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Western Union Review

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.

General
Payment Options
Supported Currencies
Support
Date Founded:
1851
Provider Type:
MTO
HQ Location:
Denver, US
Regulators:
FinCEN
Mobile Friendly:
Yes
Mobile App:
Yes
Languages:
English, French

Western Union rates and fees

Western Union makes money from both exchange rates and transfer fees. The provider may change the fees and rates without notice.

Transfer Fees

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.

Exchange Rates

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:

  • The type of transfer- Online money transfers attract much higher rates compared to agent transfers.
  • The payout method- Cash pickups are processed at lower interest rates compared to bank transfers. For instance, sending 200 GBP to the United States through cash pickup attracts a margin of 9.39% while a bank transfer attracts a margin of 2.16%
  • The amount transferred- Larger amounts attract higher rates than smaller amounts. Sending 5000 GBP to a bank account in the United States attracts a margin of 1.66% compared to 2.16% when sending 200 GBP.
  • The destination-The country you are sending the transfer to determines the exchange rate margin you will be charged. Sending 200 GBP to the Philippines in pesos attracts a margin of 19.58%. When sending the same amount to Nigeria you’ll be charged a margin of 4.65%.

Others Fees

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.

Top destinations for using WU

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 IndiaPakistan, the PhilippinesMexico, 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.

Pros and cons of Western Union

Western Union has lots of advantages and a few disadvantages that customers have pointed out in several instances.

Pros

  • Extensive sending and disbursement network coverage. Western Union supports 200+ countries and has over 550,000 agents on its network. This enables customers to access transfers sent through cash pickups and bank deposits.
  • Multichannel sending platform- On Western Union, you can send money through an agent, website, mobile app or even through the phone. The channels vary depending on the country you are sending from.
  • Tailored services for individuals and businesses. Western Union provides targeted solutions such as Western Union business solutions, Convenience Pay, Quick Pay, Quick Collect, and Netspend Prepaid Mastercard.
  • 24/7 Customer Service-You can contact Western Union customer support in various ways. There is a live chat, phone, and email support.
  • Trustworthy -Western Union has been in the industry for close to 170 years processing more than 1.7 million transactions a day.

Cons

  • Expensive -Certain remittance corridors are costlier on Western Union than other money transfer operators. Also, cash pickups attract some of the lowest exchange rates for a given currency pair.
  • Variations in Channels- Not all countries have access to the many sending channels on the platform. Western Union customers in countries such as Kenya can only access the service through agents.
  • Lack of Transparency-The exchange rate margins do not follow an elaborate pattern and hence to a larger extent they are unpredictable.

Western Union transfer types

On the Western Union platform, you can do three main types of transfers. However, their availability differs depending on the country. The transfers are:

  • Cash pickups
  • Bank transfers
  • Mobile wallet deposits

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.

Western Union transfer times

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.

Western Union money transfer methods

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/Debit card
  • Instant bank transfer through SOFORT banking. This method is available in 8+ European nations including the United Kingdom, Poland, Switzerland, Italy and Germany
  • Bank transfer through the Faster Payments Service (FPS). Compared to the BACS Payment Schemes Limited, this method takes minutes or even seconds to get the money to Western Union
  • Cash payment at an agent location

Credit card payments are slightly expensive because of the cash advance fee charged by the issuers.

Best reasons to use Western Union

There are many use cases for Western Union both at the individual and business levels. Some of them include:

Business 

  • Payment management- The WU EDGE platform allows you to import vendor invoices from your accounting system to the platform for payment. This solution helps in managing international payments
  • Risk management- The team of experts at Western Union can help you formulate a risk management plan that suits your business
  • Receive business payments from local and international clients in your local currency
  • Pay international employees on time through a streamlined payroll service

Individual

  • Send money to your family and friends
  • Pay for goods and services
  • Pay tuition fees
  • Pay bills using the bill payment service
  • Pay mortgages and other loans

Can I trust Western Union?

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.

User feedback about Western Union

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:

  • Faster transfers especially on cash pickups
  • Accessible customers service
  • Reliability and safety with adequate security measures
  • Simple interface to navigate when sending money
  • The convenience of mobile wallet deposits

How to send and receive money?

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

Does Western Union have an app?

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:

  • Sending cash to 200+ countries and territories
  • Tracking transfers
  • Checking historical transactions
  • Locating Western Union agents
  • Accessing customer service help
  • Reloading prepaid cards

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.

Can I cancel my transfer?

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.

Customer reviews

Post your review:

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?

By Oladiran Lawoye
6 March 2020 - 12:00pm