Western Union money transfer review

This money transfer giant boasts a huge global network and support for both online and in-person transfers.

  • Good for quick cash transfers and zero fees on international transfers.
  • Look elsewhere if you want to avoid expensive exchange rates and high fees for cash and domestic transfers.

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Details

Product NameWestern Union
Pay ByBank transfer
Receiving OptionsCash pickup location, Bank account
Customer ServicePhone, Email
Available CurrenciesAED, AFN, ALL, AMD, ANG, AOA, ARS, AUD, AWG, AZN, BBD, BDT, BGN, BHD, BIF, BMD, BND, BOB, BRL, BSD, BTN, BWP, BZD, CAD, CDF, CHF, CLP, CNY, COP, CRC, CUC, CVE, CZK, DJF, DKK, DOP, DZD, EGP, ERN, ETB, EUR, FJD, FKP, GBP, GEL, GHS, GIP, GMD, GNF, GTQ, GYD, HKD, HNL, HRK, HTG, HUF, IDR, ILS, INR, IQD, IRR, ISK, JMD, JOD, JPY, KES, KGS, KHR, KMF, KRW, KWD, KYD, KZT, LAK, LBP, LKR, LRD, LSL, LYD, MAD, MDL, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MUR, MVR, MWK, MXN, MYR, MZN, NAD, NGN, NIO, NOK, NPR, NZD, OMR, PEN, PGK, PHP, PKR, PLN, PYG, QAR, RON, RSD, RUB, RWF, SAR, SBD, SCR, SDG, SEK, SGD, SHP, SLL, SOS, SRD, SVC, SYP, SZL, THB, TMT, TND, TOP, TRY, TTD, TWD, TZS, UAH, UGX, USD, UYU, UZS, VEF, VND, VUV, WST, XAF, XCD, XOF, XPF, YER, ZAR, ZMW, STD, MRO

What is Western Union?

Western Union is an international and domestic money transfer company that offers digital and in-person services. The company has a wide reach with an online platform, mobile app and over 2,500 agent locations across Canada and thousands across the globe. This means you can use Western Union to send money to just about anyone, anywhere – even if they don’t have a bank account.

Pros and cons

ProsCons
  • User-friendly app
  • Fast cash transfers
  • $0 international bank transfer fees
  • Options for cash pickup in most countries
  • Higher fees for cash pickups
  • Expensive for domestic transfers
  • Not possible to send more than $7,500 online

Western Union fees

Western Union fees vary based on how you pay for your transaction and whether you send an international or domestic money transfer.

Western Union fees (international)

Western Union fees are typically broken down as follows though you may get higher or lower fees depending on where you send money.

Payment typeSend to international bank accountSend internationally for cash pickup
Online bank account payment$0$7
Online debit card payment$0$15
Online credit card payment$0 (but expect credit card fees)$15 (and expect credit card fees)
In-store paymentVaries$7

Western Union fees (domestic)

You’ll pay fees to send money domestically regardless of whether you send money to a bank account or for cash pickup.

Payment typeSend to domestic bank accountSend domestically for cash pickup
Online bank account payment$12$7
Online debit card payment$12$15
Online credit card payment$12 (and expect credit card fees)$15 (and expect credit card fees)
In-store paymentVaries$7

Western Union exchange rates

Western Union’s rates will vary based on where you’re sending money, with most rates being similar to other providers (as long as they’re charged as advertised). Some users complain that the Western Union rates they get charged are higher than the rates they agreed to pay before finalizing the transaction.

When comparing exchange rates among companies, you’ll want to choose the highest rate to make sure you get the most money on the other end.

Sample currency exchange rates from multiple providers

Compare Western Union rates vs what’s on offer from other providers in the table below:

Currency pairWestern Union ratesWise ratesRemitly ratesRoyal Bank of Canada rates
CAD TO USD0.7860.7880.7700.771
CAD to INR58.51858.93758.339N/A
CAD TO MXN16.01016.19715.896N/A
CAD to EUR0.6940.7000.6900.677
Rates change regularly – this is an illustrative example of rates on 01 February 2022.

Results: Wise has the best exchange rates in all categories while Western Union has the second-best rates. Canada’s Big Banks will typically offer the worst rates (and highest fees!) in most scenarios. These results may vary as you compare more and different providers.

How to send money with a Western Union money transfer

To send a transfer, you’ll need the following:

  • Western Union account. You can set up a free account in less than 2 minutes.
  • Valid payment method. Pay by debit, credit, cash or bank transfer.
  • Recipient’s contact information. Your recipient’s full name (as it appears on formal ID), address, phone number, email and banking information as needed.

Payment options

  • Bank transfer. Pay with your bank account using a third-party payment partner.
  • Credit card payment. Use your credit card but expect to pay cash advance fees.
  • Debit card payment. Pay online with a Visa/Mastercard debit or a regular debit in-store.
  • Cash in-store. Put down cash when you go into a store location.

Receiving options

  • Bank transfer. Your recipient will receive the transfer directly into their bank account.
  • Cash in-store. You’ll need to arrange for your recipient to pick up cash in-store.
  • Mobile wallet. Your recipient can hold their funds in a wallet until they want to withdraw them to a bank account.

Sending a Western Union money transfer online

Follow these steps to sign up for online Western Union money transfers:

  1. Sign up for an account. Create your free account by inputting personal details such as your name and contact information
  2. Start transfer. Start your transfer by choosing “Send money” and selecting your transfer type (cash or bank transfer) and payment method.
  3. Input recipient details. Input your recipient’s full name, phone number and bank account information (if needed).
  4. Input payment information. Verify your bank account or input debit/credit card details to finalize your transfer.
  5. Track your transfer. Easily track your transfer using your tracking number (MTCN) and get notified when your money is delivered.

Check if there are any Western Union promo codes available

Sending a transfer in person

You can also send a Western Union money transfer in person at over 2,500 locations across Canada. All you need to do is find a location near you and go in with the following information:

  1. Piece of ID and cash or another payment method
  2. Your recipient’s contact information and bank details (as needed)

How long does a Western Union money transfer take?

The amount of time it takes to send a transfer will depend on whether you send a bank transfer or cash as well as how you pay and where you send money.

Cash transfers are usually faster while bank transfers take longer due to processing times. The transfer times outlined below are the average times for most transfer destinations.

International bank transfers

Payment typeTransfer time
Bank account payment0-4 business days
Debit/credit card paymentUsually 1 business day
In-store paymentUsually 1 business day

International and domestic cash transfers (for pickup)

Payment typeTransfer time
Bank account payment0-3 business days
Debit/credit card paymentIn minutes
In-store paymentIn minutes

Domestic bank transfers

Payment typeTransfer time
Bank account payment0-7 business days
Debit/credit card payment0-4 business days
In-store paymentNot available

How to track a Western Union money transfer

You can easily track your transfer on the Western Union web portal or app using your tracking number (MTCN). Your MTCN should be sent to you via email or you can look it up in your transaction history. You’ll also be notified via the app or email when your recipient collects the funds.

How much can you send in a Western Union money transfer?

You can send a maximum of $7,500 to most countries that Western Union services. However, there are a few exceptions based on limits on incoming transfers imposed by certain countries. For example, in a Western Union CAD to INR transaction, India will only allow you to send $5,000 per transaction.

Example: Reegan sends money to India

Reegan wants to find out how much money she can send in a Western Union CAD to INR transaction. She visits the “Send money” page on westernunion.com/ca and inputs her destination country as India. She can then see the allowable limit displayed under the “Send amount” box (as shown in the graphic below).

Screenshot of Western Union calculator showing money transfer to India

How does Western Union money transfer compare to other services?

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.
1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours
$0

View details
Dunbridge Financial offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on transfers to more than 120 countries.
OFX
24 hours
From $15

View details
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 45+ currencies.
XE Business Transfers
XE Business Transfers
Within minutes
$0

View details
XE Money Transfer can help your business unlock international transfers. Forward contract and limit order options available.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0

View details
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Is Western Union safe?

Western Union is a safe service if you use it to send money to a trusted source. It becomes much less safe if you’re sending money to an unknown person or entity.

Safe to useNot safe to use
Western Union is safe to use if you’re sending money to a person you know. Just make sure you properly input your recipient’s banking and contact information before you send money to make sure it gets deposited to the right place.Western Union isn’t safe to use if you send money to a person or organization that you don’t personally know. This is because Western Union requests very little information from its recipients, which makes it very difficult to track fraudulent transactions.

Western Union and dealing with fraud

Learn more about some of the resources and activities Western Union has put in place to help counter fraud in its operations.

Western Union compliance interviews

Western Union has started to conduct compliance interviews with frequent customers. These interviews are designed to gather information about the purpose and source of transfers as well as the relationship between senders and recipients.

Western Union fraud-awareness measures

Western Union is making it more difficult for people to send money through its services without providing additional information. It also operates a consumer information program to help users identify and watch out for potentially fraudulent activities.

Western Union communications

Western Union will never send you an email asking for your user ID, password or credit card details. Avoid providing any personal information via email and reach out directly to Western Union via its customer service hotline to make sure requests for information are legitimate.

Reporting fraud with Western Union

You can contact your local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre if you feel you’ve been a victim of fraud. You can also report suspicious activity to Western Union using the company’s dedicated fraud hotline and online claims service. A special email address also exists for receiving reports of spam emails that mention Western Union. Visit the Fraud Awareness section of Western Union’s website to learn more.

More on money transfer scams and how to avoid them

Lawsuits against Western Union

After a long investigation, in January 2017 Western Union agreed to forfeit more than USD$550 million and enter into anti-fraud agreements with many state and federal agencies in the US. These lawsuits focused on Western Union’s aiding and abetting of wire fraud by failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.

The outcome of the lawsuits led Western Union to agree to:

  • Provide clear fraud warnings.
  • Increase its websites and telephone numbers to handle customer fraud.
  • Block any and all money transfers sent to a person who is the subject of a fraud report until it is cleared up.
  • Refund a money transfer if Western Union fails to comply with its anti-fraud procedures and the sender is the target of fraud.

How do I contact Western Union?

You can contact Western Union in a number of different ways.

  • Phone. Call Western Union’s customer hotline for support on the go.
  • Online chat. Use the WU Assistant on the Western Union website for online information.
  • In person. Visit over 2,500 Western Union locations in person to ask questions.

Does Western Union have an app?

Screenshot of the Western Union mobile app

Western Union has an app to send money and track transfers. The app has mixed reviews on both Google Play and the Apple Store. (App ratings current as of February 14, 2022)

ServiceRatingTop praiseTop complaints
Google Play4.4 out of 5

(12,847 reviews)

Simple and reliableLong transfer times, unexplained errors
Apple Store4.6 out of 5

(12,742 reviews)

Easy, fast and convenientPoor customer service, glitchy app

You can carry out the following activities using the Western Union app:

  1. Log in quickly and easily with Touch ID
  2. Click “Send money” to send a transfer at any time of day or night
  3. Check the Western Union currency exchange rate and fees
  4. Look up nearby agent locations
  5. Track transfers and search pending or past transactions
  6. Set up bill payments or repeat transfers for family and friends
  7. Scan your credit cards or debit cards for quick payment

My WU: Western Union’s reward program

You can sign up for Western Union’s “My WU” loyalty membership program for free. The program lets you earn points for making and receiving transfers. You can also earn cashback for making purchases in the WU online shop.

  • Earn points. Earn 30 points for sending Western Union money transfers and 10 points for receiving transfers. Redeem your points for discounts on transfer fees.
  • Earn cashback. Use the WU shop to earn cashback (typically ranging from 1% to 6%) on purchases with Western Union partners or pay an annual fee to earn more with a VIP membership. Pick up cash at a WU store location once you have $30 or more.

Western Union shopping partners

Western Union works with over 12,000 stores in Canada and around the world to help you earn cashback. Examples of partners include the following:

TravelFashionHomewaresEntertainment
  • Hotels.com
  • Expedia.ca
  • Booking.com
  • Macy’s
  • Bench
  • Michael Kors
  • Gap
  • Old Navy
  • The Home Depot
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • Indigo
  • The Source

Bottom line

  • Choose this platform for quick and easy cash transfers and zero-fee international bank transfers.
  • Watch out for expensive Western Union rates and high fees for cash and domestic transfers.
  • Look elsewhere if you want to save money or you don’t need to make a fast transfer.
  • Only send money to people or organizations you know and trust.

Frequently asked questions

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