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Western Union money transfer review

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An easy way to send cash overseas — even if the recipient doesn't have a bank account.

finder.com’s rating: 3.25 / 5.0

★★★★★

How’d we get our score?

Fees & rates: 2.0 / 5.0
Speed: 5.0 / 5.0
Services: 4.0 / 5.0
User experience: 2.0 / 5.0

Western Union operates one of the world’s largest money transfer networks by with more than 500,000 agent locations around the world, but unfavorable exchange rates mean you’ll have to pay for the convenience.

USD 1

Min. Transfer Amount

USD 5,000

Max. Transfer Amount

3 - 5 days

Transfer Speed

Details

Product NameWestern Union Money Transfers
Min. Transfer AmountUSD 1
Max. Transfer AmountUSD 5,000
Transfer MethodsOnline, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, International Money Order
Transfer OptionsRegular payments, One off payments
Transfer Speed
Minimum transfer time
3 - 5 days
Customer ServicePhone, Chat, Email, Branch
Available CurrenciesAED, AFN, ALL, AMD, ANG, AOA, ARS, AUD, AWG, AZN, BAM, BBD, BDT, BGN, BHD, BIF, BMD, BND, BOB, BRL, BSD, BTN, BWP, BZD, CAD, CDF, CHF, CLP, CNY, COP, CRC, CUP, CVE, CZK, DJF, DKK, DOP, DZD, EGP, ERN, ETB, EUR, FJD, FKP, GBP, GEL, GGP, GHS, GIP, GMD, GNF, GTQ, GYD, HKD, HNL, HRK, HTG, HUF, IDR, ILS, IMP, INR, IQD, IRR, ISK, JEP, JMD, JOD, JPY, KES, KGS, KHR, KMF, KPW, KRW, KWD, KYD, KZT, LAK, LBP, LKR, LRD, LSL, LYD, MAD, MDL, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MRO, MUR, MVR, MWK, MXN, MYR, MZN, NAD, NGN, NIO, NOK, NPR, NZD, OMR, PAB, PEN, PGK, PHP, PKR, PLN, PYG, QAR, RON, RSD, RUB, RWF, SAR, SBD, SCR, SDG, SEK, SGD, SHP, SLL, SOS, SPL, SRD, STD, SYP, SZL, THB, TJS, TMT, TND, TOP, TRY, TTD, TVD, TWD, TZS, UAH, UGX, USD, UYU, UZS, VEF, VND, VUV, WST, XAF, XCD, XDR, XOF, XPF, YER, ZAR, ZMW
Exchange Rate UpdatesReal time

Pros

  • Low minimum transfer amount of $1.00
  • Option to send money in minutes
  • Transfer to a wide range of countries

Cons

  • Not the cheapest option depending on transfer location

Western Union provides a variety of options

Western Union helps individuals and businesses transfer money around the globe and right here in our own country. You’ll find many options for transferring and collecting funds, like cash pickup, mobile wallet deposits and more. You can even transfer money to an inmate in a correctional facility. And you can make your transfer online, through WU’s mobile app, in person or over the phone. The variety of options Western Union offers is unusual in today’s mostly online-based money transfer providers.

How much does it cost to transfer money with Western Union?

International money transfer fees vary depending on the transfer method you use. The best way to learn how much you’ll pay is to input your transfer details into the price estimator on Western Union’s website.

To give you an idea of transfer fees, here’s what you’d pay to send $1,000 to Mexico:

Location Fee
Cash pickup at an agent location $4 from a bank account; $15 with a credit or debit card
Deposit into a bank account $14

Sending the same amount to the UK would attract different fees, such as a fee of $2.99 for a transfer between bank accounts or $81 for a Money in Minutes transaction paid for with your credit or debit card.

How are Western Union’s exchange rates?

You’ll need to take the exchange rate into account when sending money overseas. Western Union’s rates are updated regularly based on the market, and you can find out the rate that applies to your specific transaction by clicking Estimate Price at the top of the Western Union website.

Our experience transferring money with Western Union

Here’s what we found when we sent live transfers to Mexico and France through Western Union.

  • Western Union would not accept our recipient’s Mexican bank account, resulting in an incomplete transfer.
  • Our funds were deposited into our recipient’s French bank account in a speedy 24 hours.
  • Western Union’s easy-to-use website allowed us to sign up and initiate a transfer in an impressive 3 minutes.
  • Through its Business Solutions, Western Union offers the flexibility of rate locks, forward contracts and recurring transfers.

What types of transfers can I carry out with Western Union?

There are multiple ways you can send money overseas with Western Union, starting with the ease and convenience of online transfers. The next option is to initiate a transfer by phone, although you can also visit one of Western Union’s 70,000 North American locations for a face-to-face transaction using cash or a debit card.

With Western Union, your recipient can collect the cash you send by:

  • Cash pickup. Cash transfers sent online, by phone or in person are available for pickup within minutes at any number of agent locations worldwide. Transfers from your bank account can take one to three days to arrive.
  • Mobile wallet deposit. Funds sent online or from an agent location are deposited in minutes.
  • Bank account deposit. Expect to wait one to three days for funds to arrive if you pay with a credit or debit card online, while transactions from your own bank account online or by cash at an agent location take two to five days.
  • Prepaid card. In select markets you can have the money transfer loaded onto a Western Union branded prepaid card.

Pros and cons of using Western Union

Pros

  • Trusted provider. Western Union has managed domestic and international money transfers since 1871.
  • Huge network. More than 500,000 agent locations around the world.
  • Flexible transfer options. Whether you pay with your credit or debit card or a bank account for cash pickup or a bank deposit, Western Union can take care of your transaction.

Cons

  • Weak exchange rates. With weak exchange rates that can be nearly 5% more than the mid-market rate, you have cheaper online options.
  • High fees. Where some companies offer free transfers or low-fee transfers, expect to pay more in fees to transfer with Western Union.

How does Western Union compare to other services?

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 0 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.893 EUR 4,463 Offering no maximum and no minimum limit transfers with $0 fees. Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 40.00 0.896 EUR
4,445
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.892 EUR 4,459 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.887 EUR 4,436 Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
For larger transfers, get no transaction fees and no maximum send limits.
Go to site Show details
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 0.887 EUR 4,436 No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
USD 5,000 1 day USD 0.00 0.887 EUR 4,436 Venstar will support you through the entire process of your international transactions, from start to finish. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers


Case study: Anna’s experience

profile pic

Anna Serio
Writer

I used Western Union several times to transfer money to my partner, who was living in Beirut while I lived in New York. I sent the maximum $5,000 amount three times and paid a $175 fee each time.

It isn’t the cheapest money transfer option out there, but it was the most convenient. My partner didn’t have a bank account in Lebanon, so he had to pick it up in cash, ruling out several other options. Lebanon is one of those countries that uses US dollars and the Lebanese pound, and I wanted to avoid paying for a currency exchange. Western Union let me do both without a headache.

Shopping for an alternative? See a list of other sites like Western Union for sending money.

How do I use Western Union?

Western Union offers several ways for you to send your money. You’ll need:

  • A Western Union account. It’s easy to set up a free account as part of your transfer.
  • Valid payment method. You can pay by debit card for Western Union’s fastest and cheapest transfer or use a credit card or bank account.
  • Your recipient’s name and contact information. If sending to a bank account, you’ll need the bank name and account number. If you’re sending a prepaid card for home delivery, you’ll need the address and phone number.
  • Your contact and payment information. The card number or account number and security information for the account you’re transferring from.

If your recipient is picking up cash in person, let them know to bring along a required ID.

The registration and transfer process

You’ll need to create a Western Union online profile before you can send funds online. It’s free to register with your personal contact information and details about your linked bank account or credit or debit card.

You can also initiate a transfer by phone through Western Union’s toll free number, providing the details of your transaction and your payment information.

If you prefer the security of a face-to-face transaction, visit one of Western Union’s 70,000 North American locations to transfer funds using cash or a debit card.

Steps to transfer your money online

Money transfer locations near me

Bottom line

Western Union offers plenty of useful transfer and cash pickup options when you need to send money overseas. Before you commit to sending your hard-earned dough, of course, you should always make sure to compare all the available options and find the best deal.

Frequently asked questions

Methodology

Our team analyzes money transfer providers offering services in the US — from big names to digital upstarts. We rank rates and fees, speed, services and user experience for:
Methodology

  • TransferWise
  • XE
  • OFX
  • WorldRemit
  • Currencies Direct
  • Western Union
  • RIA Money Transfer
  • MoneyGram
  • Remitly
  • Payoneer
  • Remit2India
  • Xoom
  • PayPal

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

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157 Comments

  1. Default Gravatar
    CS
    July 13, 2019

    IF I USE MY BANK ACCOUNT TO SEND MONEY TO A BANK ACCOUNT IN ANOTHER COUNTRY, DOES MY BANK CHARGE FOR A TRANSFER FEE? SO IN OTHER WORDS, BESIDES THE FEE I’M PAYING TO WESTERN UNION, I WOULD ALSO HAVE SOME FEES FROM MY BANK, NO?

    • AvatarStaff
      fayemanuel
      July 14, 2019

      Hi CS,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      Generally, you’ll pay fees for ingoing and outgoing wires. The fees your bank charges depend on whether you’re sending the money. Some banks charge more depending on how you initiate the wire transfer — for example, online or in person. Kind review this page for more information.

      For Western Union, the specific transfer fees for a money transaction are indicated in the “Send Money Online” field at their website. The Receiver may incur additional fees for receiving the Sender’s funds through an account-based money transfer, a mobile telephone or to a bank account.

      I hope that helps.

      Kind Regards,
      Faye

  2. Default Gravatar
    Dave
    July 11, 2019

    Someone sent me money, and when I tracked it, the status is “on hold”. What does it mean?

    • AvatarStaff
      Jhez
      July 12, 2019

      Hi Dave,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Upon checking, there are a few reasons why a money transfer might be on hold. If it’s been less than 30-40 minutes since you completed it, it may not be fully processed yet. Please wait a few more minutes and then check the status again.

      There are times that they need to confirm the sender’s identity before they can process a money transfer. If this is the case, they will send the sender an online web receipt and an email asking them to call. Once they have confirmed the sender’s information, the transfer will be completed and the receiver can pick up the money. You may contact Western Union to find out more details about the status of the transfer.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  3. Default Gravatar
    Halimat
    July 10, 2019

    I received the MTCN today from my mum based in Saudi Arabia to Nigeria. Unfortunately, I couldn’t receive the money into my bank because it shows “customer is not allowed, refund in progress”. Why? And what should I do please?

    • AvatarStaff
      Jeni
      July 12, 2019

      Hi Halimat,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      It is best to contact WU directly on this matter. You may also advise your mum, who is the sender about this so she can check if the refund pushed through or not.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  4. Default Gravatar
    Anna
    May 15, 2019

    Ccem poslat 450€ zo slovenska do spojenych arabskych emiratov dubaja aky je poplatok

    • AvatarStaff
      Bella
      May 16, 2019

      Hi Anna,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      The fees to send 450€ from Slovakia to the UAE would be €4.90. This rate applies if you pay Western Union through a credit/debit card and your recipient will receive the money as a cash pickup. Furthermore, Western Union would tell you how much you will be paid upon checkout. This way, you can review your fees before you continue the cash transfer.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

  5. Default Gravatar
    Deo
    May 14, 2019

    Hello,

    There is no transfer from Paypal to Western Union, why is that? I need this.

    • AvatarStaff
      Jeni
      May 14, 2019

      Hi Deo,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Transferring directly from Paypal to WU is not possible but you may transfer your funds from Paypal to a local bank, and then send it to Western Union. You may use some exchange websites that offer this service however it could a bit risky.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  6. Default Gravatar
    Ivan
    April 19, 2019

    I tried to send money today through a western union at my local postshop, it was declined , the reason given was I had made to many transactions for this month, I have only made three other transactions this month. Is there now a limit on how many times you can send money overseas.

    • AvatarStaff
      nikkiangco
      April 20, 2019

      Hi Ivan,

      Thanks for getting in touch! I’m sorry to hear you weren’t able to transfer fund to your receiver. According to our page, maximum limits vary based on your transaction history, your receiver’s country, your location and the service you choose. Get a quote online (Western Union website) to see details for your particular needs. Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

  7. Default Gravatar
    Eiv
    March 11, 2019

    How are you. If you want to receive more than 5000money with western do you have to pay transfer fee From Germany to South Africa

    • AvatarStaff
      nikkiangco
      March 11, 2019

      Hi Eiv,

      Thanks for reaching out! Transfer costs are shouldered by the sender, the recipient doesn’t bear any costs. However, it’s helpful to know the transfer limits and money transfer laws in the US – you can visit this page to find more information. Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

  8. Default Gravatar
    aiane
    March 7, 2019

    what if my receiver does not have an id? could he/she still receive it? thank you

    • AvatarStaff
      Val
      March 9, 2019

      Hi Aiane,

      Thank you for leaving a question. An ID to claim money is one of the security process that Western Union has in order to make sure that he is the correct receiver. You may want to give your receiver the Western Union’s MTCN which is a unique tracking number assigned to your money transfer. Your receiver will need this number when picking up money at an agent location. They can try to visit the closest agent location to check if only the MTCN number will work.

      Hope this helps!

      Regards,
      Val

  9. Default Gravatar
    Andree
    March 4, 2019

    Hello
    I’ve sent some money from UK to Pakistan using my bank card via western union on Saturday. I’ve got the MTCN number which I forward to the recipient. And recipient went to the western union point. And they say it’s on hold. You better wait. And I haven’t got any email or msg from western union as well. Could you please tell me how long will it take to go through. Today is Monday as I’m writing but it’s still on hold.
    Thanks

    • AvatarStaff
      johnbasanes
      March 5, 2019

      Hi Andree,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      You would need to contact Western Union directly to check the reason for the hold. Once this has been cleared the funds should be available for the recipient to receive. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  10. Default Gravatar
    Michelle
    February 28, 2019

    if I want to send 1350. How much will I pay for sending fees?

    • AvatarStaff
      Joshua
      March 3, 2019

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      That would depend on how you want your recipient to receive the money, how you paid Western Union, and where you are sending the money. For example, if you are paying Western Union using your credit or debit card, the fee would be $15. You can learn more about this by reading the information above under the subheading, “How much does it cost to transfer money with Western Union?

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

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

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