10 Western Union alternatives for cheap international transfers

Adam Rozsa

Need to send money abroad? It can be a stressful process, so it’s tempting just to use a big company that you’ve heard of - like Western Union, for example.

Western Union is one of the most established providers for international payments, with many locations around the world and a lot of currencies on their list. But is it always the best, cheapest and fastest option?

Read on for some alternatives to Western Union, like Wise, that could potentially save you money – but more on this, later.



You’re likely to have heard of PayPal already, as it’s one of the most popular online payment systems in the world. It offers quick, secure and convenient online transfers all over the world.

  • Operates in 200+ countries and supports 25 currencies¹
  • 5% charge + additional fee for international transactions²
  • Exchange rates include 3-4% margin on mid-market rate.²

One area where PayPal and Western Union differ is whether the recipient needs to have an account.

With WU, options like cash pickup are available if the person doesn’t have an account (or even a bank account). With PayPal, the person you’re sending to needs to be a PayPal user and no cash pickup option is available.


Wise is an international money transfer specialist, which works a little differently to other providers. By keeping local bank accounts in countries around the world, Wise cuts out all the expensive international fees that come with sending money across borders.

  • Mid-market exchange rates - with no markups
  • Low, upfront transfer fees²²
  • Send to 80 countries and manage money in 50+ currencies.

Open an account with Wise online for free, and you can send money all over the world quickly and securely.

Open a Wise account for free

It could work out to be cheaper than Western Union, depending on the currency and where you’re sending to.

See how much you can save with Wise:

The true cost of sending USD to EUR

💡 Did you know that Wise also offers a business account?

Some key features of Wise Business include:
  • Better visibility and organization of business finances. This is helpful for account reconciliations and audits
  • Major local account details for a simple one-off fee to receive international payments with ease
  • No monthly account fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Receive payments from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or via Stripe
  • Create invoices using the free Wise invoice generator or invoice templates
  • Accounting integrations, including a QuickBooks Bill Pay connection
  • Batch payment options. Fast payment of up to 1,000 people

Discover the difference between
Wise Business vs Personal


MoneyGram is one of the largest money transfer providers in the world. It offers a wide range of different options for sending, funding and collecting transfers, and has an extensive global network. Payments are fast, secure and easy to set up online.

  • Send to 380,000+ locations worldwide³
  • Online, app and in-person transfers available
  • Exchange rates include margin on mid-market rate⁴.

Fees can be high with MoneyGram, depending on how you fund the payment and your chosen collection method. So, it may not work out a cheaper alternative to Western Union for all transfers.


Owned by PayPal, Xoom is a money transfer service offering online transfers to bank accounts, mobile wallets and debit cards. Although in a number of locations, you can also request cash collection and even delivery right to your recipient’s door⁵.

As Xoom is a PayPal service, you can fund payments with your PayPal account. You’ll also have a choice of other payment methods, including bank account and credit/debit cards, just like with other providers.


WorldRemit offers fast and secure online transfers all over the world, with a choice of flexible payment options. You can send to mobile money accounts, mobile airtime top-ups or arrange cash pickup. There’s a WorldRemit app too, so you can set up transfers from your phone.

  • Send to 130+ countries and in 70+ currencies⁸
  • Track payments via the WorldRemit mobile app
  • Upfront transfer fees and competitive exchange rates.

When comparing WorldRemit to other companies like Western Union, it’s important to remember that transfer fees can vary widely - it all depends on where you’re sending, the currency and the selected funding and collection methods.

Ria Money Transfer

Ria Money Transfer is an established service for international payments, with an extensive global reach. It offers a choice of methods to set up a payment, including online, from its own mobile app and in person from one of 490,000 worldwide locations⁹.

  • Send to nearly 160 countries¹⁰
  • Ria Money Transfer mobile app available
  • Exchange rates include margin on mid-market rate¹¹.

Ria’s strength is its user-friendliness, as it’s super easy to set up a payment. You can check money transfer fees and exchange rates upfront too, before going ahead.


A sister company to Ria Money Transfer, XE is a trusted and established name in the international transfer market. It offers competitive exchange rates and low fees, especially if you’re sending larger amounts.

And like other alternatives to Western Union, it has a range of funding and collection methods to choose from, including cash pickup.

  • Send money to 130+ countries¹²
  • XE mobile app available
  • No transfer fees for payments over $500¹³.

However, when it comes to how strong it is as Western Union competition, it may just lose out due to having a lower number of countries and currencies.


The US-based digital transfer service Remitly offers fast, convenient online payments worldwide. As it doesn’t have any physical locations, Remitly works by delivering money through partners, such as banks and other money transfer services.

  • Send to 160+ countries¹⁴
  • Digital-only service with no physical locations
  • Offers available for new customers¹⁵.

There’s a choice of receiving methods with Remitly, including bank deposit, cash pickup and mobile money. In some countries, cash delivery is available¹.


Based in London in the UK, Skrill is a digital payment service established in 2001. It offers an online wallet for sending money both locally and internationally, along with paying for goods and services online. You can manage your money 24/7 via the Skrill mobile app.

  • Send in 40 currencies¹⁷
  • Skrill mobile app available
  • Fee-free transfers¹⁸, but Skrill adds mark-up of up to 4.99% on the mid-market exchange rate¹⁹.

Unlike Western Union and similar services, Skrill is a 100% digital service. This means no physical locations or cash pickup.


Australian company OFX offers fast, secure transfers in a huge number of countries. You can make a single payment or set up recurring transfers, benefiting from locked-in exchange rates.

  • Send to 190+ countries in 50+ currencies²⁰
  • Minimum transfer amount of $1,000 USD²¹
  • Make payments online or via the OFX app.

However, OFX is designed for large payments and has a high minimum transfer amount. So, if you only want to send small sums, you may be better off with Western Union or similar companies.

Bottom line

When choosing a provider for a cross-border payment, you’ll need to check that they offer the funding and delivery method you need (especially if you’re after cash pickup).

Lastly, but most importantly, check the exchange rate as well as the upfront transfer fee. There may be a hidden cost in the rate, which can make your payment much more expensive, even if the transfer fee is low.

Remember that with Wise, you’ll always get the mid-market exchange rate along with low, transparent fees²².

Sources used:
  1. https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/country-worldwide
  2. https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees#transfers
  3. https://www.moneygram.com/intl/about-moneygram-en
  4. https://www.moneygram.com/mgo/us/en/
  5. https://help.xoom.com/s/article/xoom-basics?language=en_US
  6. https://www.xoom.com/about
  7. https://wise.com/us/blog/xoom-international-transfer-fees
  8. https://www.worldremit.com/en/us
  9. https://help.riamoneytransfer.com/hc/en-us/articles/4406285759377-How-do-I-send-money-with-Ria-
  10. https://app.riamoneytransfer.com/en-gb?&documentReferrer=https://www.riamoneytransfer.com/gb/en/countries
  11. https://help.riamoneytransfer.com/hc/en-us/articles/4407752015249-FAQs-on-fees-and-exchange-rates
  12. https://www.xe.com/mt/us-money-transfer/
  13. https://help.xe.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360019472317-Are-there-any-fees-
  14. https://www.remitly.com/us/en/landing/fbslp
  15. https://help.remitly.com/s/article/first-transfer-promo?language=en_US
  16. https://help.remitly.com/s/article/receiving-money-options?language=en_US
  17. https://www.skrill.com/en-us/transfer-money/?homepage_tab=send-money
  18. https://www.skrill.com/en-us/
  19. https://www.skrill.com/en/skrill-money-transfer/
  20. https://www.ofx.com/en-us/
  21. https://www.ofx.com/en-us/faqs/what-is-the-minimum-transfer-amount/
  22. “Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: Only Pay for What You Use for the most up to date pricing and fee information.”

All sources checked on 15-Jul-2022

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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