Remitly vs Western Union [2023 Updated]
Remitly and Western Union both offer international transfers to a wide variety of destination countries. You can set up transfers online or in-app with both providers, and Western Union also has physical US locations to let you pay in cash.
Not sure which is best for your next international transfer? This guide has you covered. Read on for a full comparison of Remitly vs Western Union features side by side, and join us as we walk through the exchange rates, fees and delivery times on offer from each.
Summary: Remitly lets US customers send payments in 100+ currencies from the US, while Western Union services are available pretty much globally. Both providers have a great range of alternative payout options including cash for collection and bank deposits. Services vary based on the destination country. Whether Western Union or Remitly is right for you may simply come down to the specific transfer you need to make, how you want to pay, and how the recipient needs to get the money in the end.
Comparing Remitly vs Western Union: side by side
Remitly and Western Union both offer safe and reliable international money transfer services. Which works best for you might depend on the specific service you need. Here’s an overview of the features and services you can get from both Remitly and Western Union.
|Send payments to||170+ countries, 100+ currencies||200+ countries|
|Bank deposit option||Yes||Yes|
|Cash pickup service||Yes||Yes|
|Cash home delivery||Yes||No|
|Mobile money deposit||Yes||No|
|Fully licensed and regulated||Yes||Yes|
|Services for businesses||No||Yes (although this service has recently been acquired by Convera)|
So, to summarize:
- Western Union and Remitly both support a very broad selection of countries and currencies
- Western Union offers payments to bank accounts – and in select countries for cash collection – Remitly has these options, plus deposits to mobile money accounts and home delivery of cash
- Western Union options for businesses are now delivered through Convera, Remitly is for personal use only
- Both providers are fully regulated
The important bits
|Rates||Exchange rate includes a markup||Exchange rate includes a markup|
|Fees||Variable fee based on the country, currency and service required||Variable fee based on the country, currency and service required|
|Speed||Express payments can be instant, Economy payments take several days||Varied depending on destination and payment type – from a few minutes to 2 business days|
|Service||Online, in app and by phone||On person, online, in app and by phone|
|Safety||Fully regulated and licensed||Fully regulated and licensed|
|Reviews (TrustPilot)||4.1 star, Great, 41,000+ reviews||3.9 star, Great, 51,000+ reviews|
Rates: Western Union and Remitly both add a markup to the rate used to convert currencies
Fees: Western Union and Remitly both have variable fees based on the service you need
Speed: Remitly offers Express payments which can be almost instant, or Economy transfers which take several days. Western Union transfers can take from a few minutes to 2 working days to arrive
Service: Both providers offer multilingual service in a range of languages, online, in-app and by phone. Western Union also has branches in the US so you can get a face to face service when you need it
Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated
Reviews: Western Union and Remitly both score a Great review rating on Trustpilot – Western Union has more reviews posted but a slightly lower rating overall
Pros and cons
|Pros||✅Strong range of payout options including mobile money deposits|
✅Good global cover
✅Varied services depending on customer need
|✅Huge, well established business, covering 200 countries|
✅Good range of payout options
✅Business services available via Convera
|Cons||❌No business services|
❌Exchange rates include a markup, and there’s a variable fee for transfers
|❌Fees apply which vary by payment type|
❌Exchange rates include a variable markup
Remitly vs Western Union: The verdict
Remitly and Western Union international transfer services can be arranged online or in-app, and sent to a wide range of countries and currencies from the US. Both offer delivery methods including bank deposit and cash collection. If you want to pay in cash, Western Union can offer this service, while Remitly can’t – but Remitly has a broader selection of payout options to include some cash home delivery service and mobile money deposits.
Ultimately which is best for you might just come down to the specific service you need – how you want to pay, the destination, and how you’d like the money to be received.
About Remitly and Western Union
Remitly was launched in 2011 ato make it easier and cheaper to send money home to loved ones. All Remitly payments are arranged online or in-app, and you can choose from a strong selection of pay out options depending on your specific needs.
You can send payments with Remitly from the US, to over 170 countries in 100+ currencies.
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 24 digital transactions every second.
You can send payments from the US to 200+ countries and territories with Western Union.
How do they work?
Both Remitly and Western Union offer international payments you arrange online or in an app – with Western Union you’ll also have the choice of walking into a local agent location and asking for face to face help.
To send an online or app payment with either service, you’ll need to create an account which may have to be verified, depending on the value and type of payment you’re making.
To send a payment with a provider like Remitly or Western Union you’ll need to:
- Sign into your account
- Select your starting currency and recipient currency
- Enter the amount you want to send to get a quote
- Add your recipient’s information – their bank or mobile money account details, for example, depending on the service you’ve selected
- Pay by card or bank transfer
- Check the details, then hit Confirm to send the payment
- You’re all done – you can now track the payment in the app
Remitly vs Western Union Fees
Remitly and Western Union both have variable fees based on the transfer destination and type. On top of this, there’s usually a markup added to the exchange rate used to convert your dollars to the currency you need.
While the exact options do vary depending on the country you’re sending to, Remitly often has a faster – more expensive – service, or a cheaper, slower one. Western Union fees vary depending on where you send to, how you pay, and how you want the money to be received. In either case, the exchange rate used to convert your payment will include a markup – that’s a percentage fee that’s added into the rate you’re offered.
|Fee type||Remitly fee||Western Union fee|
|Open account||No fee||No fee|
|Monthly fees||No fee||No fee|
|Send domestic payment||Not available||Variable fees|
|Send international payment||Variable fees based on destination and payment type|
You can often choose either a cheaper Economy payment – which will take a few days to arrive – or a faster Express payment. Express transfers could be available in minutes – but may come with higher fees
|Variable fees based on destination and payment type|
|Currency conversion||Markup applies to the exchange rate used||Markup applies to the exchange rate used|
Remitly vs Western Union: which is cheaper?
To choose between Remitly and Western Union you’ll need to weigh up both the transfer fee and the exchange rate markup to see the full costs of your payment. The good news is that it’s easy to get quotes from Remitly and Western Union so you can compare the fees, the rate and the amount the recipient gets in the end.
Let’s look at a worked example. This table looks at how much a friend would get if you send money in USD to their account in EUR or INR:
Payments are funded by bank transfer and delivered to the recipient’s bank account:
|Amount & Currency||With Remitly recipient gets:||With Western Union recipient gets:||Which is cheaper?|
|1000 USD> EUR||909.50 EUR||903.23 EUR||Remitly|
|5000 USD> EUR||4,547.45 EUR||4,519.97 EUR||Remitly|
|1000 USD> INR||82,639.01 INR||82,321.52 INR||Remitly|
|5000 USD> INR||413,190.08 INR||411,928.96 INR||Remitly|
*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research – 16th August 2023
Remitly Vs Western Union exchange rates
Both Remitly and Western Union add a markup to the exchange rate used for currency conversion. That means that whenever you need currency exchange, to have your dollars switched over to a new currency for depositing or collection, there’s a percentage fee added to the mid-market exchange rate, to calculate the rate used to convert your money. This fee is variable, and it isn’t easy to spot, so you’ll need to compare the rates both providers offer, against the mid-market rate you can get from Google, to see the markup being used.
Compare today’s Remitly exchange rates here.
Remitly vs Western Union: which is faster?
How long an international money transfer takes to arrive depends on a variety of factors:
- The country and currency you’re sending to
- The value of the payment
- How you fund the transfer
- Public holidays or working hours in the US and the destination country
Remitly offers Express payments (funded with a card), and Economy payments (paid for using a bank transfer) in many destination countries. Express payments might be available in just a few minutes for cash collection transfers while Economy payments are cheaper but can take a few days to be deposited.
Western Union payments can take anything from a few minutes to a few days to arrive, depending on the way you send them and how they’ll be received.
With both service you can track your transfer in an app once your money is moving.
Remitly Vs Western Union international transfer limits
The amount of money you can send with both service depends on your account status and verification, as well as how you’re sending the money.
|Remitly limits||Western Union limits|
|Limits apply according to your verification level, and cap the amount you can send in 24 hours, 30 days and 180 days.|
With a Tier 1 verified account you can send 2,999 USD a day, to 10,000 USD in 180 days.
With a fully verified account you can send 18,000 USD a day, to 60,000 USD in 180 days.
|Send up to 3,000 USD from an unverified account|
Send up to 50,000 USD from a verified account
Higher value payments may be available via some agents
Remitly vs Western Union: Payment methods
Both providers let you arrange payments online – Western Union also lets you pay in person. Here are the available payment methods:
Remitly: bank account, credit or debit card
Western Union: bank account, credit or debit card, cash in store
Remitly vs Western Union: Delivery methods
Both providers have a strong range of payout methods. Here are the available options:
Remitly: deposit to bank account, cash collection, cash home delivery, mobile money deposit
Western Union: deposit to bank account or cash collection
Remitly vs Western Union cash pickup locations
You can arrange cash pickups globally with both providers, to allow your recipient to get their money at a location close to them.
Remitly: 435,000 agents in 120 countries
Western Union: 500,000+ agents in 200 countries and territories
Remitly Vs Western Union business
Remitly does not offer business services. Western Union did offer a suite of business services, although this part of the business has recently been acquired by Convera. You can still access the types of business services Western Union used to offer, such as international payments for business, using Convera instead.
Ease of use
- Creating an account: Create your account online or in app with both Remitly and Western Union; with Western Union you can also visit an agent location
- Making a transfer: Both providers allow customers to fund payments with a bank transfer or card. Western Union will also let you pay in cash at an agent location
- Ways to send money: Western Union payments can be sent to bank accounts for deposit or for cash collection. Remitly offers bank deposits, cash collection and home delivery, and payments to mobile money accounts
- Languages: Western Union services are available in multiple languages. Remitly has a chat support service in English, French and Spanish, and phone support in English and Spanish
- Minimum & maximum amounts: Western Union payments are capped at 3,000 USD or the equivalent for unverified accounts and 50,000 USD for verified accounts. You may be able to pay more at an agent. Remitly payments have limits set by day, month and 180 day period. You can increase your limits by uploading more documents for verification. Tier 1 accounts can send 2,999 USD a day, while fully verified Tier 3 accounts can send up to 30,000 USD
Remitly supports payments to 170+ countries, in 100+ currencies.
Western Union supports payment routes which cover over 200+ countries and territories.
Safety: Are they safe to transfer money with?
Both Western Union and Remitly are safe to use. They’re licensed to operate in the US and in the other countries and regions in which they offer services – and they both use industry standard security measures to keep customers and their accounts safe, including dedicated anti-fraud teams.
Remitly vs Western Union customer service
You can get in touch with Remitly by logging into your account and opening an in-app chat, or by phone. Get the phone number you need based on language and issue type, from the Remitly website.
Western Union can offer service by phone on 1800 325 6000, using in-app chat, or by visiting an agent location and asking for help.
Conclusion: Comparing Remitly and Western Union
In our cost comparison Remitly cost less for the transfers we modeled. However, there’s not a huge difference in cost – so the best provider for you may well just come down to the specific service you need.
Remitly is a strong option for personal payments to be collected or delivered in cash or deposited to a bank or mobile money account. Western Union has bank deposits and cash collection services, and can cover almost any country in the world. Weigh up the costs and rates of each for the transfer you need to make to see which is best for you.
Western Union vs Remitly FAQs
What is the difference between Remitly and Western Union?
Remitly and Western Union both offer international payment services, but the exact features of each provider are different. Compare the two on fees, rates, and global coverage to see which is best for you.
Which is better: Remitly or Western Union?
Neither Remitly or Western Union is best – it all comes down to your needs and preferences. Both offer slightly different services so it’s best to compare them for the payment you want to make, to help you decide which works for you.
Is Remitly or Western Union cheaper?
In our cost comparisons Remitly was cheaper for the transfers we modeled. That said – fees and rates are variable, so it’s best to compare each provider for your specific transfer, to pick the right one for you. Use our handy cost comparison tool to get started.
Is Remitly or Western Union faster?
The length of time it takes for your transfer to arrive will depend on the details of the service you select. You’ll usually see a delivery estimate in the app before you confirm your transfer, and can then track the payment until it’s received.
How many currencies do Remitly and Western Union support?
Western Union supports payments to over 200+ countries and territories. Remitly supports payments to 170+ countries, in 100+ currencies.