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Western Union vs PayPal money transfers

We compare a popular service with a digital giant to see which is better for overseas transfers.

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Western Union is nearly synonymous with international money transfers. And then there's the electronic payment giant PayPal, which also allows you to send money overseas. Which is cheaper and faster for sending funds to friends, family and businesses outside Australia?

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 1 Same day AUD 30.00 0.69 USD
3,430
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details
AUD 1 1 day AUD 5.99 0.685 USD
3,423
Send money overseas to more than 20 countries. Rate last updated on 17/08/2018 at 1:30 pm. 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's fees for sending money from Australia start from $4, but in some cases can run up to $30 or higher.

The fee varies a lot by situation – your destination country, chosen currency, amount transferred and payment method will all affect the total fee. There is typically an additional charge for credit card payments.

PayPal

PayPal charges a flat fee of $5.99, unless you're paying by card. That means there'll be another 2.6% fee added on top, though it could be more depending on the currency you're sending to.

Trophy icon
Winner: PayPal

There are certain situations where PayPal fees will be higher than Western Union's for the same transfer, but these tend to be very specific situations.

In most cases it's likely to cost less in fees to send money from Australia with PayPal than Western Union. To find the actual cheaper option, though, you'll also need to factor in exchange rates.

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

Let's see how Western Union and PayPal compare when sending two different amounts to the UK. In this example, we'll be using a transfer paid by a bank transfer, rather than a credit card.

Sending $1,000 to the UK
Western UnionPayPal
Transfer fee$4$6.53
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.5272 GBP1 AUD = 0.5758 GBP
Transfer speedVariesUp to a week
Total British pounds receivedGBP£525.09GBP£572.04
Receiver getsGBP£46.95 lessGBP£46.95 more
Sending $10,000 to the UK
Western UnionPayPal
Transfer fee$24$6.53
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.5272 GBP1 AUD = 0.5758 GBP
Transfer speedVariesUp to a week
Total British pounds receivedGBP£5,259.35GBP£5,754.24
Receiver getsGBP£494.89 lessGBP£494.89 more

In this case, PayPal's exchange rates are good enough compared to Western Union's that you'll generally save money on sufficiently large transfers.

It makes a big difference on smaller transfers too, with PayPal bringing savings of around GBP£30 to GBP£50 compared to Western Union. It pays to look at the exchange rates and not just the fees.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Western Union

Western Union's currency exchange margins vary widely depending on the currency and the situation. In general, the margin added onto the exchange rate can vary from 2% to 6%. If you're sending a large amount overseas, this means hundreds of dollars that goes straight into Western Union's coffers.

PayPal

PayPal's margin, like Western Union, depends on what currency you're sending to. In general:

  • To USD or CAD: 3.5% added to the exchange rate
  • To other currencies: 4% added to the exchange rate

Trophy icon
Winner: Tie

There are no clear winners here. It all depends on the situation and either can be cheaper or more expensive than the other.

Which is faster?

Western Union

The speed of your transfer is mostly dependent on the transfer method. Cash pick-up or mobile money app deposits can be available in just a few minutes, while bank account transfers might take several days.

PayPal

PayPal money transfers might take a week or more end-to-end, depending on circumstance and destination.

If you don't already have funds in your PayPal account it might take several days to top it up, and after that it might take another few days to finish the transfer.

Trophy icon
Winner: Western Union

Western Union offers payments within minutes, although it costs extra and won't necessarily be suitable for every situation. Its bank transfers will typically take several business days to clear. PayPal's bank transfer speeds are similar, with the added burden of needing to top up or link your bank account first.

If you want to get verified and send money as fast as possible, Western Union has a clear advantage over PayPal.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMaximum and minimum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Western UnionBank transfer, cash, credit and debit cardBank account, cash pick-up, mobile money appMinimum: $1

Maximum: $50,000

Same day95+
PayPalPayPal account, bank transfer, credit and debit cardPayPal account, bank transferMinimum: $1

Maximum: $60,000

1 day20+

Western Union

With Western Union, you go to its site, enter how much you're transferring and confirm how you're sending it and how it should be received. You also have the option of visiting or calling an agent.

Once you've approved the exchange rate and fees you'll pay, Western Union converts and delivers your money to your recipient's bank account or for cash-pickups at locations worldwide.

PayPal

To transfer money through PayPal, you'll need to create a free PayPal account. You then send a transfer to your recipient's PayPal account, funding the transfer with your PayPal balance, bank account, credit or debit card or PayPal Credit.

After your recipient receives the money, they can either keep the funds in their PayPal account or withdraw the money to their bank account.

Bottom line

The most cost-effective and convenient option will depend on the circumstance. If you're paying by card, it's worth being aware of the additional fees this incurs at both PayPal and Western Union.

Similarly, it's worth checking the exchange rates for your currency ahead of a transfer. While PayPal's rates are fixed at a set amount above mid-market, Western Union's will vary widely from currency to currency.

Looking for more options?

Use our calculator below to compare fees, exchange rates and transfer speeds of other international money transfer services. Just enter the details in the calculator to see what fees and exchange rates you would get.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
AUD 2,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.712 USD
7,116
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 0.712 USD
7,116
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 2,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.712 USD
7,116
Better exchange rates for Finder customers.
Send 60+ currencies at competitive rates and no fees. If you find a better eligible quote, WorldFirst will beat it.
Go to site Show details
AUD 250 1 - 2 days AUD 0.00 0.712 USD
7,116
$0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. No transfer fee over AUD$10,000.
Go to site Show details
GBP 3,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.712 USD
7,116
Global Reach will match any competitor's exchange rates. Conditions apply.
Get no fees for both business and personal transfers when you send your money overseas with Global Reach.
Go to site Show details
AUD 1 1 day AUD 52.00 0.711 USD
7,072
Pay no fees on your first two transfers, up to $3,000.
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
Go to site Show details
AUD 0 Same day AUD 2.99 0.707 USD
7,064
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options. Express transfers delievered in as little as 10 minutes for an extra fee.
Go to site Show details
AUD 1 Same day AUD 0.00 0.711 USD
7,109
Get fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
AUD 200 1 - 2 days AUD 50.00 0.714 USD
7,101
Exclusive: Use code FINDER10 to receive US$10 off your first transaction.
Quick and simple international money transfers with a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers. Zero-margin rates on some currencies.
Go to site Show details
AUD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.707 USD
7,071
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
AUD 1 Same day AUD 3.99 0.706 USD
7,056
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
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.

More guides on Finder

International Money Transfer Offers

Important Information*
Logo for TorFX International Money Transfers
TorFX International Money Transfers

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.

Logo for SendFX International Money Transfers
SendFX International Money Transfers

SendFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Fee-free transfers in 30+ currencies to over 200 countries.

Logo for WorldFirst International Money Transfers
WorldFirst International Money Transfers

Better exchange rates for Finder customers.
Send 60+ currencies at competitive rates and no fees. If you find a better eligible quote, WorldFirst will beat it.

Logo for OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers

$0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. No transfer fee over AUD$10,000.

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