Western Union is a global payment provider moving money for personal and business customers, all over the world. You can arrange payments to and from most countries and territories, online or in person.
If you’re thinking of using Western Union for a payment, you’ll want to learn a bit about how it works. This review covers all you need to know.
How Western Union Works: A Review
Western Union offers different ways to arrange payments, and also lets customers receive their money in a range of different ways. The options available vary depending on the country you’re sending to. You’ll be able to see your full range of choices by visiting the Western Union website, using the app, or calling into an agent near you.
Let’s take a look at the basics of how to use Western Union.
How to send money with Western Union
Western Union customers can send money online or by phone, or by visiting an agent location. Here’s what you need to do:
Send money online
- Set up a profile on the Western Union website or app
- Click the Send Money option
- Enter details of the transfer you want to make – the destination country and amount
- Choose how the recipient will get their money from the available options such as direct wire transfer, cash collection or mobile money transfer
- Confirm how you’d like to pay – credit or debit card, from your bank account, or in cash at an agent location
- Check the fees and exchange rate, and confirm the transaction
Send money in person
- Find a Western Union agent close to you using an agent locator tool.
- The agent will walk you through your options, including the exchange rate and fee available for your payment
- Pay using cash. In some locations you can also pay using a debit card.
Other ways to send a Western Union payment
You can also start a payment online, and then complete it at an agent location if you want to pay in cash. It’s good to know that in this case you’ll have to take a government issued ID along to the agent. Some domestic payments in the US can also be set up on the phone.
How to receive money with Western Union
If you are sent money via Western Union as a direct to bank payment, it’ll appear in your account automatically once it’s processed.
If you’re being sent money for cash collection, you’ll need to visit an agent location, with the following:
- The transfer tracking number – this is known as the MTCN, and will be given to you by the sender
- The full name of the sender – you may also need to confirm the country or state they made the payment from
- Your government issued ID
You’ll need to confirm the amount you expect to receive, and in some countries you may also have a security question to answer.
Western Union exchange rate
When you set up a transfer with Western Union, you’ll see the exchange rate offered before you confirm the payment.
Western Union makes money on currency exchange. That means there’s a fee added to the rate used, as well as any upfront admin fee you pay for your transfer. You can see this fee by comparing the exchange rate offered by Western Union, to the mid-market exchange rate for your currency, which you’ll find on Google.
It’s also good to know that the rates offered online may not be the same as those used if you arrange the payment at an agent location. Check the rates carefully before you confirm the transaction.
Western Union fees
The fees to send money with Western Union will vary according to how you want to make the payment, and the destination country. If you’re sending money online, you’ll see the costs, as well as the exchange rate, before you confirm the transfer. If you’re at an agent location, the agent will tell you the fees and rates which apply to your transaction before you pay.
Paying for your transfer using a credit card may mean you pay additional fees.
Western Union Pros & Cons
Finding the right way to send money overseas will require a bit of research. There are many different services, with different features and fees to consider. Here are some of the pros and cons of using Western Union, to help you find the best provider for your needs:
- Western Union has over 500,000 agent locations around the world
- Send in 130 currencies, to over 200 countries and territories
- Payments can be collected in cash – useful if your recipient does not have a bank account
- Cash payments are usually fast and can be collected in just a few minutes
- Fees can be relatively high, and the exchange rate mark up used can make it hard to see the true cost of the transfer
- Costs can vary depending on the payment type, including how you fund the transfer, and how the recipient gets their money
- Western Union is used by some fraudsters who ask for payments in cash, which then can not easily be refunded or reclaimed – make sure you know and trust the person you‘re sending money to
Choosing the right provider for your international payment can save you time and money. Do your homework before you get started, to make sure your payment is processed safely and efficiently, and so you know you’re getting the best deal available.