WorldRemit vs Western Union: Similar on service, but not on rates and fees

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

The Important Bits

WorldRemit

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: Based in the UK, licensed and privately owned

Rates: Depends on the currency and amount you are sending

Fees: Fee depends on the currency and amount

Speed: 1-2 business days for most transfers

Service: Fairly good support over the phone and online

The Verdict

  1. Safety: Western Union is one of the oldest and largest money transfer companies in the world.
  2. Rates: On most remittances, WorldRemit offers better exchange rates.
  3. Fees: WorldRemit is clear and transparent. It's really hard to get an estimate on Western Union fees, because they vary so much.
  4. Speed: Western Union is incredibly quick for services like cash pick up, but are about the same as WorldRemit for money transfers to a bank account
  5. Service: Similar services like bank transfers and cash pick-up.

 

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 for an emergency. This is because of their incredibly large branch network. It's easy and quick to send cash abroad. But it's just not cheap.

WorldRemit, on the other hand, are a cheaper option in almost every other circumstance.  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 WorldRemit

Learn more about Western Union

Let's have a look at them in more detail

WorldRemit was established in 2010 by Ismail Ahmed, who wanted to find a more affordable way of sending money back to his home country in Africa. This came from  the frustration associated with transferring money from London. WorldRemit secured an investment of £40 million from Accel Partners, who has also invested in companies such as Facebook, Spotify and Dropbox. Then in 2015, WorldRemit secured it’s second big investment of £100 million from Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV).

 

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.

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.

 

Western Union WorldRemit
Western Union Online Limited is Regulated by ASIC WorldRemit Pty Ltd is Registered with AUSTRAC
ARBN 141 662 633 ARBN 23 154 871 011

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.

WorldRemit adds a margin to the exchange rate depending on the currency.

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, WorldRemit and other providers:

  1. View live rates online at Western Union or WorldRemit
  2. Use WorldRemit'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.

WorldRemit’s fee structure is a little bit complex. There isn’t a flat fee or even a set percentage fee. Their fee differs depending on the amount and where you are sending the funds.

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 WorldRemit

Direct transfer to bank

AUD to GBP or NZD: $15 AUD fee

AUD to INR: No fee

First transfer has zero fees

Recipient pick up money in cash

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

AUD to INR: $25 AUD

$3.99 for subsequent transfers (for most countries)

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

The transfer speed depends on the amount and type of currency, country of transfer and turnaround time of your bank to clear payment.

 

WorldRemit Western Union
Varies from minutes to 3 days Cash:

Within minutes

Bank transfer from Australia to:

UK: 3 – 4 working days

New Zealand: 3 working days

What Currencies Can I Transfer?

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

Customer Support

To get in touch with WorldRemit, call +61 2 6145 2161 (within Australia).

Should you have any queries, you can contact Western Union at 1800 173 833 (within Australia) or +61 2 9231 9729 (outside 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 for an emergency. This is because of their incredibly large branch network. It's easy and quick to send cash abroad. But it's just not cheap.

WorldRemit, on the other hand, are a cheaper option in almost every other circumstance.  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 WorldRemit

Learn more about Western Union