Xoom vs Western Union - Which one is better?

Both Xoom and Western Union offer international payment services to customers based in the US. However, while there are similarities between the two, there are also some differences in the options available, and the costs you’ll pay for using these providers.

This guide helps you weigh up whether Xoom or Western Union may be best for your transfer.

Xoom vs Western Union at a glance

Western Union Pros

  • Send in a broad range of currencies
  • Payouts available in cash or direct to an account for convenience
  • Fund your transfer using card, bank transfer or in cash at an agent location

Western Union Cons

  • Send in a broad range of currencies
  • Payouts available in cash or direct to an account for convenience
  • Fund your transfer using card, bank transfer or in cash at an agent location

Xoom Pros

  • Backed by PayPal - a global specialist in payment services
  • Send money to most countries in the world using card, bank transfer or PayPal balance
  • Choose from a range of receive methods

Xoom Cons

  • Backed by PayPal - a global specialist in payment services
  • Send money to most countries in the world using card, bank transfer or PayPal balance
  • Choose from a range of receive methods

The important bits

We’ll get right into the details about both providers - but first, let’s take a look at some key points about each.

Western Union

Safety: Payments are safe but you should only be used to pay someone you trust

Rates: Exchange rates include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate

Fees: Fees vary based on destination country, payment method and how the money is received

Speed: Transfer times depend on pay out method chosen - cash payouts can be almost instant

Xoom

Safety: High online security measures, regulated at both state and federal levels

Rates: Exchange rates include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate

Fees: Fees vary based on destination country, payment method and how the money is received

Speed: Most payments arrive in minutes - but it can take up to a few days

Learn more about Western Union

Learn more about Xoom

Xoom fees and rates

The overall cost of a transfer with Xoom can include several different fees:

  • Transfer fee - based on the way you fund the transaction and how it will be received
  • Exchange rate markup
  • Possible third party charges like credit card cash advance fees

Model your payment on the Xoom website or in the Xoom app to see the costs that apply. It’s worth noting that Xoom uses an exchange rate markup - which is a fee added to the exchange rate used. This is made clear on the Xoom website[1]:

“In addition to the transaction fee, Xoom also makes money when it changes your send currency into a different currency.”

Compare the exchange rate you’re offered by Xoom with the mid-market exchange rate which you can get from Google, to see the markup being used.

Xoom can be used by customers sending money from the US, Canada and most of Europe.

Western Union fees and rates


Western Union fees and rates can vary by payment method, delivery method, and destination country. You’ll be able to see the specific costs associated with your transfer by modeling the payment online or in the Western Union app - or logging into your account.

Here’s the disclaimer from the Western Union website:

“Western Union also makes money from currency exchange. When choosing a money transmitter, carefully compare both transfer fees and exchange rates. Fees, foreign exchange rates and taxes may vary by brand, channel, and location based on a number of factors”

What this means is that Western Union payment costs can come as an upfront fee, or a markup on the exchange rate, or both - and there are also third party fees to consider, too. Both the fees and rates you get online may be different from those you may receive in an agent location. 

Like Xoom, Western Union also warns customers about using a credit card when paying for a transfer. Although using a card for payment is a quick option, credit card payments can trigger cash advance charges and interest which are levied by your card issuer. They may also come with higher Western Union fees - making this a method to avoid if possible.

Western Union has a global span with 500,000+ agents around the world across over 200 countries and territories.

Xoom transfer speed

Most Xoom transfers take only minutes but it can take up to a few days for your money to arrive. Factors which influence the delivery time include the destination country, receive method and payment method.

 

Western Union speed

Choose the Western Union payment method that works best for you - the speed of transfers varies as follows:

  • Money in Minutes - usually available for cash pickup within minutes
  • Next Day - cash pickup available the next day
  • Direct to Bank -  2 to 5 business days
  • Bill Payment - variable delivery speeds
  • Mobile Money Transfer- usually available within minutes

What Currencies Can I Transfer?

While the payout options may vary by county and by provider, both Xoom and Western Union effectively cover the whole world in some form or another - barring a few countries where payments are difficult or banned because of security concerns.

Xoom Western Union
Xoom operates across most of the world - you can send money to pretty much any country which has PayPal, with 50+ currencies representedWestern Union is available through a network of agents across 200+ countries and territories, with cash pickup available in eligible payout locations 

Xoom Payment Options

Here’s how you can choose to send and receive Xoom payments.

 

How to send money with Xoom

Send money with Xoom online or in the Xoom app, and pay using one of the following methods:

  • Bank account
  • Credit or debit card
  • PayPal balance

 

How to receive money with Xoom

When you model your payment on Xoom you’ll see the different receive options available for your destination country. Not all payment types are available for all locations, but you’ll be able to choose from some of the following:

  • Send money direct to a recipient’s bank account
  • Send money to a debit card or mobile wallet
  • Send money to be collected in cash at an agent location
  • Pay international bills
  • Reload a mobile phone

Western Union Payment Options

There are a few different ways to pay for a Western Union transfer - and also a selection of payout methods which vary according to the destination country.

How to send money with Western Union

Unlike Xoom, Western Union offers convenient ways to pay for your transfer in cash - although the costs may be higher if you choose to do this. Normally you’ll be able to arrange your payment online, in the Western Union app, or at an agent location and then either:

  • Pay online with your card or a bank transfer
  • Pay in cash at an agent location - you can do this even if you started your payment online

How to receive money with Western Union

Payments can be received in a range of ways - although not all payout methods are available in all countries. You may be able to choose to:

  • Send money direct to a recipient’s bank account
  • Send money to a mobile wallet
  • Send money to be collected in cash at an agent location

Xoom Minimum & Maximum Transfer Amounts

Xoom limits are set according to your account level. Complete extra verification steps to move to the next level and increase your limits.

Bank deposit limits:

Account level24 hour limit30 day limit180 day limit
12,999 USD6,000 USD9,999 USD
210,000 USD20,000 USD30,000 USD
350,000 USD60,000 USD100,000 USD

Cash pickup limits:

Level24 hour limit30 day limit180 day limit
12,999 USD6,000 USD9,999 USD
210,000 USD20,000 USD30,000 USD
310,000 USD20,000 USD50,000 USD

 

Western Union Minimum & Maximum Transfer Amounts

Western Union transfers do have limits but these are set based on customer activity - factors which determine the limit applied to your account include:

  • How often you transfer with Western Union
  • Where you are
  • Where you’re sending to
  • The service you choose
  • How you’ll pay
  • Agent location limits
  • Country receive limits in destination

Xoom Customer support

Get in touch with Xoom customer support using the messaging service over on the Xoom website or app.

 

Western Union Customer Support

Contact Western Union via your local agent - or you can chat online, call the service centre or send an email.

The Verdict

Both Western Union and Xoom offer convenient ways to send money internationally. Depending on what type of payment you want to make, you may find that either is equally suited to your needs. However, if you want to pay in cash you’ll have to choose Western Union, and if you want to pay using your PayPal balance Xoom is your only option.

If you’re paying by bank transfer or card, you could go with either. If you already have a PayPal account, making a Xoom transfer is very easy, as your details are already logged in your PayPal account and will transfer over to Xoom automatically. In the end this may tip the balance in Xoom’s favor if you’re looking for a quick payment solution and are happy with the fees and rate on offer.

Before you decide between the 2 providers, it’s well worth modeling your payment online to see the exchange rates and fees available. This only takes a few moments and can help you save money - you’ll also be able to compare a few other online providers at the same time if you like, so you’ll know you’re getting the best available deal. 

By Ileana Ionescu Updated October 11th, 2021