Western Union is a household name in the financial service industry, especially in money transfers. It is based in Denver, Colorado but its operations span 200+ countries and territories. As a brand, Western Union is synonymous with bank-beating exchange rates, innovative transfer tracking, and multi-channel accessibility.
Depending on the country you are sending money from, some of the channels may not be available, and some transfers may cost you more. With that said, Western Union still remains to be a money transfer operator that customers easily identify with.
In this review, we shall look at the fees and rates, transfer time, the types of transfers you can make with Western Union and so much more.
Western Union makes money from both exchange rates and transfer fees. The provider may change the fees and rates without notice.
Western Union charges variable transfer fees depending on the country your sending to, the size of the transfer, the transfer payment and payout options and whether you are sending money online or through an agent.
Cash pickups are more expensive than direct-to-bank transfers. When paying for your transfer, debit card and credit card payments are costlier but faster compared to bank transfers. You can pay as low as USD $0 when doing bank to bank transfers through the platform. For instance, sending 300 GBP from the United Kingdom to Mauritius will cost you 4.90 GBP when you pay using a debit or credit card. The price estimation tool on the website makes it easy for users to fill in the details and know the transfer fee upfront.
Western Union charges a margin above the midmarket rate for any given currency pair. The rates charged are different and dependent on several factors such:
Apart from the exchange rate margins and transfer fees, Western Union doesn’t charge any other fees. However, you may be charged origination fees by your bank and the recipient may also be charged bank landing fees. Senders who pay for their transfers using credit cards may be charged cash advance fees by their card issuers.
Western Union exchange rates are at par with most banks. However, in transfer fees, Western Union charges are much lower.
Western Union allows customers to send and receive money in 200+ countries at over 550,000 agent locations globally. Some of the common remittance corridors are India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mexico, and Nigeria. For instance, in the USA-Mexico corridor which is one of the largest remittance paths, Western Union has a market share of close to 20%.
The maximum amount you can send per corridor differs from one destination to another. When sending money from the UK to Nigeria, you can transfer up to 10,000 GBP while to India, you can transfer up to 50,000.00 GBP.
Western Union has lots of advantages and a few disadvantages that customers have pointed out in several instances.
On the Western Union platform, you can do three main types of transfers. However, their availability differs depending on the country. The transfers are:
You can make the transfers on the phone, in person at an agent or on the internet through the Western Union website or app.
However, if Western Union is not something for your needs, we’ve created a list of top 10 money transfer companies to help you find the right money transfer provider.
Transfers processed through Western Union can take anywhere from minutes to a couple of days depending on several factors some of which are listed below.
The payout method-Cash pickups and mobile wallet transfers typically arrive in minutes. Bank deposits take up to 2 days to be delivered. Where correspondent banks are involved it could take much longer.
Transfer payment method- Paying for your transfer using a debit or credit card gives you faster delivery times than paying through bank transfers.
Destination- Where you are sending the money to determines the transfer delivery times. A good example is Greece and India. When transferring money to Greece through the bank deposit option, it takes up to 4 business days. Doing the same transfer to India takes 0-1 business days.
There are several ways you can pay for your Western Union transfer. Much like the payout options, payment methods differ per sending country. The following are the common transfer payment options.
Credit card payments are slightly expensive because of the cash advance fee charged by the issuers.
There are many use cases for Western Union both at the individual and business levels. Some of them include:
Western Union has an impressive track record being one of the oldest companies in operation today. It began in 1851 with its headquarters in 7001 E. Belleview Avenue Denver, Colorado 80237 (866) 405-5012. It has grown to be a phenomenal financial services company with an extensive global reach.
According to the business overview included as part of the company’s annual reports, Western Union offers businesses and individuals ways to send money and make payments globally. In 2006, the company ended its telegram and commercial messaging services to focus mainly on money transfer and payment services.
Western Union has grown through acquisitions of strategic businesses such as Angelo Costa International Ltd, an Ireland-based money transfer company, Travelex Group, a foreign exchange company based in London, and Finint S.r.l. among several others.
In the United Kingdom and EEA area, Western Union, operating as Western Union Business Solutions (UK) Limited, is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In the United States, the company is regulated both at the state level by the various licensing and banking regulations and at the federal level by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
The company employs Financial Action Task Force standards to guide its operations whether or not the host country has adopted them. This is in addition to an AML (Anti-Money Laundering) Compliance program and a robust Internal Audit Committee whose operations are in compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act.
The licencing and regulations comprise restrictions and requirements that Western Union must abide by. For instance, the company is required to separate client funds from company funds for security purposes.
The company has a robust risk evaluation and management framework that brings together the Audit Committee and the Compliance Committee both of which are oversight committees of the board. They look into matters such as cybersecurity, legal and regulatory issues, financial performance and others.
As part of the security measures, Western Union has implemented Software Composition Analysis (SCA). This is a customer authentication security layer applied to both payment booking and account access and manipulation. It is part of the two-factor authentication (2FA) security protocol.
Users on review sites and social media have been vocal about their experiences with Western Union. Most of them have praised the money transfer operator while others have shared their bits of frustrations.
On Trustpilot, Western Union has 17,002 reviews. In more than 80% of these, customers have been happy with the service they received. Most of the comments centred on:
Western Union has simplified the process of sending and receiving money. There are several ways you can send money and below are the steps to take.
Sending Money Online
Step 1: On the website click the Send Money link and fill in the receiver’s country and amount.
Step 2: Select the payout option which could be cash pickup, bank deposit, or mobile wallet transfer.
Step 3: Pick the transfer payment option.
Step 4: Proceed to register for an account giving your name, email and physical addresses, and phone number.
Step 5: Key in the recipient’s details including the payout information, confirm and send
Step 6: Track your transfer
Sending Money Through An Agent:
Step 1: Locate the agent. You can use the website or Western Union mobile application to check the agent nearest to you.
Step 2: Visit the store and fill out the necessary forms
Step 3: Pay for your transfer
Step 4: Confirm the recipient details and send
Step 5: Track your transfer
Yes, Western Union has a mobile application running on both Android and iOS platforms. Through the app, you can do a number of things such as:
On Google Play, the application has been reviewed by 37,000+ users. On the App Store, it has 5,100 ratings and an overall score of 4.5/5.0.
If the funds have already been sent from western Union and you want your transfer cancelled, get in touch with the customer help desk. In cases where funds have already been paid out to the recipient, Western Union can do nothing much to reverse your transaction.
With “Direct To Bank” money Transfer, if the Transfer from Western Union has been successfully received by the receiving Beneficiary’s Bank, but the bank, like most banks in Nigeria, for example, is in the habit of first using their Beneficiary’s money to fund Banks businesses before crediting the money into recipient’s Bank Account – which could take weeks and even over a month, which international regulatory body can one lodge one’s complaint with?