Western Union Vs MoneyGram

Trying to decide between Western Union and MoneyGram for your next international payment? This guide is here to help. We’ll cover:

  • A full Western Union Vs MoneyGram feature comparison
  • Which provider is cheaper?
  • Which is faster?
  • Which is safer?
  • Which gets better customer reviews?

Summary: Western Union and MoneyGram offer a very similar range of services. Both have extensive global branch networks as well as a strong digital presence. In our comparisons, Western Union came out cheapest - but which is best for you will come down to the details of your transfer. Both providers are licensed by the FCA.

Western Union Vs MoneyGram: side by side

FeatureWestern UnionMoneyGram
Send payments to 200 countries and territories, 130 currencies

200+ countries

Global agent network

500,000+ agents

400,000+ agents
Send direct to a bank account Y Y
Send for cash collection or delivery Y Y
Send to a mobile money account Y Y
Send to debit card N Y
Pay by cash at agent location Y Y
Pay online by card Y Y
Pay online by bank transfer Y N
Fully licensed and regulated Y Y
Business services Y Not in the UK

So, to summarise:

  • Western Union and MoneyGram both offer a very broad range of destination countries and currencies
  • Western Union has a larger agent network than MoneyGram
  • Both Western Union and MoneyGram offer payments direct to recipient bank accounts, for cash collection of delivery, and to mobile money accounts
  • MoneyGram allows transfers direct to a bank card while Western Union does not
  • Both providers allow payments in cash at an agent, and by card online - Western Union also allows payments online by bank transfer, while MoneyGram does not
  • Western Union offers business services in the UK, MoneyGram does not
  • Both providers are fully regulated in the UK
Click Here To Go To Western UnionRead the MoneyGram Review

The important bits

Western UnionMoneyGram
RatesRate includes a markup and may vary by brand, channel and location Exchange rate includes a markup and may change based on payment type
FeesVaries by destination, brand, channel and location Fees vary based on destination and payment type
SpeedCash collection and mobile money payments can be instant. Bank transfers can take 2 days Cash collection and mobile money payments can be instant. Bank transfers can take from a few hours to 2 days
ServiceOnline, in app, in person at a branch location and by phone Online, in app, in person at a branch location and by phone
SafetyFully regulated and licensed Fully regulated and licensed
Reviews (TrustPilot)

3.4 star, Average, 21,000+ reviews

4.4 star, Excellent, 5,000+ reviews

Rates: Both MoneyGram and Western Union add a markup to the exchange rate which may change depending on the payment type

Fees: Both providers have variable fees which are based on the destination country, pay in and pay out method, and whether you arrange your payment online or in person

Speed: Western Union and MoneyGram cash and mobile money payments can be instant - bank transfers take from a few hours to a day or two.

Service: Both providers offer service online, in-app, by phone and through an extensive branch network.

Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated

Reviews: MoneyGram has an Excellent review rating on Trustpilot - Western Union’s rating is Average

Pros and cons

Western UnionMoneyGram
Pros
  • Global network of 500,000+ agents
  • Broad range of pay in and pay out options
  • Arrange payments by by phone
  • 200 countries and territories covered
  • Cash and mobile money transfers can be available instantly
  • 400,000+ agents, including all UK Post Offices
  • Good selection of pay out options including pay to a bank card
  • 200 countries and territories covered
  • Cash and mobile money transfers can be available instantl
Cons
  • Fees aren’t necessarily market beating
  • Exchange rates vary by payment type, and include a markup
  • Not all services are available in all destination countries
  • Fees and exchange rates may not be the best available
  • You can’t fund a payment by bank transfer
  • Not all services are available in all destination countries

Western Union Vs MoneyGram: The verdict

Both Western Union and MoneyGram cover almost every country on earth, with an extensive range of pay in and pay out options, and a strong agent network.

When it comes to paying in, the key difference is that Western Union allows online payments to be funded by both cards and bank transfer - MoneyGram only accepts card payments.

When we look at paying out, Western Union has more agent locations which may make it more convenient for your recipient if you’re sending for cash collection. However, MoneyGram can offer a faster bank transfer service to some destinations, and also allows payments to a card.

The best way to decide is to model your transfer on both providers’ websites to get an indication of the services, fees and exchange rates available. However, it’s worth noting that for online transfers direct to bank accounts the fees and exchange rates available from Western Union and MoneyGram may not be the very best on the market.

Go To Western Union

About Western Union and MoneyGram

Western Union was founded in 1861, and has an agent network of 500,000+ locations across almost every country on the planet. As well as in-person payments, Western Union processes an average of 34 digital transactions every second. You can send payments in 130+ currencies with Western Union.

MoneyGram was set up in 1940 and now has around 400,000 agents around the world. As a personal customer, you can send payments through MoneyGram to 200 countries and territories around the globe. MoneyGram also offers business services in some select markets.

How do they work?

You can send a Western Union payment in person by visiting an agent location. You’ll need to take along a government issued ID, and can usually only pay in cash.

Or, you can send money online or in the Western Union app:

  1. Log into the Western Union desktop site or open the app
  2. Select the country you want to send to and enter the payment amount
  3. Select the services you require, and check the fees and rates
  4. Follow the prompts to enter the required information
  5. Select payment method, confirm and fund your transfer

Here’s how to send a payment online or in-app with MoneyGram:

  1. Log into your account or open the MoneyGram app
  2. Select a recipient from people you’ve already sent money to; or create a new recipient by entering their personal details
  3. Confirm how much you want to send, and how the recipient should receive the money
  4. Fund the payment, and your money is on the way

You can also send money from an agent location - or even start the transfer online, and then visit an agent location to make payment.

When you pay at an agent location you’ll need to take along a valid ID document, and you can usually only pay in cash.

Western Union Vs MoneyGram Fees

Western Union fees and exchange rates vary by brand, channel and location. That means you may be quoted a different fee and rate if you pay online or in the app, compared to at an agent - and one agent may charge you more or less than another.

MoneyGram fees also vary depending on where you’re sending money, the value of the transfer and how you want to pay.

Usually paying online or in an app will be cheaper than paying in cash at an agent. And paying by bank transfer - where this service is available - will often be cheaper than using a card. Paying by credit card may also mean you pay a cash advance fee levied by your card provider, which can push up costs even further.

Both Western Union and MoneyGram use an exchange rate markup to the mid-market rate to prepare customer quotes. How big this markup is can vary - and can make a difference to the overall costs of your transfer.

Western Union Vs MoneyGram: which is cheaper?

Choosing an international payment specialist is almost certainly cheaper than sending money using your bank. However, as fees and rates do vary, it still pays to compare a few providers before you pick.

Let’s look at how a few payments from Western Union and MoneyGram work out. This table looks at how much in GBP it’ll cost you to send a payment to a friend in EUR, paying online in the cheapest possible way, and having the money deposited into the recipient bank account:

Amount & CurrencyWestern UnionMoneyGramWinner?
GBP>1000 EUR 851.58 GBP 858.16 GBP Western Union
GBP> 5000 EUR 4,257.92 GBP 4,290.79 GBP Western Union

*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research - 25th November 2021

As you can see, in these comparisons, Western Union comes out on top. Don’t forget - fees and rates for different services do vary, so do check both options for your payment before you decide.

Go To Western Union

Western Union Vs MoneyGram: which is faster?

Both Western Union and MoneyGram cash collection and mobile money payments can arrive in minutes.

When it comes to transfers to a bank account, it all depends on where you’re sending money to. Western Union payments can take up to 2 days. MoneyGram payments can arrive in anything from an hour or two to a day or two. You’ll see an estimated delivery time when you set up your payment online or in the provider app.

Safety

Both Western Union and MoneyGram are fully licensed and regulated by the FCA in the UK, and other regulatory bodies around the world. They use both smart technology and thorough verification processes to keep customer money safe.

However, it’s worth noting that fraudsters do target cash collection services like Western Union and MoneyGram from time to time. That’s because payments for cash collection are so fast and can’t easily be traced once they’ve been picked up. You should only use either service to send money to people you know and trust, to be on the safe side.

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: Create your account online or in app with both Western Union and MoneyGram, or visit a branch location to make a payment
  • Making a transfer: Western Union payment options vary by destination country but usually include cash, bank transfer, credit or debit card and Klarna. MoneyGram allows card payments when arranging a transfer online and cash payments at an agent location.
  • Ways to send money: Send payments to your recipient’s bank or mobile money account, for cash collection or home delivery with both Western Union and MoneyGram. MoneyGram also offers payments to a recipient’s bank card. The exact pay out options vary by destination country for both providers.
  • Languages: Western Union and MoneyGram services are available through local agents around the world, with multilingual customer support online and by phone.
  • Minimum & maximum amounts: Sending limits can vary by destination country, and based on your account type.

Supported currencies

Western Union supports 130 currencies on major payment routes which cover over 200 countries and territories. MoneyGram supports payments to 200+ countries.

Conclusion

Both Western Union and MoneyGram offer payments to mobile money and bank accounts, for cash collection and delivery - and both cover 200+ countries around the world.

Which suits you best will come down to the details. If you’re sending for cash collection, price is important, but convenience is key. In our comparisons Western Union cost less - but choosing between these providers may simply be a question of which has an agent most local to your recipient.

If you’re sending an online or in-app payment to a bank account, it’s worth looking at the costs and delivery times of these providers, and comparing them against some alternatives. Because both use an exchange rate markup, you may be able to find cheaper options for your transfer - check out our cost comparison engine to get some alternative options and pick the best for you.

Click Here To Go To Western UnionRead the MoneyGram Review

FAQs

Is Western Union or MoneyGram cheaper?

It’s worth comparing the pricing for both providers. In our comparison, Western Union came out on top, but the costs vary depending on the payment type.

Is Western Union or MoneyGram faster?

Both can have cash collection payments ready within minutes. When it comes to bank transfers, which is faster depends on where you’re sending money to. Estimated delivery times are available on both providers’ websites.

How many currencies do Western Union and MoneyGram support?

Western Union supports 130 currencies, and both Western Union and MoneyGram offer transfers to 200+ countries.

By Ileana Ionescu
Updated 5 May 2022