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Western Union vs Wise (TransferWise)

Which money transfer service has less fees and better rates when you need to send funds overseas?

When you need to send money overseas from Australia, choosing the right provider to handle the transaction is crucial. Poor exchange rates and high transfer fees can turn a simple transaction into an expensive nightmare and leave a big hole in your bank balance, so it's worth comparing transfer providers before sending any funds overseas.

Western Union and Wise both offer international money transfer services from Australia to countries all over the world. But which company offers the most affordable and convenient transfers? Let's compare them and find out.

Compare Western Union and Wise

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
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Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Xe Large Transfers
24 hours
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Revolut
Within minutes
$0
Send money with great rates and low fees in 30+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From 0%
50% off first transaction fee from any country in APAC (outside India).
Minimum transfer of $250 and max transfer of $500,000
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
WorldRemit
Within minutes
From $0.99
Use promo code 3FREE and pay no fees on your first 3 transfers. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Rocket Remit
Within minutes
From $0 to $5
Send money instantly to friends and family in over 45 countries using just your mobile number.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $1.99
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
SingX
Within minutes
From 0.5%
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
CurrencyFair
Within minutes
€3
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
Send Payments
24 hours
$0
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
MasterRemit
Within minutes
From $0
Get your 1st and 2nd money transfer for free with promo codes FIRSTFREE and MASTERFINDER!.
Send money in minutes at competitive exchange rates to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
Qantas Business Money
Within minutes
$0
Limited time offer: Earn up to 125,000 bonus Qantas Points as a first-time converter. Ends 30 April 2024. Conversion limits and T&Cs apply.
Set up accounts in 11 different currencies and get rewarded for global business payments by earning Qantas Points.
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0
Streamline global payments in 60+ currencies. Send & receive securely in 150+ countries, with fast settlements & competitive rates. Simplify book-keeping & manage everything in one place.
TorFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
OFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
WorldFirst
24 hours
From $0
Open bank accounts in Australia, the UK, US, Canada, Japan and Europe. Send and receive funds with zero fees for large sums, including same-currency supplier payments.
Send business
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
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Meet the contenders: Western Union vs Wise

Western Union: One of the most recognisable names in the international money transfer game. With a history dating back to 1851, Western Union offers quick and easy transfers to more than 200 countries around the world. You can use Western Union to send in-person cash transfers or online transactions, and you can send funds to overseas bank accounts or for cash collection from more than 500,000 Western Union locations worldwide.

Wise: Wise is a much newer arrival on the international transfer scene, founded in 2011. The London-based company operates a peer-to-peer money transfer service that promises fast transactions and bank-beating exchange rates. All transfers are sent online to your recipient's bank account.

Exchange rates: Western Union vs Wise

The exchange rate is often the most crucial factor in determining the affordability of a transaction. You want to find the highest exchange rate available so you get the best value for the Australian dollars you want to convert into another currency.

Western Union: Western Union's exchange rates vary greatly depending on the amount of money you are sending, where you send it and the transfer method you select. Like most money transfer providers, Western Union makes money on the margin between the mid-market exchange rate and the rate it offers to its customers. For example, Western Union adds a 3.5% mark when exchanging AUD to USD.

Wise: Meanwhile, because Wise is a peer-to-peer money transfer service, it is one of the few providers that use the real mid-market exchange rate. As a result, it offers superior exchange rates to Western Union and is a clear winner in this category. Wise's live rates are visible by selecting your currencies on the provider's homepage. Click 'Go to Site' in the table above to see the rates for your transfer.

The table below compares exchange rates for a $1,000 international money transfer in several common currencies. Make sure to compare current live rates between transfer providers before submitting a transaction request.

WiseWestern Union cash transferWestern Union bank account transfer
AUD/USD1 AUD = 0.75860 USD1 AUD = 0.7320 USD1 AUD = 0.7320 USD
AUD/EUR (France)1 AUD = 0.66442 EUR1 AUD = 0.6034 EUR1 AUD = 0.6170 EUR
AUD/GBP1 AUD = 0.58489 GBP1 AUD = 0.5550 GBP1 AUD = 0.5550 GBP
AUD/INR1 AUD = 49.11176 INR1 AUD = 48.1896 INR1 AUD = 48.1896 INR
AUD/NZD1 AUD = 1.04167 NZD1 AUD = 1.0062 NZD1 AUD = 1.0062 NZD
AUD/CAD1 AUD = 0.98540 CAD1 AUD = 0.9282 CADN/A
AUD/PHP1 AUD = 38.41892 PHP1 AUD = 37,719.29 PHP1 AUD = 37,7193 PHP
AUD/CNY1 AUD = 5.15867 CNY1 AUD = 5.1147 CNY1 AUD = 5.1407 CNY

*Exchange rates at 07/07/17. Always source a quote for current rates.

Transaction fees: Western Union vs Wise

The other main cost you need to consider when sending a transfer – and the other way transfer providers make money – is the transaction fee.

Once again, Western Union's fee varies depending on the amount you send, the destination country and your transfer method. The price calculator tool on its website can be used to work out how much you will have to pay for your transaction.

As it doesn't apply an exchange rate margin, Wise relies on charging fees to make money. Fees vary depending on the amount you send and where you send it, but a minimum fee of $2 always applies. Wise fee's range from 0.35% to a max of 3% for more exotic currencies. Wise is very transparent with its fee structure which customers love.

You can find full details of Wise's fees on its pricing page, but the table below outlines transaction fees for a number of common currencies when sending AUD$1,000:

WiseWestern Union cash transferWestern Union bank account transfer
AUD/USD$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$0 (credit or debit) $4 (bank transfer)
AUD/EUR (France)$6.95$70 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$10
AUD/GBP$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$10
AUD/INR$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$4
AUD/NZD$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$10 (credit or debit) $4 (bank transfer)
AUD/CAD$6.95$70N/A
AUD/PHP$9.90$28 (credit or debit) $7 (bank transfer)$10 (credit or debit) $4 (bank transfer)
AUD/CNY$14.78$18 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$8 (credit or debit) $6 (bank transfer)

*Rates correct as of 07/07/2017. Always source a quote for current rates.

As you can see, the right provider for your transfer will depend on the size of your transaction. For example, while Wise is a cheaper option when sending $1,000 to China as per the table above, if you were sending $5,000, Wise's fee rises to $73.90 while you still only need to pay $8 (bank account transfer) or $18 (cash transfer) to send the funds with Western Union.

How to send money with Western Union and Wise

It's quick and easy to send money overseas with both Western Union and Wise. If sending money online with Western Union you will need to follow these simple steps:

To send cash online with Western Union:

  1. Click 'Go to Site' in the table above.
  2. Register for a free account online.
  3. Verify your identity with a valid form of ID, for example your driver's licence or passport.
  4. Login to your account and enter the details of your transaction (how much you're sending and where, including your recipient's bank account details).
  5. Pay for the transaction with your credit or debit card.
  6. You will receive an email confirmation with a tracking number.
  7. The money is deposited into your beneficiary's account.

To send cash from a Western Union location:

  1. Visit your nearest Western Union branch.
  2. Complete a "Send Money" form.
  3. Give the Western Union agent the completed form and the funds to cover the transfer amount and fee.
  4. Save your receipt and give the tracking number to your recipient so they can collect the cash.

If you want to send funds with Wise, you will first need to sign up for an account:

  1. Click the 'Go to Site' button at the top of this page.
  2. Sign up for an account on the Wise website.
  3. Verify your ID.
  4. Enter the details of your transfer, including the amount, currency and your recipient's bank account details.
  5. Pay for the transaction using your bank account or card.
  6. Your funds will be sent to your beneficiary's bank account within 1–4 working days.

Supported countries and currencies

Before you choose a transfer provider, it's important to check whether it will allow you to send money to your chosen destination and in the currency you want.

Western Union is the clear winner in this category, offering transfers in more than 135 currencies to over 200 countries. Rather than listing all the supported transfer destinations here, we recommend using the price calculator tool on the Western Union website to find out where you can send funds.

Wise doesn't support as many currencies as Western Union, but it does allow you to send and receive the following currencies:

  • AUD
  • USD
  • GBP
  • EUR
  • CHF
  • PLN
  • SEK
  • NOK
  • DKK
  • HUF
  • CZK
  • BGN
  • RON
  • NZD
  • JPY
  • BRL

It also allows you to send (but not receive) the following currencies:

  • INR
  • HKD
  • MYR
  • PHP
  • PKR
  • MAD
  • THB
  • AED
  • UAH
  • IDR
  • COP
  • GEL
  • TRY
  • MXN
  • RUB
  • KRW
  • CNY
  • LKR
  • BDT
  • VND
  • ZAR

Transfer options: Western Union vs Wise

There are several other options you should consider to help you decide which transfer provider offers the most convenient service for you. Check out the table below to see how Western Union and Wise stack up across a number of other key categories.

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMinimum and maximum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western Union
  • Bank transfer
  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Bank account
  • Cash pickup location
Minimum: $1

Maximum: $50,000

Within minutes138 currencies
Wise
  • Bank transfer
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • PayID
  • Alipay (China only)
  • Bank account
Minimum: $1

Maximum: $1,800,000

Within minutes52 currencies

Customer support

One of the often-neglected factors you should consider before choosing a money transfer service is the customer support it provides. This ensures that you will be able to have your questions answered promptly and problems efficiently dealt with if they arise.

Western Union: Western Union offers a frequently asked questions section on its website, while you can also access help via phone and email customer assistance.

Wise: Wise offers a handy online help section with a wide range of frequently asked questions and basic advice articles. Phone, email and live chat support are also available.

To get a clearer idea of the services and support offered by transfer providers, it's a good idea to read online reviews from other customers.

Which option is better: Western Union or Wise?

In most cases Wise will be the much cheaper option with better exchange rates and lower transfer fees. However, there are situations where Western Union is a more suitable choice, such as if you want to send an exotic currency not supported by Wise. Western Union is also a worthwhile option if you're looking for the speed of a near-instant cash transfer, allowing you to transfer cash to someone on the other side of the world within minutes.

Consider your transfer needs and objectives before you lodge a transaction and you will be able to choose the right provider to help you send money overseas.

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