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Remitly vs Western Union

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Remitly vs Western Union: Is Remitly Better Than Western Union for Rates, Safety, and Reviews?

Aug 12, 2022
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Remitly and Western Union are both highly credible experts in their industries that you can trust to send your money abroad.

As we look closer in this side-by-side comparison, however, we will find that Remitly's fee schedule is almost always more affordable. Plus, you can lock in your exchange rates to avoid fluctuations. Although Western Union’s speciality has traditionally been cash pickup services, even Remitly’s rates for cash services are usually more competitive.

Remitly (NASDAQ:RELY) is an online service that specializes in sending remittances by bank transfer, debit or credit card, wire transfer, and several other country-specific transfer methods. In terms of fees and exchange rates, Remitly earned a perfect 10/10 score on Monito making it an ideal choice for international money transfers.

Western Union (NYSE:WU) is one of the largest and most trusted money transfer companies in the industry and is best known for its cash pay-in and payout options. They operate 550,000 agent locations across 200 countries and territories around the world. They also offer online money transfers.

In this side-by-side comparison, we explore fees, safety, and service quality to help you make the best decision and save money in the process.

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Remitly or Western Union?

According to Monito's comparison engine from July 2021 to July 2022, Remitly was the cheapest service of all for transfers from the United States to India, Mexico, and the Philippines (and Canada to India transfers too).

In that same time frame, Western Union only ranked in the top 3 services for transfers from the United Kingdom to Nigeria and to Ukraine. For all other countries, we recommend running a search on Monito's comparison engine.

Remitly
8.9
Western Union
7.5

Trust & Credibility

Background check

Background check
Background check

Remitly is registered and regulated as a Money Services Business with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and by the relevant authorities in the countries in which it operates.

Western Union is a publicly-traded company, licensed and authorized by the New York State Department of Financial Services in the US and in every region in which it operates globally.

Security & reliability

Security & reliability
Security & reliability

Remitly’s website is fully-secured and makes use of top-notch security protocols, including segregated user accounts and HTTPS.

Western Union's platforms are fully secured and use top-notch security protocols, including segregated user accounts and HTTPS.

Company size

Company size
Company size

Founded in 2011, Remitly is a well-established money transfer provider: it serves over 3 million customers, has transferred $5 billion in the past year alone, and now has a thousand employees.

Founded back in 1851, Western Union is arguably the biggest name in the international money transfer world. In 2020, the company boasted over 11 thousand employees, 150 million customers, and over US$96 billion transferred in principal.

Transparent pricing

Transparent pricing
Transparent pricing

Remitly is not transparent about its pricing: 35% of fees are hidden in the exchange rate margin.

Western Union is not transparent about its pricing, with some 90% of total fees being buried away in hidden exchange rate margins.

Remitly vs Western Union: Trust & Credibility

When it comes to trust and safety, both Remitly and Western Union comply with the highest standards within the financial sector

Is Remitly Legit?

Founded in Seattle, Remitly is registered and regulated as a Money Services Business by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Western Union was also founded in the United States and is regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Both are regulated by the competent authorities in every region in which they operate globally.

Are Western Union Transfers Safe?

Western Union is the oldest and largest money transfer company in the world, with 150 million customers entrusting them with their remittances and transfers. They even have a dedicated page for fraud prevention with their service. While Remitly is relatively young, it is a fast-growing company with 2 million customers.

Remitly vs Western Union on Transparency

Both Remitly and Western Union apply an exchange rate that is weaker than the real mid-market rate (which is a form of a hidden cost). We think this can be somewhat misleading to some users who might not know what an exchange rate margin is, which is why Western Union and Remitly lost some points on their credibility metrics. 

Despite this, Remitly maintains a very low fee schedule. The company has impressively ranked as the cheapest transfer option in over 60% of Monito searches for bank transfers and over 80% for cash transfers.

Remitly

Western Union

🖊 Licensing

  • FCA (UK)
  • CBI (EU/EEA)
  • FinCEN (US)
  • … and 3 others

Department of Financial Services (US)

📃 Founded

2011

1851

🔒 Segregated Accounts

💰 Profitable

📈 Publicly Listed

Try RemitlyTry Western Union
Remitly
7.5
Western Union
8.0

Service & Quality

Opening an account

Opening an account
Opening an account

Opening an account with Remitly is relatively easy to do, though it may take some time to do.

Opening an account with Western Union Online is reasonably easy thanks to a simple, well-designed website and mobile app.

Making a transfer

Making a transfer
Making a transfer

Transferring money with Remitly is a straightforward process, made all the more convenient by the variety of pay-in and pay-out options it offers.

Transferring money with Western Union Online is a speedy and straightforward process for first-time and returning users alike.

Contacting support

Contacting support
Contacting support

Remitly offers its users extensive customer service, with live chat and phone support that are available 24/7.

Western Union Online provides a FAQ that's detailed (albeit tricky to navigate) and offers phone support features accessible via the mobile app.

Remitly vs Western Union: Service Quality

When it comes to the ease of sending money, Western Union takes the winning spot thanks to its simple and fast sign up process and its user-friendly interface at Western Union Online.

Monito’s impression from our tests on Remitly was that the sign-up process took just a bit longer than Western Union’s process. Transferring money with Western Union was also noticeably straightforward and speedy for newcomers and repeat customers alike.

How Remitly Works

This aside, Remitly's service is powerful and its wide range of products is among the industry’s best. Customers can deposit transfers into their bank account, transfer the money directly into their mobile wallet on their smart device, or have cash delivered to their home address. They can even pick up their money in cash from any of the 140,000 agent locations around the world in Remitly’s network.

Can Western Union Be Done Online?

Western Union has a vast online and physical presence, which allows customers to send and pick up money in cash in 550,000 agent locations, as well as receive funds in a bank account, onto a mobile wallet, or on a prepaid card. You are always able to pay with your debit or credit card. From some locations, you can send money from your bank account via a local bank transfer (such as SOFORT, Trustly or iDEAL). They also offer bill payments as well as money orders.

You can access these many products easily from their well-designed website or mobile app. However, we weren’t impressed with the fact that nearly all of Western Union’s fees were hidden in the exchange rate. The weaker exchange rates that Western Union applies to your transfers were not communicated clearly on the sending page. The design rather seemed to leave customers assuming that a standard exchange rate was applied to the final sending amount.

Remitly

Western Union

📥 Pay-In

  • Bank transfer
  • Debit/credit card
  • Bank transfer
  • Debit/credit card
  • Cash

📤 Pay-Out

  • Bank deposit
  • Cash pick-up
  • Door-to-door delivery
  • Mobile wallet deposit
  • Bank deposit
  • Mobile wallet deposit
  • Cash deposit

⬇ Min. Transfer

$1.00

$1.00

⬆ Max. Transfer

$20,000

$20,000 (varies)

💱 Currencies

47

150

💬 Languages

English, French, Spanish, Polish, Vietnamese, German, Romanian, Italian, Turkish

English, French, Spanish, Polish, German, Danish, Finnish, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Italian

Try RemitlyTry Western Union
Remitly
9.8
Western Union
7.0

Fees & Exchange Rates

Transfers to a bank account

Transfers to a bank account
Transfers to a bank account

Remitly was the cheapest option in a majority (50.5%) of available Monito searches for bank transfers over the first three months of 2022.

Western Union Online was the best deal on less than 4% of available Monito searches for bank transfers over the first three months of 2021.

Transfers to cash pick-up

Transfers to cash pick-up
Transfers to cash pick-up

Remitly was the cheapest option in an overwhelming 75% of available Monito searches for cash pick-up transfers over the first three months of 2022.

Western Union Online was the best deal on nearly a quarter (23%) of available Monito searches for cash pickup transfers over the first three months of 2021.

Remitly vs Western Union: Fees & Exchange Rates

When compared to international money transfers made by your big high-street bank at home, both Remitly and Western Union offer far cheaper and far quicker services. However, Remitly is usually the cheaper option between the two, no matter the sending country and the recipient country. Based on searches done on the Monito comparison engine, Remitly was the cheapest bank transfer option 60% of the time while Western Union was the cheapest less than 4% of the time.

How Long Does a Remitly Transfer Take?

As previously stated, both services charge an exchange rate margin. However, Remitly charges no commission fee if you choose to use their economy service, which arrives in three business days. Remitly’s Express service, which you pay by card, arrives almost immediately and costs $3.99.

Did Western Union Fees Go Up?

Fees at Western Union vary — they depend on how much money you send, the countries you're sending money to and from, plus the pay-in and pay-out methods you choose. You can use Western Union’s price estimator tool before you send or run a search on Monito’s comparison engine to calculate your Western Union fees. 

For example, paying by credit or debit card is more expensive than paying by bank transfer. Picking up cash is also more expensive than receiving money digitally. On the other hand, Western Union’s rates often improve the more you send. Sending via popular corridors, like US dollars to Canadian dollars, will likely be cheaper than lesser-used currencies like US dollars to Thai baht.

Western Union and Remitly Rates and Fees

Take a look at the table below to get a better picture of how this works:

Remitly

Western Union

💱 Exchange Rate Margin

1%-2%

2.7-10%

💸 Additional Fees

2%-3%

  • USD 7
  • EUR 0
  • AUD 0
  • GBP 0

🏦 % Cheapest¹ (Bank)

60%

3.73%

🏦 % Competitive² (Bank)

44%

94.66%

💵 % Cheapest (Cash)

80%

22.59%

💵 % Competitive (Cash)

37%

17.72%

Try RemitlyTry Western Union

Last updated: 30/3/2021
¹ How often the provider was the cheapest on Monito (Jan-Mar 2021).
² How often the provider's fees were below 1.5% for a £1,000 transfer on Monito (Jan-Mar 2021).

Foreign currency exchange rates fluctuate constantly and companies change their policies by country all the time. That means the rate you get today will not be the same one tomorrow. To compare Remitly, Western Union, and many other international money transfer services in real-time, run a search on Monito's comparison engine:

Remitly vs Western Union: Find the Cheapest Money Transfer

Remitly
9.1
Western Union
7.6

Customer Satisfaction

Customer review score

Customer review score
Customer review score

Remitly consistently garners praise from its customers, earning an average TrustPilot rating of 4.1/5 stars.

Western Union Online has garnered very mediocre feedback in general, receiving only 2.6 out of 5 stars from over 18 thousand reviews on Trustpilot.

Number of positive reviews

Number of positive reviews
Number of positive reviews

Remitly has earned over 35 thousand 4 and 5-star reviews on TrustPilot, making it much loved by its customers.

With more than 14 thousand reviewers on Trustpilot awarding four- or five-star to Western Union Online, the service is undoubtedly reliable in the eyes of many customers.

Remitly vs Western Union: Customer Satisfaction

Based on how customers review Remitly and Western Union, it was clear that Remitly customers seemed more satisfied with their transfers and remittances.

Remitly Reviews

Remitly received a 4.1 out of 5 stars from Trustpilot with very positive reviews. Around 34 thousand customers rated the service four or five out of five stars.

Western Union Reviews

Western Union, on the other hand, received 3.8 out of 5 stars from over 25 thousand reviews on Trustpilot.

Western Union is trusted by a large base of customers, but Remitly has a much larger proportion of its customer base that has been satisfied with the service. 

Which Is Better For You, Remitly or Western Union?

In most cases, the experts at Monito recommend Remitly over Western Union for international bank account transfers and cash services. Remitly is an especially powerful service when it comes to transfers done from USD, GBP, or CAD to Indian rupees. Remitly often specializes in transfers from US dollars into Mexican pesos, Columbian pesos, and Nigerian naira as well. However, Western Union does have a much larger agent network so you may have a better chance of accessing them from your destination.

Read Our Reviews on Remitly and Western Union

To learn more about their services and fees, we recommend reading our in-depth review on Western Union and our review on Remitly. Remitly and Western Union are just two of dozens of options for international money transfer services, which is why we recommend comparing money transfer providers on Monito's real-time comparison engine to find the best deal for your transfer.

Companies change their fee schedules all the time depending on the time of year, the sending country and recipient country, and many other factors. Find the best transfer service with the best rate in real-time with Monito’s comparison engine

Frequently Asked Questions About Remitly vs Western Union

Why Trust Monito?

You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.

Learn More About Monito
  • Monito is trusted by 15+ million users across the globe.

  • Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.

  • Our recommendations are always unbiased and independent.

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Affiliate Disclosure
Instead of banner ads and paywalls, Monito makes money through affiliate links to the various payment service providers featured on our website. While we work hard to scout the market for the best deals, we're unable to consider every possible product available to you. Our extensive range of trusted affiliate partners enables us to make detailed, unbiased, and solution-driven recommendations for all types of consumer questions and problems. This allows us to match our users with the right providers to suit their needs and, in doing so, match our providers with new customers, creating a win-win for everybody involved. However, while some links on Monito may indeed earn us a commission, this fact never impacts the independence and integrity of our opinions, recommendations, and evaluations.