Western Union, being such an old and large company, has a somewhat complex fee structure.
Many fees vary depending on where you are, where the money is going, and how much money is moving. We’ll try to clear up some of that murkiness here, so you don’t have to!
Below is a breakdown of every Western Union fee.
Typical Western Union Fees
- Foreign Exchange Transfer Fees
Perhaps the most complex of the fees Western Union charges is their foreign exchange fees.
Foreign exchange, even in a perfect world with no fees, can incur costs. This is because of the way currencies change in relation to one another.
If you buy 10 British pounds for $20 today, there is a chance you’ll only get $18 for those pounds tomorrow.
This is a natural occurrence in the forex market and should be factored in by every international business.
One fee that brokers often charge is called a bid-ask spread. The bid price is the amount a broker will buy a currency for; the ask is how much they will sell it to you for. The discrepancy in these prices is what you pay in fees as the bid-ask spread.
Western Union uses something called the mid-market rate.
This mid-market rate is calculated by finding the average of all bid-ask spreads (i.e. the middle value between each bid price and ask price from all available brokers.) and then using the median of all of those averages as the going rate.
The mid-market rate itself is a fair price - one that doesn’t earn Western Union any profit. To make a profit, ⚡Caution:Western Union will charge up to 6% on top of your transaction
This places them in the realm of “good, but not the best” when it comes to forex exchange rates.
- International Money Transfers
Fees for an international transfer are quite varied with Western Union.
They vary based on how quickly the money needs to be received, where your recipient’s located, and how much money is being transferred.
Here are a few fees, as a reference, for transferring $1,000 USD from the United States to Hong Kong within various time constraints, using different methods
|Online||Instantly with debit/credit card: $25.00||0 - 4 days with wire transfer: $25.00|
|In-Store||3 business days: $7.00||N/A|
|WU App||Instantly with debit card: $2.99||In 3 days with credit card: $29.99|
As evident in the above table, your cheapest option for a Western Union transfer will depend on your proximity to a WU location, the speed at which you need the transfer done, and what payment methods you have available.
Bear in mind that not every transfer process is available in every country - you may not have the application available for download in your region; you may not have a WU location within driving distance.
Check your local Western Union website, and use their price estimator to find a better estimate on your fees.
Another thing to keep in mind: If you are using Western Union for international payroll or business payments, do some research into your local laws to ensure you are in compliance with money laundering regulations.
Many countries have strict rules as to how much money one can send between borders, and what information must be disclosed within each transaction. The last thing you want is a knock at the door by an agent with a badge.
Western Union is a great service, used by thousands every day. It is, however, outdated in certain ways.
For example, Statrys offer some of the most competitive rates on forex services in the game, along with hedging instruments for your international business needs.
How much money can I send through Western Union?
Western Union has unlimited transaction limits if you use a retail agent, with appropriate identification. Online transactions are limited to USD$2,500.00.
Can I send money through Western Union without an ID?