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How Much Are Western Union's Fees and Exchange Rates? The Definitive Guide to Western Union Pricing

Oct 12, 2023
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Despite being one of the largest and oldest international money transfer services in the world, Western Union's services fees are complex, and the company charges hidden exchange rate margins.

These two fees will change depending on where you are, how much money you send, where your recipient is, and how they receive it. In this guide, we explain what this all means and give a breakdown of Western Union's fees.

Ultimately, we recommend you use our real-time comparison engine below to find cheaper rates for your next international money transfer. According to millions of searches on Monito, we've found that these are generally the best alternatives to WU by receiving method:

Compare now to see if Western Union is still the best option for your specific transfer: 👇

Compare now to find the best Western Union alternatives:

Key Facts About Western Union Fees and Exchange Rates

⭐ Monito Ranking

28th cheapest overall

📍 Customers

150 million

💸 Transfer Fee

$0.00 to $61.00

💵 FX Markup

Varies from 0.4% to 7%+

Western Union Fee 1: Service Fees

As we'll see, Western Union charges two types of fees. In addition to the exchange rate margin, which we'll explore later, the transfer company charges a service fee. These fees vary significantly depending on where you're sending from, how much money you send, your payment method, and where your beneficiary is located as well as their receiving method.

Western Union International Fees Table

Here is an example reference of various $1,000 USD transfers from the United States to Canada when using Western Union's mobile app, website, brick-and-mortar stores, and phone service. Bank-to-bank transfers tend to be the cheapest while cash pick-up transfers tend to be the most expensive.

Receive Method

Pay Method

Transfer Time

Fee

Cash at WU location

Bank account

4 business days

$4.99

Cash at WU location

Debit card

In minutes

$6.99

Cash at WU location

Credit card

In minutes

$33.99

Bank account

Bank account

8 business days

$1.99

Bank account

Debit card

4 business days

$24.90

Bank account

Credit card

4 business days

$49.90

Data quoted 16 Jan 2023

Be aware that this fee schedule will likely be quite different if you're not sending from the US to Canada. Regardless of your country corridor, we recommend you keep in mind a few principles when transferring money internationally with Western Union:

  • smaller currencies (e.g. the Indonesian rupiah) are more expensive,
  • the rate will be best for bank deposits, followed by cash pickups,
  • the rate will be worse for mobile wallet deposits,
  • the rate will be worse if you pay cash in-store,
  • sending online by bank transfer is cheaper but slower.

Western Union's Wire Transfer Fees

When sending an international transfer with Western Union from your bank account to someone else's (as opposed to a cash deposit or card payment), the charges can vary significantly depending on the factors we touched on above. Still, they're generally cheaper than cash, card, or mobile wallet transfers.

If you're looking for a rough estimate of Western Union's wire transfer fees, you can generally expect to pay around $0.65 and $3.76 for every $100 that you send. Bear in mind, though, that these charges can be a lot higher still depending on the currency you're sending from and to.

What Are Western Union's Fees in the USA?

Western Union's fees from the USA are generally reasonably low, although they increase depending on your transfer method and receiving currency. In general, you can expect to pay around 0.5% and 4% for transfers from the US to countries abroad.

What Are Western Union's Fees in Canada?

Like from the USA, transfers from Canada are reasonably well-priced at Western Union, although only if you use Western Union Online (as opposed to its in-branch services). Once again, total fees of around 0.5% to 4% would be expected for Western Union transfers from Canada.

What Are Western Union's Fees in India?

Sending money abroad from India tends to be pricier with Western Union since there are mandatory taxes that get calculated into the final cost. The fees tend to be at least 2% of the transfer amount and can get much higher still.

Western Union Fee 2: FX Margins

Western Union's most complex fee is its hidden exchange rate fee, called an 'FX margin' or an 'exchange rate margin'. Before we learn how much they cost, let's go through how and why they're charged in the first place.

Understanding FX Margins

At any given moment, banks and large financial institutions exchange foreign currencies with each other using the interbank exchange rate, also called the mid-market exchange rate. This is the actual market price (i.e. the one you see on Google). And it is the ideal rate to use when exchanging and sending foreign currency.

However, to profit from your transfer, Western Union applies a weaker exchange rate when it transfers your money internationally. Western Union will pocket this difference, which is known as an exchange rate margin.

For example, if the mid-market exchange rate between the USD and the EUR was 0.91 at a given moment, Western Union might offer you an exchange rate of 0.89. This would mean they make the transfer at the mid-market rate and earn around 2% on the transaction based on the rate they offer to you.

How Bad Are Western Union's Exchange Rates?

Let's see how this works in practice with a transfer from the US to the UK. To find Western Union's exchange rates, we used their online price estimator (on January 16th at 0900 CEST).

western union price estimator

We found that for every one US dollar that you give Western Union, they bank transfer your recipient 0.80 British pounds:

  • Western Union's Exchange Rate: 1.00 USD = 0.8070 GBP

Below, we show the actual mid-market exchange rate between USD and GBP — recorded at the exact date and time. (You can monitor live mid-market exchange rates on sites like Monito, Google, and XE.com):

  • Mid-Market Exchange Rate: 1.00 USD = 0.8202 GBP

Instead of getting £82.02, your recipient would get £80.70 with Western Union. That's equivalent to a 1.6% markup for the transaction.

Other common currency pairs are even more expensive. We found that Western Union applies around 7% margins on the US dollar to Indian rupee money transfers. These rates make Western Union an average choice as an international money transfer service (we've seen much worse, but there are a lot cheaper options too). While not as bad as airport kiosks (which mark up 9% or more), you can often find better services with Monito's comparison engine (these services may mark up around 0% to 0.5%).

In case you're interested, we looked at the exchange rates of ten popular currencies from the United States (MXN, COP, EUR, GBP, CAD, INR, AUD, PHP, DOP, JMD) and estimated Western Union's fees for different transfer amounts as follows:

Sending Money Within the USA?

If you're living in the US and you're interested in sending money domestically, then Western Union is also not the best bet.

In these cases, we recommend signing up with Chime, a checking account and mobile payment service that lets you send money from your phone to somebody else's account instantly.

  • Transfer to Another Chime Account Holder: $0.00/transfer
  • Transfer to a Debit Card: Instantly and for free
  • ATM Withdrawal Fee: Free at 55,000 ATMs nationwide, out-of-network $2.50/withdrawal fee

Money Transfer Services With Better Fees Than Western Union Fees

Western Union is one of the world's largest international money transfer networks. However, many companies have innovated ways to send your money abroad that are more transparent and cheaper than legacy providers. Check out our Monito score of Western Union:

Monito has reviewed and compared hundreds of other money transfer services. Our live comparison engine even compares their exchange rates and transfer fees in real time. Compare now to see if Western Union is still the best option for your specific transfer. 👇

Find the best alternatives to Western Union in real time:

Why Trust Monito?

You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.

Learn More About Monito
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  • Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.

  • Our recommendations are always unbiased and independent.

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