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The Definitive Guide: How Much Are Western Union Fees and Exchange Rates?

Jan 25, 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 the money. 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.

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

💵 Exchange Rate Markup

Varies from 0.4% to 7%+

Hidden Fees: Western Union's Exchange Rate

Western Union's most complex fee is its hidden exchange rate fee.

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 real market price. And it is the ideal rate to use when exchanging and sending foreign currency.

To make a profit off of you, Western Union applies a weaker exchange rate when it transfers your money internationally. Western Union will pocket this difference, also known as an exchange rate margin.

How Much Does Western Union Charge to Send $100?

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 real mid-market exchange rate between USD and GBP — recorded at the same 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 US dollar to Indian rupee money transfers. These rates make Western Union an average choice as an international money transfer service.

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%).

Service Fees: Western Union's International Money Transfer Fees

In addition to the exchange rate margin, Western Union charges a service fee. These vary depending on where you are, how much money you send, where your recipient is, and sending 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.

Be aware that this fee schedule will likely change if you are not sending from the United States to Canada. Regardless of your country corridor, we recommend you keep in mind a few principles when transferring money internationally with Western Union:

  • less common currencies (like Indonesian Rupiah) will be expensive;
  • the x-rate will be worse if your recipient picks up cash at a branch;
  • the x-rate will be worse if you pay cash in-store;
  • sending online by bank transfer is cheap but slow.

Money Transfer Services With Better Fees Than Western Union Fees

Western Union is one of the largest international money transfer networks in the world. However, many companies have innovated ways to send your money abroad that are more transparent and cheaper than legacy providers.

Monito has reviewed and compared hundreds of these money transfer services. Our live comparison engine even compares their exchange rates and transfer fees in real-time.

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:

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
  • Monito is trusted by 15+ million users across the globe.

  • 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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Affiliate Disclosure
Instead of banner ads and paywalls, Monito makes money through affiliate links to the various payment service providers featured on our website. While we work hard to scout the market for the best deals, we're unable to consider every possible product available to you. Our extensive range of trusted affiliate partners enables us to make detailed, unbiased, and solution-driven recommendations for all types of consumer questions and problems. This allows us to match our users with the right providers to suit their needs and, in doing so, match our providers with new customers, creating a win-win for everybody involved. However, while some links on Monito may indeed earn us a commission, this fact never impacts the independence and integrity of our opinions, recommendations, and evaluations.