👀 Struggling to choose between Western Union and Remitly? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
At a glance, Western Union has been around since the 1850s and is widely available with cash pickup options. Remitly offers competitive prices and cash pickups too, but how do they stack up against the more established Western Union?
In this post, we compare the two services in detail, including fees, availability, transfer options, and customer reviews.
|New user incentive
|$0-fee first transfer
|Fees and costs
|Ease of use
Western Union vs Remitly: Company Comparison
Founded in 1851, Western Union is a well-established international money transfer service. It has over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and supports more than 130 currencies. This makes it a widely available money transfer service where users can visit agent locations for support, as well as to deposit cash for transfers or pickup cash.
Domestic transfers can take up to 24 hours, while international transfers take up to five business days. Western Union also has a ‘slow-to-pay’ list where it can take up to 21 days for these countries to receive transfers.
New customer incentives: New users can send their first transfer for free. They also offer a My WU Rewards program that provides users with points when they make transfers. Customers can store these points and use them to reduce the costs of future transfer fees.
Remitly was founded in 2011 to reduce the transfer fee for immigrants sending money back home.
The company lets you send money from 28 countries to more than 100 receiving countries. It offers a home delivery service to send cash to the recipient and has more than 350,000 cash pickup locations worldwide.
Remitly offers two transfer options that include Economy and Express. The Economy transfer can take up to 3-5 business days, whereas if you make an Express transfer with your debit card, you can have the money transferred in just a few minutes.
New customer incentives: Promotional rates, discounts, and bonuses are often available for new Remitly users. These offers are interchangeable and differ depending on when you signup for an account. All of the offers they provide to new users are automatically applied to the account.
Western Union offers more agent locations and destination countries than Remitly. However, Remitly’s Express transfer option is worth considering for those who need to make more urgent transfers.
See our review of Remitly.
Fees & Costs Comparison
Western Union doesn’t have a fixed transfer fee for its local or international transfers. The transfer fee varies based on the payment method, transfer amount, recipient country, and the form of payment (via an agent or online).
Bank transfers are free but they can take longer. Payments using a debit or credit card are faster, but they’ll cost you more. Your bank may also charge an origination fee, a landing fee for the recipient, and a credit card fee.
Remitly’s transfer fee depends upon the transfer amount, recipient country, payment method, and transfer speed. An Express transfer costs more than an Economy transfer.
The company also charges $3.99 on average for transfers below $1000, while transfers above $1000 are free. A 3% fee is charged for credit card payments.
Overall, transfers through Remitly are cheaper than Western Union.
|30% for local transfers$50 for international transfers3% for international payments in foreign currencies
|Depends on destination
Economy: $3-$10 on average
Express: $3-$16 on average
|3-6% above the mid-market rate
|0.5% to 3.0% above the mid-market rate
|Credit Card Fee
|Depends on transaction
|3% of the transfer amount
|Maximum Limit (24 hours)
|Total Amount Upfront Quote
Exchange Rate Comparison
Western Union’s total fee includes an exchange rate with added markup depending on the currencies involved, transfer amount, and destination country. The markup is usually between 3%-6%. The company’s calculator breaks down the total cost before you complete a transfer.
Remitly includes a 0.5%-3% margin on top of the mid-market rate. You’re provided with a breakdown of costs before confirming a transfer which provides you with transparency about the fees.
Even though both companies include a markup on the exchange rate, Remitly is cheaper with a lower markup percentage.
Western Union is a licensed money transmitter. The company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the United States.
Western Union ensures money is sent to the right person using photo identification and tracking number (MTCN) verification. They use 128-SSL encryption to protect your financial data.
Western Union also informs its agents and customers on how to avoid ongoing frauds and scams.
Remitly is regulated by the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and licensed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the United States. It is also licensed by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom.
The company uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) for its website and app. To secure your sensitive information, Remilty adopts modern protocols, including AES256 and 2048-bit RSA.
Both companies are regulated by strict and reputable agencies worldwide to ensure safety protocols are met.
Transfer Speed Comparison
Domestic transfers are completed within 24 hours, while international transfers can take up to 5-7 business days. Western Union’s transfer speed depends on the destination country, payment method, and currencies involved.
You can send money instantly for a cash pickup using your debit card, credit card, or bank transfer. However, this costs more than the other payment methods.
Western Union classifies some countries as ‘slow-to-pay’ due to their security protocols. Payments to these countries can take up to 21 days.
Remitly offers two payment speeds for customers to choose from which include Economy and Express.
The Economy option is cheaper and transfers payments in 3 to 5 business days.
However, if you need to transfer money urgently, you can pay an additional fee to send money within as little as 15 minutes using the Express transfer option.
Western Union’s cash transfers can be quick, but its online transfers are generally slow. Remitly is best for fast transfers due to the Express option.
Ease of use comparison
- Creating an Account: Remitly and Western Union both allow users to create an account through their website or app easily.
- Funding Methods: Remitly’s payment methods include credit cards/ debit cards, prepaid cards, bank transfers, maestro cards, and bank accounts. Western Union lets you pay with your credit/debit card and through agent locations.
- Apps: Both services have well-secured mobile apps that you can download on Android and Apple devices.
- Transfer Limits: Western Union has a minimum transfer limit of $20 and a maximum transfer limit of $50,000 for verified users. Unverified WU users are limited to $3,000 per day. Remitly’s limits depend on the three tiers. These are different for 24 hours, 30 days, and 180 days. The daily limit for the first tier is $2,999, $6,000 for the second, and $10,000 for the third. The minimum limit is $1.
- Customer Support: Remitly’s help center is available in 15 languages. They also offer 24/7 customer support via phone chat and email. Western Union’s customer support includes email addresses and over 25 international phone numbers. Users can also visit Western Union’s agent locations which can be located on the app.
- Currency Options: Western Union gives you over 130 currency options, whereas Remitly allows payments in 70 currencies.
Customer Review Comparison
Western Union has 4.6/5 stars on the Google Play store, 4.8/5 on Apple Store, and 3.9/5 stars on Trustpilot.
Users were impressed with Western Union’s widely accessible locations and cash pickup options. However, many users were frustrated with the company’s slow website and the ads on the app. Others complained of unsupportive customer service.
Remitly has 4.8/5 stars on the Google Play store, 4.9/5 on Apple Store, and 4.1/5 stars on Trustpilot.
Users were pleased with the company’s easy-to-use app and cheap exchange rates. Some customers had problems with the app, but most complaints were about Remitly’s unsatisfactory customer support.
Western Union and Wise have issues regarding their customer support teams. However, Remitly has more positive reviews with users having a better overall experience compared to Western Union users.
Western Union has 500,000 agent locations across 200 countries. It also offers transfers in over 130 currencies.
Remitly lets you send money from 28 countries to over 100 receiving countries. They have 350,000 cash pickup locations around the world and offer 70 currencies.
Western Union is the clear winner when it comes to availability. Remitly has cheaper rates and cash pickup locations, but Western Union is available in more countries, offers more currencies, and provides over half a million agent locations.
Overall, Remitly is a cheaper and faster money transfer service. Whilst Western Union has more availability, it also has higher fees and slower transfer times.
After reading through our post, we hope that you have a better understanding of what both of these money transfer services have to offer so that you can determine which is best for you.
Is there a better solution than Remitly?
Revolut offers similar services to Remitly but is more widely available, operating in over 200 countries with 150 currency options. Revolut also offers an international debit card that allows travelers to spend overseas at affordable rates.
Which is cheaper, Western Union or Remitly?
Western Union charges a higher transfer fee and includes a higher margin markup in their exchange rate than Remitly. Remitly’s fees and exchange rate markups are cheaper than WU’s.
How many currencies do Western Union and Remitly support?
Western Union supports over 130 currencies, while Remitly supports only 70 currencies.