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Money Gram vs. Ria vs. Western Union

By: Saad Khan

The world is loaded with ATMs, automated bank transfers, tap-to-pay checkouts, etc., there are still times when collecting or handing over actual cash becomes necessary. That is the reason why money-transfer services like RIA, MoneyGram, and Western Union have thousands of agents located in cities and towns around the globe.

When it comes to transferring money overseas, there are three legit ways – RIA, Western Union, and MoneyGram; RIA is becoming popular due to its competitive rates, Western Union is already a well-known international money transfer, whereas MoneyGram is more like a household name in the world of money transfer.

Let’s see how these three are different from one another, starting from their transfer fees…

Who OFFERS the Lowest Fees?


Fees vary with how much amount is transferring, how the money is being sent and to which country – unless you go to any foreign exchange to transfer your bucks, you will never get to know the actual up-front amount.

For example, to send $5,00 to China using a bank account, you’ll be charged $8 in fees; to pay the same amount by credit or debit card, you’ll have to pay $48. Replacing China with the Philippines, the same cash pickup will be transferred at $4.99 and $10, respectively.


Money transfer with RIA also depends upon the receiving country, the payment method, and the amount that is being sent; if your preferred method is RIA, the cheapest way to send money is bank transfer – you will be charged lower than $5. However, fees for credit card payments would be more than $45.

Western Union 

Western Union’s fees also vary with the transferring amount, how and where the money is being sent to. The transfer fee of Western Union starts from $5, but can be rocketed up to $45 if use credit/debit card or cash in certain countries.

Luckily, Western Union offers a no-fee transfer facility in some high-traffic countries, say Mexico, India, and some others.

All three boast somewhat similar transfer fee options, but if bank transfer is your preferred option, then go with RIA, as it has a slight edge.

Which offers the Best Exchange Rates?

To understand the phenomena of exchange rates and who is offering better rates, we have to first look at the mid-market rate. The truth with the exchange rate is that it averages the buying and selling rate of a global currency and the rate banks and transfer services use when trade among each other.

Western Union

Depending on the country where the money is being sent, the exchange rate at Western Union can go up to 6% above the mid-market rate – it means that if you want to send a large amount overseas, you have to pay hundreds of dollars straight to Western Union.

Like; if the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 158.5 PKR, then the Western Union’s exchange rate would be 1 USD = 142.6 PKR.


RIA takes the smallest margin among the three of them; their rates can be less than 1% on the mid-market rate.

Like; If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.96 EUR, then RIA’s exchange rate would be 1 USD = 0.92 EUR


Depending on the country you are sending, MoneyGram’s exchange rate can go up to 5% or more that of mid-market rate; it means hundreds of dollars on a large transfer will be given to MoneyGram.

So, who is giving the lowest rate, obviously, RIA is offering the least possible rates.

Which one the Fastest?

Western Union

Western Union’s delivery speeds depend on the chosen transfer option. By phone or at an agent location, your transfer will be delivered in minutes (with higher fees). The cheapest options will take five days or (maybe) longer, depending on the receiving country.


MoneyGram’s delivery speeds also vary by its transfer option; choose in-person or phone option to make the transfer in minutes, but at a higher cost, cheaper ones will take two to four working days.


Just like MoneyGram and Western Union, RIA’s transfer duration also depends on the method you choose to send your money. When sending money using a credit/debit card, the exchange will take 15 minutes or less. Bank transfers can take up to four days.

How do they Work?

Western Union and RIA 

To transfer money with either Western Union or RIA, visit Pakistan Currency exchange or any other Western Union service provider, give details, and send money anywhere in the world. Don’t forget to confirm the exchange rate before initiating a money transfer; you can also send online.


To make an online transfer via MoneyGram, the process is the same as with RIA and Western Union, the only difference MoneyGram offers is its app that also makes the online money-transfer easier and quicker.

Before saying goodbye, let’s recap the differences these money-transfer services offer;

Fees From $3 From $8 From $5
Exchange Rates Less than 1% of mid-market Up to 5% of mid-market Up to 6% of mid-market
Amount Transfer/day Up to $2,999 Varies by Country Depends on the method
Speed Up to 4 days Up to 4 days Up to 5 days
Payment Methods            Bank, credit/debit card, cash Bank, credit/debit card, cash Bank, credit/debit card, cash
Countries  144 Countries 190+ countries 200+ countries



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