Western Union Money Transfer Review

Exchange rates, Payment methods, How to, Transfer fees and much more

Western Union Review

The internet may have made money transfers faster and more convenient, but transfers are nothing new.

One of the oldest and largest money transfer companies is Western Union. Founded in 1851 when money was sent on horseback, Western Union allows you to transfer money to any of more than 200 countries worldwide. Since then, its business has grown and expanded thanks to online money transfers.

Send money in more than 125 currencies with your credit card, bank account, debit card, or wire transfer online. Moreover, Western Union is very famous all around the world because of their cash transfers through the agent network. You can literally visit any WU branch or location and personally transfer your money to any country in the world.

How Western Union Money Transfers Work

Western Union offers multiple options for money transfers: online, in person, over the phone, or via Western Union app. In some cases, cash is available for pickup that same day.

Here’s how to send money online with Western Union:

  1. Visit www.westernunion.com. Select “Send Money.”
  2. Enter the country where you want to send money to. Western Union allows you to send money to more than 200 countries.
  3. Enter the amount of money you want to send to the other person, and select the currency they’ll receive (if applicable).
  4. Select how the person will receive the money. Options include bank account transfer, delivery, or cash pickup.
  5. You will be able to see how much the transfer will cost you in fees based on how you choose to pay for the transfer. Transfers between bank accounts are less expensive with Western Union, but take longer to complete.
  6. You will be prompted to log into your Western Union account if you have one, or create an account if you do not.
  7. Fill in details about the recipient, such as their name and contact information. If you are transferring money to their bank account, you also will need to provide the recipient’s bank account information.
  8. Pay for your transfer by entering your bank account, credit card, or debit card information. If you choose to pay in person with cash, you will need to take your photo ID with you to the Western Union location to pay.

Payment Methods Available with Western Union

Western Union allows you to pay for a money transfer in five different ways: with your bank account, debit card, credit card, wire transfer, or with cash.

The amount of money you can send using Western Union depends on your individual transaction history if you’ve successfully sent money with Western Union before. It also depends on the receiver’s country, your location, and how you elect to pay for the transfer.

When sending money through the website or via app, daily limit for most transfers is $2,999. For next-day transfers, the limit is $500.

If you choose to send money by initiating the transfer in person at a Western Union branch, there is usually no limit to how much money you can send daily. However, some countries do have limits on how much money a person can receive in a day.

Transfers initiated over the phone range from $300 to $2,500 per day.

Where Is Western Union Available?

Western Union allows you to send money to and from over 200 countries. Some of the countries where you can send money include:

Western Union Money Transfer Fees

How much you will pay to send money with Western Union depends on a few factors:

  • Where you’re sending money to
  • How you’re paying for the transfer
  • How much you’re sending

In general, transfers from your bank account to the recipient’s bank account are the least expensive option when it comes to transfer fees. However, this type of money transfer does take longer than the other options, sometimes up to a week.

If you want to send money quickly with by paying with your credit or debit card, expect to pay higher fees. In some cases, the recipient can pick up their money within a few hours at the closest Western Union location. There are more than 550,000 individual locations worldwide, giving plenty of opportunities to pick up cash.

Western Union Exchange Rates

Western Union is one of the online money transfer companies that makes relatively large margins on its exchange rate markup. Sometimes, customers need to pay up to 20% in exchange rate difference and various fees.

Western Union’s exchange rates aren’t always better than its competition. The country where you’re sending money and how much money you’re sending can make a difference in the exchange rates.

When you send money to developing countries using Western Union, you can get better exchange rates than you would get if you send money to Europe or the US. You also may find better exchange rates when sending large amounts of money.

Pros and Cons of Western Union

Pros

  • Large, well-established company may give you peace of mind.

  • See transfer fees upfront so you know how much you’ll be charged.

  • Typically low fees charged for bank-to-bank transfers.

  • Easy to use with a user-friendly website and app.

  • Multiple ways to initiate a transfer - online, app, phone, and in person.

  • Pay for your transfer using a bank account, wire transfer, debit card, or credit card.

  • Debit and credit card transfers can reach the recipient within 1-2 business days.

  • Huge network of Western Union locations means that recipients have better access to receiving cash faster.

  • Cons

  • One of the most expensive online money transfer companies

  • The least expensive option, bank-to-bank transfer, takes the longest to get to the recipient.

  • Lower daily transfer limits than other online transfer companies.

  • Alternatives to Western Union Money Transfers

    Banks

    For many people, banks are among their first choice when sending money. They’re often considered very reliable and safe for transfers, offering protection to sender and recipient.

    Many banks charge fees to send money internationally. This means banks are rarely the least expensive way to send money.

    In addition, to send or receive money at a bank you need to be their customer. For people who are travelling, and need money in a hurry, this could be problematic and limit their access to a money transfer.

    At the same time, Western Union is accessible anywhere you can log onto the internet, make a phone call, or walk into one of their locations. Send money using a credit or debit card, or any bank account, improving access to money transfers.

    01

    Traditional Money Transfer Companies

    Western Union is one of the long-standing “traditional” money transfer companies. For many years, it was one of the few options available to send money internationally for many years.

    The company and its competition in the traditional money transfer space, including MoneyGram and Ria Money Transfer, benefits from years of trust and name recognition. This trust helps Western Union gain more customers.

    Western Union and its similar competitors can fall short, though. Transferring money is often more expensive with companies that operate branches, sending customers to newer, online-only companies.

    02

    Other Online Money Transfer Services

    The internet has greatly changed the money transfer industry, broadening access to sending and receiving money online. These new companies have brought costs down for consumers, giving people more control and choice in what they choose.

    They use the latest technology to send money securely from one location to another. They also don’t operate physical locations or manage thousands of employees, making them less expensive than their more traditional counterparts.

    Where these transfer companies can fall short - in trust. Many people are hesitant to send money with a company they’ve not heard of or that hasn’t been around for years.

    Western Union has the advantage over many of these newer companies because of its name recognition. It’s highly trusted, but also offers access online and via the app, giving increased ability to transfer money wherever you are.

    03

    Other Money Transfer Providers

    How Does Western Union Make Money?

    Western Union makes its money in two major ways. By charging transfer fees on its transfers, and by marking up the exchange rate to send money.

    Typically, Western Union charges fees based on three factors: The country where you’re sending money, how much money you’re sending, and how you’re paying for the transfer. You will pay lower fees or no fees at all if you use bank to bank type of transfer. If you want the money to get to the other person quickly, use a credit card or debit card to fund the transfer. However, paying this way is going to cost you a fee.

    Western Union also makes money by marking up the margin on exchange rates. This markup can add up to 20 percent of the total amount of your money transfer.

    Because of the fees and exchange rate markup, Western Union is not often the least expensive option for sending money.

    Platforms Where Western Union Is Available

    Western Union is available on a computer, tablet, or mobile device through its website. Additionally, it is available on tablets and smartphones with its app.

    Is Western Union Secure?

    As one of the oldest money transfer companies in the business, Western Union is seen as a very secure, safe way to send money overseas.

    The company is fully licensed and insured in multiple countries. It’s long history of offering money transfers means it is well-trusted by the public.

    What Western Union Offers

    Western Union offers money transfers between individuals, either within the same country or between countries.

    You also can use Western Union to pay bills with certain retailers. They also offer a prepaid card allowing you to send and receive money easily, and even direct deposit your paycheck onto the card. The card can be used as a debit card at many retailers, allowing you to make purchases.

    Western Union Business Solutions also offers business services, including paying to suppliers, employees, and partners internationally; accepting payments from foreign customers, and globally mass payments.

    Western Union Money Transfer Customer Reviews

    Western Union has more than 17,000 individual customer reviews on Trustpilot, a consumer review site.

    Overall reviews are mixed, with 65 percent of reviewers rating Western Union excellent. A total of 11 percent of reviewers rate Western Union either poor or bad.

    User Bart stated he found the rates and fees at Western Union competitive with the rest of the industry. He also stated that his transfer was completed quickly and without trouble.

    Customer Omar gave Western Union a try after getting stuck in Pakistan and running out of money. His transfer arrived in six business days without issues, and he says he plans to use the service in the future.

    Reviewers who had negative experiences with Western Union point to poor customer service and communication about the status of their transfers.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Western Union

    Here are some frequently asked questions about Western Union:

    The only way to possibly avoid paying transfer fees with Western Union is to do a transfer between bank accounts. However, this method can take up to a week, meaning the recipient experiences delays in getting the money.

    If you need the money to get to the other person quickly and want to reduce the fees you’re paying, you can see whether changing the amount of money you’re sending will decrease the fees. Western Union is very transparent with the fees you’ll pay to send money, so you can use their website to change the amount until you are happy with the amount you’re paying in fees.

    How much money you’ll pay to send money with Western Union depends on a few factors, including:

    • How much money you’re sending
    • Where you’re sending money to
    • How you’re funding the transfer

    Yes. Western Union is one of the oldest and most trusted names in money transfers, and it is insured and approved in a variety of countries.

    How to Contact Western Union

    Western Union offers email, live chat support, and a customer service phone line.

    Customer Service Phone:

    (800) 214-5483, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. CST and Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST

    History of Western Union

    Originally founded as a telegram company in 1851, Western Union began offering wire transfers in 1871. It has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1865, and currently is the largest money transfer company in the world.

    Western Union is currently valued at $9 billion. In 2017, the company transferred more than $300 billion, averaging 32 money transfers per second for the entire year.

    Over the years, Western Union has evolved as the money transfer industry has evolved. It has expanded to offer money transfers to more than 200 countries and more than 550,000 locations. Western Union also operates a business services arm and offers online transfers.

    Send Money Overseas with Western Union

    Western Union is the one of the oldest, most trusted, and largest money transfer companies in the world, serving billions of customers each year. While it is highly respected, it is not often among the least expensive money transfer companies.

    If you’re searching for a company you can trust, choose Western Union. Send money internationally with little hassle or worry.

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