Ria vs MoneyGram vs WesternUnion

About Author: Hi, I’m Quinn Askeland. In 2014, I started Transumo after experiencing expensive, slow, and frustrating international money transfers and payments through banks. Once I discovered how to manage my own international currencies much better, I became driven to help others improve their transfers and payments. Fortunately, today, there are many excellent options. See My Full Bio.

At a glance, these money transfer giants may seem identical in what they do and how they operate. 

While there are many similarities, there are also big differences if you look closer. 

  • Ria, MoneyGram, and WesternUnion are some of the best known ways for sending small cash transfers and bank payments to pretty much anywhere in the world
  • WesternUnion and MoneyGram are more widely available than Ria 
  • Of these, WesternUnion is the only service that also supports business transfers
  • Moneygram has a higher transfer limit than either Ria or Western Union
  • Check out our Verdict for some alternatives

Disclosure: This post may contain offers and affiliate links to save you money and it also helps us to keep providing the best information. For more information, see our disclosures here.

1. Snapshot

When it comes to customer satisfaction, MoneyGram, Ria, and Western Union are all doing great. They have high ratings on Trustpilot, where MoneyGram is the top scorer with 4.5/5 from 36k+ reviews. Ria is not far behind with 4.4/5 from 13k+ reviews, and Western Union is also doing well with 4/5 from 57k reviews.

🏛️Established1987, NYC (the US)1980, Texas (the US)1851, NY (the US)
💁🏼‍♂️ClientsPersonalPersonalPersonal and Business
💱Currencies60 global currencies48 global currencies130 global currencies
⚖️RegulationRegulated in the USRegulated in the USRegulated in the US
⭐Reviews“Excellent” – 4.4/5 on Trustpilot with over 15,000+ reviews (January 2024)“Excellent” – 4.5/5 on Trustpilot with over 38,000 reviews (January 2024)“Great” = 4/5 on Trustpilot with over 63,000 reviews (January 2024)
💰FeesFees depend on currency pair, amount, delivery method, and funding methodFees depend on target currency, the amount, and the funding methodFees depend on currency pair, transfer speed, amount, delivery method, and funding method
🌐Official WebsiteVisit RiaVisit MoneyGramVisit WesternUnion

2. What is Ria?

Ria is the third largest remittance company in the world that lets users in the US, Australia, the UK, Spain, or Canada send cash, bank, and mobile wallet transfers to 165+ countries in 60 global countries. 

Ria is regulated in the US and has over 500,000 agent locations worldwide. You can set up transfers at an agent location offline, on their website, or by downloading their app.

Ria Pros

  • Licensed and regulated service
  • Many receiving countries and agent locations
  • Supports cash pick ups, bank transfers, and mobile wallet transfers
  • Many payment methods supported
  • Set up transfer offline, online, and mobile app

Ria Cons

  • Limited to small amounts – you can only send $2,999.99 USD per day or $7,999 USD every 30 days
  • Complicated fees and can be expensive
  • Only available in the US, Australia, the UK, Spain, and Canada
  • No business payments

3. What is MoneyGram?

MoneyGram is the second largest remittance service in the world with over 40 years of experience. 

You can sign up for MoneyGram from most countries around the world and send cash, bank, and mobile wallet transfers to 200 countries. 

They have over 3,50,000 agent locations worldwide and you can send up to $10,000 per transfer (higher than Ria and WesternUnion).

MoneyGram Pros

  • Licensed and regulated service
  • Available worldwide
  • Send money to 200 countries
  • Supports cash pick ups, bank transfers, bill payments, and mobile wallet transfers
  • High send limit

MoneyGram Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • No business payments

4. What is WesternUnion?

Established in 1851 (not a typo!), WesternUnion is the oldest and largest remitter in the world. 

These days they have a lot of competition, but they’re still top of mind for many people. This is because WesternUnion is available in most countries, supports 130 currencies, and lets you send money to 200+ countries. 

And, they’re available for both personal and business users who want to send cash, bank transfers, and mobile wallet transfers in both major and exotic currencies.

WesternUnion Pros

  • Licensed and regulated service
  • Available worldwide for personal and business
  • Supports 130 currencies
  • 500,000 agent locations
  • Pre-paid debit card (optional)
  • Offers many transfer speeds

WesternUnion Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Only for relatively small amounts

5. Ria vs MoneyGram vs WesternUnion: Transfer Fees


Fees depend on:

  • Currency pair
  • Amount
  • Delivery method
  • Funding method

Typically, bank-to-bank transfers are more affordable but slower, while card-to-bank (or card-to-cash payouts) are faster but more expensive.

Ria also charges a margin on the exchange rate (between 1.5% to 2.5%), and their fees increase as the amount goes up.
Check how much you will pay in fees on their website.


Fees depend on 

  • Target currency
  • Amount
  • Funding method

Like most currency transfer companies, MoneyGram also adds a margin to the mid-market exchange rate. However, sometimes this can go well over 5% of the transfer amount, driving up the total cost of your transfer.

Typically, you can save on your transfer with MoneyGram if your transfer from a bank account and sending to your recipient’s bank account.

Cash payouts as well as funding your transfer with cash at an agent location will lead to additional fees.
Get an estimate of how much you will pay on MoneyGram’s website.


Fees depend on

  • Currency Pair
  • Amount
  • Funding method
  • Payout method
  • Service (One-day transfers, Money in Minutes, etc.)

It’s difficult to estimate the exchange rate offered by Western Union, and here’s what they mention on the website:

“…the exchange rates shown on the website are estimates” and the actual exchange rate will be pulled during the time of the transfer.

Western Union will calculate its exchange rates on the basis of the interbank rates available in the market, plus a margin.”

Western Union also charges a margin on the exchange rate (up to 6% of the transfer amount) as well as fees based on other variables mentioned above.

You can estimate how much you’ll pay in fees on their price estimator.

Please note:

  • The fees you will pay when actually set up your transfer vs the fees shown on their calculator may be different. 

This is because of market movements and potential hidden fees (like a cash advance fee if you’re funding with your credit card, sending and receiving bank fees, agent fees, etc.). 

  • Ria, MoneyGram, and WesternUnion charge higher fees for higher amounts

Winner: Tie

All the services have complex fee structures and none of them are the cheapest in the industry. These money transfer giants are not meant for savings in fees but convenience. These days there are many services that are are cheaper.

However, if you’re looking for affordable cash transfers, check out WorldRemit (review) and Remitly (review).

Want to send bank-to-bank transfers at the mid-market rate and with no hidden fees? Wise (review) is a great option.

And if you need to send money from a card to a card Panda Remit (review) is a great option.

6. Ria vs MoneyGram vs WesternUnion: Location and currencies


  • Only available in the US, Australia, the UK, Spain, and Canada
  • Send money to 130+ countries
  • Supports 65 currencies


  • Available in most countries
  • Send money to 200 countries
  • Supports 48 global currencies


  • Available in most countries
  • Send money to 200 countries
  • Supports 130+ currencies

Winner: WesternUnion

WesternUnion is the most widely available service that also supports more currencies – both major and exotic.

7. Ria vs MoneyGram vs WesternUnion: Transfer Speed


Cash: Within minutes (10-15 minutes)

Transfers funded by credit or debit cards: Within minutes

Bank transfers: 3-5 business days


Cash: Available within minutes

Mobile wallet: Available within minutes

Bank transfers: Depends on the sending and receiving countries, usually 1-5 days

For example, UK to Belgium transfers are completed the next day.

Get an estimate of transfer speeds here.


Cash with Money in Minutes service: 10 minutes (guaranteed)

Mobile wallet: Available within minutes

Bank transfers (Same Day transfer service): 24 hours

Bank transfers (regular): 3-5 days

Please note: 

  • Time of day, weekends, and holidays can cause delays.
  • Sending money with any of the services for the first time? Expect delays as they verify your account.

Winner: WesternUnion

All three services are at par with transfer speeds for international money transfers. However, since WesternUnion has designated service tiers based on transfer speed so they win this round.

8. Ria vs MoneyGram vs WesternUnion: Security


  • Licensed and regulated in the US
  • Encrypted website and app 
  • Transfer audits 
  • 24×7 monitoring 
  • Govt ID for cash pick up
  • Doesn’t store card data
  • Track your transfer easily


  • Licensed and regulated in the US
  • Listed on the NASDAQ
  • Encrypted website and app 
  • ID required for cash pick up
  • Track your transfer easily


Licensed and regulated in the US

Mandatory KYC 

Advanced online encryption methods 

Govt ID for cash pick ups

Track your transfer easily

Winner: Tie

In general, all three services are completely secure and can be trusted with your money. They also continue to educate their customers about online scams so you can stay safe.

All three services follow the AML compliance program to help fight against money laundering and terrorism and protect their customers and their businesses.

9. Ria vs MoneyGram vs WesternUnion: Third party reviews – Can You Trust Them?


Ria is rated 2.7/5 on Trustpilot with over 6,000+ reviews – where 69% of the users (5-star reviews) had a positive experience with the company. 

They loved Ria’s transfer speed and their customer service. 

However, over 18% of the users (1-star and 2-star reviews) had a negative experience.

The top causes of dissatisfaction were:

  • Randomly canceled transfers
  • Refund delays for canceled transfers

Since Ria is a regulated money transfer company, transfers can get canceled if they don’t comply with Ria’s scope of service. 

For example, Ria can cancel your transfer if you’re sending money to a vendor overseas (Ria only processes personal transfers). 

Most of the positive reviews showed that Ria’s customer service was helpful and proactive. However, when transfers were canceled, their customer service team refused to provide a straight answer, which can be concerning – especially when you’re still waiting for a refund.


MoneyGram is rated 4.3/5 on trustpilot with over 24,000 reviews where 69% (5-star reviews) of the users said they had a good experience with the company. 

They loved MoneyGram’s fast transfers and the fact that they have many pick up points. 

However, 13% of the reviewers (1-star and 2-star reviews) reported a negative experience with MoneyGram.

The top causes of dissatisfaction where:

  • Blocked accounts
  • Occasionally money lost (system errors, refused pick ups to recipients)
  • Canceled transfers

MoneyGram can be very reliable most of the time, however, too many people have lost money recently due to system errors. 

Even though MoneyGram’s intention is to keep your money safe and ensure only the approved recipient gets the money, issues like these can bring down the trust factor of a service that has been in the business for 40+ years.


WesternUnion is rated 3.9/5 with over 41,000 reviews where 63% of the users (5-star reviews) had a positive experience with the company. 

Though quite expensive, they loved WesternUnion’s consistently good service. 

However, 19% of the reviewers gave WesternUnion 1-star and 2-star ratings. 

The top causes of dissatisfaction were:

  • Unable to redeem reward points
  • High margin on the exchange rate

Frequent users are awarded WU reward points, however many people were not able to redeem those points to get transfer fee discounts. Since WesternUnion has many long term users, this can be a breach of trust – a minor thing, but a breach nonetheless. 

And WesternUnion can be quite expensive – they charge a premium for their wide availability. 

So we recommend using them only if you want to send money in exotic currencies other providers don’t support.

Winner: Tie

It’s difficult to determine a winner in this category based on the Trustpilot scores alone because there are so many factors involved.

Overall, MoneyGram and WesternUnion are evolving and course correcting – even though there are some negative experiences, the positives outweigh them. 

However, if you have the choice of one of one of the other two, based on 3rd party reviews Ria looks like it should be avoided.

Verdict – Which is better?

With 2 wins for WesternUnion and 3 ties, they’re the clear winner for the following reasons:

  • They’re available almost everywhere and support most currencies (130 currencies)
  • They offer transfers for both personal and business users
  • They have dedicated service tiers based on transfer speed, which sets the right expectations with their users
  • According to user reviews, they’re known for their consistently good service

Overall, if reach and speed are your priority and you’re OK to pay a premium, WesternUnion is a good service to opt for.

Moneygram on the other hand does have the best Trustpilot reviews and so on this basis, we consider them a strong second.

However, if you’re looking to save money on cash transfers, check out WorldRemit (review) and Remitly (review). Both services can be cheaper and better if the sender has a bank account.

If possible bank-to-bank transfers are very inexpensive these days, usually less than 1% compared to the 6% – 10% which can easily be charged for cash only transfers.

Wise (review) is a great option for inexpensive bank-to-bank transfers with no hidden fees.

Whoever you choose, we hope it goes well for you!

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