Western Union vs Remitly

If you need to send an international payment you’re probably considering one of the big global providers like Western Union - or an online specialist like Remitly. If you’re torn between the two, this Western Union vs Remitly review should help. We’ll cover:

  • A full side by side feature comparison

  • Which provider is cheaper?

  • Which is faster?

  • Which is safer?

  • Which gets better customer reviews?

Summary: Western Union is one of the biggest names in international money transfers, with a vast agent network and a solid range of pay in and pay out options. Remitly also offers some great pay out options, but doesn’t have the broad global reach, and also doesn’t let customers fund transfers in cash from Singapore.

When it comes to costs, you’ll need to compare Western Union vs Remitly for your specific payment - both providers’ fees vary based on factors such as the destination, payment amount and pay out option you choose. Both Western Union and Remitly are MAS regulated in Singapore.

Go to Remitly
Go to Western Union

Western Union Vs Remitly: side by side

Feature

Western Union

Remitly

Send payments to200 countries and territories, 130 currencies

70+ countries and currencies from Singapore

Fund payments by bank transferYN
Fund payments by bank cardYY
Fund payments in cash at an agent locationYN
Send to bank accountsYY
Send for cash collection or home deliveryYY
Send to mobile money accountsYY
Fully licensed and regulatedYY
Business services availableYN

So, to summarise:

  • Western Union supports more countries and currencies - it’s also good to know that Remitly customers can only send on common remittance routes, meaning some major developed economies are not served

  • Western Union lets customers pay for their transfers in cash, by bank transfer or with a card - Remitly only supports payments funded by Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card

  • Western Union and Remitly both have a broad range of pay out options which vary by destination 

  • Western Union offers business services - Remitly does not

  • Both providers are fully regulated by MAS

Western Union is a money transfer specialist with a huge global reach, offering payments funded by cash, card, and bank transfer - with an impressive range of pay out options, too. 

Remitly also has a great range of pay out options - but has a focus on popular remittance routes which means that some large developed economies like the US or UK aren’t served from Singapore. You’ll need to pay for your Remitly remittance using a bank card too - transfers and cash payments aren’t supported. Both are relatively similar on price - so it’s worth comparing the two if the service you need is supported by both providers.

Go to Remitly
Go to Western Union

The important bits


Western Union

Remitly

RatesRate includes a markup and may vary by brand, channel and locationExchange rates include a markup
FeesVaries by destination, brand, channel and locationFees vary by destination and delivery option selected
SpeedCash collection and mobile money payments can be instant. Bank transfers can take 2 daysDelivery can be immediate
ServiceOnline, in app, in person at a branch location and by phoneOnline, in app and by phone
SafetyFully regulated and licensedFully regulated and licensed
Reviews (TrustPilot)

3.8 star, Average, 25,000+ reviews

4.1 star, Great, 34,000+ reviews

Rates: Both providers use an exchange rate which includes a markup - rates can vary based on where you’re sending money to, the pay out option selected, and how you want to fund your transfer

Fees: Both providers have variable fees which are based on the destination country

Speed: Both providers can offer instant payments. If you’re sending money to a bank account, Western Union may take a day or two

Service: Both providers offer multilingual service in a range of languages, online, in-app and by phone. Western Union also has a branch network in Singapore, where you can get in person support if you need it

Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated

Reviews: Both providers get a Great rating on Trustpilot - Remitly has a few more ratings logged, and a slightly higher overall score

Pros and cons


Western Union

Remitly

Pros 
  • Huge agent network around the world for payments made or collected in cash

  • Established, reliable provider

  • Good range of pay in and pay out options

  • Payments arrive instantly

  • Send to about 70 countries from Singapore

  • Good range of pay out options

Cons
  • Exchange rates include a markup

  • Fees may not be the cheapest on the market

  • Services available vary depending on the countries involved

  • No option to pay by cash or bank transfers 

  • Exchange rates include a markup

  • Services vary based on destination country

Western Union vs Remitly: The verdict

Whether Western Union or Remitly is the best choice for you will depend on the specific services you need.

Western Union’s biggest selling point is probably its huge agent network which lets you pay in cash in Singapore - and have your recipient collect their money in cash locally to them easily. Aside from cash you can also pay by bank transfer or card - and have your money deposited to a bank account, or mobile money account in some locations. Western Union’s fees and the exchange rates available vary between payment types and may not be the very best on the market.

Remitly is a bit different to Western Union in that it was created to serve people living abroad and  sending money home on popular remittance routes. That means that while the range of pay out options is extensive, some major developed markets like the UK or US aren’t served. You’ll need to pay for your transfer by credit or debit card - but the good news is that it’ll usually be received instantly.

On price Western Union and Remitly can be fairly similar, so which is best really depends on the specific service you need and where you’re sending to. Compare the costs of both - along with a few other providers - to pick the right one for your transfer.

About Western Union and Remitly

Western Union started out over 150 years ago, and now has a global agent network of 500,000+ locations. In fact, you can send Western Union payments to every country on earth barring a couple of places where international sanctions make this impossible. 

You can send payments in 130+ currencies with Western Union.

Remitly has been around since 2011 and works to make remittance payments faster and cheaper for people living overseas and sending money to loved ones back home. As a mission-driven business, Remitly also invests in charitable organisations which support immigrant communities around the world.

You can send payments with Remitly from 17 larger developed countries, to over 100 countries.

How do they work?

Western Union has a few convenient payment options. You can arrange your transfer at an agent location or, you can get started without needing to leave home by arranging your payment online or in the Western Union app:

  1. Log into the Western Union desktop site or open the app

  2. Select the country you want to send to and enter the payment amount

  3. Select the services you require, and check the fees and rates

  4. Follow the prompts to enter the required information

  5. Select payment method, confirm and fund your transfer

Remitly payments are always organised online or in the Remitly app. To make some payments you’ll just need your name and email address - but for higher value transfers you’ll need to go through a verification process by uploading images of some ID documents.

Make your Remitly payment by taking the following steps:

  1. Sign in on the webpage or open the Remitly app

  2. Select Get started or Send money

  3. Enter the amount you want to send and the delivery method

  4. Follow the prompts to enter the required information

  5. Complete your profile, adding your name and personal details

  6. Connect your preferred payment method - bank account or card

  7. Review, and when you’re ready, hit Send money

Open A Remitly Account
Go to Western Union

Western Union vs Remitly: Fees

When you send money with either Western Union or Remitly you’ll need to watch out for a few different fee types:

  • Transfer fee - this is usually very easy to spot, but varies depending on the service you need

  • Exchange rate markup - this is an extra fee rolled into the rate you’re offered

  • Third party charges - if you pay with a credit card for example

With Western Union the fees you’ll pay and the exchange rate you’re offered vary depending on whether you pay online, in the app, or in person at an agent. Different agents may also have varied fees and rates. 

Sending a payment at an agent, or having the money collected in cash will probably mean more fees and a less favourable exchange rate compared to sending online to a bank account.

Remitly fees vary by destination. You’ll have to pay using a bank card on the Visa or Mastercard network - but it’s worth knowing that if you pay with a credit card you’ll likely attract fees from your card provider as well as from Remitly.

Western Union vs Remitly: which is cheaper?

International transfers arranged via an  international payment specialist are almost always cheaper than sending money using your bank. However, you’ll still want to compare a few providers before you pick the right one for you as the services, features and fees vary significantly.

With Western Union you can model the costs of your payment online or in the Western Union app. This is handy as you can see the costs of different pay in and pay out methods, and compare the exchange rates available, too.

With Remitly you can only get the full details of the costs of your transfer by creating an account and logging in. Select the country you want to send to, to see the delivery options and costs.

Western Union vs Remitly: which is faster?

Both Western Union and Remitly offer instant payments. With Remitly, all payments must be funded with a card, and can be instantly collected or deposited into the recipient’s bank account. Western Union payments for cash collection are usually instant when you pay by cash or card, but if you choose to pay with a bank transfer they may take a day or two to arrive. Similarly, if you’re sending money to someone’s bank account directly, it’ll probably take a couple of days to get there.

Send Money with Remitly
Send Money with Western Union

Safety

Customer security is a priority for both Western Union and Remitly. As financial service companies, both are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and other global bodies in countries they operate in.

Additionally, both Western Union and Remitly follow legal requirements and industry best practices including thorough account verification processes, secure logins, and 24 hour fraud prevention measures.

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: Create your account online or in app with both providers

  • Making a transfer: Both Western Union and Remitly allow customers to fund payments with a bank card. Western Union also offers payments funded by cash and bank transfer

  • Ways to send money: Send payments to your recipient’s bank account directly, for cash collection or delivery, and to mobile money accounts with both Western Union and Remitly. 

  • Languages: Western Union services are available through local agents around the world, with multilingual customer support online and by phone. Remitly offers 14 languages. 

  • Minimum & maximum amounts: For Western Union online payments, there’s a 5,000 SGD limit per transfer, to a maximum of 50,000 SGD. Remitly limits are based on your account tier - to send high value payments you’ll need to submit some documents for verification

Supported currencies

Western Union supports 130 currencies on major payment routes which cover over 200 countries and territories. Globally, Remitly supports around 100 major payment routes - from Singapore you can send to 70+ countries and currencies. 

Conclusion

Western Union and Remitly both offer great services - so picking between them is likely to come down to the details of your specific payment.

Western Union is particularly strong because of its network of 500,000+ agents around the world. That means that if you want to pay in cash - or your recipient wants to get their money in cash at the other end - it’s probably a convenient option. You’ll also be able to send money to bank or mobile money accounts - but when it comes to payments sent direct to bank accounts  you may find other online providers offer better exchange rates and lower fees.

Remitly also offers a good range of pay out options, but is a little more limited in that you can only send money on major remittance routes, and only fund transfers using a card. To choose the right provider for your payment you’ll want to compare the costs of your specific transfer with both - and maybe a few other online providers, too.

Send Money with Remitly
Send Money with Western Union

FAQ

Is Western Union or Remitly cheaper?

Both providers have fees and exchange rates which vary depending on where you’re sending money and how you want to pay for your transfer. To figure out which is cheaper you’ll need to model your payment with both providers to get an instant quote.

Is Western Union or Remitly faster?

If you’re paying by card you’ll be able to get an instant transfer with both providers.

How many currencies do Western Union and Remitly support?

Western Union supports 130 currencies on major payment routes which cover over 200 countries and territories. Globally, Remitly supports around 100 major payment routes - from Singapore you can send to 70+ countries and currencies.

By Ileana Ionescu
Updated 28 April 2022