Watch Monito's Video Review of Western Union
A Youtube Creator at Monito, Jonny helps you understand all you need to know about hidden fees, exchange rates and the best services to move your money across borders.
Monito's Managing Editor, Byron has spent several years writing extensively about financial- and migration-related topics.
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Western Union is a popular choice when it comes to sending money abroad but they are not always the cheapest or the best choice. In this Western Union review we take a detailed look at one of the world’s largest money transfer providers, and through this review hope to help you make the right choice when sending money internationally.
Western Union Review Video Transcript
In today's video, we're going to review Western Union considering their pros and cons when sending money internationally and look at how they ranked on our Monito score, a number that considers trust and credibility, service and quality fees and exchange rates, as well as customer satisfaction. Western Union was founded in 1851 and today serves over 150 million customers. In 2017 alone, their customers transferred over $300 billion, an average of about 32 transactions per second. That is crazy.
They have over half a million locations worldwide that you can visit to send and receive money, making them a wonderful option if you only feel comfortable sending money in person. They're also working to enhance their online experience and in 2020 had around 8.6 million digital customers.
I know some people are still skeptical when it comes to sending money online, but in the case of Western Union, you have nothing to worry about. They're a publicly traded company, so under a lot of scrutiny and with millions of customers worldwide, they work hard to ensure their platform is fully secured.
So we're confident that you can trust that your money will be safe in their hands. That's why we scored them a 7.5 for trust and credibility. However, that number would have been higher if they were more transparent about their pricing.
When we analyzed Western Union's online pricing in the UK, we actually found that 90% of the total fees were hidden in the exchange rate, meaning if their customers aren't careful, they may lose out. Before I go on, please remember that fees and exchange rates can differ massively, and depending where you are in the world the country is sending money to and the way you transfer is paid for and received. Now, the main way Western Union makes money from your transaction isn't through a fixed, let's say, visible fee. It's actually hidden in the exchange rate they offer you.
You see, Western Union sometimes offers their customers bad exchange rates. One that is often vastly different and worse than the real exchange rate or what is officially known as the mid-market exchange rate. This way, Western Union are able to make a small profit on each transaction, meaning you and your recipient, so the person you're sending money to end up receiving less. I know this bit might seem confusing and it took me a while to understand it. But when you do, you can actually save so much money. Let me try to explain. So I'm on the Western Union website, and I'm going to look at sending money from the UK to Indonesia, and we'll start by sending £1,000, opting for a recipient to receive the money in cash and we'll pay via credit or debit card. According to this, at the time of filming, so right now, Western Union is offering me an exchange rate of £1 to RP 17596.
Therefore, my recipient will receive roughly 17.6 million, which certainly sounds like a lot. Now let's see how their exchange rate compares to the mid-market exchange rate. So according to this quick Google search, right now, £1 actually equals roughly RP 19100, which technically means my recipient would be receiving 19.1 million and not 17.6 if the transfer would be made at the mid-market rate, that's a 1.5 million rupiah difference. So what's that in sterling. £75, that is actually quite surprising and, well, exactly why you need to pay attention to exchange rates. So if I just change how my recipient receives their money from cash pick-up to their bank account and the way I pay to bank transfer, I can see now that the exchange rate has improved. Obviously still not as good as the official exchange rate, but I would now be looking at around a difference of roughly £10, plus the fee, which is obviously better than £75 to £80.
It's actually amazing how much of a difference that made just choosing to pay in with a bank transfer instead of a credit or debit card and have the recipient receive the money into their bank instead of our cash pick up, you can really see that with the right combinations of pay in and pay out Western Union is relatively competitive, but you have to compare your options and make sure that you pay attention to the exchange rates and ultimately watch out for those hidden fees. I would definitely suggest you compare Western Union's exchange rates and fees to other providers using our real time comparison engine Monito dot com, it's free, super simple to use and might save you some money. Now for service and quality, we gave Western Union an 8.0. They provide such a large scope of money transfer services, it's actually pretty impressive. With Western Union, you can receive money in over 125 currencies, from cash at their physical locations to a bank account, an ATM or even a mobile wallet, and the money is often available within minutes. They're definitely a fast and efficient money transfer solution, and that includes their online platform. To assess this, we opened an account and found it was reasonably easy to use. The app and website are well designed, and transfers are speedy and straightforward.
It has facial recognition and fingerprint technology, so you can log in fast and credit card scanning to save your details and quickly send money. Western Union also has a live chat that's relatively easy to locate, as well as phone and email support.
I actually went on a live chat yesterday. I think it was around midday and went straight through to a support agent. Usually when I do those things I'm waiting for ages. Piece of advice, though the support will prove your query with automated responses, so you just need to escape that first and then you'll have an option to speak to an agent. And in case you don't want to speak to someone, they actually have really detailed FAQs. Western Union has received pretty mixed feedback from customers all around the world, and after surveying hundreds of reviews, we found customers love how extremely easy it is to send money to over 200 countries and that they're reliable and trustworthy, as well as extremely fast at transferring money and have quick and efficient customer support. However, the not so good comments were directed at the exchange rates customers were offered, so I guess no shock there.
And there were also some mentions of delays and in some cases, transfers not going through at all. Finally, people were annoyed by the verification processes and the answers that they needed to provide to send money. However, that's not really their fault though, as verification processes are requested by law and not Western Union or any other provider, for that matter.
As a global company with an impressive online platform and over half a million agent locations worldwide, Western Union is a reliable and handy source for money transfer and you can be sure your money is safe. We definitely recommend, though, that you use that online platform to send money, as it's obviously not only cheaper but also far more convenient. Like you won't have to wait in line and you can access it at any time of day. It’s their lack of transparency when it comes to exchange rates and hidden fees that I find disappointing. That's why before you send money with Western Union or any other provider, you must quickly visit Monito dot com and compare the providers that are available to make sure you're getting the best deal possible. If you found today's video useful, check out this video just here where I discussed three of the top money transfer providers ranked by our Monito score, and so you don't miss out on future videos. click the button here to subscribe, and I'll see you in the next video. Goodbye.
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