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Western Union Money Transfer Review

Written by Anna Baluch | Published on 2/25/2018

What is Western Union?

Western Union was founded in 1851 as a telegraph company. Today, it is known as one of the largest money transfer provider in the world. It has more than 550,000 agent-staffed locations and cash pickup is available in over 200 countries and territories. Its mission is to connect both people and businesses by enabling them to securely and seamlessly transfer money in ways that are convenient for them.

If you use Western Union, you can reap the benefits of incredible flexibility. You’ll be able to transfer and collect funds through a variety of methods such as cash pick-up and mobile wallet deposits. In addition, you can make your transfers online, through the Western Union mobile app, over the phone or in person.

In 2017, Western Union completed more than 800 million transactions for its consumer and business clients. The organization continues to develop new ways to send money via digital, mobile and retail channels. It focuses heavily on its customer’s needs and on providing them with a wide variety of choices.

Western Union — money transfer highlights

  • Membership program: The Western Union membership program, My WU®, allows you to earn points when you send qualifying transfers and bill payments. You’ll be able to redeem these points for fee reductions and a number of other rewards. In addition, you’ll gain access to special promotions throughout the year.
  • Cross-border platform: “Our cross-border platform is what sets us apart. It’s the rare combination of a physical and fast-growing digital network across 200 countries and territories, the ability to exchange money in 130 currencies, the global compliance knowledge and the technology backbone behind it all that enables us to move money with speed and scale. We believe that Western Union has the best omni channel offering in the market,” stated Sarah Johnson, director of communications at Western Union in Denver, Colo.
  • Growing digital services: To accommodate today’s digital world, Western Union is focused on growing its digital service offerings across the globe. Currently, is available in more than 50 countries and territories, and the company’s mobile apps are accessible in 20 countries and territories.
  • Among world’s most global companies: Believe it or not, Western Union is one of the most global companies in the world. According to Western Union’s corporate communications team, the company has more locations than all of the McDonald’s and Starbucks combined!
Western Union Money Transfer Details
Sending money Fees and penalties
  • Where can you send money? 200 countries and territories.
  • How long does a transfer take? Transfer times vary from several minutes to seven business days. They depend on the receiver’s destination and receiving method. Credit or debit card cash pick-ups are the fastest option, and bank account transfers take the most time.
  • How much can you send? In certain situations, the amount that consumers can send may be limited. Sometimes, the limits are set by local regulations in the markets where money transfers are sent from or to. Other times, Western Union may set limits by channel in order to minimize risk.
  • Fee to send money: Fees depend on the country you select and the amount you send.
  • Extra fees: There are additional fees for using a credit card to send money online or over the phone. These fees can be avoided, however, by using a debit card.
  • Price estimator:

Sending a money transfer with Western Union

There are a few different ways you can send a money transfer with Western Union:

  • Online: You can send a money transfer from the comfort of home by visiting or downloading the mobile app. Once you register for a free account or login to your profile, you may choose from various services to complete your transactions. You are welcome to pay with your debit or credit card, bank account, an agent location or your mobile phone. A confirmation email will be sent to you as soon as your transaction has been completed.
  • Phone: If you’re out and about and prefer to make a transaction via phone, all you have to do is get your debit or credit card ready and dial the company’s toll-free number. Then, a Western Union representative will guide you through the process.
  • In-person: You can visit one of Western Union’s more than 500,000 agent locations worldwide and complete your transaction the old-fashioned way. If you opt for the in-person route, you may use the next-day service feature, which enables money to be picked up via a prepaid card or in cash at a participating location.

Pros and cons of Western Union

As with all transfer providers, Western Unions comes with pros and cons, which we’ve outlined in the table below.

Pros Cons
  • Trusted transfer provider: Western Union has been in the business of domestic and international money transfers since 1871.
  • Large network: There are more than 500,000 Western Union locations in 200 countries and territories.
  • Flexible delivery options: Transfers can be made online, via mobile app, over the phone or in person.
  • Wide range of payment options: The plethora of payment options includes cash pick-up, mobile wallet deposit, bank account deposit and prepaid card.
  • Higher fees: Some money transfer providers offer minimum or no fees, but Western Union’s fees are fairly high.
  • Weak exchange rates: Western Union exchange rates may be as much as 6% more than the mid-market rate.
  • Expensive transfers to wealthy countries: Sending money to a wealthy nation such as Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom can be costly.
  • Bank account transfers may take some time: Although they are the least expensive method, bank account transfers may take four-to-five business days.

What people are saying about Western Union

Many people have posted online reviews for Western Union and its money transfer services. Some reviewers stated that the company’s customer service could be improved. In several instances reviewers cited problems such as sending money to a loved one to help with an emergency, and the money either did not arrive or arrived in the incorrect amount. These senders spent a lot of time resolving their issues with the company and became frustrated with customer service.

Alternative money transfer options

Let’s take a closer look at how Western Union compares to TransferWise and World First, two similar transfer companies.


Founded in 2010, TransferWise has a vision of making international money transfers cheap, fair and simple. Today, there are more than four million happy customers who count on TransferWise to move more than $4 billion dollars every month. TransferWise has 11 offices in four continents with more than 1,300 employees.

Because TransferWise matches mid-market exchange rates based on when you initiate the transfer, it might be a good alternative to Western Union if you’re hoping to save money on exchange rates.

  • Where can you send money? You can spend money domestically and internationally, as TransferWise serves Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.
  • How long does a transfer take? TransferWise transfers typically take between one and four business days, depending on the currency being paid out, and whether it’s a same-currency withdrawal or a transfer to a bank account in another country.
  • How much can you send? If you are a private individual, you can send a maximum of $50,000 per day and $250,000 per year. Maximum transfer amounts for businesses are $250,000 per day and $1,000,000 per year
  • Fee to send money: Fees vary and can be anywhere from 0.5-1.5% of total transaction.

World First

Since its inception in 2004, World First has been taking the hassle out of international money transfers. It allows individuals and businesses to send a minimum of $1,000 from the United States to more than 120 countries. If you would like to quickly send a large amount of moyourney, World First might be the way to go because it does not charge transfer fees for sending $10,000 or more.

  • Where can you send money? You can send money to more than 120 countries.
  • How long does a transfer take? World First transfers usually take two-to-three business days.
  • How much can you send? There are no maximum transfer limits.
  • Fee to send money: There are no fees for personal transfers of any amount. For business transfers, there is a fee structure that is based on activity.
Sandra   |     |   Comment #1
It's my impression that WU is the preferred method of money collection by scammers, con artists, phishers and other low-lifes. I would like to read about the hazards of sending money with WU or the other companies, and how to avoid those problems.
larry   |     |   Comment #2
Comment #1 Don't forget illegals. This is their primary way after they stole money from legal Americans and send it back to encourage more illegals to come to US.
Test3   |     |   Comment #3
I've used Moneygram before. Slightly better than WU with respect to fees.
deplorable 1
deplorable 1   |     |   Comment #4
Why would anyone want to pay high fees to transfer money? I think this service is mostly used by crooks like Sandra suggested. Every time you hear about grandma and grandpa getting ripped off there is usually a WU or some type of shady money transfer service involved.
Sauggy   |     |   Comment #5
They are terrible and support scammers, etc. Honest people should avoid them like the plague.
#7 - This comment has been removed for violating our comment policy.

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