MoneyGram vs Western Union
MoneyGram Key Features
- International brand
- Lots of cash pick up locations
Western Union Key Features
- Fast transfer time
- Send money all across the world
The main difference between Western Union and Moneygram is that Western Union has 500,000 agent locations worldwide while MoneyGram has around 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
When sending money abroad, two of the most important factors to consider are the fees associated with your transfer, and the time it will take for your recipient to receive the funds. One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting the best deal regarding both of these factors is to compare providers.
In this comparison, we’ll be taking a side-by-side look at two money transfer giants, Western Union vs MoneyGram, to help you decide which one is most suited to your transfer needs.
At a Glance
- About MoneyGram and Western Union
- Which brand has lower fees?
- Which brand offers better exchange rates?
- Which brand covers more locations?
- Western Union has more physical agent locations across the globe than MoneyGram, but it also supports more countries for online transfers too.
- Which brand offers more transfer & payment options?
- What do users have to say about each brand?
- What brand offers a better ease of use, accessibility & security?
- Additional features
- Case study: sending a variety of amounts
About MoneyGram and Western Union
MoneyGram is a Texas-based money transfer company that was first founded in 1988. It covers over 200 countries and has more than 350,000 agent locations across the world.
MoneyGram is one of the largest money transfer companies in the world, with a large customer base and a wide range of payout options including mobile e-wallets, cash pickups, and bank transfers.
Western Union is the longest-running money transfer provider still operating today, and one of the largest. It covers international transfers to over 200 locations globally and has over 500,000 agent locations to make sending money more convenient and accessible for more people.
Western Union also has a large and loyal customer base, with a number of different payment and payout options including bank deposits and cash pickups.
Quick Summary: Western Union has a bigger coverage, but both are fairly equal
MoneyGram and Western Union are two of the biggest money transfer providers operating today, with decades of experience to back up their services. The two operators are very similar in many ways. Between Western Union vs MoneyGram, both operate in a wide range of countries worldwide with hundreds of thousands of agent locations to make transfers more convenient (although MoneyGram’s 350,000 locations is a little less wide-spread as Western Union’s 500,000 locations), and both operators have made steps to modernise their services with apps in recent years.
With that said, however, their fee structure and exchange rate margins remain largely behind when compared with newer, digitally-led money transfer providers. For this reason, we’d always recommend comparing all the options available to you first.
Which brand has lower fees?
Moneygram’s fee structure is dependent on a number of factors, including:
The location you are sending funds to
The type of payment you opt for
The amount you are sending
Whether you are sending in a single or multiple currencies
As an example, let’s look at the fees for a couple of examples.
If you were to send $200 to Singapore, the fees would be $4.99 for a cash pickup paid for by debit or credit card or by bank transfer. Paying by cash at an agent location, however, returns a ‘fees variable’ note on the Moneygram website, so it’s unclear whether you would pay more or less in person.
As another example, sending $500 to Australia would have a fee of $4.99 for a cash pickup paid for by an online bank account, while paying with your credit or debit card would incur a fee of $9.99.
Western Union equally has a fee structure that can change depending on:
The currency pair you are transferring between
The sum you are sending
Your payment method
Your payout method
Using the same example as with MoneyGram, we can see an example of the fees:
Sending $200 to Singapore would have fees between $0 (for a bank transfer to a bank account), up to $12.00 (for a cash pickup paid for by credit card). Other options include a cash pickup by debit card or bank transfer, which would incur a fee of $5, or fees of $9.99 (credit card) or $2.99 (debit card) when paying for a transfer to be received in the recipient’s bank account.
Equally, sending $500 to Australia has a number of different fees depending on your payment choices. Payment by bank account to the recipient’s bank account has no fees attached (although this is the slowest method), whilst a credit or debit card payment for a bank deposit would have fees of $17.49 or $2.99 respectively. A cash pickup would have fees of $21.50 (credit card payment), $7.00 (debit card), or $5.00 (bank account).
While MoneyGram has more favourable fees when we look specifically at credit card payments, between Western Union vs MoneyGram, the two operators’ fee structure balances out when we look at the overall picture. Western Union has cheaper fees for debit cards and bank transfers and also provides the option for the recipient to receive their payment either as cash or as a bank deposit, something that the MoneyGram website doesn’t always provide.
Which brand offers better exchange rates?
Similarly to fees, the exchange rate margins MoneyGram charges really depends on the currency pair you are transferring between, as well as other variables such as the amount you are sending.
Typically, the provider charges relatively high exchange rate margins compared to other money transfer providers. If you were sending from GBP to EUR, for example, you could expect to be charged around 5.05% above the mid-market rate, while sending to AUD would have margins about 4.23% above the mid-market rate.
Western Union’s exchange rate margin can also vary depending on the currency pair and whether you are making an online or agent transfer.
Typically, the provider is also known for charging relatively high margins compared to other providers. Sending money as a cash pickup can have far higher margins than a bank transfer, for example, while a larger sum can have a higher rate than smaller amounts.
The exchange rate between Western Union vs MoneyGram can vary massively depending on a number of factors for both providers, so it’s difficult to say for definite if one provider has better rates than the other.
Which brand covers more locations?
MoneyGram supports international transfers to over 200 countries around the globe, with over 70 of those countries now digitally enabled for more convenient transfer options. Additionally, MoneyGram has around 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
Western Union supports international transfers to over 200 countries in 130 currencies, with over 500,000 agent locations worldwide.
Western Union has more physical agent locations across the globe than MoneyGram, but it also supports more countries for online transfers too.
Western Union has more physical agent locations across the globe than MoneyGram, but it also supports more countries for online transfers too.
Money sent with MoneyGram is typically ready for cash pickup within minutes after the transfer has been successfully completed. When using a bank account to pay for your transfer (often the most cost-effective method), your transfer can take up to 5 working days, which is fairly typical for bank transfers.
Likewise, Western Union transfers are processed within minutes for cash pickups, but can also take up to 7 working days for bank transfers (again, often the transfer method with the lowest fees).
Comparing Western Union vs MoneyGram, both transfer providers are well-known for providing fast international transfers around the globe within minutes, although organising your transfer to be paid for via a bank account will delay your transfer by several working days.
Which brand offers more transfer & payment options?
MoneyGram allows you to pay for online transfers using a bank account (US only) or with a credit or debit card. You can also pay for your transfer by cash if visiting an agent location directly.
Transfer options are dependent on the country you are sending to. Where allowed, you can decide to transfer the funds to your recipient’s bank account, mobile wallet, prepaid card, or organise a cash pickup.
Western Union allows you to pay for online transfers using your bank account, credit or debit card, or with a cash payment at an agent location.
Transfer options include bank transfers, cash pickups, and mobile wallet deposits.
Both providers offer a fairly similar range of payment and payout options, so other factors may be the decider in your decision.
What do users have to say about each brand?
MoneyGram UK has over 1,400 reviews on Trustpilot with an overall ‘Great’ rating of 4.2 out of 5. The US version, MoneyGram US, has over 3,800 reviews on Trustpilot with an overall ‘Great’ rating of 4 out of 5.
Amongst the positive reviews, MoneyGram is praised for its:
Fast transfer times
Good customer service
However, this money transfer giant does have its fair share of negative reviews, too. These include criticism for transfer times taking longer than expected, negative experiences with customer service, and account closures.
Western Union has over 17,000 reviews on Trustpilot with an overall ‘Average’ rating of 3.3 out of 5.
Amongst the positive reviews, Western Union is particularly praised for:
Great customer service
Ease of use and convenience
Good service at agent locations
However, like MoneyGram, Western Union’s reviews are a mixed bag. Negative reviews report slow transfer times, expensive exchange rates, and trouble contacting customer service when things went wrong with user’s transfers.
MoneyGram has marginally better user reviews than Western Union overall, but it does have considerably fewer reviews than Western Union. Both providers have a broad mix of reviews from previous users, with equal praise for their transfer times and efficiency as well a number of reviews criticising the service of both operators.
What brand offers a better ease of use, accessibility & security?
The MoneyGram international app supports English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and is available on both iOS and Android. In terms of support, the only contact option on the website is to fill out a contact form or to use the service’s help centre. However, MoneyGram does also have many agent locations where you may be able to get assistance face to face.
MoneyGram does authenticate your identity in order for you to be able to send money with them. You can do this by uploading a photo of your passport or other identity documents (such as your driving license) on the app.
As one of the largest money transfer companies in the world, MoneyGram is subjected to a number of regulations to ensure it is capable of keeping your money secure. MoneyGram is licensed as an Authorised Payment Institution in the UK and is also licensed in all 50 US states.
The Western Union app is available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, while the Western Union website supports many different languages around the world. The app is available on both iOS and Android to make international transfers more convenient for users. In terms of customer support, the website has email and telephone options as well as a large resource centre, while many users like the availability of agent locations for support.
Western Union takes you through several steps when first joining in order to verify your identity. This will usually involve uploading a photo of a valid form of ID to the website or directly on the app.
For security measures, Western Union implements Software Composition Analysis (SCA), which is an authentication security layer applied to your payment booking and account access. This is a part of the two-factor authentication (2FA) protocol Western Union has in place to keep your account secure.
Between MoneyGram vs Western Union, both are industry giants, and as such have the security procedures in place to guarantee they can keep your account and your money secure when initiating money transfers with them.
Both operators have made considerable steps in recent years to modernise their offerings to compete with digital transfer startups, and this can be seen in the convenience of their apps to make international transfers easier on the go.
MoneyGram has a Plus Rewards program that gives users the opportunity to earn rewards every time they send money online. Rewards include a 20% discount off your second transfer, 40% of the fee of your transfer after every 5th money transfer, and exclusive ‘members-only’ promotions.
If you’re based in the US, Western Union provides an additional service to pay bills via their service, simply requiring you to insert the name of the biller, the amount, and your account number. Another feature that some users may appreciate is that Western Union provides a tracking number to keep up to date with the status of your transfer, although this is something that many providers offer in some way.
Case study: sending a variety of amounts
At the time of writing, sending this sum to Singapore would have an exchange rate of 1.0000 USD = 1.3350 SGD with MoneyGram. The transfer would incur a fee of $4.99 whether you were paying by card or bank account, with the delivery method as a cash pickup. Transfer times would be minutes with a card payment, or up to 3 – 4 working days with a bank transfer. The total amount received would be 267.01 SGD.
Sending this sum would have the same exchange rate as listed above, but the fees change slightly. You would still incur a $4.99 fee when paying by bank account, whereas a credit or debit card payment would be $14.99 for a cash pickup within minutes. Total received would be 1335.05 SGD.
The provider has a limit of $10,000 USD for online transactions within a 30 day period, so you would not be able to send this amount using the website or app. You might, however, be able to send additional funds if you visited a MoneyGram agent location directly.
At the time of writing, sending this sum to Singapore with Western Union would have an exchange rate of 1.00 USD = 1.3456 SGD. The fees would vary from $0 for a bank deposit paid by bank account, up to a maximum of $12.00 for a cash pickup paid for by credit card. The transfer time would be within minutes if paying by card, or between 0 – 4 working days when paying by bank transfer. The total amount received would be 258.54SGD for a cash pickup paid for by debit card or bank transfer.
This sum would have fees between $0 (bank-to-bank transfer) up to $34.00 when paying by credit card for a cash pickup. The minimum transfer time would be 3 working days, up to 7 working days when paying by bank transfers. Total received would be 1345.00 SGD.
Sending this amount with Western Union would have an exchange rate of 1.00 USD = 1.3551 SGD (at the time of writing), with no fees for a bank deposit paid for by bank transfer. This is the only option for a sum this large. The total amount received would be 27102.00 SGD with a transfer time between 0 – 7 working days.
From Western Union vs MoneyGram case studies, we can see that MoneyGram has a more favourable exchange rate margin and fees for a smaller transfer of $200. However, this then changes in Western Union’s favour for a large fee of $1,000, while MoneyGram is unable to actually support a transfer over $10,000 at all, making Western Union the obvious choice out of the two.
Comparing MoneyGram vs Western Union, both providers are very similar in terms of the way they operate. Both are two of the most long-standing names in the money transfers space, and as such, offer secure and convenient ways to send your money to a wide range of destinations across the globe.
MoneyGram is perhaps the better option when it comweses to fast transfers, while Western Union takes the win for larger sums. However, these two operators aside, you will often find more favourable fees and exchange rates with a newer money transfer provider. For this reason, we’d highly recommend comparing all providers with our comparison tool which you can find at the top of this page to make sure you’re getting the best option for you.