- Competitive exchange rates
- Flexible transfer options
- Transfer to 50+ currencies
Western Union has a gigantic global network of agent locations and bank connections that makes it easy to send money almost anywhere. Transfer money fast for higher fees or a bit slower for lower fees, depending on your needs and resources.
However, given Western Union’s history of customer complaints and lawsuits, maybe consider looking at smaller money transfer providers with a better track record and offering better exchange rates and lower fees. Having said that, Western Union will almost always be a cheaper option than your bank, especially when sending one-off transfers or to remote destinations.
Western Union has different fees for nearly every country it sends to, and we’ve seen fees range from as low as $3.50 up to $100 or more. These fees depend on how you are paying for the transfer and how the transfer will be collected. Agent location fees aren’t typically posted online, but Western Union’s online fees are based on:
When sending money to China from the US for cash pickup, here are the fees we encountered using Western Union’s price estimator tool on November 21, 2022:
|Sending $1,000 to||Paying with||Fee|
The cost to send money within the US via Western Union depends on the amount you are sending, your payment method and how your recipient would like to receive their cash. To send $100 from your bank account to theirs still carries a significant fee of $14.00.
Sending the same amount from your credit card as a cash pickup will cost you $20.50. The maximum you can send in one day is $5,000, which would cost you $243 with a credit card and $50 via bank transfer.
Western Union makes money by adding a margin to the exchange rate in addition to any fees charged. It applies different exchange rates to different transfer types.
It also uses stronger or weaker exchange rates based on the currency you are transferring. Use Western Union’s price estimator tool to see what exchange rate you would be offered on your transfer.
You can compare the displayed rate on Western Union with the current mid-market rate to determine the margin they charge. Then, use the interbank rate as a benchmark for comparing the rates of other money transfer providers.
Western Union has a diverse range of transfer options. We’ll go through the most used options and what the steps look like:
To send your first money transfer with Western Union, you will need to create a profile online:
With the Western Union app, you can send money, transfer transfers, review exchange rates and find agent locations. Sending a transfer is simple:
If you prefer to send your money transfer in person, then complete the following steps:
Western Union has the option to send money by phone. Customers can call the Telephone Money Transfer hotline at 800-CALL-CASH, if they are sending money from the US to a recipient in the US.
If you want to pay in cash, then you can start your money transfer online and opt for Pay in-store.
Western Union has several options for how your intended recipient can get their money. Choose from any of the following:
Several payment options are available with Western Union, each with its own set of limits, fees and restrictions. Its online, phone and in-store options include:
Send your transfer a few different ways, which determines how quickly your transfer is sent and how much it will cost.
If you pay for your transfer with a credit or debit card and have it sent for cash pickup – you’ll typically pay a higher fee, but your money can arrive in as little as 10 minutes. However, your credit card may charge a cash advance fee, further increasing the cost of your total transfer.
The cheaper but slower option would be to make a bank transfer. This can take up to five business days. Depending on verification needs, you may have to wait longer while Western Union confirms you own the registered bank account.
Transfers typically take
Your limits will vary based on a number of factors, including your transfer history, location, transfer destination and what service you choose.
See the maximum amount you can send when inputting your transfer details in the Send Money section on Western Union’s homepage.
If you want to make a large money transfer, Western Union allows you to transfer up to $50,000 from the US when sending from your bank account directly to the receiver’s bank account. But keep in mind that this limit may not be available for all receiver countries and is subject to restrictions based on the factors mentioned above.
There’s usually no restriction on the amount you may send at an agent location. However, some countries set limits on how much can be received. If you have questions about a specific amount you’re sending or a specific country, you can call Customer Care to inquire.
Western Union uses policies and procedures like photo identification and tracking number (MTNC) verification to help make sure your money is sent to the right person. It also educates its agents and customers on how to protect themselves from fraud and scams.
Typical scams through Western Union include:
To combat these types of scams, Western Union provides clear warnings on its website before a user sends a money transfer. This popup warning requires users to choose Accept before sending their transfers.
Western Union has a specific Twitter account dedicated to fraud awareness that tweets about the newest and most relevant scams while they are popping up. Also, Western Union now operates 24/7 phone lines for customer support all over the world.
Western Union is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and has been in business since 1851. The company originated as a telegram service and launched its money transfer service in 1871. This has been growing ever since through wire transfers, money orders and money transfers in general to over 200 countries.
Between 2004 and 2010, Western Union was accused of allowing fraudulent transactions and received more than 550,000 complaints about fraud. Since then, it has paid over $586 million in fines to settle this issue. Being extra cautious by only sending or receiving money from people you know is a necessary extra step for your safety.
Enter your transaction details to see how Western Union compares to the exchange rates and fees offered by other money transfer services.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
How do I contact Western Union?
Contact Western Union’s customer care team through live chat, phone and post. Its website also has a FAQ section.
How long does Western Union hold money?
Money transfers are available for pickup for 90 days. If the recipient cannot pick up the funds and it has been 90 days, you’ll need to contact customer services for the transfer to be renewed and made available for payout.
How do I get my money back from Western Union?
If you wish to cancel your money transfer, log in to your account. Look at your recent money transfer activity, and select the transfer you want to cancel. You can only cancel the transfer if the money hasn’t been picked up or deposited. The amount of money refunded depends on the service chosen and the reason for cancellation.
How good is Western Union’s service?
Western Union reviews are generally positive, with the expected negative reviews popping up on review sites like Trustpilot and ConsumerAffairs. It’s no surprise that many users have great experiences and many have poor experiences, given that Western Union caters to hundreds of millions of customers.
How do I avoid Western Union’s fees?
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid Western Union’s fees in full — but you can try to make them as low as possible. One way to do this not using a credit card as a payment method, as this tends to carry a high fee.
Bank transfers also tend to be cheaper than cash pickups. It’s worth comparing Western Union’s fees and rates against other money transfer providers to see how they stack up.