8 Must Knows Before You Sign Up
On one hand you have the oldest currency transfer company in the world – Western Union, established in 1851 and inevitably top of mind when you think “I need a fast, reliable, flexible option to send money across the world.”
On the other, you have Xoom – a new age giant with PayPal’s reputation and weight behind it.
At a glance, it may seem like they offer the same thing.
But when you dig deeper, there are important differences.
We’ve done the research to make it easy for you.
Here we’ll show how Xoom and Western Union stack up against each other in 8 important categories.
To help, we award a Winner in each of the categories, so you can see what works best for you. (Look for the “Winner” in each category and don’t miss our verdict (below))
But wait there is more. 🥩 🔪
In some cases Xoom and Western Union may not be best for you and we suggest some alternative options.
Let’s dive in.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
- Who Can Get One?
- Transfer Costs and Fees (+ Hidden Fees?)
- Ways to Send Money
- Payout Methods
- Transfer Speed
- Reviews (inc. Negative Ones)
- Customer Service and Support
Before we get stuck into the 8 categories, it can help a lot to know the big differences between Xoom (review) and Western Union.
1. Type of payments
Xoom only offers personal remittance options.
That is, you can only send money to and pay bills for your friends and family. They have a bunch of checks and balances in place to verify that funds are indeed being transferred for personal purposes to remain in their scope of service.
Western Union, on the other hand, offers both personal and business transfers.
They have a wide network of agent locations across the world and this makes it easy for them to support both smaller and larger transfers for personal or business purposes.
2. How you send money
Xoom is for folks who are comfortable handling all aspects online. They have a great online interface and an easy-to-use app that lets you check their fees, set up transfers, and stay updated on the status of your transfer.
Western Union lets you set up transfers online, in cash at agent locations, via their app, or on a phone call.
Essentially Western Union has got your back whether you’re comfortable setting up everything online or need to speak to a human during the process.
3. Helpful extras
Xoom’s extra services include bill payments for your family and friends.
Apart from bill payments and business transfers, Western Union also offers a prepaid debit card (the Netspend card – powered by MasterCard or Visa, depending on the country).
Western Union Pros
Western Union Cons
Both services are relatively expensive compared with most money transfer services which focus on transfers to bank accounts.
There are also services like WorldRemit (review) that allow cash pickups which are cost effective and excellent.
While Western Union is available in almost every country worldwide, their “Bad” reviews (uncovered below) are far more significant compared to Xoom.
If you are planning on sending smaller amounts of a few hundred dollars quite regularly, don’t miss our discussion comparison of remitters which also includes like Skrill, Remitly and Moneygram.
|You can sign up for Xoom from the US, Canada, UK, and Europe (Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries) and transfer money to 130 countries worldwide.||Western Union accepts registrations from over 70 countries and lets you send money to 200 countries around the world.|
Wondering if they support sign ups or have agent offices in your location? Hop over to their website, scroll down to the footer, and search for it in the drop down list.
The availability of their Netspend prepaid card may be limited to the US, some Latin American countries, and Europe.
Winner: Western Union
While Xoom has a wide base of receiving countries, the supported sender countries are limited.
Western Union has both – a wide base of both sender and receiving countries, including over 500,000 agent locations and pick up points.
|Xoom’s transfer fees vary based on|
Their transfer fees include a transaction fee plus a mark-up on the exchange rate (which is not so easy to figure out, but can be figured out as we show here).
For the transparent part of the fee, typically you’ll pay about USD 30 in fees for sending USD 1,000 from the US to common destinations (card-to-bank transfer).
You’ll definitely pay a lower amount – about $4.99 USD – if you fund your transfer with a bank transfer.
And a quick heads up:
Xoom also charges a transaction fee when you pay your bills abroad (fees are typically USD 2.99/ CAD 2.99/ GBP 2.99/ EUR 2.99).
|Western Union’s fees vary according to|
Western Union’s transfer fees also vary according to market fluctuations and the rates displayed on their website.
Here’s the fine print:
“Western Union will calculate its exchange rates on the basis of the interbank rates available in the market, plus a margin.”
Typically, you’ll pay a maximum of 6% mark up on the exchange rate + a transfer fee based on the transfer method, pay out method, and the transfer speed.
For example, your transfers will be more expensive if you fund the transfer with a credit and opt for the Money in Minutes plan.
Learn more about their fee break up for instant transfers here.
Western Union Netspend card fees
The Western Union debit card also comes with a bunch of fees including monthly fees, ATM withdrawal fees, inactivity fees, etc.
Both Xoom and Western Union have complex fee structures but you have a lot of flexibility in the way you fund the transfer and the way money is received.
Trying to figure out the exact fees you are being charged is quite difficult especially considering the biggest fee is often the margin built into the exchange rate which you need to calculate to get a full break down of of all the fees.
Even then, there may be other fees.
Additional (sometime hidden) fees
Additional fees that can drive up the cost of transferring money with Xoom and Western Union include a cash advance charged by your credit card company and fees charged by banks at either end for (bank-to-bank transfers).
And if you’re opting for Western Union, some agent locations may also charge pick up or set up fees.
Xoom and Western Union are rarely the cheapest options for moving money internationally. But it can be worth paying a premium for the flexibility they offer.
However for transfers less than $7000 USD if you’d like to save big on transfers and instant transfers aren’t high on your list, we recommend going with TransferWise (review) who are known for their low, very transparent fee structure. If you need cash to arrive check out WorldRemit (review).
You might also like our comparison of TransferWise VS Western Union
|Xoom supports a large number of major as well as minor currencies for international transfers.|
Overall, they support about 100+ currencies for the 130 receiving countries.
|Western Union supports 130+ currencies for their 200+ receiving countries,|
However, not all the sender countries support all the 130+ currencies (but you can easily check supported currencies for your country on Western Union’s location-specific domain).
Winner: Western Union
Western Union wins this round with a larger selection of supported currencies.
|You can fund your Xoom transfer with|
But you can’t use your PayPal balance to set up your transfers or bill payments abroad.
|Western Union’s funding methods vary according to the sender’s currency and the selected currency corridor.|
Usually, you can fund your transfer with
Winner: Western Union
Western Union has a slight edge here with cash inputs for setting up transfers (but it can make a world of difference to some folks).
|Xoom supports:||Western Union supports:|
Xoom and Western Union are head-to-head here with all the different payout methods. So if you’re looking for a lot of flexibility for your transfers, you can’t go wrong with either service.
|Transfer speed on Xoom depends on the payout method, the transfer amount, and your recipient’s location.|
Typically transfers funded with credit or debit cards arrive within minutes.
But larger transfers ($10000 USD and above), transfers in exotic currencies, and bank-to-bank transfers take longer (3-5 days).
|Western Union offers three plans for your transfers that determines the transfer speed:|
The fastest option is “In Minutes,” which allows your recipient to collect the cash from an agent location within 10 minutes (must be funded with a credit card; typically more expensive due to the attached cash advance fee and the fee charged by the agent).
Bank-to-bank transfers are the cheapest but they also take longer (3-5 days).
There are also sending limits for each service:
In Minutes & Three Day – $2500
Next Day – $500
Winner: Western Union
Western Union offers a lot of flexibility so you can choose your transfer speed based on your needs.
While Xoom’s card-to-bank transfers also usually arrive in minutes, this can vary based on the currency corridor and amount.
So if you need specific and assured timelines for your transfers, Western Union is a great option.
And though the “In Minutes” service is usually more expensive, it’s well worth paying a premium during emergencies.
|Xoom is rated 4.6/5 on Trustpilot with over 21,000 reviews.|
88% of the reviewers had an “Excellent” experience, while 4% had a “Good” experience transferring money with Xoom.
The reviewers raved about the prompt service and the simply online interface.
However, 5% of the reviewers had a “Bad” experience and here’s what we uncovered:
a. They were unhappy about the exchange rate: Xoom’s transfer fee is based on a lot of variables and they also charge a mark up on the exchange rate. But they also offer a lot of pay out methods and thus charge a premium.
b. Transfer delays were another cause for concern: Your transfer can arrive in minutes if you fund it with a credit card and if you’re exchanging a major currency. But it’s always a good idea to set your expectations based on the currency corridor, banking hours and upcoming holidays.
c. Blocked transfers were another big cause for dissatisfaction – Going over the sending limits or attempting to send a business transfer from your Xoom account can result in a hold up.
Check out our full review of Xoom.
|Western Union is rated 3.6/5 on Trustpilot with over 17,000 reviews.|
65% of reviewers had an “Excellent” experience and 19% had a “Good” experience.
Most of the reviewers loved their quick service and the support for setting up transfers.
However, 10% of the users had a “Bad” experience with Western Union.
Here’s the low down on the top causes of user dissatisfaction:
a. Transfer delays: These can be avoided by choosing the right service when you set your transfer. It’s also a good idea to factor in things like the currency corridor and upcoming holidays
b. Transfers on hold: Western Union regularly audits transfers to prevent scams, money laundering, and other illegal activities. Usually these are resolved pretty quickly (keep all important documentation like bank statements handy though).
c. Customer Service: Some users found it difficult to reach Western Union’s customer service, which can be concerning. But it’s reassuring that you can walk to your nearest agent office to sort things out.
Both Xoom and Western Union offer a lot of flexibility for your international transfers by supporting a wide base of receiving countries, 100+ currencies, and a variety of payout methods.
However, Xoom has risen to the occasion and stepped up their customer service game, which has led to better user reviews on Trustpilot.
|Here’s how you can reach Xoom’s customer service team:|
They don’t have a live chat option, but they do an extensive Help section on their website.
|You can reach Western Union via|
This is great for folks who’d rather not handle all aspects of money transfer online.
On the flip side, their customer service team can be slow to respond at times.
Both services offer multi-lingual support, which is really helpful.
In some cases, while Western Union can be reached at a physical location, Xoom’s customer service is easier to get hold of.
With 3 wins for Western Union, 2 wins for Xoom, and 3 ties, you can be rest assured that both are potential options for moving your money.
But let’s make it easier for you.
Xoom’s edge: strong presence in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe with the convenience to set up and track your personal transfers online. If you need multi-lingual support, they’ve got your back. And, they support a variety of payout methods.
Western Union’s edge: supports sign ups from pretty much anywhere in the world, dedicated accounts for personal and business transfers, flexible transfer speeds and ways to receive money.
So which service is best for you?
We’d suggest you weigh your options based on your specific requirements: long term and short term needs (personal transfers only or business transfers as well), location, and target currency corridor.
Also consider that they have some great competitors (above) that should be considered if low, transparent fees are important to you.