5 Best Western Union Alternatives for Sending Money Abroad - 2024

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
30 January 2024

Western Union lets you send money in person, online or in an app, to more or less any country in the world. It’s an impressive service, with a good range of payout options including bank deposits and cash collection. However, it’s not always the cheapest - often because of extra fees rolled into the exchange rates offered. It’s definitely worth comparing the rate you’re quoted against a Western Union alternative to see if there are better deals out there. This guide can help, with some great ideas for sites like Western Union which you might want to consider.

Join us as we walk through 5 alternatives to Western Union, how they compare and why they might be better than Western Union.

In our comparison we picked out the following Western Union alternatives you may want to consider:

  • Wise - Mid-market exchange rates and fast - or even instant - transfers

  • OFX - No transfer fee and 24/7 phone support if you need it

  • TorFX - Known for great customer service and personal account management

  • Remitly - Good choice for cash collection or home delivery

  • WorldRemit - Popular option with different pay out methods including cash collection and airtime top up

Alternatives to Western Union comparison 

To get started let’s look at some Western Union alternatives which may suit your specific needs.  To compare, we've taken into account their speed, transparency, ease of use and price when transferring money abroad. We’ll look at each of these money transfer services like Western Union in more detail next.

ProviderExchange rateSpeedConvenience
WiseMid-market exchange rate50%+ of payments are instant, 90% arrive in 24 hours
  • Mobile app: Yes

  • Customer support: 24/7 in app and by email

  • Languages: Multiple languages supported for in app chat support and email help

OFXExchange rate includes a markupMost transfers are received within 24 hours
  • Mobile app: Yes

  • Customer support: By phone and email

  • Languages: App available in English only, global support where OFX has office locations

TorFXExchange rate includes a markup1 - 2 working days
  • Mobile app: Yes

  • Customer support: By phone and email

  • Languages: App available in English only

RemitlyExchange rate includes a markupVaries by destination and payment type
  • Mobile app: Yes

  • Customer support: By chat and phone

  • Languages: English, French and Spanish

WorldRemitExchange rate includes a markupCash collection payments can be more or less instant, bank deposits may take a little longer
  • Mobile app: Yes

  • Customer support: by phone, via the app and by email

  • Languages: 6 languages supported by a 24/7 call centre 

As you can see, there’s a good range of Western Union alternatives - the one that’s best for you will depend on how you want your payment to be received, and the destination country.

  • Wise offers fast payments with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.43%

  • OFX has a 24/7 phone service which lets you talk to a broker to understand your payment options

  • TorFX supports payments for personal and business customers in 40+ currencies, and has a reputation for great customer service

  • Remitly has payments to banks and for cash collection, on popular remittance routes

  • WorldRemit can help if you want to get your money to someone without easy access to a bank account or ATM, with a diverse range of pay out options

1. Wise 

Wise offers UK personal and business customers easy ways to make cheap, fast international payments as well as the Wise multi-currency account to hold and exchange 40+ currencies in one place. Set up your transfer online or in the Wise app, for deposit to your recipient’s bank account quickly - or even instantly.

Best Wise features 

Wise payments can be sent to 160+ countries, with the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees. Wise stands out on price and speed of transfers - 50% or more payments arrive instantly, and 90% are in the recipient’s account in 24 hours.

If you’re looking for a way to receive, exchange or easily spend in foreign currencies, you can also get a Wise account to hold 40+ currencies, receive payments in up to 10 currencies, and spend in 150+ countries with a Wise international debit card.

Why you should use Wise as an Western Union alternative

Wise is a strong Western Union alternative if you want to send money online or in-app to a bank account internationally. Wise uses mid-market exchange rates for currency conversion, with low, transparent fees for all transfers. 50% of payments are instant, and 90% arrive on the same day, so there’s no waiting around. Plus if you decide to open a Wise account you can hold and exchange 40+ currencies and only pay for the services you use.

Go to Wise

2. OFX

OFX serves UK businesses and individuals with international transfers to bank accounts as well as currency risk management services. Online sellers and business customers can also get a multi-currency account to receive, hold and send international payments conveniently. There’s no OFX transfer fee, although a small exchange rate markup will apply for currency conversion - and you can talk to a broker 24/7 by phone.

Best OFX features 

OFX is well known because you can call a broker 24/7 to talk through your options. This can just be handy for times you need a bit of reassurance or an explanation of your options - or it may be mandatory if you’re looking at more complex products like a currency risk management solution.

Why you should use OFX as an Western Union alternative

OFX is a Western Union alternative to consider if you’re sending a larger value payment to a bank account and would prefer to talk to someone about your transfers and transactions. OFX has a 24/7 phone service which can be reassuring if you’re making a high value payment or if you need to understand your options for currency risk management tools.

Go to OFX

3. TorFX

TorFX is a currency specialist which offers international payments to a bank account for personal and business customers in 40+ currencies. While it’s UK based, TorFX has offices around the world - plus it holds the highest possible credit rating and is known for offering good personal customer service. There are no transfer fees when you send a payment with TorFX. Instead, a charge will be added to the exchange rate used to convert your funds.

Best TorFX features 

TorFX is a specialist provider which has built a reputation for great customer service. You can send one off or recurring payments, or get more complex currency services like forward contracts and market orders. Set up a payment online, in app or by phone, depending on your personal preference.

Why you should use TorFX as an Western Union alternative

TorFX may be an attractive Western Union alternative if you want solutions to reduce currency risk, or make high value transfers to bank accounts around the world. TorFX is known for its great customer service, too, resulting in a loyal customer base.

Go to TorFX

4. Remitly

Remitly lets UK customers send money to around 170 different countries around the world, in 100+ currencies. There’s a very good range of pay out options including cash collection or delivery, and deposits to mobile money accounts. This can make it a convenient service if you need to get cash to someone in a more remote area who can't get to a bank easily - and as the services available are pretty similar to those offered by Western Union, it’s worth comparing your options for both.

Best Remitly features 

Remitly payments offer great options for pay outs - including depositing the funds to bank accounts, mobile money accounts or debit cards, and cash collection or home delivery. Choose to pay with a bank transfer, for an economy payment - or with a card for an Express transfer. Express payments may arrive in minutes, while the cheaper Economy option can take 3 to 5 business days to arrive.

Why you should use Remitly as an Western Union alternative

Remitly may be a good Western Union alternative if you need to send money to be collected in cash locally, or even sent out for home delivery in some destinations. These options make it a handy choice if you’re looking to compare a service like Western Union to check which has the best fees and rates for your cash collection payment.

Go to Remitly

5. WorldRemit

WorldRemit lets you send money online or in-app, to 130+ countries, with a range of different payout options depending on what suits your recipient. You could send money to a bank or mobile money account, or for airtime top up for example. There’s also the option to have your money collected by the recipient in cash which is handy for people who don’t have easy access to a bank account.

Best WorldRemit features 

WorldRemit really stands out because of the range of pay out options. You can send money to 130+ countries, and have it collected in cash - often in just a few minutes. Plus you can send to mobile money accounts and as airtime top up. That makes WorldRemit a good Western Union alternative if you want to compare the costs of a transfer for cash collection.

Why you should use WorldRemit as an Western Union alternative

WorldRemit is another Western Union alternative to consider if you want your money to be sent for cash collection or even as an airtime top up. You’ll be able to check the rates and fees online and compare them with Western Union to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your international payment.

Go to Worldremit

Still looking for providers? Compare all international money transfer services

Why you should consider a Western Union alternative

Western Union was established way back in 1861, and serves over 150 million customers today. It’s popular, particularly for its global reach and its huge network of hundreds of thousands of agent locations around the world, which let you pay in and pay out in cash.

Western Union has some great services, and can be helpful to get cash into a recipient’s hand quickly - but it’s not always the cheapest option out there. Western Union transfers have a variable fee, which will depend on how you arrange your payment. You’re also likely to pay a exchange rate markup, which is another fee rolled into the rate used to convert from pounds to the currency you need for deposit. The exchange rate markup will depend on where you’re sending money to, and how you set up your transfer. While there’s no hard and fast rule, you’ll usually find that a transaction involving cash - paying in person at an agent, or having the recipient collect cash at the other end - may cost more overall compared to a digital transfer.

Western Union can have another couple of drawbacks, depending on the specific payment you need to make. Limits may apply based on the country you’re sending to. While you can send up to 50,000 EUR (or the equivalent) to some countries, far lower caps may exist on some payment routes. And finally, Western Union is intended only for personal payments to friends and family. It should not be used for business transfers - and because it’s easy and quick to make a payment, it’s also targeted by scammers, which you’ll need to watch out for when you transact.

Pros of Western Union

  • Very well established company with over 150 million global customers

  • Send to more or less any country in the world

  • Selection of pay out options including bank deposit, cash collection and mobile money account deposits

  • Send money in person, through an app or online

  • New customer discounts and promotions may apply

Cons of Western Union

  • Exchange rate markups - which can vary depending on how you want to pay - are likely to push up costs

  • Limits may apply to the value you can transfer, which vary by destination country

  • Not all services are available in all countries

Are the alternatives safe?

Yes. All the sites like Western Union we have picked out are safe to use, and registered and regulated by the FCA in the UK. They’ll also have their own internal safety measures, such as fraud detection protocols and ways to track your transfers, for reassurance.

Western Union alternatives conclusion

Western Union is well known and popular, and has a great global reach. However, it has a few drawbacks. Exchange rates vary and are likely to include a markup which pushes up the overall cost. Western Union can’t be used for business transfers. And finally, you might find there’s a limit to the amount you can send with Western Union, depending on the country you’re sending to.

Where Western Union wins is if you want to pay for your transfer in cash - as this service is often not available from international money transfer providers operating digitally. However, if you’re going to pay with a card or by bank transfer, it’s worth looking at a few other sites like Western Union before you set up your next international payment. Depending on what you need you might find a Western Union alternative which can help you send your transfer cheaper, faster or more conveniently.

FAQ

  1. What is the cheapest way to send money internationally?

Sending money internationally with a specialist online or digital service is often cheaper than using a bank. However, different services have their own rates and fees - so to find the cheapest way to send money internationally in your specific case, you’ll want to compare a few options based on both the transfer fees and the exchange rate markups applied.

  1. Which is the safest mode of money transfer?

Sending your payment with a properly regulated and trusted provider is essential. Check the money transfer service you pick is reputable - starting with our Western Union alternatives guide is a good plan, as we’ve included services similar to Western Union in this article that are FCA regulated and safe to use.

  1. What is the best company to transfer money with?

There’s no single best company to transfer money with. Comparing a few is the best way to get a good deal. At Exiap we only review and compare trusted providers - so you can use our top picks as a starting point to find the best one for you.