Old School Western Union vs New Tech TransferWise: Which is Cheaper?

Looking for better and cheaper ways to make an international money transfer? Find out which service is better, Western Union or TransferWise.

The Important Bits

TransferWise

Safety: Based in the UK, licensed and well backed

Rates: You receive the interbank exchange rate on google

Fees: Percentage based fee

Speed: 1-2 business days for most transfers

Service: Limited phone support but excellent online resources

Western Union

Safety:One of the largest 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

The Verdict

Safety: Western Union is one of the oldest and largest money transfer companies in the world

Rates: TransferWise gives the interbank rate and will always be better

Fees: TransferWise is clear and transparent. It's really hard to get an estimate on Western Union fees because they vary so much

Speed: Western Union is incredibly quick for services like cash pick up but are about the same as TransferWise for money transfers to a bank account

Service: Western Union has a huge network of physical stores making it easier to talk to someone in person. TransferWise has much better online support.

 

In so many ways, this is  case of old vs new, but there is a lot more to it than just technology.

Western Union is still a really good option if you want someone to pick up cash. This is because of their incredibly large branch network. It's easy and quick to send cash abroad. It's just not cheap.

TransferWise on the other hand are a cheaper option for money transfers to a bank account. They don't allow you to send to as many countries as Western Union but they have most of the globe covered.

Learn more about TransferWise

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.

 

TransferWise LogoTransferWise is a peer to peer money transfer service that is often recognised for its fast transfers and bank-beating exchange rates and fees. The company’s headquarters is located in London and has offices in New York and Tallinn.

Safety

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

TransferWise are regulated by ASIC & AUSTRAC (AFSL 456295)

Exchange Rates

Like banks, money transfer providers usually 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.

TransferWise sells currency to customers based on the mid-market exchange rate, which is the exchange rate bought at a wholesale price. The company makes its profit through fees instead.

Before making a decision, it is important to compare live exchange rates offered by each provider.

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

  1. View live rates online at Western Union or TransferWise
  2. Use TransferWise‘s currency calculator
  3. Compare exchange rates of up to 8 different providers at once with our comparison engine

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.

As mentioned above, fees are the primary way TransferWise makes money. That’s why it’s just as important to compare fees as well as exchange rates.

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 if paying by credit or debit. In addition, your recipient’s bank could charge a deposit fee or corresponding bank fee to deposit the funds.

 

Western Union TransferWise

Direct transfer to bank

AUD to GBP or NZD: $15 AUD fee

AUD to INR: No fee

0.7% of transfer amounting up to AUD 10,000 (minimum fee AUD 2)

Recipient pick up money in cash

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

AUD to INR: $25 AUD

0.7% on initial AUD 10,000 plus 0.5% on anything over

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

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 TransferWise
Cash:

Within minutes

Bank transfer from Australia to:

UK: 3 – 4 working days

New Zealand: 3 working days

Between 1 – 3 working days

 

What Currencies Can I Transfer?

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

To get in touch with TransferWise Australia, call +61 28 0466 244 (within Australia).

Final thoughts

In so many ways, this is  case of old vs new, but there is a lot more to it than just technology.

Western Union is still a really good option if you want someone to pick up cash. This is because of their incredibly large branch network. It's easy and quick to send cash abroad. It's just not cheap.

TransferWise on the other hand are a cheaper option for money transfers to a bank account. They don't allow you to send to as many countries as Western Union but they have most of the globe covered.

Learn more about TransferWise

Learn more about Western Union

Compare money transfer services like Western Union and TransferWise

The best deal for you

TransferwiseRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,140.93Exchange Rate0.7172Transfer Fees$43.32Transfer Time1-2 DaysLearn MoreTotal (USD)$7,140.93Rate Updated less than 2 mins ago
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,140.93 including $43.32 in fees
GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,140.93 including $43.32 in fees

About TransferWise

Transparency and an easy online experience are the 2 things that set TransferWise apart from the banks and other money transfer companies. If you prefer to bank online, you'll like TransferWise. Setting up an account and making a transfer is very easy. They are also very clear on the exchange rate and fees you'll pay before you make a transfer. Click here for the full review

Pros

  • Clear and transparent exchange rates fees
  • The online experience is first class
  • Like the banks, they are regulated by ASIC and registered with AFSL
  • Constantly bringing out new innovative products

Cons

  • There are currently a number of global currencies they do not currently support
  • Limited support based in Australia
  • Percentage based fee can add up on very large transfers

More trusted money transfer options

Provider Exchange Rate Transfer Fees Transfer TimeTotal (USD) Rate Updated less than 2 mins ago
TorFXRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,136.14$4.79 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7136 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time2-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,136.14$4.79 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,136.14 with no fees.

About TorFX

TorFX are particularly good taking care of customers over the phone but using their website isn't the easiest to use. They don't charge a flat fee which is great but it's important to consider their exchange rates. While, they don't offer fantastic rates for small amounts under $2000 , TorFX offer exceptionally good exchange rates for larger transfers to the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.

Pros

  • No transfer fees
  • Highly competitive exchange rates
  • Secure transfers with authorised
  • Assigned account manager
  • 24 / 7 Assistance
  • Available range of transfer options

Cons

  • Limited exotic currencies available
  • Exchange rates on small transfers aren't great
  • Website experience could be better
XERead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,130.40$10.53 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7130 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time2-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,130.40$10.53 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,130.40 with no fees.

About XE

XE is a well known and trusted name in the money transfer industry. With over twenty years experience, they now help 33,000 people and 2,000 businesses make transfers each year. Over 60 currencies can be transferred with XE and they pride themselves on the free tools and transparent rates they offer. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • Well known and trusted brand.
  • Very informative website. Extensive information on currency and money transfers.
  • XE App is available on both iOS and Android. It allows you to see the interbank rate for over 100 currencies.
  • XE themselves charge no fees for international money transfers.
  • Offers support for both individuals and businesses when it comes to international money transfers.

Cons

  • Cannot pay via cash or cheque. Must pay via bank transfer, BPay is also accepted in Australia.
  • Maximum transfer amount is $500,000USD.
  • While XE compares more than 100 currencies, there are only 60 that are available for money transfers.
WorldFirstRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,128.97$11.96 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7129 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time2-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,128.97$11.96 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,128.97 with no fees.

About World First

World First was founded in 2004 in the UK and has grown rapidly with offices now in the U.S., Canada and throughout Asia. They consistently receive strong customer reviews and in a recent study, 98% of their clients said they would use them again.World First have a strong online offering, particular for businesses selling online. They do provide local support as well with offices in Sydney. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • No fees and great exchange rates
  • Safe and secure transfers
  • Regulated by ASIC and registered with AFSL
  • Great for personal and business payments

Cons

  • Does not accept BPAY, credit card, cheque or cash
  • Limited currencies available
WorldRemitRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,076.28$64.65 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7079 Transfer Fees$3.99 Transfer Time1-2 DaysGet discounted rate $7,076.28$64.65 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,076.28 including $3.99 in fees

About WorldRemit

WorldRemit are particularly good for transfers under $10,000 to destinations across Asia, Africa and South America. Sending money online is significantly easier than using companies like Western Union or Moneygram and their exchange rates and fees are clear and transparent. With 2 million users, WorldRemit has a focus on improving access to remittances for the billions people worldwide who don’t have access to banking. Because of this, WorldRemit has a number of ways to both make and receive transfers. They concentrate on servicing individual needs as opposed to businesses. Click here for the full review

Pros

  • They have a great network in Asia and Africa and number of receiving options like cash-pick up or bank transfer.
  • They are clear about their exchange rates and fees
  • No minimum amount

Cons

  • Maximum transfer sizes for every transfer
  • No support for business customers
  • They are not licensed to provide financial advice.
OFXRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,064.39$76.54 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7075 Transfer Fees$15.00 Transfer Time1-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,064.39$76.54 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,064.39 including $15.00 in fees

About OFX

OFX (formally known as Ozforex) is the largest Australian owned money transfer company. It launched in 1998 and grew rapidly until finally listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2013. OFX excels in 2 areas – Online experience and customer service. The company was born online and continues to develop easy, intuitive products. While OFX customers do most of their transactions online, they are backed up with exceptional customer service.

Pros

  • Better exchange rates compared to banks
  • Highly safe and secure transfers
  • 1 - 2 days delivery times for most countries
  • Quick response time
  • Fantastic customer service

Cons

  • Credit cards, cheques and cash are not accepted
  • Transfers to Thailand can take up to 4 days
  • Fees for transfers smaller transfers
ANZRead ReviewTotal (USD)$6,920.00$220.93 more expensive Exchange Rate0.6920 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time1-2 DaysGet discounted rate $6,920.00$220.93 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $6,920.00 with no fees.
ANZ International Money Transfer is a secure and fast way to transfer money overseas.

Pros:

  • Fast transfers
  • Safe and secure
  • No fee for transfers under $10 000 via Internet banking

Cons

  • $12 fee for transfers under $10 000 via Internet banking
  • Poor exchange rates
  • 24 hour hotline not available
Commonwealth BankRead ReviewTotal (USD)$6,771.86$369.07 more expensive Exchange Rate0.6780 Transfer Fees$12.00 Transfer Time1-2 DaysGet discounted rate $6,771.86$369.07 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $6,771.86 including $12.00 in fees
Commonwealth Bank provides secure and easy transfers to over 200 countries and more than 30 currencies.

Pros:

  • Fast transfers+ Easy transfers
  • Security guarantee covers any losses from unauthorised transactions

Cons

  • $6 fee for transfers under $1000 via Internet banking
  • $12 fee for transfers under $1000 via Internet banking
  • Poor exchange rates
Take into account that we have not compared absolutely every bank and company in Australia. We compare the large, safe and reputable banks and foreign exchange companies that we have already researched, tested and approved. We also may receive a referral fee if you choose one of these banks or companies, but that wont affect the exchange rates or fees you get.