Western Union has been in operation since 1851, so it’s no surprise that it’s become a household name in the business of money transfers. In fact, the very concept of a wire transfer comes from Western Union’s usage of telegraph wires to transfer money.
These days, the rise of mobile wallets and online money transfers means you can send money overseas without using Western Union. The best money transfer service for you will depend on which country you want to send money to, how quickly you want it to get there, and how much you’re willing to spend on transfer fees and exchange rates.
Let’s take a look at some Western Union alternatives and how they compare.
11 alternatives to Western Union for money transfers
Remitly focuses on offering fast transfers with low fees. New customers can set up an account using the Remitly mobile app, and their recipient can access the funds via a bank deposit or cash pickup. Remitly offers guaranteed delivery times, and you can receive email, text, or push notifications along the way to track your transfer.
PayPal is one of the most well-known money transfer services in the U.S., with no fees for sending USD to friends and family members from a U.S. bank account. If you pay for your transfer with a debit card or credit card, there’s a fee, and your recipient will need to have a PayPal account of their own to receive the money.
For international transfers, you can use Xoom (a PayPal service), which allows you to send money to a bank account or debit card, or arrange for a cash pickup. The speed and cost of international transfers will vary depending on the country you’re sending to, how you pay, and how your recipient gets the money.
Wise (formerly called TransferWise) is designed for people who want to hold multiple currencies at once or transfer money between different currencies.
Customers can open a “multi-currency account” and maintain a balance in several world currencies. They can also request a Wise debit card and receive money into a local bank account in countries such as Canada and Australia.
Wise charges a mix of fixed and variable fees to send money via debit card or bank transfer.
Revolut is another alternative to Western Union that’s similar to Wise, because it allows you to hold multiple currencies and make international money transfers.
Unlike other Western Union alternatives, Revolut works more like a bank account, with options for receiving a salary, earning interest, and managing stocks from your mobile phone. Revolut’s users can get a certain number of free money transfers per month.
Revolut is only available to residents of the U.S., U.K., the European Economic Area, and a few other countries at this time.
WorldRemit offers several alternatives to a Western Union money transfer, including the ability to add data or minutes to your mobile phone number (i.e., “top-up” your account) or arrange a cash pickup. You can pay using a credit card, a debit card, or a mobile wallet like Apple Pay.
As with other money transfer services, you’ll need to provide a valid government-issued ID before you can make your first transfer.
MoneyGram is nearly as universal as Western Union, with payment services available in hundreds of countries around the world.
As with other transfer services, pricing varies based on your send and receive country. Usually, you’ll pay an upfront transaction fee as well as a markup on the mid-market exchange rate.
Xe is a service provider based in Canada that offers a wide range of online tools related to money transfers and currency conversions. In addition to tracking the exchange rate using the Currency Converter, you can send money from one country to another.
Xe has similar pricing and fees to several other providers, but it does have a few limitations compared to other Western Union alternatives. There are no cash pickup locations, and you can’t use a credit card for international transfers.
Ria Money Transfer is owned by the same parent company as Xe, but it focuses on remittances to countries like Mexico, India, and the Philippines.
It has a similar, but slightly smaller reach, as Western Union. Agent locations are found worldwide.
Skrill is a virtual wallet that’s primarily intended for online gambling—but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as an alternative to Western Union. You can send money to a recipient’s bank account or even to their email address so they can claim it later. Check fees in the app to see the full pricing for a Skrill transfer.
OFX is a foreign exchange service based in Sydney, Australia. You can either make a one-time transfer with a locked-in rate or schedule a recurring transfer for mortgage or tuition payments.
At the time of this writing, OFX has a minimum transfer amount of $1,000 USD, and you’ll have to verify your account registration with a phone call.
Payoneer is an alternative to Western Union aimed at businesses and contractors, such as when you pay a freelancer or manage an e-commerce business. Payoneer has added functionality for small business owners, such as the ability to pay your VAT taxes with GBP.
Why should you compare Western Union alternatives?
Depending on the transfer amount and which transfer method you use, it may not be the cheapest option or the fastest way to send money to your recipient.
By comparing multiple international money transfer services, you’ll be able to choose the one with the best exchange rate or the most convenient payment method.
Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, over 5 million people have used our secure mobile app to send money home with peace of mind.
Download the iPhone or Android app to get started!