Western Union vs PayPal:
Are They Still Cheap?

Need to make an international money transfer? Western Union and PayPal are good alternatives to a bank. Find out which option is cheaper and if it will suit your needs.

Western Union vs PayPal: The Important Bits

Western Union

Safety: One of the largest and oldest payment companies in the world

Rates: Vary depending on the situation

Fees: Fee vary depending on product, country etc

Speed: Also depends on the service you use but can instant

Service: Offer online, app and in-store support


Safety: One of the largest payment companies in the world

Rates: Vary depending on the situation

Fees: A lot depends on the country but is usually percentage based

Speed: Usually quick but can be up to 6 business days

Service: Average customer service both on and offline

The Verdict

These are two of the best known names in money transfers, but are they still a cheap way to transfer money?

In most cases - no.

Western Union is incredibly convenient and fast if you need to send cash to someone overseas in a hurry.

PayPal is incredibly quick and easy to use, particularly if the other person has a PayPal account.

While both are usually cheaper than a bank, there are now companies that do exactly the same thing, but with better exchange rates and lower fees.

If you are still keen to use either Western Union or PayPal, here is a review of both, head-to-head.

Learn more about Western Union

Learn more about PayPal

Fee Free Offer

The Currency Shop has partnered with OFX to offer fee free money transfers. Click on this offer, register your details and avoid paying a fee to transfer money overseas.

  • After 20 years, OFX is one of the oldest money transfer companies and they have the expertise to go with it.
  • Their rates are often better than the banks, especially for larger transfers.
  • 24/7 phone support.
  • They have a minimum transfer amount of $250
  • Receiving or intermediary banks may charge fees on transactions

Learn More About OFX


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 Union Online Limited is Regulated by ASIC (RBN 141 662 633)

Paypal is regulated by ASIC (Australian Financial Service Licence 304 962)

Exchange Rates

Like banks, Western Union and PayPal make their money in two main ways: Firstly, the margin from which they purchase currency at a wholesale rate and the cost of currency sold on to customers. Secondly, an additional transaction fee.

In Western Union's case, the exchange rate can be widely varied, depending on the currency, country, and method of payment. The company has a price estimator on its website that allows you to look up its exchange rates.

PayPal uses a retail exchange rate, which is a comparatively poor rate. Their rate offered is the rate you would get if you bought currency at the airport, which is one of the worst ways to buy currency. If you make payment with a credit or debit card, you could choose to use the currency conversion rate determined by your card provider instead.

Before making a decision, it is important to compare live exchange rates. It is more difficult to get clear information of PayPal's rates as you can only see the converted amount afer you commit to buy.

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

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


Western Union's fee structure depends on the country, currency and the way you send money to your recipient. 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.

PayPal's fees are calculated on a percentage and payment method, depending on the country. You can choose to add funds to your PayPal account or pay with a credit or debit card.

Be mindful that there could be more fees involved 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.


Western Union PayPal
Direct transfer to bank

AUD to GBP or NZD: $15 AUD fee

AUD to INR: No fee

PayPal Balance

0.5% to 3.3% depending on the country

Recipient pick up money in cash

AUD to GBP, NZD or USD: $30 AUD fee

AUD to INR: $25 AUD

Credit or debit card

3.9% – 7.4% plus a flat fee depending on the country

Time For Transfer To Reach Recipient

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

  • Cash: Within minutes
  • Bank transfer from Australia to:

    UK: 3 – 4 working days

    New Zealand: 3 working days


  • 3 – 5 working days

What Currencies Can I Transfer?

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

TransferWise Review

Customer Support

Should you have any queries, you can contact Western Union at 1800 173 833 (within Australia) or +61 2 9231 9729 (outside Australia).

Learn more about Western Union

Learn more about PayPal

By Justin Rampono Updated May 27th, 2020