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

What you'll find in this review

  • Safety
  • Exchange Rates
  • Fees
  • How To Get Started With Western Union and PayPal
  • Payment Types and Min & Max Amounts
  • Business Payments
  • Supported Currencies & Countries
  • How Long Does It Take To Transfer Money With Western Union and PayPal
  • Customer Support

 

 

Western Union Logo

Western 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.

PayPal Logo

PayPal is one of the world's most popular payment systems used to purchase goods and pay for services. It is also a way to transfer money to people in other countries.

Safety

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 PayPal

Western Union Online Limited is Regulated by ASIC

Regulated by ASIC

ARBN 141 662 633

Australian Financial Service Licence 304 962

 

Winner: Tie. Both companies hold an AFSL and are regulated by ASIC. In order for any company to provide financial services in Australia, it must be registered with the Australian government body.

 

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

 

Winner: Western Union. You can view the exchange rate before committing to transfer.

 


Compare Australian Banks and Money Transfer Specialists

 


 


 

Fees

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 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.

 

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

 

Winner: Tie. Western Union's fees are much lower than PayPal for larger amounts. PayPal base their fee structure on a percentage, which could end up costing you a lot more for large amounts, but for small amounts, they are the cheaper choice if you pay though PayPal balance.

 

Related: How Much It Really Costs To Transfer Money Overseas

How To Get Started With Western Union and PayPal

To transfer money overseas with either of the providers online, you must register an account to get started. We review the steps for each provider below:

 

Western Union PayPal
1. Sign up on westernunion.com 1. Sign up on paypal.com
2. Verify identity with valid ID (passport, drivers license, proof of age or photo cards) 2. Link your bank account and cards
3. Choose to send online or through a branch 3. Choose to add funds to your account or pay with credit or debit card
4. Select Delivery Method: Send cash to recipient, direct bank transfer or to a mobile phone 4. Enter your recipient's PayPal account details
5. Provide recipient's details 5. Confirm transaction
6. Pay with debit or credit card 6. PayPal exchanges currency, deducts fees and transfers to recipient's PayPal account

 

Winner: Tie. Registering an account and making a transfer with Western Union and PayPal is straightforward and easy.

 

Payment Types and Min & Max Amounts

 

Western Union PayPal

Payment Types Accepted

Check Mark Visa

Check MarkMastercard

Check Mark Debit or Credit Card*

Check Mark Electronic Funds Transfer

Check Mark PayPal Balance or Credit

Check Mark Debit or Credit Card*

Check Mark E-check

Minimum Transfer Amount

AUD 0.01

AUD 0.03

Maximum Transfer Amount

AUD 5,000

No Limit

*Paying with debit or credit may carry a cash advance fee

 

Winner: PayPal. Their service covers most payment methods and unrestrictive transfer amounts.

 

Business Payments

Money transfers for business are supported on both Western Union and PayPal. However, both companies do not provide business specific services like fee-free transfers, spot or forward exchange contracts and an assigned account manager for business which are offered by other money transfer providers like OFX, TorFX or World First.

 

Winner: Western Union. They offer risk management for businesses and access to an expert in business solutions.

 

Supported Currencies and Countries

This is an extensive list of currencies available for transfer on Western Union and PayPal.

 

Western Union PayPal
Albania Lek (ALL)

Angola Kwanza (AOA)

Armenia Dram (AMD)

Australia Dollar (AUD)

Bahamas Dollar (BSD)

Bangladesh Taka (BDT)

Belize Dollar (BZD)

Bhutan Ngultrum (BTN)

Botswana Pula (BWP)

Brunei Dollar (BND)

Burundi Franc (BIF)

Canada Dollar (CAD)

Cayman Island Dollar (KYD)*

China Yuan (business or offshore only) (CNH)

Colombia Peso (COP)

Commuanute Financiere BEAC Africaine Franc (XAF)

Costa Rica Colon (CRC)

Cyprus Pound (CYP)

Denmark Krone (DKK)

Dominican Republic Peso (DOP)

Egypt Pound (EGP)

Eritrean Nafka (ERN)

Ethiopia Birr (ETB)

Falkland Island Pound (FKP)

French Polynesia (Tahiti) Franc (XPF)

Georgia Lari (GEL)

Gibraltar Pound (GIP)

Guatemala Quetzal (GTQ)

Guyana Dollar (GYD)

Honduras Lempira (HNL)*

Hungary Forint (HUF)*

India Rupee (INR)

Iran Rial (IRR)

Israel New Shekel (ILS)

Japan Yen (JPY)

Kazakhstan Tenge (KZT)

Kuwait Dinar (KWD)

Laos Kip (LAK)

Lebanon Pound (LBP)

Liberia Dinar (LRD)*

Macau Pataca (MOP)

Madagascar Ariary (MGA)

Malaysia Ringgit (MYR)

Malta Lira (MTL)

Mauritius Rupee (MUR)

Moldova Leu (MDL)

Morocco Dirham (MAD)

Myanmar Kyat (MMK)

Nepal Rupee (NPR)

New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

Nigeria Naira (NGN)

Oman Rial (OMR)

Papua New Guinea Kina (PGK)

Peru Nuevo Sol (PEN)

Poland Zloty (PLN)

Republic of Congo Franc (CDF)

Russia Ruble (RUB)

São Tomé and Príncipe Dobra (STD)

Serbia Dinar (RSD)

Sierra Leone Leone (SLL)*

Slovakia Koruna (SKK)

Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD)*

South Africa Rand (ZAR)

Sri Lanka Rupee (LKR)

Sudan Pound (SDG)

Swaziland Lilangeni (SZL)

Switzerland Franc (CHF)

Taiwan Dollar (TWD)

Thailand Baht (THB)

Trinidad and Tobago Dollar (TTD)

Turkish Lira (TRY)

Uganda Shilling (UGX)

United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)

Uruguay Peso (UYU)

Vanuatu Vatu (VUV)

Vietnam Dong (VND)

Yemen Rial (YER)

Zambia Kwacha (ZMW)

 

Algeria Dinar (DZD)

Argentina Peso (ARS)

Aruba Guilder (AWG)

Azerbaijan Manat (AZN)

Bahrain Dinar (BHD)

Barbados Dollar (BBD)

Bermuda Dollar (BMD)

Bolivia Boliviano (BOB)

Brazil Real (BRL)

Bulgaria Leva (BGN)

Cambodia Riel (KHR)*

Cape Verde Escudo (CVE)

Chile Peso (CLP)

China Yuan (CNY)

Commuanute Financiere BCEAO Africaine Franc (XOF)

Comoros Franc (KMF)

Croatia Kuna (HRK)

Czech Republic Koruna (CZK)

Djibouti Franc (DJF)*

East Carribbean Dollar (XCD)

El Salvador Colone (SVC)

Estonia Kroon (EEK)

Euro Member Countries Eur (EUR)

Fiji Dollar (FJD)

Gambia Dalasi (GMD)

Ghana Cedi (GHS)

Great Britain Pound (GBP)

Guinea Franc (GNF)

Haiti Gourdes (HTG)*

Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)

Iceland Krona (ISK)

Indonesia Rupiah (IDR)

Iraq Dinar (IQD)

Jamaica Dollar (JMD)

Jordan Dinar (JOD)

Kenya Shilling (KES)

Kyrgystan Som (KGS)

Latvia Lat (LVL)

Lesotho Loti (LSL)

Lithuania Litai (LTL)

Macedonia Dinar (MKD)

Malawi Kwacha (MWK)

Maldives Rufiyaa (MVR)

Mauritania Ouguiya (MRO)

Mexico Peso (MXN)

Mongolia Tugrik (MNT)

Mozambique Metical (MZN)

Namibia Dollar (NAD)

Netherland Antilles Guilder (ANG)

Nicaragua Cordoba Oro (NIO)*

Norway Krone (NOK)

Pakistan Rupee (PKR)

Paraguay Guarani (PYG)

Philippines Peso (PHP)

Qatar Rial (QAR)

Romanian New Leu (RON)

Rwanda Franc (RWF)

Saudia Arabia Riyal (SAR)

Seychelles Rupee (SCR)

Singapore Dollar (SGD)

Slovenia Tolar (SIT)

Somalia Shilling (SOS)

South Korea Won (KRW)

St. Helena Pound (SHP)

Suriname Dollar (SRD)

Sweden Krona (SEK)

Syria Pound (SYP)

Tanzania Shilling (TZS)

Tonga Pa'anga (TOP)

Tunisia Dinar (TND)

Turkmenistan Manat (TMT)

Ukraine Hryvnia (UAH)

United States Dollar (USD)

Uzbekistan Som (UZS)*

Venezuela Bolívar Fuerte (VEF)

West Samoa Tala (WST)*

Zambia Kwacha (ZMK)

Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWL)

 

AUD – Australian Dollar

BRL – Brazilian Real

CAD – Canadian Dollars

CHF – Swiss Franc

CZK – Czech Koruna

DKK – Danish Krone

EUR – Euro

GBP – Great Britain Pound

HKD – Hong Kong Dollar

HUF – Hungarian Forint

ILS – Israeli Shekel

JPY – Japanese Yen

MYR – Malaysian Ringgit

MXN – Mexican Peso

NOK – Norwegian Krone

NZD – New Zealand Dollar

PHP – Philippine Peso

PLN – Polish Zloty

RUB – Russian Rouble

SEK – Swedish Krona

SGD – Singapore Dollar

THB – Thai Baht

TRY – Turkish Lira

TWD – New Taiwan Dollar

USD – United States Dollar

 

Winner: Depending on the currency and country you are sending funds to, we'll let you decide who's the winner of this segment.

 

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

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 PayPal

Cash:

Within minutes

Bank transfer from Australia to:

UK: 3 – 4 working days

New Zealand: 3 working days

Between 3 – 5 working days

 

Winner: Western Union. Their cash transfer allows you to get money overseas within minutes.

 

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).

To get in touch with PayPal Australia, call 1800 073 263.

 

Winner: Tie.

 

Final Verdict

Western Union is the overall winner.

Both companies excel in different areas. Dending on your needs, you may want to choose one over the other.

Generally, we found Western Union's exchange rate and fees more transparent than PayPal's. If you need to send funds overseas urgently, Western Union is one of the best choice. You can choose to send money online or at a branch with the option for your recipent to receive in cash, bank transfer or through their mobile.

Their exchange rates and fees are reasonable and certainly better than the banks.

Just remember to compare the exchange rates before you decide to transfer as rates change all the time.

 


Fee Free Offer

OFX is a trusted partner of The Currency Shop. OFX customers using this link through The Currency Shop will not incur a transfer fee for their international money transfers, regardless of the size of the transaction.

Learn More

Minimum transfer $250. Please note that the receiving bank or intermediary bank may charge fees on transactions.


 

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Helping You Save Money on Currency

Buying travel money or transferring money overseas can be expensive and confusing. So how do you make the best choice and get the most out of your money?

An easy way is to use a comparison table for either international money transfers or currency exchange. These tables list and compare the banks with other large foreign exchange companies.

We’ve also put together tons of helpful videosguides and reviews that will help you make the right decision. You can work out a cheaper way of converting currency while still keeping your money safe.