money you’ll be transferring and then send your funds to WorldRemit. When creating your transfer, you provide a mobile number for both yourself and your recipient, as well as a copy of your personal ID. Once approved, WorldRemit converts your currency and sends it to your recipient, who collects it via bank transfer, cash pickup or Mobile Money.
Which offers lower fees?
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. When sending money to high-traffic countries such as Mexico or India, some agents offer fee-free transfer options.
Transfer fees for WorldRemit can vary slightly depending on where you’re sending you’re money, but the fee for most countries is $3.99. The method you use to send money will depend on the country to which you’re sending.
Although you’re limited somewhat on how you can send and receive money using WorldRemit, it has a clear leg up on Western Union when it comes to transfer fees.
Compare other transfer services
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.
We’ll look at the rates that Western Union and WorldRemit offer compared to the mid-market rate.
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.
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 = 0.88 EUR
WorldRemit 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
- WorldRemit’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 0.92 EUR
Competitive exchange rates make WorldRemit the clear winner. Send $500 to France with WorldRemit instead of Western Union would give your recipient nearly 20 more euros to play with.
Which is faster?
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.
Sending money via bank transfer typically takes one to three business days to most banks, although a few banks offer instant transfers. Sending cash via Mobile Money or airtime top-up are available immediately.
While transfer speeds can vary for both Western Union and WorldRemit depending on transfer method and your recipient’s country, WorldRemit edges out Western Union in bank-to-bank transfer speeds and costs.
Which 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|
|WorldRemit||Bank account,credit or debit card||$1 minimum; maximum varies by country and method of payment||Bank transfer,cash pickup,Mobile Money,airtime top-up||Varies from minutes to 3 days||100+ countries|
Case study:$1,000 to France
Say you want to send $1,000 to you godchild in France. Here’s what an online bank-to-bank transfer would like with Western Union and WorldRemit.
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 0.88 EUR||1 USD = 0.92 EUR|
|Transfer speed||6 days||3 days|
|Total received||888 EUR||920 EUR|
MoneyGram takes out Travelex in this example. The exchange rate and the fee are better, getting Erin’s mom $60 pesos more and costing Erin $5 less. However, with Travelex’s International Payments Price Promise, you may be able to swing a lower rate and fee if you notify the company of MoneyGram’s lower offer.
Western Union offers more flexibility in terms of transfer methods, but WorldRemit comes out on top when comparing nearly every other aspect of your money transfer. If low fees, competitive exchange rates and quick transfers are your top priorities, WorldRemit is the clear choice.
Of course, it’s can be help to compare your options to find the service that best fits your individual needs.