Western Union money transfer review

Send cash pick-up and bank transfers to 200 countries and territories around the world

Quick verdict

Good for
  • Sending money to just about anywhere
  • Multiple payment and payout options
  • Fast transfers
  • Sending money to someone who doesn’t have a bank account
Not so great for
    • Expensive compared to alternatives
    • Not suitable for amounts over $7,500

Product NameWestern Union International Money Transfers
Min. Transfer AmountCAD 1
Max. Transfer AmountCAD 999.99
Transfer MethodsOnline, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer, International Money Order
Transfer OptionsOne off payments
Transfer Speed
Minimum transfer time
Same day
Customer ServicePhone, Email
Available CurrenciesAED, AFN, ALL, ANG, AOA, ARS, AUD, AZN, BAM, BBD, BDT, BGN, BHD, BIF, BND, BOB, BRL, BSD, BTN, BWP, BZD, CAD, CHF, CLP, CNY, COP, CRC, CVE, CZK, DJF, DKK, DOP, DZD, EGP, ERN, EUR, FJD, FKP, GBP, GHS, GMD, GNF, GTQ, GYD, HKD, HNL, HRK, HUF, IDR, INR, IQD, ISK, JMD, JOD, JPY, KES, KGS, KMF, KWD, KZT, LAK, LKR, MAD, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MRO, MUR, MVR, MWK, MXN, MYR, MZN, NGN, NOK, NPR, NZD, OMR, PEN, PGK, PHP, PKR, PLN, PYG, QAR, RON, RUB, RWF, SAR, SBD, SEK, SGD, SLL, STD, THB, TND, TOP, TTD, TZS, UGX, USD, UYU, VND, VUV, WST, XAF, XCD, XOF, XPF, ZMW
Online Transfer Fee5.00%
Exchange Rate UpdatesReal time

Pros

  • Offer services to over 200 countries
  • 500,000 agent locations for cash pickup
  • Wide range of transfer options available

Cons

  • Significant amount of transfer fee applies for some countries
  • Not the best exchange rate

Western Union exchange rates and fees

Western Union’s exchange rates fluctuate frequently in line with the mid-market rate. However, the rate you get for your transaction will include a margin added on by Western Union, so there could be a difference of up to 5% (or even higher in some cases) depending on the currency you send.

Fees also apply to Western Union transfers, but the amount you’ll be charged will vary depending on how much money you send, the country you send it to, how you pay for your transaction and how your beneficiary will receive the money. Western Union offers a “Price Estimator” tool on its website which you can use to check the exchange rate and fee for your specific transaction before you proceed.

Calculate how much sending money overseas would cost with Western Union by using our tool below. You can also check out the real-time exchange rate Western Union offers and if there are any additional fees.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
AUD 1 Same day CAD 20.00 0.734 USD
719
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

The “Rate” and “Amount Received” displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

Check for the latest Western Union discount codes and coupons

Available currencies

Western Union offers transfers to 200 countries and territories around the world, so you can send funds in a wide range of currencies including:

  • PKY Pakistan rupee
  • CNY Chinese yuan
  • EUR Euro
  • GBP British pound
  • INR Indian rupee
  • JPY Japanese yen
  • PHP Philippine peso
  • USD US dollar

You can check out the full list of supported currencies above.

What types of transfers can you make with Western Union?

There are 3 different ways to send a transfer with Western Union in Canada:

  • Submit your transfer online through the Western Union website or mobile app (Scotiabank customers can also submit transfers through their Scotia Online accounts or by using Scotiabank’s mobile app)
  • Submit a transfer in person at your nearest Western Union branch
  • Set up a transfer online to lock in the exchange rate and fee, and then visit a Western Union agent location within 24 hours to pay for the transfer and complete the transaction.

There are also 3 types of transfers you can send:

  • Cash pick-up transfers. When you send this type of transfer, your recipient can collect the cash you send from one of Western Union’s 550,000 agent locations around the world.
  • Bank account transfers. The second option is to transfer money directly to your recipient’s overseas bank account. However, this service is only available when sending money to select countries.
  • Deposits to mobile phone. You can send to your recipient’s mobile wallet, but only if your recipient lives in a participating country and is using one of Western Union’s partner mobile phone operators in that country (see the list of approved countries and phone operators below).
    • Bangladesh
      Banglalink
    • El Salvador
      Tigo
    • Indonesia
      XL Axiata
    • Kenya
      Safaricom M-PESA
    • Madagascar
      Telma M-VOLA
    • Nepal
      Nabil Bank
    • Paraguay
      Tigok
    • Uganda
      MTN
    • Philippines
      Globe GCASH
      SMART Money
    • Tanzania
      Vodacom

    How long does a transfer with Western Union take?

    Online transfers are the fastest. If you’re sending a cash pick-up transfer, the funds you send will be available for your recipient to collect within minutes. Transfers to a mobile wallet may happen just as soon, but could take up to 3 business days, depending on the type of transfer.

    If you’re transferring money direct to your recipient’s bank account, allow around 2 business days. The time it takes for the transaction to be completed varies depending on where you’re sending the money. For example, while transfers to the UK typically take up to 1 business day, transfers to China can take up to 3 business days.

    Transfers typically arriveClock icon for transfer speed

    Same day

    What payment methods does Western Union accept?

    In Canada, you can pay for your Western Union transfer using the following methods:

    • Credit card
    • Debit card
    • Visa Debit, Mastercard Debit
    • Cash (when sending money in person)

    Is Western Union safe to use?

    • Regulation: Regulated in Canada by provincial/territorial consumer affairs offices
    • Established: 1851
    • Number of customers: Moved more than US$300 billion around the world in 2018
    • Reviews: TrustScore of 7.8/10* from 13,800+ reviews on Trustpilot
    *According to Western Union and Trustpilot on 29 May 2019.

    As a global money transfer company, Western Union must comply with all the relevant laws and regulations in the countries in which it operates. As it’s based in the US, it is primarily regulated by FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In Canada, the company is regulated by provincial/territorial consumer affairs offices.

    Western Union is a globally recognized name in the remittance business and has been offering money transfer services for more than 145 years. It also claims to use SSL technology and a variety of other techniques to protect customer information.

    How does Western Union make money?

    Western Union makes money by charging transaction fees and by adding a margin on top of the mid-market exchange rate. The mid-market rate is the “real” exchange rate – use Google to check the current mid-market rate for your chosen currency pair.

    How to register for an account

    If you want to send an online transfer with Western Union, you’ll need to register for a free online account first. You can do so by completing the following steps.

    How do I make an online money transfer with Western Union?

    To send a transfer online, complete the following steps:

    1. Log into your Western Union account.
    2. Choose your transfer destination, the amount you want to send and how your beneficiary will receive the cash. If sending to a bank account, you’ll also need to provide your recipient’s bank account details.
    3. Choose your payment method.
    4. Review the total cost of your transaction and submit your transfer.
    5. After paying for your transfer, you’ll be emailed a Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) which you can use to track the progress of your transaction.

    What is Western Union?

    Western Union is the world’s largest money transfer service. Founded in the United States in 1851 as a telegraph company, Western Union now has over 550,000 locations in 200 countries and territories around the world. Its headquarters are located in Meridian, Colorado.

    In a nutshell

    Pros:

    • Huge global network. With 550,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories, Western Union lets you send money just about anywhere.
    • Transfer options. You can send a cash pick-up transfer, deposit funds in your recipient’s bank account, or have funds sent to your recipient’s mobile wallet. (Note that mobile wallet deposit is only available certain mobile phone operators operating in select countries.)
    • Payment options. Western Union accepts payment via cash, credit card or debit card.
    • Fast transfers. If you’re sending a cash transfer, in many cases the funds you send will be available for your recipient to collect within minutes.
    • No need for your recipient to have a bank account. The availability of cash pick-up transfers means you can send money to someone who doesn’t have a bank account.

    Cons:

    • High fees. Fees vary depending on your transfer amount and destination, but Western Union’s fees are often higher than those of other transfer providers.
    • Disappointing exchange rates. Western Union adds margins approaching 5% on top of the mid-market exchange rate, so you’ll be able to find better rates from other online transfer services.
    • Not suitable for large transfers. The maximum daily online transfer limit is $999 ($7,500 for in-person transfers), so Western Union isn’t a good choice if you need to send a larger amount.

    How does Western Union compare to other providers?

    Input your transaction details into the calculator below to compare the exchange rates and fees offered by a range of money transfer services.

    Rates last updated June 25th, 2019
    Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Description Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
    WorldRemit International Money Transfers
    CAD 0
    Within an hour
    Online, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer
    Use code FINDERCA and pay zero fees on your first transfer. Conditions apply.
    An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
    TransferWise International Money Transfers
    CAD 1
    1 - 2 days
    Online
    Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts.
    WorldFirst International Money Transfers
    CAD 2,000
    1 day
    Online, Phone
    Send 60+ currencies at competitive rates with $0 transfer fees for Finder customers. WorldFirst will beat any eligible quote from another provider.
    Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
    USD 150
    1 day
    Online, Phone, Agent
    Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
    A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
    XE International Money Transfers
    CAD 0
    1 day
    Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
    Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand.
    CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
    CAD 5
    1 - 2 days
    Online
    Special offer: Pay zero fees on your first 5 transfers.
    Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
    TorFX International Money Transfers
    USD 150
    1 day
    Online, Phone, Agent
    TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.

    Send money overseas in 45 currencies.
    Venstar Exchange International Money Transfers
    CAD 7,000
    1 day
    Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
    Venstar Exchange offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on large transfers over US$10,000.
    CurrencyTransfer International Money Transfers
    GBP 5,000
    1 - 2 days
    Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account, International Money Order
    Aimed at larger transfers, CurrencyTransfer is an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best exchange rate.
    The ‘Rate’ and ‘Amount Received’ displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

    Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

    Compare up to 4 providers


    The “Rate” and “Amount Received” displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

    Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

    Frequently asked questions

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