Western Union vs CurrencyFair

Western Union vs CurrencyFair

We've compared an established giant with a much newer name in money transfers.

Western Union may be a household name for money transfers, but it's no longer the only option out there.

Newer companies like CurrencyFair can often offer more competitive fees and exchange rates that are worth a closer look.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 18 February 2019.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
AUD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.678 USD
676
Special offer: Pay zero fees on your first 5 transfers
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
AUD 1 Same day AUD 20.00 0.665 USD
651
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

The "Rate" and "Amount Received" displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention "Finder" before you commit to a brand.

Which has lower fees?

Western Union

Western Union fees vary widely by destination and how much you're sending. Flat fees for some small transfers can be as low as $4, but at the upper-end can reach $30 or more.

Western Union typically uses a tiered fee structure, where the fees will increase at different round numbers as the amount you send rises.

In extreme cases, such as making large payments with a credit card, the fee can exceed $200 per transfer. A $5,000 credit card transfer from Australia to Austria, for example, would incur $225.92 in fees.

CurrencyFair

CurrencyFair charges a fixed EUR 3 (about $4.75) or equivalent flat fee for all transfers regardless of amount.

On top of that, it charges a 0.25% to 0.6% variable fee depending on market conditions at the time.

Trophy icon
Winner: CurrencyFair

Although CurrencyFair's fees can sometimes rise above Western Union's, and the variable fee can look excessive on paper, its fees are still generally more competitive than Western Union's.

Exchange rates also make a significant difference.

Let's crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 and $10,000 to Austria

Let's compare two transfers side by side to see how they stack up in real life when sending $1,000 and $10,000 from Australia to Austria, converted into euros.

Because CurrencyFair's percentage fee varies, we'll assume it's the maximum amount of 0.6%. In other words, this is the highest possible CurrencyFair cost – a real transfer may cost you less.

Sending $1,000 to Austria
Western Union CurrencyFair
Transfer fee $9 EUR 3 + 0.6% ($10.75 all up)
Exchange rate 1.00 AUD = 0.5705 EUR 1 AUD = 0.6255 EUR
Transfer speed Same day 1 - 2 days
Total Euros received EUR 565.37 EUR 618.78
Receiver gets EUR 53.41 less EUR 53.41 more
Sending $10,000 to Austria
Western Union CurrencyFair
Transfer fee $54 EUR 3 + 0.6% ($64.75 all up)
Exchange rate 1.00 AUD = 0.5705 EUR 1 AUD = 0.6255 EUR
Transfer speed Same day 1 - 2 days
Total Euros received EUR 5,674.19 EUR 6,214.50
Receiver gets EUR 540.31 less EUR 540.41 more

Despite having higher fees, the exchange rates are much more favourable at CurrencyFair, which makes a big difference, especially for larger transfers.

By using CurrencyFair instead of Western Union on a $1,000 transfer, you could save over EUR 50. On a $10,000 transfer, those savings climb to more than EUR 500.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Western Union

Western Union's exchange rates vary depending on the currency, but can add up to 10% on top of the mid-market exchange rate.

CurrencyFair

CurrencyFair's exchange rates also vary depending on the currency, but tend to be well under 1%.

Trophy icon
Winner: CurrencyFair

CurrencyFair's exchange rates are consistently better than what Western Union offers.

Which is faster

Western Union

Western Union's delivery speeds vary, depending on your transfer options. At an agent location or by phone, your transfer could be delivered in minutes (at higher costs). Your cheapest options could take five days or longer, depending on the country.

CurrencyFair

When sending money from Australia with CurrencyFair, your recipient will generally receive funds within three to five business days, depending on location.

Trophy icon
Winner: Western Union

When you want to send money fast, Western Union can deliver your funds in just a few minutes to almost anywhere in the world.

General features

Payment options Receiving options Limits Transfer speeds Currencies
Western Union Bank account, credit or debit card, cash Bank transfer, cash pick-up, e-wallet Minimum: $1

Maximum: $5,000

Same day 100+ currencies
CurrencyFair Bank account Bank transfer Minimum: $5

Maximum: $10,000,000

1 - 2 days 15+ currencies

Western Union

When you send money through Western Union, it confirms you've made the payment and then dispenses funds to the recipient on the other end.

Western Union ensures it has the funds on hand all over the world, which is how it can send money almost instantly.

CurrencyFair

CurrencyFair is a peer-to-peer service – it's essentially a matchmaker. So if you want to send money from Australia to Germany, and someone in Germany wants to send money to Australia, it'll pair you up.

You'll get that person's euros, they'll get your AUD, and CurrencyFair gets the fees. Of course, there won't always be a counterparty available. This is when the fees tend to be higher.

Bottom line

It's hard to beat the sheer scale and number of options offered by Western Union. This scope comes at a cost, however, while CurrencyFair offers a much more competitive deal.

The flat fees at CurrencyFair are higher than some other options, while the variable fees can add up for large transfers, but its exchange rates go a long way towards compensating for this.

Every situation is different though, and it all depends on how much you're sending when and where. If you want to find the best value for money every time, remember to compare a wide range of options.

Looking for more options?

Use the calculator below to see how much your transfer would cost with some of the other services available.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
AUD 200 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
6,853
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 30+ currencies with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Go to site Show details
AUD 2,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
6,853
Send 60+ currencies at competitive rates with $0 transfer fees for Finder customers. WorldFirst will beat any eligible quote from another provider. Go to site Show details
AUD 250 1 - 2 days AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
6,853
$0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
$0 transfer fee on transfers over AU$10,000, $15 flat fee applies otherwise. 24-hour customer service available with a local support team.
Go to site Show details
AUD 250 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
6,853
SendFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Fee-free transfers in 30+ currencies to over 200 countries.
Go to site Show details
AUD 200 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
6,847
Low minimum transfer amount of just AU$200, with no set-up fees or transfer fees. Go to site Show details
AUD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.685 USD
6,846
Special offer: Pay zero fees on your first 5 transfers
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
AUD 1 Within an hour AUD 3.99 0.685 USD
6,844
An online money transfer service with cash pickup, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available. Go to site Show details
AUD 3,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
6,852
Global Reach will match any competitor's exchange rates. Conditions apply.
No transfer fee when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent. Send money in over 130 currencies. No maximum transfer amount.
Go to site Show details
AUD 1 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
6,847
With global payments provider XE, enjoy fast and secure transfers and a range of foreign currency tools and calculators while benefiting from $0 transfer fees. Go to site Show details
AUD 200 1 - 2 days AUD 50.00 0.688 USD
6,848
Exclusive: Finder customers receive $15 off their first transaction. T&Cs apply.
Quick and simple international money transfers with zero-margin exchange rates. There's a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers. Earn loyalty points on sign up, referral and every transaction.
Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

The "Rate" and "Amount Received" displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention "Finder" before you commit to a brand.

Frequently asked questions

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