Western Union vs Wise

Western Union vs Wise


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Considering Western Union vs Wise for your money transfers? These two prominent services have distinct differences that set them apart.

Wise is known for its low fees, competitive exchange rates, and speedy transfers. However, how does it measure up against Western Union’s extensive experience, cash pickup options, and global reach?

In this detailed comparison, we’ll explore the features and offerings of both services, allowing you to make an informed decision about which one best suits your needs.


Western UnionWise
New user incentiveFirst transfer for free
Fees and costs🟢
Transfer speed🟢
Transfer limits🟢
Ease of use🟢
Customer reviews🟢🟢
Try Western UnionTry Wise

Western Union vs Wise Company Comparison

Western Union

Western Union is one of the world’s most established money transfer companies. Founded in 1851, the company has a long history of providing money transfer services. 

In-person transfers can be made at one of Western Union’s 500,000+ physical locations around the world. This allows people to receive payments in cash for collection or home delivery. It’s also available in 130+ currencies across over 200 countries. 

New customer incentives: New users can send their first transfers for free. There’s also a loyalty program called My WU Rewards. This allows you to receive points for transfers that can accumulate over time and be used to reduce transfer fees or to receive rewards, such as cash-back coupons.  


Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is a relatively new player compared to Western Union. Founded in 2011, Wise has quickly become one of the most popular options for international money transfers due to its low fees and competitive exchange rates. 

Wise has a multi-currency account which allows users to manage their finances using multiple currencies. The company has made a name for itself by offering a simple and transparent service with no hidden fees, along with fast transfer times. 

New customer incentives: If you’ve been invited to signup for a Wise account by someone else, you’ll receive a discount code that either removes or reduces the fee on your first transfer. This offer is applied automatically and is available for all currencies. 

Western Union has the experience, reach, and physical locations that Wise doesn’t offer. However, Wise’s low fees, competitive exchange rates, and fast direct bank transfers make them a better option for people who want to save money and transfer large sums of money faster.

See our review of Wise.

Fees and Costs

Western Union

Western Union charges fees for its money transfer services, which vary based on the amount being sent, the destination country, and the payment method. The company also charges a currency exchange fee for transactions involving a currency conversion. 


Wise is known for its low fees and competitive exchange rates. The company typically charges a flat fee for each transfer, which is based on the amount being sent and the destination country. 

Wise’s fees are lower than Western Union, making it a cost-effective option for sending money abroad. Additionally, Wise provides its customers with a transparent breakdown of the fees and exchange rate for each transfer, so you can see exactly what you’ll pay before you complete a transaction.

Western UnionWise
Transaction FeeDepends on the destination and transaction amountAround 0.45% of the total transfer amount for most major currencies
Exchange RateDepends on destination and transaction amountDynamic, based on market rates
Credit Card FeeDepends on the transaction0.3% to 2% for debit/credit card payments, 0.15% for ACH transfers, 0 for bank transfers
Minimum Limit$20$1
Maximum Limit (24 hours)$50,00050,000 USD per transfer on a personal account and 250,000 USD per transfer on a business account.
Total Upfront QuoteAvailableAvailable

Exchange Rates


Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate, which is the rate that banks use when they trade currencies with each other. This rate is generally more favorable than the exchange rates offered by traditional money transfer services. Additionally, Wise doesn’t add a markup to the mid-market exchange rate. 

Western Union

The exchange rates offered by Western Union can vary greatly, and the company makes a profit from the difference between the exchange rate it buys and the exchange rate it sells. In some cases, Western Union may also charge additional fees for the currency exchange, further reducing the amount received by the recipient.

Wise is the clear winner when it comes to the exchange rate as it doesn’t add a markup, unlike Western Union. For those looking to maximize the amount of money received by the recipient, Wise is the better choice. 


Western Union

Western Union is regulated by various government agencies, including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the United States and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom. 

Encryption technology is used to protect sensitive information. Users are also pleased to find that Western Union offers fraud protection services. However, some customers have reported issues with lost funds and long wait times for a resolution. 


Wise is regulated by the FCA, as well as other agencies in the countries in which it operates. It uses encryption and two-factor authentication for added security. 

While both companies are considered safe, Wise is the better choice when it comes to safety, based on customer reviews. 

Transfer Speed

Western Union

Western Union offers a range of transfer speeds, with in-person transfers being the fastest option. In-person transfers at agent locations can be completed in minutes, making Western Union a good choice for those who need to transfer money quickly.

Online and mobile transfers with Western Union can take longer, with transfer times ranging from a few minutes to several days, depending on the destination country and the transfer method.


Wise provides fast online transfers between bank accounts in different countries. Transfers with Wise can take as little as a few hours, depending on the destination country and the processing time of the recipient’s bank. 

Wise is generally faster than Western Union with some transfers being completed within seconds. However, this will vary depending on the destination country, transfer amount, and currency. 

Ease of Use

Western Union

Western Union has a straightforward and easy-to-use online platform, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. The process of setting up an account with Western Union is simple and the company offers in-person services for those who prefer face-to-face interaction.


Wise also offers a user-friendly platform, with an easy-to-use website and mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. Setting up an account with Wise is quick and simple.

In terms of ease-of-use reviews, both Western Union and Wise have received positive feedback from customers. However, some customers have reported issues with Western Union’s online platform and mobile app, including transfer delays and unclear fee structures. 

Wise has received fewer complaints, with customers praising the company’s straightforward and user-friendly platform, as well as its fast transfer speeds. Having said that, those who prefer to receive support with a physical branch may prefer the agent locations available from Western Union. 

Customer Reviews

Western Union

On Trustpilot, Western Union has a 6.5/10 rating based on over 10,000 reviews. The majority of reviews are positive, with customers praising the company’s fast transfer speeds and convenient locations. 

On the Android store, Western Union has a rating of 3.9 stars, based on over 5,000 reviews. It also has a 4.3/5 star rating based on over 5,000 reviews on the Apple Store. 

The majority of Western Union reviews are positive, with customers happy about the company’s transfer speeds and agent locations. However, some customers have reported issues with the company’s customer service and high fees. 


Wise has a score of 8.8/10 on TrustPilot, based on over 60,000 reviews. It has a rating of 4.8 stars on the Android store, based on over 50,000 reviews, and a rating of 4.7 stars on the Apple store, based on over 10,000 reviews. 

Many of these reviews are positive, with customers praising the company’s low fees, fast transfer speeds, and user-friendly platform. However, some customers notice that weekend transfers can take longer than weekday transfers.

Both Western Union and Wise have their pros and cons, but Wise has a higher overall rating and more positive feedback from customers. 


Western Union has a network of over 500,000 agent locations in over 200 countries, making it one of the largest money transfer companies in the world. 

Wise is available in over 60 countries and territories, including the UK, the US, Australia, and countries in Europe. 

Western Union is the better choice for those looking for a money transfer service with a wider global presence.

Final Verdict

Western Union is best for people who want to transfer money to more countries in the world and have the option to send transfers for cash pickups or home deliveries. Wise, on the other hand, is cheaper, offers reliably fast transfer speeds, and ensures that it’s transparent about its fees. 

After reading through our comparison post below, we hope that you’re left with a better sense of what Western Union and Wise have to offer. 


Is there a better solution than Wise?

Remitly is an excellent alternative due to how it offers cash pickup locations and home delivery options, features that Wise doesn’t offer. Remitly is also available in 47 currencies and has a paid express delivery option which can complete transfers within seconds. 

However, most of Wise’s transfers are completed within hours without an additional fee. Its services are also cheaper than Remitly. 

Which is cheaper, Western Union or Wise?

Wise is cheaper than Western Union as it charges lower fees and doesn’t add a markup to the exchange rate.

How many currencies do Western Union and Wise support?

Western Union supports over 130 currencies, making it a versatile option for sending money internationally. Wise supports over 20 currencies with its multi-currency account allowing you to hold and manage 50+ currencies. 


  1. www.westernunion.com
  2. www.wise.com
  3. https://www.trustpilot.com/review/westernunion.com
  4. https://www.trustpilot.com/review/transferwise.com
  5. https://www.forbes.com/western-union/?sh=5a5d8a1a18f9
  6. https://www.businessinsider.com/transferwise
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