Western Union - Independent review

All you need to know before sending money with Western Union

Largest money transfer network in the world Very fast and reliable money transfers Particularly convenient for cash transfers

8.20/10 Very good
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Western Union review by Monito

Western Union is the world’s leading money transfer provider, being both the largest and oldest company in the industry. Western Union’s service allows people to send and receive money at 500,000 agent locations in over 200 countries and territories around the world, as well as send money digitally through the Western Union website and mobile app in dozens of countries.

With Western Union, money can be received in 130 currencies and in several ways: in cash at an agent location or through an ATM; on a bank account; on a mobile wallet; or on a prepaid card. The money is often available within minutes after being sent, and you can pay for your money transfer by using cash, a debit or credit card, or your bank account.

Western Union’s slogan is “Moving money for better”, and indeed, the company’s service enables millions of people to send money to family members for basic living expenses, education, healthcare, or starting a business. Western Union also caters to businesses through its Western Union Business Solutions division, and offers bill payment services in certain countries.


PROS
  • Largest network of agent locations, allowing money to be sent and received in nearly every country in the world
  • Money can be sent both through several channels, including at Western Union agent locations, on its website, mobile app, or over the phone, whichever is most convenient
  • You can pay for your transfer and receive money in several different ways
  • Wide variety of services available for consumers and businesses
CONS
  • Sending to certain countries or sending cash at an agent location can be expensive
  • Not all channels are available in every country
  • With the standard consumer service, you can only transfer relatively small amounts (less than $5000)



Western Union has great reviews written by over 4'000 customers on Trustpilot. Here's a summary of what Western Union customers have to say:

Positive
  • It's extremely easy to send money to 200+ countries
  • Western Union is reliable and trustworthy
  • "In minutes" transfers are very fast
  • The website and mobile app are convenient, easy to use and straightforward
Negative
  • The service is expensive for some of Western Union’s customers
  • A few customers experienced delays in their transfers
  • Some were annoyed by the verification process they needed to go through and the answers they needed to provide (by law)
  • On some occasions, receivers had problem with cashing out a transfer at agent locations that were closed, wouldn't give the money because the identity wouldn't match (e.g. missing middle names) or didn’t have enough cash


Can I trust Western Union ?

The Western Union Company, better known under its brand name Western Union, is the largest money transfer provider in the world. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado in the United States, Western Union has a global presence with over 10'000 employees across offices in 50 countries.

Originally founded as a telegram company in 1851, The Western Union Company launched its wire transfer service in 1871, which allowed people to send money throughout its telegraph network. It has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:WU) since September 1865, and is currently valued at approximately $10 billion.

Western Union's brand is recognized worldwide, and represents speed, reliability, trust and convenience for their 150 million customers. In 2015, Western Union's customers - both consumers and businesses - transferred over $150 billion, with an average of about 31 transactions per second!

In most countries, Western Union’s online service is offered by Western Union International Bank GmbH, which is licensed by the Financial Market Authority in Austria (Österreichische Finanzmarktaufsicht), and with Western Union International Limited. Western Union is regulated in many countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Ireland.

Western Union has a state of the art regulatory, compliance and anti-money laundering infrastructure, into which it invests as much as into its marketing activities. The company relies on proprietary and cutting-edge data analysis to always remain compliant with the regulations of all the jurisdictions it operates in.

So, is Western Union safe to use? Yes, definitely. Western Union is the most experienced company in the money transfer industry, the largest, and probably the most trustworthy. They have an impressive track record of serving hundred of millions of customers and are very reliable.


Authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Firm Reference : 502592

 




Western Union and Fraud/Scams

Money laundering, scams and fraud have sometimes been associated with Western Union. As the largest money transfer provider in the world, Western Union is unfortunately sometimes exposed to a small group of people trying to game the system to their own advantage for illegal activities. Western Union has a dedicated page for fraud and scam prevention, educating its customers on how to avoid becoming the victim of frauds and scams, and how to prevent from using Western Union to transfer money to fraudsters and scammers. Western Union has to follow strict rules to prevent fraud, money laundering, and terrorism financing, and has a dedicated team and infrastructure for regulatory compliance.




How Western Union works

How to send money with Western Union online

  1. Register an account or, if you already have one, log into your account.
  2. Choose the country you would like to send money to, as well as the transfer amount and the pay-out method (e.g. cash pick-up, bank transfer, etc.).
  3. Enter your recipient’s name and other information such as their bank account details (if you are sending to their bank account) and telephone number (if you are sending to their mobile wallet). If you’ve already sent money to them before, you can simply select an existing receiver.
  4. Pay with your debit or credit card. In some countries, you can also pay with your bank account by making a local bank transfer or by using an online payment system such as SOFORT, Trustly or iDEAL.
  5. You'll get a confirmation by email with your unique tracking number (MTCN). If you’re sending money for cash pick-up, your recipient will need to provide the MTCN to collect the money.

How to send money with Western Union's mobile app

  1. Open the WU mobile app and tap “Send money”.
  2. Select the country you would like to send money to, and enter the amount you wish to send.
  3. Choose how the money should be received, and how you wish to pay for your transfer.
  4. If you’re not logged in, you’ll be asked to do so.
  5. Enter your recipient’s name and other information such as their bank account details (if you are sending to their bank account) and telephone number (if you are sending to their mobile wallet). If you’ve already sent money to them before, you can simply select an existing receiver.
  6. Enter your credit or debit card information, or simply use your phone’s camera to scan your card.
  7. Review your transfer details, which includes your unique tracking number (MTCN). If everything looks good, simply tap send.

How to send money with Western Union at an agent location

  1. Find and go to an agent location near you.
  2. Fill out the money transfer form, and provide your recipient’s name and other information such as their bank account details (if you are sending to their bank account) and telephone number (if you are sending to their mobile wallet).
  3. Give the completed form to the Agent, and pay for your transfer with cash or, in certain locations, a debit card.
  4. You’ll get a receipt with your unique tracking number (MTCN). Make sure to keep it. If you’re sending money for cash pick-up, your recipient will need to provide the MTCN to collect the money.


Western Union Exchange Rate & Fees

Transfer fees

Western Union fees depend on the amount sent, the send and receive countries, as well as the pay-in and pay-out methods. Paying for your transfer with a credit or debit card and receiving the money in cash is generally the most expensive combination. Also note that fees at an agent location are generally higher than when sending online.


Exchange rate

Like most money transfer providers, Western Union makes part of their profit by taking a margin between the exchange rate they offer their customers, and the exchange rate at which they can acquire the currency. In fact, Western Union makes 25% of its profit through this exchange rate margin on average. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the exchange rate when evaluating a money transfer service.

Western Union sometimes offers better exchange rates if you send larger amounts of money, so it’s worth considering if this is possible, in which case you might be better off bundling a few of your transfers into a single one if you can.


Mobile apps

Western Union has an outstanding mobile app available on both Apple iOS and Google Android. The Western Union mobile app allows you to send money to 500,000 agent locations or 1 billion bank accounts worldwide, wherever you are and at any time. All you need is a credit or debit card which you can scan within the app by using your camera. With the Western Union mobile app, you can also track the progress of a past transfer, or estimate the fees or find a nearby agent location for a future transfer.

 



 

Additional services

Western Union Business Solutions

Western Union also caters to businesses under the Western Union Business Solutions brand name. This service, which the company launched in 2010 following its purchase of Canadian foreign exchange firm Custom House, allows businesses to use Western Union’s global business payment network and cross-border platform. Use cases include paying suppliers, employees and partners around the world, accepting payments from foreign customers, and sending mass payments globally.

In 2016, Western Union Business Solutions launched WU EDGE, an innovative online platform for SMEs to make and receive international payments, hold foreign currency, track their payables and receivables, and manage their cash flow and foreign exchange risk.

The Western Union Online FX platform of Western Union Business Solutions can also be used for personal transfers of over $5000, where Western Union’s traditional consumer service is unavailable. This allows consumers to make use of a professional platform for making high-value international payments.

Consumer to Business

Western Union’s consumer to business service is a fast and convenient way for consumers to pay bills from utility companies, auto finance companies, mortgage servicers, financial service providers, government agencies and other businesses. Bills can be paid using a debit or credit card, bank transfer, or with cash at a Western Union agent location. This service is currently only available in the United States under the Speedpay brand name, in Argentina under the Pago Fácil brand name, and in Peru and Panama under the regular Western Union brand name. A few other consumer-to-business and business-to-consumer services are available in both the United States and Canada, known as Western Union Payments (which includes the Quick Collect, Quick Pay, Quick Cash and Convenience Pay services).

Prepaid card

The Western Union NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard allows consumers in the United States to hold value on a prepaid card, and use their card to make and receive Western Union money transfers. The Western Union prepaid card can be used to shop online, buy groceries, pay bills, or collect cash at an ATM. You can get a direct deposit of your paycheck and receive government benefits directly on your Western Union NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard, which gives you a quicker and more convenient way to get and use your money.


The story behind Western Union

The Western Union Telegraph Company was born in 1851 after the fusion of the “New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company” and the “New York & Western Union Telegraph Company”.

While the company initially operated a telegraph service, Western Union started to offer a way to transfer money (the “wire transfer”) over its telegraph network throughout the United States in 1871. When the telephone started to replace the telegraph, money transfers became Western Union’s primary line of business.

After divesting from its telecommunication activities in the 80s, Western Union started sending money outside the US, and positioned itself as "The fastest way to send money worldwide". In 2000, Western Union launched WU.com to offer digital money transfer services, and later launched its mobile money transfer service in 2007. In 2009, Western Union acquired foreign exchange company Custom House for $370 million to start offering payment solutions to businesses under the name Western Union Business Solutions.

In 2015, the company launched WU Connect to allow social media users to send money through Western Union’s platform. The first integrations were made with WeChat and then Viber, and the company intends on continuing to grow the number of integrations with 3rd party platforms.


 


Which documents will Western Union require to verify my identity?

Once you register on the Western Union website, you can transfer up to a certain amount without having to submit any documents (e.g. £800 in the UK). For larger amounts, you will be required to submit the following documents to get your account verified. In order to comply with the anti-money laundering laws, Western Union may also ask for some additional documents to show the source of funds in case you transfer large amounts or make money transfers regularly.


Identification Documents

It can be a Passport or a Driver's Licence.

Proof of adress

In order to verify your address, Western Union will need to be able to see a document from a reliable institution showing your name and your address. This document can be a utility bill or a bank statement no older than 3 months.

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Key facts about Western Union

Service information

Time to open an account -
Pay-in options Credit card
Debit card
Bank Account
Cash
Pay-out options Cash
Airtime top-up
Mobile wallet
Minimum amount -
Maximum amount -
Can you transfer from your mobile? Yes
Available languages
Français
English
Deutsch
Español
Português
Italiano
Personnal transfers Yes
Business customers Yes
Advanced currency contracts No
Required documents -

Company information

Type of service provider Global money transfer operators
Active since 1851
Headquarter Englewood (US)
Regulated by FCA

Contact information

Contact support -
Service hour -
Twitter @WesternUnion
Facebook WesternUnion