Trying to decide between Western Union and MoneyGram for your next international payment? This guide is here to help. We’ll cover:
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.
|Send payments to||200 countries and territories, 130 currencies|
|Global agent network|
|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:
|Rates||Rate includes a markup and may vary by brand, channel and location||Exchange rate includes a markup and may change based on payment type|
|Fees||Varies by destination, brand, channel and location||Fees vary based on destination and payment type|
|Speed||Cash 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|
|Service||Online, in app, in person at a branch location and by phone||Online, in app, in person at a branch location and by phone|
|Safety||Fully regulated and licensed||Fully regulated and licensed|
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
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.
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.
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:
Here’s how to send a payment online or in-app with MoneyGram:
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 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.
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 & Currency||Western Union||MoneyGram||Winner?|
|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.
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.
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.
Western Union supports 130 currencies on major payment routes which cover over 200 countries and territories. MoneyGram supports payments to 200+ countries.
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.
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.
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.
Western Union supports 130 currencies, and both Western Union and MoneyGram offer transfers to 200+ countries.