western-vs-bank

International money transfers: Western Union vs bank transfer

We compare Western Union and bank transfers to see which is cheaper and easier for sending money overseas.

Western Union is one of the oldest names in the money transfer business and everyone has a bank account. But which one do you use when you want to send someone money internationally? The answer: it depends. Both bank transfers or Western Union transfers let you send money next door or over the other side of the world. Each method has pros and cons and has different advantages. We take a look at these two options in more detail in this guide.

Use the table below to enter your transfer amount and destination to see options that are best suited for you.

Instantly compare money transfer providers.

Rates last updated July 24th, 2017
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description
Western Union International Money Transfers
AUD 1
Same day
Online, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer, International Money Order
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated July 24th, 2017
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description
TorFX International Money Transfers
AUD 200
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction
Conditions apply
Exclusive: World First International Money Transfers
AUD 2,000
1 day
Online, Phone
Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee and competitive rate
The transfer rate displayed is exclusive to finder.com.au users for their first trade only.
Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
AUD 250
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
Exclusive offer: Special exchange rates and $0 transfer fee
OFX is currently offering finder.com.au exclusive exchange rates and $0 transfer fee on all transfers.
FC Exchange International Money Transfers
GBP 3,000
1 day
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
No transfer fee via online, branch or phone when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent.
Compass Global Markets International Money Transfers
AUD 1,000
2 days
Online, Phone
Send money in as little as 24-48 hours to a range of countries with Compass Global Markets.
RationalFX International Money Transfers
GBP 100
1 - 2 days
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
Transfer currency online 24/7 with a guaranteed exchange rates. No commission or hidden costs.
HiFX International Money Transfers
AUD 50
2 days
Online, Phone, Agent
Make your first transfer for free. Transfer money between 20 currencies, and schedule regular transfers.
Currency Solutions International Money Transfers
AUD 3,000
2 days
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
Send money overseas for a range of reasons, including regular payments and buying overseas property. 97% Trustpilot score.

Compare up to 4 providers

Sending money within Australia

It’s an obvious choice if you want to send money to another bank account in Australia. Bank to bank transfers within Australia are free. Western Union charge a fee for sending money, but there are more collection options if you want to send cash. Both services can make the funds available to the recipient almost immediately if the sender initiates the transfer in person.

Sending money overseas

Sending money overseas is a little less straightforward. International bank transfers are expensive. Financial institutions charge a flat fee for sending money to an international account. Western Union also charge a flat fee, but this fee depends on how you plan on sending the money. For example, sending money from a debit or credit account is going to cost you a comparable amount to an international bank transfer. Initiating a Western Union international transfer from a bank account is cheaper than an international bank transfer; however, it may take a few extra days before the funds are made available. Sending money overseas with Western Union so the money can be collected in minutes can be expensive too. But there are times when it’s more important for the funds to be ready on the same day than to save on fees. In this Western Union vs. bank transfer analysis, we put the two money transfer options side by side.

Western Union vs bank transfer exchange rates

AUDWestern UnionBank Transfer
USD1 AUD = 0.7555 USD1 AUD = 0.7417 USD
EUR1 AUD = 0.6342 EUR1 AUD = 0.6434 EUR
JPY1 AUD = 84.5022 JPY1 AUD = 82.9200 JPY
GBP1 AUD = 0.5647 GBP1 AUD = 0.5639 GBP
CHF1 AUD = 0.7147 CHF1 AUD = 0.7127 CHF
CAD1 AUD = 0.9336 CAD1 AUD = 0.9370 CAD
HKD1 AUD = 5.9845 HKD1 AUD = 5.7726 HKD
BRL1 AUD = 2.3811 BRLN/A
CNY1 AUD = 5.2262 CNY1 AUD = 5.0822 CNY
CLP1 AUD = 497.9618 CLPN/A
  • All rates correct as of 17 July 2017. The bank rates are referencing exchange rates offered by The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and should not be reflective of all banks' exchange rates. Always source a quote for current rates and fees.

As you can see, Banks and Western Union offer similar rates for a range of currencies. However, looking at the above table, Western Union offers more competitive rates on whole. While the difference is some of the rates may seem tiny, if you're sending a large sum of money, the cost can certainly add up.

Western Union make a small margin on the exchange rate offered; however, the rates are still slightly better than what you may be able to get from the bank. Western Union also offer a different rate depending on the method of collection. The bank transfer and cash collection rates are different.

Western Union vs Bank Transfer – which is cheaper?

The answer: it depends where you’re sending the money and how you plan on paying. Bank to bank transfers to accounts in Australia are free. There’s a fee for International bank transfers. The fee for sending money via a branch is different for the fee for sending money overseas via internet banking  and the receiving bank may charge fees as well. Western Union is upfront about international transfer fees. Western Union charge a service fee for each transfer as well as applying a small margin to the foreign exchange rate. Some Western Union transfers can be expensive. Transfer fees depend on how the money is sent. The ways money can be sent to the recipient vary depending where the money is going. For example, a international transfer to Colombia allows payment by credit or debit card and cash pickup only. This method of international payment is more expensive than sending the funds from a bank account. Using Western Union transfer to send money to a bank account in France and paying with a debit or credit card is cheaper than a bank transfer.

Western Union vs bank transfer fees

Fees vary depending on the recipient's country, how the money is send and collected.

ProviderWestern Union Transfer FeesBank Transfer Fee (Commonwealth Bank)
In personCash pickup and paid by credit or debit card: $20.00 AUD$67.00*
Online$22.00**
  •  Sending USD to US
  • * This figure includes the correspondence fee. The charge from intermediaries and receiving banks.
  • ** Additional fees and charges apply. The correspondence fee can not be paid by the sender when international money transfers are initiated online.
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What’s the difference between Western Union and bank transfer?

The main differences between Western Union and bank transfers are as follows: The price of the transfer, the length of time before the recipient can collect the money, the method of collection, available destinations and transfer limits. Western Union can send money to more countries and offers more collection options. Western Union can also make funds available within minutes after the transaction has been payed for and processed. Registration is required to send money too, it’s free to become a member.

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Western Union and bank transfer pick up options

Bank transfers are simple. The money must be sent to a personal or business account either in the same country or internationally. Once the funds clear in the recipient’s account, the funds can be withdrawn or transferred to another account of their choosing. Western Union gives more options for receiving money. Funds can be made available as a cash pickup from a Western Union agent, deposited to a mobile wallet or the recipient's bank account.

Western Union pickup optionAvailability
Bank account Money can be made available within 1 - 2 business days.
Cash Money is available within minutes.
Mobile WalletMoney is available within minutes.

Jacob Joseph

Jacob is a writer and video journalist with finder.com.au. Credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts are his bread and butter, and he likes nothing more helping people understand the sometimes overly complex world of personal finance.

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International Money Transfer Offers

Learn about our information service
TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction
Conditions apply

Exclusive: World First International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee and competitive rate
The transfer rate displayed is exclusive to finder.com.au users for their first trade only.

Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: Special exchange rates and $0 transfer fee
OFX is currently offering finder.com.au exclusive exchange rates and $0 transfer fee on all transfers.

FC Exchange International Money Transfers

No transfer fee via online, branch or phone when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent.

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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    LynnFebruary 18, 2017

    Hi, I have 2 questions:
    1)when doing international money transfer through providers such as Western Union, can the fund stay as the original currency, i.e., if i plan to send US dollars to Canada, can it stay US dollars?
    2) if i open up an account with international money transfer provider such as Western Union, and someone transfers money from overseas to me in Australia, how long can the fund stay in the account? I may need to transfer the fund out after months or a year, do they have some sort of deposit function, and possibly earn some interest?
    Thanks

    • Staff
      AnndyFebruary 20, 2017Staff

      Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Generally, if you use a money transfer provider to send money to Canada, the recipient will receive the proceeds in their local currency.

      However, there are banks that allow same currency transfer. You can check this page for more details.

      In regards to money transfer for pick-up, the length of time that the recipient may not claim the money depends on the provider, but generally, you won’t earn interest on it. You can directly call the provider to get more details on this.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  2. Default Gravatar
    ManojSeptember 13, 2016

    is western union is better than banks?

    • Staff
      ClarizzaSeptember 14, 2016Staff

      Hi Manoj,

      Thanks for your question.

      The answer will depend on a number of things such as how fast you want your money transferred, the method, fees and exchange rate. On this page, you can find a comparison between Western Union and Banks on the areas mentioned. For example the exchange rate offered by Western Union is stronger than banks which means your money will be worth more once converted. Also Western Union charges a flat $20 fee transfer fee whether it is online or in person, whereas with the bank we’ve listed as an example, the fee will depend on the method of transfer.

      We recommend weighing up your options based on your goal. Please note, we are a comparison site and can provide general advice only.

      Regards,
      Clarizza

  3. Default Gravatar
    AltonMarch 21, 2016

    which is the safest way to send money internationally from the Bahamas to Japan

    • Staff
      ShirleyMarch 22, 2016Staff

      Hi Alton,

      Thanks for your question.

      Using an international money transfer service that is regulated by a Government body in your local country could be a safe option.

      Alternatively, bank transfers are generally considered safe too.

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