MoneyGram Vs Western Union: A Full Comparison

MoneyGram and Western Union offer fairly similar services - so you may be torn between them for your next international payment. This MoneyGram Vs Western Union review is here to help you decide. 

We’ll cover all you need to know, including:

  • A comparison of key features and services from each provider
  • Which option is cheaper?
  • MoneyGram Vs Western Union: which is faster?
  • Which is safer?
  • Which provider gets better customer ratings?

Summary:

If you’re looking to send an international transfer for cash collection, either MoneyGram or Western Union could suit you.

Both have great agent networks spanning the globe - so the final decision may come down to which is more convenient for your recipient. If you’re making a payment to a bank account directly, alternative providers which specialise in this niche may offer a lower overall cost and better exchange rate.

MoneyGram Vs Western Union: side by side

MoneyGram

Send payments to: 200+ countries and territories

Number of agent locations: 400,000

Cash payout available: Yes

Mobile money transfers: Yes

Send to card: No

Fully licensed and regulated: Yes

Business services available: Yes

Western Union

Send payments to: 200+ countries and territories

Number of agent locations: 500,000

Cash payout available: Yes

Mobile money transfers: Yes

Send to card: No

Fully licensed and regulated: Yes

Business services available: Yes

So, to summarise: 

  • Western Union and MoneyGram both cover an impressive 200+ countries and territories around the world.
  • MoneyGram has around 400,000 agent locations around the world - Western Union has 600,000.
  • Western Union and MoneyGram both offer payouts for cash collection and mobile money transfers. MoneyGram also offers payments direct to cards.  
  • MoneyGram and Western Union both have business services on offer, although they do vary somewhat
  • Both providers are fully regulated by all the relevant authorities in every region they trade in

MoneyGram and Western Union offer a fairly similar suite of services, with an impressive global reach and a great range of payout methods. Western Union’s agent network is some 50% bigger than the MoneyGram network, which may mean they’re more convenient if you’re looking for a cash payout.

The speciality of both MoneyGram and Western Union comes in cash payout services, and other solutions like mobile money transfers. If you’re looking for a payment direct to a bank account, you could find a cheaper deal with an alternative provider.

The important bits

 

MoneyGram 

Western Union 

Rates Exchange rates include a markup on the mid-market rate Exchange rates include a markup on the mid-market rate
Fees Varied fees based on destination, value and payout method Fees vary by destination, pay in and pay out method
Speed Cash collection payments are usually available in minutes, bank transfers may take a day Cash collection payments can be instant, payments to a bank account may take 5 days
Service Online, in app, by phone, and in person Online, in app, by phone, and in person
Safety Fully regulated and licensed Fully regulated and licensed
Reviews (TrustPilot) Trustpilot score: 4.3/5 , Excellent rating, from 1,000+ reviews Trustpilot score: 3.4, Average rating, from 21,000+ reviews

 

Rates: Both MoneyGram and Western Union add a markup to the exchange rates used.

Fees: Both providers have variable fees which are based on the destination country and which may also change based on payout method.

Speed: Western Union and MoneyGram cash collection payments may be ready in minutes. For both providers, delivery time for bank transfers depends on destination. MoneyGram payments typically arrive in about a day, Western Union may take up to 5 days.

Service: Both providers offer multilingual service in a range of languages, online, in-app and by phone. You can also visit an agent location for in person support.

Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated. 

Reviews: MoneyGram Australia scores an Excellent review rating on Trustpilot, but with a relatively small number of reviews available. Western Union has a lower, Average rating, with more posted reviews.

Pros and cons

MoneyGram

Western Union

Pros 
  • Great global coverage of 200+ countries and territories
  • Good range of payout options
  • Instant cash collections and relatively speedy bank transfers
  • Global coverage and 600,000+ agent locations
  • Pay in using cash, card or bank transfer
  • Instant cash collections and payments to mobile money wallets
Cons 
  • Exchange rate markups are used, which may vary based on payout method
  • Not all services are available in all areas
  • You can’t fund payments using a bank transfer
  • Fees and exchange rates may not be market beating
  • Not all services are available in all areas
  • Bank transfer payments can take up to 5 days to arrive

MoneyGram Vs Western Union: The verdict

Western Union and MoneyGram offer quite similar services. Which is better for you will depend on the specific payment you want to make.

If you’re looking for a transfer to be paid in cash, either provider may suit your needs - although Western Union has the bigger agent network which may prove more convenient for your recipient. 

For other payout methods, it’s worth checking coverage of each provider. Not all services are available in all destination countries, which may be the deciding factor for you.

In our cost comparisons - coming up in a moment - Western Union was cheaper than MoneyGram. However, if you want to send a payment to a bank account directly, there are specialist services which focus on transfers to bank accounts which may prove cheaper than either.

About MoneyGram and Western Union

MoneyGram provides both personal and business services to 150 million customers around the world. MoneyGram international money transfers are offered through a network of 400,000 locations. You can also make payments online, in-app and through kiosks in some countries. 

MoneyGram payments can be sent to over 200 countries and territories around the world.

Western Union has been in business since 1861 and operates through a network of some 600,000+ agents around the world. You can also make online and in-app payments 24/7. Western Union also serves some 150 million personal and business customers, with international payments to bank and mobile money accounts, and for cash collection.

Western Union allows transfers to almost every country in the world, with the exception of Iran and North Korea.

How do they work?

Both Western Union and MoneyGram payments can be arranged online, in the app, or by visiting an agent location.

With MoneyGram you can arrange payments funded by credit or debit card online or in the MoneyGram app. If you prefer to make your transfer in person at an agent location, you can pay in cash. Simply confirm the amount you want to send, the currency, and select a pay out method to see the exchange rate and fee available. 

Sending money with Western Union is very similar. If you're making your payment digitally you’ll just need to follow the onscreen prompts to add the amount you want to send and the recipient’s details. You can also arrange payments at an agent location. There you’ll be guided through the process in person.

In both cases, the delivery times for a payment to a bank account will depend on the destination country and the recipient’s own bank’s processes. If you’re making a payment for cash collection, the provider will instruct your chosen agent in the destination country immediately once the payment has been processed, so they can release the cash once the recipient visits to collect it.

MoneyGram vs Western Union Fees

Whenever you send a payment with a provider like MoneyGram or Western Union you could run into several different fees:

  • Transfer fee
  • Exchange rate markup
  • Third party charges

The transfer fee is usually shown transparently and may be low, or even free - although credit card payments are often more expensive and may also incur third party charges. 

The exchange rate markup is the difference between the rate you’re offered by the provider and the mid-market exchange rate. There’s often an extra fee hidden here, which can quickly mount up. It’s worth knowing also that the fee added to the exchange rate you get may change based on the pay out method. That may mean you get a worse exchange rate when you send money for cash collection compared with having it deposited directly to a bank account.

Third party charges creep in based on your payment method, and the way the transfer is processed. You may incur cash advance charges and interest if you use a credit card, or SWIFT fees if your transfer is processed using the SWIFT network.

With both MoneyGram and Western Union you’ll always see the transfer fee before you confirm your payment. You’ll also be shown the exchange rate you’ll get - but to see the markup that’s added here you’d need to compare it to the mid-market rate yourself.

MoneyGram vs Western Union: which is cheaper?

Using a specialist provider to send money overseas is usually cheaper than relying on your normal bank - and with providers like Western Union and MoneyGram you’ll also have a broader range of payout methods.

Let’s look at this with a transfer example. In the table below, we analysed the costs of sending money from AUD to EUR with Western Union and MoneyGram , through a bank transfer. 

Amount & Currency MoneyGram Western Union Winner?
AUD>1000 EUR 1,610.82 AUD 1,588.31 AUD Western Union
AUD> 5000 EUR 8,054.08 AUD 7,941.54 AUD Western Union

*Rates and fees correct at time of research - 7th January 2022

As you can see, here, Western Union came in cheaper. It’s worth noting, though, that when it comes to international payments direct to a bank account, you may find a cheaper and faster alternative if you look beyond specialists like Western Union and MoneyGram. Choosing a provider with a focus on payments to bank accounts - rather than one which also offers cash collection services - may mean you find a better deal.

MoneyGram Vs Western Union: which is faster?

MoneyGram and Western Union cash collection payments and transfers to a mobile money account arrive in minutes. 

With MoneyGram bank transfers can take anything from a few hours to a day or so - Western Union bank payments can take around 24 hours on major routes, and up to 5 days to other destination countries.

Safety

MoneyGram is licensed in the countries and territories in which it trades.

Western Union also holds an Australian Financial Services License, and is fully regulated in all regions in which it operates.

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: MoneyGram and Western Union both allow customers to create online and in-app accounts, or set up an account at an agent location.
  • Making a transfer: payments can be made online, in app or in person at an agent location.
  • Ways to send money: MoneyGram accepts credit or debit card payments online, or cash at an agent location. Western Union transfers can be funded by bank transfer, credit or debit card, or cash at agent locations.

Supported currencies

MoneyGram serves 200+ countries and territories with a digital service, and a network of 400,000 agents.

Western Union transfers can be made to almost every country in the world with the exception of Iran and North Korea, where sanctions prevent payments being made.

Conclusion

MoneyGram and Western Union offer a similar suite of services, and both have an impressive global coverage with great agent networks. The key strength of both providers is in offering simple, fast payments for cash collection. Choosing between them is likely to be a simple question of which serves your destination country better, and which is more convenient for your recipient.

While both MoneyGram and Western Union also provide bank transfer payments to some destination countries, you may find alternative providers which specialise in this niche are cheaper, with better exchange rates.

Frequently asked questions - MoneyGram vs Western Union

Is MoneyGram or Western Union cheaper?

Whether MoneyGram or Western Union is cheaper for you will depend on the specific service you need.

Is MoneyGram or Western Union faster?

MoneyGram and Western Union transfers to be collected in cash can be ready instantly. MoneyGram bank transfers may take an hour to a day to arrive, while Western Union bank transfers can take up to 5 days for some destinations.

How many currencies do MoneyGram and Western Union support?

Both providers offer payments to 200+ countries and territories, although not all services are available in all destination countries.

Compare international money transfer providers

By Ileana Ionescu Updated January 28th, 2022