In this review, I explore the range of features and services Western Union offers. The information presented here is accurate at the time of writing this article.

Founded in 1851, Western Union lays claim to being the oldest money transfer company in the world. But is it something you should use in 2024?

My review examines its efficiency, reliability, customer experience, and how it stands against competitors in today’s market.

Western Union: My Verdict

Western Union is a major player in the money transfer sector. It’s particularly effective for sending money to countries with less developed financial systems or rare currencies. Its services like cash pickup, mobile money, and airtime top-ups are invaluable for these regions. Western Union is a go-to for amounts less than £5,000 and for those who prefer well-known, established companies.

However, Western Union may not be the best choice for transfers above £5,000 due to its limits, nor for those seeking the best exchange rates. While it’s a trustworthy option with a massive customer base and a wide range of payment methods, its fee structure and exchange rates can be less competitive than other services. Despite this, Western Union’s online platform is improving, offering better rates and fees.

In essence, Western Union’s widespread network and various services continue to serve the needs of those looking to transfer large amounts to various locations in no particular hurry. 

However, it seems that Western Union’s approach to technology and innovation may not be as advanced as other options, which could be a drawback for tech-savvy individuals and smaller businesses looking for more cutting-edge solutions. 

In essence, Western Union’s widespread network and various services continue to serve the needs of those looking to transfer large amounts to various locations in no particular hurry. 

However, it seems that Western Union’s approach to technology and innovation may not be as advanced as other options, which could be a drawback for tech-savvy individuals and smaller businesses looking for more cutting-edge solutions. 

How to Choose if Western Union is Right for You?

Western Union’s global network covers over 200 countries and territories with 130 currencies in its repertoire, allowing for cash pickups and transfers worldwide. This extensive presence is perfect for users with a large global network, offering convenience for users to send and receive funds across the globe.

The company provides numerous versatile transfer options, including cash pickup, mobile money, and airtime top-ups. These services cater to a wide range of transfer needs, ensuring users can select the most convenient option for their specific circumstances, thereby enhancing transaction flexibility.

WUCare Online Help Center delivers a vast selection of self-service resources, such as detailed FAQs and troubleshooting guides. This feature enables users to swiftly address common issues, improving both efficiency and overall user satisfaction with the service.

To give you the best understanding possible, I have laid out a table below detailing all of the features you should consider before making your decision about Western Union.

Western Union at a Glance…

FeatureWestern Union Information
Company NameWestern Union
Transfer FeesTransfer fees vary from hefty fees to no fees at all, depending on destination, currency, and transfer method.
Exchange RatesIncludes a mark-up over the mid-market rate between 0.5-2%.
Min/Max Transfer AmountMinimum: $1 – Maximum: $50000
Transfer SpeedsSome options allow for instant transfers. 24 to 48 hours for most common currencies. Can take up to 5 days for exotic currencies.
Available Countries and CurrenciesOperates in more than 200 countries and territories, supporting 130 currencies.
Payment MethodsOptions include bank transfers, credit/debit cards, and cash at Western Union agent locations.
Delivery MethodsMoney can be received through bank deposits, cash pick-up at agent locations, mobile wallets, and more.
Customer ServiceSupport is available via phone, email, and live chat through their website.
User Reviews and RatingsScored 4.0 out of 5 on Trustpilot from 63,657 reviews. Praised for the simplicity of its services and responsive customer service, areas for criticism surround transaction speed and customers not receiving funds.
Security MeasuresUtilises end-to-end encryption, TLS/SSL certifications, and multi-factor authentication.
Mobile App AvailabilityWestern Union offers a mobile app for iOS and Android, facilitating transfers, tracking, and management.
Special FeaturesFeatures include the ability to track transfers, schedule future transactions, and make bill payments.
Regulatory ComplianceWestern Union is regulated by the FCA in the UK as well as countless other international bodies. FCRN: 536611
Cancellation PolicyThe policy allows for cancellation within a certain timeframe, with details provided during the transaction process or via customer service.
Office LocationsHeadquartered in Denver and Colorado, with over 550,000 agent locations worldwide.
Staff Volume
(Group Statistic)
13,249 employees worldwide.
OwnersLed by CEO Devin McGranahan.

Can I Trust Western Union with My Money?

Western Union is one of the oldest and safest brokerages on the market, regularly transferring thousands of euros to over 200 countries across the globe. As you’d expect with a more established firm, Western Union prioritises its security. 

They employ rigorous safety measures to protect client transactions, including end-to-end encryption, TLS and SSL certifications, and multi-factor authentication. The company takes additional steps for large money transfers, requiring verification of the sender’s details and source of funds. Western Union also educates its customers and agents about fraud prevention and maintains a Fraud Hotline to report suspicious activities immediately.

Despite these extensive measures, Western Union has faced challenges with wire fraud, prompting the company to enhance its compliance programs. Clients are encouraged to remain vigilant, using secure passwords and being cautious of common scams.

What Are Western Union’s Rates?

Western Union’s exchange rates include a markup over the mid-market rate, which can vary depending on various factors, such as the service type (online or agent-based), payout method, and transaction specifics, such as amount and destination. 

This markup system often makes Western Union less cost-effective in exchange rates compared to some competitors, notably Wise, known for offering transfers at the mid-market rate without any markup.

Here, I’ve compiled a list of commonly used money transfer routes from the UK to give you an overview of their current rates. Alongside, you’ll find the corresponding amount you’d receive in the specified currency from a transfer of £10,000:

Currency PathwayExchange RateReceived From £10,000
GBP – EUR1.1734€11,734
GBP – USD1.2600$12,600
GBP – AUD1.9183$19,183
GBP – CAD1.6653$16,653
GBP – NZD2.0533$20,533.40
GBP – AED4.6180AED 46,180.10
GBP – THB44.7254447,254฿
GBP – JPY183.7501¥1,837,501

* I have been to the Western Union website through each currency pathway to guarantee that the above information is accurate when writing this review. These rates may vary slightly from the present personal and business rates.

Do Western Union Charge a Fee?

Western Union’s structure is variable and influenced by several elements, including destination country, currency, payment amount, and the selected pay-in and payout methods. While the company’s broad service range and global presence are significant advantages, the fees for in-person services can be higher than online options. 

Their fee structure can sometimes make Western Union a less economical choice than other services like WorldRemit, Remitly, and Wise, which may offer more competitive rates and fees for specific currency pairs and transfer amounts.

How Fast Are Western Union’s Transfers?

Western Union offers fast domestic transfers, typically within 24 hours, while international transfers range from one to five business days, extending up to three weeks for certain countries. 

Transfer speed largely depends on the chosen payment and delivery methods, with options like credit/debit card payments and cash pickups enabling fund availability in as little as 10 minutes. In contrast, bank account transfers are slower, often taking 3 to 5 working days.

Transfer times are also influenced by transaction timing, location, and the accuracy of provided information. International transfers may face additional delays due to intermediary banks and enhanced fraud checks. 

Western Union provides various receiving methods, including cash pickup, bank deposits, and mobile wallet transfers, each with its own time frame. The Fast Cash service and the mobile app offer rapid solutions for urgent transfers, enabling swift fund accessibility.

What Are Western Union’s Customers Saying?

Western Union garners a mixed reception from its customers, reflecting the strengths and limitations of its services. It has a Trustpilot score of 4.0 out of 63,657 total reviews, with only 63% being 5-star and a staggering 17% being 1-star, which does not compare well with some of its competitors. Nonetheless, I did note that of the 10,421 1-star and 2-star reviews, more than 66% had responses from Western Union addressing their issues.

Positive Reviews

Western Union is praised for its expansive network that simplifies international payments and efficient fund transfers. Also mentioned is its seamless online access and responsive customer service, which further elevate the overall customer experience.

Negative Reviews

As for its drawbacks, transaction speed is a common concern, with users expressing a desire for faster transfer times to meet urgent financial needs. Additionally, many customers had issues regarding their funds needing to be received.

Legitimate Reviews?

With this in mind, something else to consider is the validity of the negative reviews. I found that out of those 10,421 1-star and 2-star reviews, only 18 were marked as verified (verified that the reviewer has had a genuine experience with the business). Many of them also contained atrocious spelling and grammar, typical of spam bots used to leave bad reviews on larger firms to discredit them.

How Is Western Union’s Customer Support?

Western Union provides real-time chat services and dedicated phone support for customers requiring more personalised assistance, ensuring direct and tailored help for complex or specific inquiries.

Western Union’s customer support system is anchored by the WUCare online Help Center, offering a wide array of self-service resources, including detailed FAQs and troubleshooting guides for quick resolution. 

Despite Western Union’s commitment to responsive and diverse customer service options, the experience can vary based on issue complexity, service demand, and the chosen communication channel. 

Customers are encouraged to utilise the most suitable support avenue, the autonomous online Help Center or the direct communication lines, to ensure efficient and effective resolutions to their concerns.

How Do I Make An Account With Western Union?

Personal Accounts:

  1. Registration: Visit the Western Union website or download their mobile application. Then, choose the option to register a new account and provide your personal information.
  2. Account Creation: Enter your email address, create a secure password, and agree to the terms and conditions and privacy policy.
  3. Verification: Verify your identity using a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license, passport, or other forms of identification. You may be required to provide additional information to confirm your identity.
  4. Setting up Transfer Details: Choose your preferred transfer method (Cash Pick-up, Bank Deposit, Mobile Wallet, or Prepaid Card). Provide recipient details and transfer amount.
  5. Funding Your Transfer: Select your payment method (credit/debit card, bank transfer, or Western Union prepaid card). Confirm all transfer details, including fees and exchange rates.
  6. Transfer Confirmation: You will receive a confirmation of the transfer after payment. Share the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) with the recipient securely.

Business Accounts

  1. Initial Contact: Complete the online form on WUBS with your personal and business details to start the account setup​​.
  2. Consultation: Engage with the Western Union business team, who will guide you through account setup and service selection based on your business needs​​.
  3. Documentation Submission: Provide necessary business verification documents as requested during the setup process.
  4. Fee Discussion: Discuss and understand the fee structure for the services you will use, including any upfront costs and exchange rate markups​​.
  5. Account Configuration: Once your account is created, configure your payment preferences, currency options, and other operational details.
  6. Account Activation: Start using your Western Union business account for transactions after ensuring everything is set up per your business needs.

How Does Western Union’s Mobile App Work?

Utilising the Western Union mobile app for my international transactions has been largely positive, thanks to its expansive global reach and user-focused design. The app is equipped with handy features such as the ability to quickly resend payments, biometric authentication for enhanced security, and a credit card scanning function that simplifies data entry. It facilitates easy bill payments and includes a practical feature for estimating transfer costs.

Although I value the convenience of saving contacts for recurring transactions, it’s important to be aware of occasional technical glitches and the relatively high fees for international transfers. I’ve found that leveraging the app’s Price Estimator and Currency Converter tools provides a clearer understanding of the total costs involved.

Despite some technical issues and concerns over fees, my experience confirms that the Western Union mobile app is a dependable and secure option for handling domestic and international money transfers.

How Easy Is It to Use Western Union?

Having navigated both the online and in-app platforms of Western Union, I’ve found the experience notably user-friendly. The design prioritises ease of use, with intuitive navigation and a simple transaction process, making setting up and tracking my transfers a breeze. Managing my account felt effortless, a testament to the platform’s well-thought-out user interface.

I also ventured into using their in-person services via the extensive agent network, which added a layer of accessibility to my experience. However, it’s worth noting that your experience may differ depending on various location-specific factors, including the speed of service and wait times, which were occasionally longer than expected.

What stood out to me were the cash collection and bank transfer options. The Money in Minutes feature for cash collection was impressive, ensuring funds were available quickly and without hassle. They offer efficient bank transfers with a direct deposit feature, reliably completing transactions within 1 to 3 working days.

Western Union’s dedication to user support and transaction safety has been evident throughout my evaluation. Their regulatory compliance and partnerships with local banks gave me more confidence in the service, reinforcing my trust in their commitment to user security and support.

What’s the Reach of Western Union’s Services?

Western Union has a truly global reach, meaning you can use it to quickly put cash in someone’s hand in almost any country on the planet. This becomes evident when you learn they offer transactions in a colossal 130 currencies, bridging more than 200 countries and territories. These encompass all of the top 20 primary remittance-sending countries, as identified by the World Bank, and its payout network covers most of the significant remittance-receiving countries. 

Western Union also allows its consumers to send money that arrives within minutes to certain banks or digital wallet providers, a service currently available in 50 countries.

The company’s digital expansion is particularly noteworthy, having established full digital access for cross-border person-to-person (P2P) money transfer services across critical regions, including the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. 

This digital progression is bolstered by a physical presence, with a retail network featuring over 550,000 agent locations, ensuring a comprehensive service offering that caters to a diverse range of consumer and business needs.

What Sets Western Union Apart From The Crowd?

While Western Union faces stiff competition from online money transfer companies offering more affordable transfers, it is still arguably the leader in sending cash due to its global network of pickup locations. Due to being the oldest money transfer brokerage in the sector, Western Union has a competitive edge with its vast experience making large transactions and a diverse portfolio of financial services.

Furthermore, Western Union’s services extend beyond traditional money transfers to bill payments, prepaid cards, and digital wallets catering to a varied clientele. This versatility allows the company to meet diverse financial needs, affirming its role as a comprehensive provider in the financial sector. 

However, the company remains vigilant of the challenges posed by regulatory changes, technological disruption, changing customer preferences, and fierce competition. Navigating these challenges is crucial for Western Union to maintain its standing and continue delivering value to its customers​​​​​​.

Who Are Western Union?

Western Union, born as a telegraph company in the 1850s, has expertly navigated through technological changes to emerge as a global financial services titan. The company’s early dominance in telegraphy, marked by the introduction of services like the first stock ticker and wire money transfer, laid the groundwork for its enduring presence. 

Despite challenges from emerging communication technologies, Western Union’s strategic pivot to financial services in the latter half of the 20th century, with its adoption of digital advancements, catalysed its transformation into a leader in international money transfers.

The acquisition by First Data Corporation in the 1990s marked a significant turning point, rejuvenating Western Union and expanding its global footprint. The company’s foray into digital platforms, notably with the launch of in 2000, revolutionised how customers engaged with its services. 

Today, Western Union stands as a testament to adaptability and foresight, servicing over 200 countries and regions and continually evolving to meet the dynamic demands of the global financial landscape​​​​​​​​.

Alternatives to Western Union

ProviderExchange RatesFeesProcessing TimesCurrencies SupportedLimitsCustomer Support
Western UnionMid-market rates + 2-5% marginFlat: £10 +0.4% of the transfer amountTypically 1-2 business days130+Up to £500,000 per transfer24/7 live chat, email, and phone support
OFXMid-market + 0.5-2% margin£0Typically 1-2 business days50+No limit24/7 phone, email and live chat support
TorFXMid-market + 0.5-2% margin£0Typically 1-2 business days60No limitMon-Thur: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Fri 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sat: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Currencies DirectMid-market + 0.5-1% margin£0From 3 hours to 2 business days40£300,00024/7 phone, email, and live chat support
TransferGoMid-market rates + 0.2-2.2% marginFrom £0 to £2.99 per transferFrom 30 minutes to 3 days60No limitWeekdays from 7 to 6 via email, and phone support
WiseMid-market rates + small marginVaries (amount/currency)Typically 1-3 business days50+Up to £1,000,000 per transfer24/7 live chat, email, and phone support
MoneyGramMid-market rates + 3-4% marginFlat: £3 + 2% of the transfer amountTypically 1-3 business days100+Up to £9,999 per transfer24/7 live chat, email, and phone support
WorldRemitMid-market rates + 2-3% marginFlat: £0.30 + 3% of the transfer amountTypically 1-2 business days70+Up to £100,000 per transfer24/7 live chat, email, and phone support
PayPalMid-market ratesVaries (amount/currency)Varies200+Up to £10,000 per transfer24/7 live chat, email, and phone support
RevolutMid-market ratesFlat: £0 + 0.5% of the transfer amountTypically 1-3 business days30+Up to £10,000 per transfer24/7 live chat and email support
RemitlyMid-market rates + 1% marginFlat: £0 + 0.5% of the transfer amountTypically 1-2 business days150+Up to £100,000 per transfer24/7 live chat and email support
CurrencyFairMid-market ratesFlat: £0 + 0.5% of the transfer amountTypically 1-3 business days50+Up to £500,000 per transfer

Western Union FAQs

Do I Need to Register to Send Money Online with Western Union?

How Do I Find an Agent Location for Western Union?

What Documents Do I Need to Send Money from an Agent Location?

How Do I Check if My Money Transfer Has Been Paid or Is Available for Pickup?

Are There Requirements for Collecting Money from Western Union?

How Are Money Transfers Paid Out?

When Are Western Union’s Services Available?

How Much Does It Cost to Receive Money?

Who Can Register and Send Money Through Western Union’s Website?

How Do I Update My Western Union Profile?