About the Author

Founder & author

Gavan started iCompareFX in 2014 after discovering the easiest way to wire money internationally was through a specialist provider and not the big banks. Working with global clients, he has become an expert in comparing money remittance companies. An ex-financial/IT nut turned entrepreneur, he reviews the best and cheapest providers available on the market.

Personal and business money transfers

Risk management tools for business clients

Prepaid Mastercard (for US residents)

Phone transfers (for US residents)

Payment options

Bank transfers

Debit cards

Credit cards
 

Payout options

Local bank account

Cash pickup

Mobile airtime reload

Mobile wallet top up


Transfer options

Online

Phone (for US residents)

Western Union money transfer app
 

Regular transfers

Not available

Send money from

70 countries. 
 

Send money to

200+ countries.  Western Union does not transfer money to North Korea and Iran.

  • Phone
  • Live chat
  • Online contact form
  • Email

Online contact form - https://wucare.westernunion.com/care/s/submit-customer-case?language=en_US

Phone - USA phone numbers location: https://wucare.westernunion.com/s/customer-care-home?language=en_US


Personal Features

50

Western Union provides various services for personal customers. However, the services on offer might vary depending on where you live.
 

What Western Union offers

  • International bank transfers
  • Cash pickup
  • Mobile airtime and mobile wallet top up
  • Bill payments (only in the US)
  • Transfers to inmates (only in the US)
  • Prepaid card

International bank transfer - Send money to a recipient's bank account through a Spot Contract that which is Western Union's current exchange rate. 

Cash pickup - Allows the recipient to collect cash from a Western Union agent location.

Mobile airtime and mobile wallet top up - Top up mobile wallets and mobile airtime of different service providers within various countries.

Bill payment - Pay bills of different service providers in the US - online, over the phone or in person.

Transfers to inmates - Send money to inmates housed in US correctional facilities.

Prepaid card - Get a personalized Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard if you live in the US. You can use it to make transfers, set up direct debits, shop and withdraw money from ATMs.
 

What Western Union doesn’t do

  • Forward contracts and limit orders
  • Unique local multi-currency accounts
  • Digital wallets
  • Regular transfers
  • Personal account managers

 

Western Union score

The Western Union score for its personal services could be improved by offering access to personal account managers, regular transfers, currency hedging tools and digital wallets.


Business Benefits

56

Western Union provides global payment solutions for businesses from a number of countries. It serves small, medium and large businesses.
 

What Western Union offers

  • Mass payments
  • Risk management
  • Receive payments
  • Multi-currency balances
  • Accounting integration

Mass payments - Make mass payments in more than 130 currencies through Western Union's 65 bank partners and 500 bank accounts.

Risk management - Western Union provides forex hedging tools for businesses in the form of forward contracts, market orders, future payments and option contracts.

Receive payments - Businesses can use Western Union to receive international payments in up to 40 currencies.

Multi-currency balances - Hold and manage funds in multiple currencies.

Accounting integration - Use the WU EDGE platform for accounting system integration.
 

What Western Union doesn’t do

  • FX-optimized business travel card
  • Dedicated currency specialists
  • Solutions for online sellers

 

Western Union score

Western Union scores above average in this section, and could do even better by providing online seller solutions, business travel cards and access to currency specialists.


Fees & Exchange Rates

0

Western Union exchange rate

The Western Union exchange rate that applies on your transfer includes a markup that the company adds on top of the existing mid-market/real exchange rate. The exchange rate margin that Western Union adds can be more than 5% for exotic currencies.
 

Western Union Money transfer fee

Western Union Money transfer fees vary based on the countries in which you and the recipient live, the transfer amount, the payment method and the transfer method. 

Debit and credit card payments - Typically attract more fees than payments made via bank accounts. 

Transfers to cash pickup locations - Tend to cost more than bank account transfers. Fees can also vary based on whether you initiate your transfer online or in person.
 

Western Union online fees

The following tables give you an indication of how Western Union fees work for online transfers.

Paying for a transfer from the US to India by credit card:

Transfer amountPayout methodTransfer fees
$200Bank account$9.99
Cash pickup$12
$2,000Bank account$54.99
Cash pickup$60

Paying for a transfer from the US to India via bank account transfer:

Transfer amountPayout methodTransfer fees
$200Bank account$0
Cash pickup$5
$2,000Bank account$0
Cash pickup$5

 

Western Union score

Western Union fares poorly in this section because of its high non-transparent exchange rates, as well as transfer fees that can be rather significant in some scenarios.


Ease of Use

64

What Western Union does well

Registration - Signing up with Western Union is fairly simple. You can create a new account by using the Western Union money transfer app or website.

Western Union send money by phone - This feature gives customers in the US the ability to carry out domestic and international money transfers by calling a 1-800 phone number.

Payment methods - You may pay for your transfer via a bank account transfer, a debit card or a credit card. You can also visit an agent location to pay cash.

Languages - Customers can use many of Western Union's country-specific websites in local languages.
 

Where Western Union could improve

Western Union transfer time - Transfers to bank accounts typically take 2 - 5 business days, and even more in some cases.

Western Union money transfer app - You can use the Western Union app to check Western Union exchange rates, transfer funds, and track your transfers. However, several customer reviews on Google Play Store and Apple App store complain about the app's functionality, with many highlighting the inability to initiate transfers.
 

Western Union rating

Western Union's Ease of Use rating suffers because of its international bank transfer speed. Negative reviews about its app also contribute to the lower score.


Support & Countries

69

What Western Union does well

Supported money transfer countries and currencies - Western Union supports transfers in around 130 currencies, to over 200 countries and territories. Exceptions include North Korea and Iran.

Supported countries for mobile reloads - You can reload mobile airtime of different telecom service providers in Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria and the Philippines.
 

Where Western Union could improve

Customer service - A number of Western Union customer reviews on Trustpilot and Google Play Store complain about receiving poor customer service. No resolutions despite multiple calls to customer service seems like a common concern. On Trustpilot, Western Union gets a rating of Average, scoring 6.8 out of 10 with over 17,000 reviews.
 

Western Union score

Addressing customer complaints effectively and in a timely manner will help improve Western Union's score in this category.


Trust & Transparency

44

What Western Union does well

Regulated - Western Union is licensed by financial regulatory bodies of different countries. It follows all international regulations surrounding cross-border money transfers.

Publicly listed company - As Western Union is a publicly traded company, it means their safety and compliance procedures are regularly audited. 
 

Where Western Union could improve

Exchange rate and fee transparency - Informing customers about the exchange rate margin that applies on their transfers would help increase Western Union's score in this section. Some customer reviews on Trustpilot mention that the fees they ended up paying was noticeably more than what they saw in their quotes. A number of customers also express issues surrounding trust.
 

Western Union score

Western Union could improve their rating by making its exchange rates completely transparent and informing customers about the exact transfer fees in advance. Also consider engaging customers more proactively on review sites such as TrustPilot.

How to sign up to Western Union

Step 1
Choose to receive money to a bank account or in cash

Bank transfers. Give the sender your complete name and mailing address. Provide your bank's name, its IBAN/BIC/SWIFT code and your bank account number.

Cash money transfers. Give the sender your complete name, address and phone number. Identify a suitable cash pickup center and provide this information to the sender.

Step 2
Sender makes payment to Western Union

The sender pays for the transfer using cash deposit, bank transfer or credit / debit card.

Step 3
Collect the money

Bank transfer. Western Union initiates the transfer from its end after receiving money from the sender. The money should reach your local bank account within 5 days.

Receiving cash. Get a reference number (MTCN) from the sender. Visit the chosen Western Union agent location. Provide the tracking number. Present an acceptable form of identity such as your driver's license or passport. Collect the transferred cash.

FAQs

What is the highest amount you can send through Western Union?

No easy answer. The highest amount you can send through Western Union depends on your location, the recipient's location, the transfer method, the payment method, your Western Union transfer history, agent-specific limits and country-specific receiving limits.

How do I send money through Western Union to Europe?

You can send money through Western Union to Europe directly to a recipient's local bank account. Recipients can also collect cash from agent locations spread across most countries in Europe.

How much does it cost to send money through Western Union?

The cost to send money through Western Union is approximately 5% of the transfer amount. If you pay Western Union by credit card, you can add another 2.5% to 5%. 

Can I send money online with Western Union?

Yes. You can send money online with Western Union to over 200 countries. Customers can use the Western Union website to send money from over 70 countries. The Western Union app works in more than 35 countries.

How much does it cost to send $100 through Western Union?

The transfer fee varies based on the destination country, the transfer method, and the mode of payment, as illustrated in the corresponding tables.

Sending $100 from the US to a bank account in India:

Payment methodTransfer fees
Bank transfer$0
Credit card$7.49
Debit card$2.99
Cash in-store$7

Sending $100 from the US to a cash pick-up location in India:

Payment methodTransfer fees
Bank transfer$4
Credit card$8.50
Debit card$4
Cash in-store$7

In addition to the transfer fees, you also need to account for the margin that Western Union applies on existing mid-market exchange rates.

What do I need to send money through Western Union?

The information you need to send money through Western Union depends on how you wish to pay for your transfer and the transfer method. To make your payment, you will need your bank account, debit card or credit card details. You will need the recipient's bank account details if you wish to send money to a bank account. You will also need to verify your identity before you can start making transfers.

Does Walmart partner with Western Union?

Yes, Walmart hosts Western Union agents in participating Walmart stores. You may visit any participating Walmart store in the US or Canada to carry out international money transfers.

Summary

55

Western Union is a leading international money transfer company. It provides services for individuals and businesses from several countries. You may turn to Western Union to send money to an overseas bank account or a cash pickup location. While this company supports transfers to a large number of countries, its services come at a cost. There are other competitors to Western Union which would be cheaper to send money internationally for cash pick up or bank transfers.

Pros

  • Transfers to cash pickup locations.
  • Extensive global agent network.
  • Risk management services for businesses.
  • Phone transfers for US residents.
  • Prepaid Mastercard for US residents.
  • Multiple payment methods.
  • Multilingual website.

Cons

  • Lack of transparency in exchange rates.
  • High transfer fees.
  • No regular transfers.
  • No dedicated account managers.
  • No unique multi-currency receiving accounts.
  • No digital wallet for personal customers.
  • Poor customer reviews of customer experience.