Western Union or Moneygram: Which one is Better?

Which one is better, Western Union or MoneyGram? Both are giants in the world of online and in person payments. They offer an array of ways to get money to people and businesses around the world, fast. However, while they offer some similar services, the fees and exchange rates available may vary depending on the details of your payment. 

This guide runs through all you need to know to check out the costs and convenience of each, and decide which option will better suit your needs.

Need to make an fast international money transfer? Western Union and MoneyGram can be cheaper alternatives than using a bank. Find out which option will better suit your needs.

The Important Bits

Moneygram

Safety: Large, established and fully licensed payment company

Rates: Exchange rates include a markup and vary by transfer details and destination

Fees: Fees are calculated based on the service and destination country

Speed: Cash collection is often instant, bank transfers may take a day or two

Service: Offer online and in-store support

Western Union

Safety: Large, established and fully licensed payment company

Rates: Exchange rates include a markup and can vary by brand, channel and location

Fees: Fees are calculated based on the service and destination country

Speed: Choose from different delivery options, from instant cash payments, next day delivery, or bank transfers which may take up to 5 days

Service: Offer online, app and in-store support

The Verdict

Western Union and MoneyGram are giants of the currency world and they share so much in common. Both have

  • Massive global networks of agents and banks
  • A good range of payment options like cash pick up or bank transfer
  • Complicated fee structures
  • Uncompetitive exchange rates

When it comes to fees and exchange rates, there’s not a clear winner between Western Union and MoneyGram. For transfers to a bank account overseas, neither Western Union or MoneyGram are particularly cheap.

Model your payment in seconds on both provider websites to see what you’ll pay for your specific transfer - you may also find you can get a better deal with a different provider, so take a look at a full comparison of international money transfer services here.

However, while both Western Union and MoneyGram have similar features, they’re not exactly the same. Western Union has the option of locking in an exchange rate on the app, and then paying for your transfer in cash, for example, which may be a deciding factor. Both providers also run promotions and offers for new customers, which may tip the balance for one or the other. If you still can’t pick between them, read on for our full review

Learn more about Moneygram

Learn more about Western Union

Let's have a look at them in more detail

Western Union LogoWestern Union is one of the oldest and most popular money transfer companies in the world. Founded in 1851 and formerly known as the ‘New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company”, their operations grew rapidly and expanded internationally. The company moved into financial services and money transfers in 2009 when it acquired Canadian global payment company Custom House.

 

MoneyGram Logo

MoneyGram is the second largest provider of money transfers in the world. Their service is available in 197 countries with an huge network of agents including 7-Eleven and global convenience stores. There are two ways to use MoneyGram for international money transfers: online or through an agent.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the government body that ensures and regulates fair and transparent conduct of financial services. Every company offering financial services must be granted an Australian Financial Service (AFS) licence by ASIC to carry out business in Australia.

 

Western UnionMoneyGram
Western Union Online Limited is regulated by ASICMoneyGram is provided by OFX which is regulated by ASIC
ARBN 141 662 633Australian Financial Service Licence 226 484

Western Union vs MoneyGram Exchange Rates

Like banks, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram make their money in two main ways:

  1. firstly, the margin from which they purchase currency at a wholesale rate and the cost of currency sold on to customers.
  2. secondly, an additional transaction fee.

With Western Union and MoneyGram, the exchange rate can be widely varied, depending on the currency, country, and method of payment.

MoneyGram and rates are marked up depending on the amount you choose to transfer. The larger the amount, the better the rate. This is not to say that the company offers the best exchange rate.

For example, at the time we researched this comparison, the mid-market exchange rate for AUD/USD was 0.76. To transfer 5000 AUD to USD, MoneyGram’s quote was 0.75 and Western Union's was 0.74. To break it down, for every 1 AUD transferred, you would receive 75 US cents with MoneyGram and 74 US cents with Western Union.

Both options are expensive when compared to other online providers. Plus, fees have yet to be added into the equation.

Here are three ways to compare the rates offered by Western Union, MoneyGram and other providers:

  1. View live rates online at Western Union and MoneyGram
  2. Call Western Union at 1800 173 833 and MoneyGram at 1300 437 802 (within Australia)
  3. Compare exchange rates from other providers online with our comparison engine.

A case study - sending 1,000 USD to GBP

MoneyGram

 

Payment optionRecipient receives the moneyExchange rate
Online by credit or debit card
  • Into their bank account
  • 1 USD = 0.7046 GBP
Online by bank transfer or cash payment at location
  • Into their bank account
  • 1 USD = 0.7228 GBP
Online by bank transfer
  • Cash pickup
  • 1 USD = 0.6847 GBP
Online by credit or debit card
  • Cash pickup
  • 1 USD = 0.7119 GBP
Cash in store
  • Cash pickup or into their bank account
  • 1 USD = 0.6687 GBP

 

*Rates correct at time of writing, 26 October 2021

Western Union

 

Payment optionRecipient receives the moneyExchange rate
Online by bank transfer, credit or debit card
  • Into their bank account
  • 1 USD = 0.6988 GBP
Online by bank transfer, credit or debit card
  • Cash pickup
  • 1 USD = 0.6523 GBP
Cash in store (rate locked in online in advance)
  • Cash pickup or into their bank account
  • 1 USD = 0.6395 GBP

*Rates correct at time of writing, 26 October 2021

Western Union vs MoneyGram Fees

Western Union and MoneyGram's fee structure are similar. Fees vary on the country, currency and the way you send money to your recipient.

For Western Union, their fees are also based on the method of transfer, You can choose to send money in cash for your recipient to pick up at a Western Union branch or through a direct bank transfer.

MoneyGram offers the same services, but their direct bank transfer doesn't cover all countries. Before you choose to use their service, find out individual country details.

Be mindful that there could be more fees invloved than the ones mentioned here. You could be charged a cash advance fee by your card provider. In addition, your recipient's bank could charge a deposit fee or corresponding bank fee to deposit the funds.

To give an idea based on the transfer example above (1,000 USD to GBP), you may pay:

Western Union fees:

  • No fee to send from your bank account to a recipient’s bank account
  • Sending with a debit card to a recipient’s bank account - 24.90 USD
  • Sending with a credit card to a recipient’s bank account - 49.90 USD
  • Sending from your bank account for cash pickup - 5 USD
  • Sending with a debit card for cash pickup - 7 USD
  • Sending with a credit card for cash pickup - 34 USD

MoneyGram fees:

  • No fee to send from your bank account to a recipient’s bank account
  • Sending with a credit or debit card to a recipient’s bank account - 12.99 USD
  • Sending from your bank account for cash pickup - 4.99 USD
  • Sending with a credit or debit card for cash pickup - 14.99 USD
  • Sending with cash at an agent location - fees vary

Business accounts

Both MoneyGram and WesternUnion offer international business payments.

Western Union

  • Send global business payments in 130 currencies, to 200 countries and territories
  • Solutions for different business types and industry needs
  • Make mass payments to cut admin time
  • Access foreign currency management solutions for business

MoneyGram

  • International and domestic payments to 200 countries
  • Single point of service platform for all business transfers
  • Money orders and check processing for business

Security

Both Western Union and MoneyGram are established money transfer services with a long history in the business. They’re licensed in all the countries they operate in, and fully regulated to keep customers safe. Whenever you send money you’re likely to notice some of the measures in place, from account verification to making sure cash is only collected by people with the full transfer details and proof of ID.

However, it is worth noting that money transfer services like Western Union and MoneyGram are known to be used by fraudsters and scam artists. That’s because cash payments can be received so quickly - and are then very hard to trace or retrieve. Providers do take steps to protect customers from issues, but exercising caution is also essential - here’s how to learn more:

Western Union 

  • Learn more about Western Union’s efforts to protect customers from fraud here.

MoneyGram

  • Get up to date MoneyGram fraud prevention information here

How Long Does It Take To Transfer Money With Western Union and MoneyGram

The transfer speed depends on the amount and type of currency, country of transfer and turnaround time of your bank to clear payment.

Western Union offers a range of different delivery options and times:

  • Money in minutes - almost instant cash collections
  • Next day delivery - available next working day
  • Bank deposits - 2 to 5 business days
  • Bill payments - varies by billing company process
  • Mobile money transfer - almost instant

MoneyGram cash collection payments are usually available within just a few minutes:

  • Bear in mind that factors like the opening hours of agent locations, and public holidays in the destination country can slow down service.
  • For  bank transfers, MoneyGram payments on popular routes may arrive in as little as an hour, with other payments arriving on the same day or next working day after being arranged.

Limits

Western Union

Western Union transfer limits vary, based on:

  • Your account and transfer history
  • Your location and your recipient location
  • Payout method selected
  • Your payment method
  • Limits applied by the specific agent or destination country (see the limits when you model your payment online or in the Western Union app. If you're paying in person, the agent will inform you of the limits).

MoneyGram

MoneyGram limits aren’t publicly available, and include daily, weekly and monthly send limits. This is to keep in line with changing market and security requirements. MoneyGram advises customers to get in touch with customer support if they ever hit a send limit warning when preparing a transfer.

What Currencies Can I Transfer?

For an extensive list of currencies available for transfer with Western Union and MoneyGram, check out our reviews for each company:

MoneyGram Review
Western Union Review

Coverage

  • Western Union - Western Union is one of the largest international payment providers and covers most of the globe. Services on offer do vary a little based on destination country, so model your payment on the website or app to check the options available to you. You can also find a Western Union agent easily with the agent location finder too.

 

  • MoneyGram - make MoneyGram payments to more than 200 countries and territories. You’ll be able to see instantly if your destination country is covered when you model your payment to check MoneyGram’s fees and rates. You can also find a MoneyGram agent using the handy locator tool.

Ways to send money

You can send money in a range of ways through both MoneyGram and Western Union. Let’s look at the most common options for each:

 

Western Union 

  • Pay online or in app
  • Pay by phone
  • Lock in the rate online and pay in person at an agent location
  • Visit an agent to arrange the full payment

MoneyGram

  • Pay online or in app
  • Pay at an agent location

Payout methods Western Union vs MoneyGram

The payout methods available can vary based on the destination country. Check your options online or in the provider app to help you decide which to choose. Here are the commonly available payout options:

Western Union 

  • Send direct to a bank account or card
  • Send for cash collection
  • Send to a mobile money account
  • Bill payment

MoneyGram

  • Send direct to a bank account or card
  • Send for cash collection
  • Send to a mobile money account
  • Send cash for home delivery
  • FastSend for account or card deposits

Customer support Western Union and MoneyGram

You’ll be able to get help by visiting a Western Union or MoneyGram agent location, checking out the FAQs on the company websites or using the provider online contact forms

Western Union

Service: In person and 27/7 email service

Phone: 1800 325 6000

Live In-App chat Yes

Email: Yes

Website: www.westernunion.com/

 

MoneyGram

Support: In person and 24/7 email service

Phone: Available for fraud reporting

Live In-App Yes

Email: Yes

Website contact: www.moneygram.com

Western Union vs MoneyGram - which one is better?

There’s no simple verdict here on whether Western Union or MoneyGram is the better option overall. It all depends on the specifics of the payment you’re making. Everything from how much you send, how you’ll pay and where you’re transferring to makes a big difference. And you’ll also want to look at both fees and exchange rates - and any possible third party costs - before you get started.

Final verdict

Western Union and Moneygram are giants of the currency world and they share so much in common. Both have

  • Massive global networks of agents and banks
  • A good range of payment options like cash pick up or bank transfer
  • Complicated fee structures
  • Uncompetitive exchange rates

When we compared the cost to send cash overseas, there was no clear winner that was cheaper. It really comes down to the country you are sending the cash to. For transfers to a bank account overseas, neither Western Union or Moneygram are particularly cheap. You can compare better options here.

Learn more about Moneygram

Learn more about Western Union

By Justin Rampono Updated November 8th, 2021