Review: Western Union UK international money transfers

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

  • Good for sending money to just about everywhere, with options for those without bank accounts.
  • Watch out for fees that can add up and poor exchange rates.

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GBP 1

Min. Transfer Amount

GBP 5,000

Max. Transfer Amount

Same day

Transfer Speed

Details

Product NameWestern Union International Money Transfers
Min. Transfer AmountGBP 1
Max. Transfer AmountGBP 5,000
Transfer MethodsOnline, Phone, Agent
Transfer Speed
Minimum transfer time
Same day
Customer ServicePhone, Email, Branch
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, LTL, LVL, LYD, MAD, MDL, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MRO, 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, STD, 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
Online Transfer Fee9.9%
Exchange Rate UpdatesReal time

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
GBP 1 Same day GBP 19.90 1.064 EUR
5,299
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
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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:

  • EUR Euro
  • AUD Australian dollar
  • CNY Chinese yuan
  • CAD Canadian dollar
  • 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 two different ways to send a transfer with Western Union in the UK:

  • Submit your transfer online through the Western Union website or mobile app
  • Submit a transfer in person at your nearest Western Union branch

There are also three 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 525,000+ agent locations around the world.
  • Bank account transfers. You can transfer money directly to your recipient’s overseas bank account. However, this service is only available when sending money to select countries.
  • Mobile wallet transfers. If the recipient has a mobile wallet you can send money directly to them – but this service is only available in select countries.

How long does a transfer with Western Union take?

If you’re sending a cash pick-up transfer, the funds you send should be available for your recipient to collect within minutes.

If you’re transferring money direct to your recipient’s bank account, allow between 1 and 3 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 India typically take 1 business day, transfers to Australia can take 3 business days.

Transfers typically arriveClock icon for transfer speed

Same day

What payment methods does Western Union accept?

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

  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Bank transfer to Western Union’s bank account
  • Cash (when sending money in person)

Is Western Union safe to use?

  • Regulation: Limited regulation by the UK Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority
  • Established: 1851
  • Number of customers: Moved more than US$300 billion around the world in 2018
  • Reviews: TrustScore of 4.1/5* from 17,100+ reviews on Trustpilot
*According to Western Union and Trustpilot on 6 February 2020.

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 the UK, the company is under limited regulation by the UK Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority.

Western Union is a globally recognised 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 or deposit funds in your recipient’s bank account.
  • Payment options. Western Union accepts payment via cash, bank transfer, credit card, debit card or prepaid 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 £5,000, so Western Union isn’t a good choice if you need to send a larger amount.

How does Western Union compare to other providers?

Table: sorted by a combination of service offering and the amount your recipient will receive

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

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
GBP 2,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.097 EUR
10,972
Get bank-beating exchange rates and no fees when you transfer with TorFX. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 Same day GBP 0.00 1.097 EUR
10,972
Universal Partners FX offers competitive exchange rates and same-day transfers for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
GBP 2,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.097 EUR
10,972
Make transferring money abroad as simple and safe as possible with bank-beating exchange rates - online, via the app or over the phone. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.097 EUR
10,972
Take advantage of fee lock-ins and live bookable rates, helping you save up to 85% in hidden bank fees. Go to site Show details
GBP 2,500 Same day GBP 0.00 1.097 EUR
10,972
Central FX’s dedicated private client team will guide you through the money transfer process from first call to final payment. Go to site Show details
GBP 1 Same day GBP 0.00 1.097 EUR
10,972
Whatever amount you transfer, XE will not charge you a fee for using their service. Go to site Show details
GBP 3,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.097 EUR
10,972
Get no fees as a Finder customer when you transfer your money overseas with Global Reach. Go to site Show details
GBP 1 1 - 2 days GBP 1.99 1.087 EUR
10,871
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
GBP 5 2 days EUR 3.00 1.096 EUR
10,961
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
GBP 10 Within an hour GBP 2.00 1.096 EUR
10,955
First two transfers free for new customers.
Instant or 1 hour transfers to over 50 countries, send money directly to bank accounts or over 280,000 cash pickup points.
Go to site Show details
GBP 50 Same day GBP 2.99 1.091 EUR
10,902
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Frequently asked questions

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14 Comments

  1. Default Gravatar
    Marc
    June 8, 2019

    I am having difficulties receiving cash from Western Union. I was due to get around £800 sent from Brazil to the UK. However, Western Union called the sender (a family friend) and blocked the cash and sent it back over. Is there any reason for this?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Joshua
      June 10, 2019

      Hi Marc,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t receive your money.

      The common reason that this happens is due to security. Another reason is if Western Union suspects malicious activities.

      Best is for you or your sender to check with Western Union. They can further explain the reason why the money was blocked.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  2. Default Gravatar
    Ted
    May 17, 2019

    Hi. When the do a bank transfer on Western union it tells me I have 14 days to complete the transaction by going to my bank and transferring the money to them. If I don’t do that within 14 days the transaction will cancel

    My question is, if I made the transaction say 7 days on, and the exchange rate has become much worse, do I still get the exchange rate agreed at the time? Or is it adjusted to what it is at the time I compete the transaction?
    Thanks
    Ted

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangco
      May 18, 2019

      Hi Ted,

      Thanks for your inquiry! The wire transfer is just a notice of movement of funds – there are no rates attached to it because the transfer happens in one of the major trading currencies. This means the actual wire transfer is done in the same currency – USD to USD or EUR to EUR. However, if say you transfer EUR to USD, the rate will be what the bank will sell dollars to you, which will be the amount deducted from your account. This rate is usually the mid-market rate, and it is the rate posted on your bank’s website or available through their normal channels.Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Regards,
      Nikki

  3. Default Gravatar
    Alison
    February 6, 2019

    How do I send money to a friend in Lanzarote. It is not coming up on the country list?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Jeni
      February 10, 2019

      Hi Alison,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      You may send money to Lanzarote via Western Union. Upon checking on Western Union’s official page, it is considered as part of Spain. There are a few agent locations in Arrecife City and the rest of the area. Kindly check out WU’s official page to get the complete list.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  4. Default Gravatar
    Lynn
    January 11, 2019

    Can charities use this service?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Jeni
      January 12, 2019

      Hi Lynn,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Yes. Western Union can service charities. Kindly visit Western Union business solutions page then click on the Speak with a NGO Specialist to contact an NGO specialist and discuss your options.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  5. Default Gravatar
    Frank
    July 21, 2017

    Why does the currency calculator not work!!?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Anndy
      July 23, 2017

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Western Union real-time calculation is available on their website. Kindly click the “go to site” button above to get a quote from the Western Union.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  6. Default Gravatar
    Cathy
    June 23, 2017

    What’s the maximum time western union online sending takes when sending for the first time

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Anndy
      July 21, 2017

      Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for your question.

      With Western Union, the processing times vary depending on your mode of transfer and where you will be sending the funds. Most cash transfers are available for collection or cash pickup within minutes. However, in some circumstances, bank account deposits can take multiple business days.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

      • Default Gravatar
        Fozia
        April 18, 2018

        Can i send money to Pakistan

        • Avatarfinder Customer Care
          joelmarcelo
          April 20, 2018

          Hi Fozia,

          Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

          Yes you can send money to Pakistan via the Western Union app or in store locations. If you would still like to check out other money transfer services who can send to Pakistan, please go HERE.

          Cheers,
          Joel

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