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Western Union review

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Western Union

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Minimum Transfer Amount
$1
Fastest Transfer Speed
Within minutes
Receiving Options
Cash pickup location, Bank account, Mobile wallet

Our verdict

Western Union lets you send fast money transfers all over the world, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for large transfers.

Western Union offers money transfers to over 200 countries and territories around the world. You can send money online, via a mobile app or in-store, and there are flexible payment and delivery options to choose from. And with a global network of over 500,000 agent locations, you can get cash to loved ones overseas in a matter of minutes.

Just be aware that an exchange rate markup and transfer fee often apply. And if you want to send a large transfer amount, you’ll need to consider other transfer services.

Best for: Sending fast cash pickup transfers anywhere around the world.

Pros

  • User-friendly app
  • Fast cash transfers
  • $0 international bank transfer fees
  • Options for cash pickup in most countries

Cons

  • Higher fees for cash pickups
  • Expensive for domestic transfers
  • Not possible to send more than $7,500 online

In this guide

  • Our verdict
  • Details
    • Product details
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Your reviews

Details

Product details

Product Name Western Union
Pay By Cash, Credit card, Debit card, Bank transfer
Receiving Options Cash pickup location, Bank account, Mobile wallet
Customer Service Phone, Live chat, Email, In person
Available Currencies AED, AFN, ALL, ANG, AOA, ARS, AUD, AWG, AZN, BAM, BBD, BDT, BGN, BHD, BIF, BMD, BND, BOB, BRL, BSD, BTN, BWP, BZD, CHF, CLP, CNY, CRC, CVE, CZK, DJF, DKK, DOP, DZD, EGP, ERN, ETB, EUR, FJD, FKP, GBP, GEL, GHS, GIP, GMD, GNF, GTQ, GYD, HKD, HNL, HUF, IDR, ILS, IQD, ISK, JOD, JPY, KES, KGS, KHR, KMF, KRW, KWD, KYD, KZT, LAK, LBP, LKR, LRD, LSL, MAD, MDL, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MUR, MVR, MWK, MYR, MZN, NAD, NGN, NIO, NOK, NPR, NZD, OMR, PEN, PGK, PLN, PYG, QAR, RON, RSD, RWF, SAR, SBD, SCR, SDG, SEK, SGD, SRD, THB, TJS, TMT, TND, TOP, TRY, TTD, TWD, TZS, UAH, UGX, USD, UYU, UZS, VES, VND, VUV, WST, XAF, XCD, XOF, YER, ZAR, ZMW, SLE

What is Western Union?

Western Union is a money transfer service that lets you send money from Canada to over 200 countries and territories. It’s best known for its cash transfer service, which allows you to send money to a global network of over agent locations (including thousands in Canada).

But Western Union also allows you to transfer money to an overseas bank account or mobile wallet. You can transfer money online, via a mobile app or by visiting a Western Union location.

What we like about Western Union

  • Send to over 200 countries and territories. Western Union offers international transfers to destinations all over the world.
  • Over cash pickup locations. If you’re sending cash, Western Union has a large global network of pickup locations.
  • Fast transfers. If you send a cash pickup transfer, your recipient can collect the money in as little as a few minutes.
  • Flexible sending and receiving options. You can send a Western Union money transfer online, via the Western Union app or in-store. Receiving options for your money include cash pickup, bank account and mobile wallet.
  • Wide range of payment methods. You can pay for your transfer using your credit card, debit card, bank transfer and cash (for in-store transfers).
  • First transfer is fee-free. You won’t pay any fees on your first Western Union online money transfer.

What to be aware of

  • Exchange rate markup. Western Union applies an exchange rate markup when you send your Canadian dollars to another currency. The size of the markup depends on the currency you’re sending to, but you may find a better rate from an online transfer company.
  • Transfer fees. You’ll also need to pay a fee when you send money with Western Union. The fee can vary depending on the type of transfer you send and your payment method.
  • Transfer limits. The maximum amount you can send online with Western Union is $7,500 — and that’s if you start the transfer online on the Western Union website or app and then pay in-store. But the limit for online transfers drops to $5,000 if you pay by debit or credit card, or $999 if you pay by bank transfer. However, it’s typically possible to send any amount you want from a Western Union agent location.

Western Union exchange rates

You don’t get the mid-market rate when you send a money transfer with Western Union. This is because Western Union makes money from currency exchange, so it adds a margin on top of the mid-market rate when converting your CAD to another currency.

The size of the markup varies depending on the currency you’re sending to. As you can see in the table below, we found the markup to range anywhere from 0.8% to 4.20% across different currencies.

It’s also worth noting that Western Union offers promotional exchange rates on some popular currencies (such as INR and PHP) on your first transfer. These rates can be attractive if you’re sending a one-off transfer, but keep in mind that you’ll be hit with a higher markup on subsequent transfers.

Log in to your Western Union account to see how the rate offered for your transfer compares to the mid-market rate.

Sample Western Union exchange rates

Sending money toMid-market exchange rateWestern Union exchange rateEstimated exchange rate markup
United States1 CAD = 0.7289 USD1 CAD = 0.7095 USD2.66%
Europe1 CAD = 0.6800 EUR1 CAD = 0.6648 EUR2.24%
India1 CAD = 60.8138 INR1 CAD = 60.3246 INR0.80%
Philippines1 CAD = 41.9950 PHP1 CAD = 41.5363 PHP1.09%
Mexico1 CAD = 12.3514 MXN1 CAD = 11.8324 MXN4.20%
Japan1 CAD = 113.6363 JPY1 CAD = 110.0091 JPY3.19%

How we calculated the Western Union exchange rate markup

We calculated the rate markup by checking the exchange rate quoted by Western Union for sending $500 to each destination. Where the rate varied depending on the transfer type, we chose the transfer type that offered the higher rate. We then compared Western Union’s rate to the mid-market rate (taken from Xe).

The percentages quoted are estimates. The exchange rate you receive for your transfer will vary depending on factors such as where and when you send money. Use the Western Union app or website to calculate how much your transfer will cost.

Western Union transfer fees

The other cost you need to consider when sending money with Western Union is the transfer fee. The fee varies based on factors such as where you send money, the transfer type and your payment method. You’ll need to log in to your account and enter your specific transaction details to check what fee you’ll be charged.

To give you an example of how fees can change, we asked the question, how much does Western Union charge to send $1,000 to India?

IndiaCredit cardCash pickup$29.50

Sending money toPayment methodDelivery methodTransfer Fee
IndiaDebit cardCash pickup$6.99
IndiaCredit cardBank transfer$1.99
IndiaDebit cardBank transfer$1.99

Western Union payment and delivery methods

You can pay for your Western Union money transfer using the following methods:

  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Bank transfer
  • Cash (in-store)

You can also choose from three transfer types:

  • Cash pickup transfers
  • Bank account deposits
  • Mobile wallet transfers

How to create a Western Union account and send money

You can register for a Western Union account online or via the mobile app by completing the following steps:

Visit the Western Union website and click “Register”.

Enter your email address or phone number and create a password.

  1. Select where you want to send money.
  2. Choose your payment and delivery method.
  3. Review the exchange rate and fee that will apply to your transfer.
  4. Enter your recipient’s details.
  5. Provide your name, contact details and date of birth.
  6. Provide proof of ID, such as a driver’s licence or passport.
  7. Provide your payment details and send your transfer.

How long do Western Union transfers take?

Western Union transfer speed varies depending on:

  • Where you’re sending money
  • How much you send
  • How you pay for the transfer
  • The type of transfer you send

For example, if you’re paying by card and sending a cash pickup transfer, the money could be ready for your recipient to collect within a few minutes. But if you’re sending money to your recipient’s bank account and paying by bank transfer, it may take up to four business days for the funds to arrive.

How to track a Western Union money transfer

You can track your transfer online using the “Track a transfer” tool on the Western Union website. You can also check the status of your transfer in the Western Union app. You’ll need to enter the 10-digit tracking number (MTCN) displayed on your transfer history page and your transfer receipt.

Is Western Union safe?

Western Union is one of the best-known names in the world of money transfers. Established in 1851, the company introduced its money transfer service in 1871, so it’s been in the business of moving money for over 150 years.

Western Union is licensed and regulated by FINTRAC. It is a publicly listed company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange, with headquarters in Denver, Colorado.

Western Union reviews

Customer reviews for Western Union are generally positive. Happy users who left reviews on Trustpilot commented on factors such as Western’s Union’s ease of use, safe transfer service and fast processing. Those who left negative reviews complained about factors such as the postponement of Western Union’s rewards system, transaction issues and customer service problems.

Trustpilot4.1/5 stars based on 73,378 Western Union reviews
GoogleVaries depending on agent location
Better Business Bureau accreditedNo
Better Business Bureau ratingB+
Better Business Bureau reviews1.01/5 stars based on 104 Western Union reviews
Reviews as of1 May 2024

Western Union app reviews

Google Play Canada4.3/5 stars based on over 18,000 Western Union reviews
Apple App Store Canada4.6/5 stars based on over 27,000 Western Union reviews

* Reviews as of 1 May 2024.

How does Western Union compare to other money transfer services?

Use the table below to compare money transfer services. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different providers, and click Go to site when you’ve chosen one that meets your needs.

Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Name Product Offer Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
24 hours
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From $0
Use code HELLO to get $20 off on first two transfers on a min transfer of $250. Valid until November 30, 2023.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Africhange
Within minutes
From $0
Send money in CAD to Africa on this blockchain and P2P powered provider.
Remitly
Finder Award
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
MoneyGram
Finder Award
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $4.99
For a limited time, get $0 fees on your first money transfer from Canada. Conditions apply.
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
Finder Award
OFX
24 hours
$0
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
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Bottom line

Western Union is well worth considering if you’re searching for a safe, quick and easy way to send a money transfer. It offers a huge global transfer network along with a wide range of payment and delivery methods. But you’ll need to compare Western Union’s exchange rates with those of other providers to make sure you’re getting a good deal. And if you need to send a large amount, look elsewhere.

Frequently asked questions

Your reviews

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