Western Union Money Transfer: International Fees

TransferWise content team
01.08.19
4 minute read

Sending money around the world can be expensive, and it can often lead you to shopping around to find a provider that is best for you. If you think of international payment options, Western Union is likely to be one of the first names that comes to mind. With a well-established global brand, they’re often people’s first stop for sending money abroad.

However, Western Union is only one provider that can help you send your money abroad - and taking the time to research your options can save you from unexpected fees and unfavourable exchange rates. One alternative to consider is TransferWise. TransferWise always use the real exchange rate, as you see on Google, and no hidden fees to make sure you save on international transfers. More on that later.

This article will introduce some of the costs and exchange rate that Western Union use to send your money internationally, to help you decide you which option works for you. We will also look at TransferWise as an alternative to help you in your research.

Western Union cost for international payments

The fees involved in a transfer with Western Union will vary depending on your specific transfer, but like a lot of other providers, Western Union doesn’t use the real exchange rate, the one you’d find on Google. They adjust the rate to make your transfer more beneficial to them, and take a hidden fee that you’d never notice without comparing their rate against the real rate.

Western Union state in their Terms and Conditions that the exchange rate they offer may be less favourable than some publicly advertised exchange rates, and that they will keep the difference. This likely means that you are not getting the exchange rate that you see on Google, and they are applying a mark-up to the rate.¹

No matter which provider you’re using, even if it’s your bank - you should always make time for a quick Google search to check the current exchange rate. You may be surprised to see the difference between what Google will tell you and what your provider is offering.

Save money on international payments with TransferWise

We’re working hard to make money borderless, so no-one has to worry about paying back their friend in America, or sending money to their family in Australia. No matter where your money is going, it should be able to get there quickly and easily.

You won’t pay more than you should as TransferWise always use the real mid-market rate and show you all transfer fees up-front, so there is no mark-up or hidden fees. Discover how much you could save with TransferWise - and make sure you are not losing out on international transfers.

They also offer a borderless account, that allows you to keep money in more than 40 different currencies that you can send out as you need, receive payments direct in EUR, GBP, USD, AUD and NZD for free, and you even get a free debit MasterCard to use with your account.

Now, back to what you came to read.

Alternative to Western Union

Let’s take a look at a very simple example. The following table shows what would happen if we wanted to send a bank deposit of the sum of £1,000 to Spain in EUR.²

Details TransferWise Western Union
Fees £3.95 £0.00
Mid-market rate 1.09842 1.09842
Exchange rate 1.09842 1.09560
Total amount received 1,094.08 EUR 1,095.60 EUR

The information above was valid and correct on 01/08/2019 at 08:22 BST. All data is based on the TransferWise comparison tool. For up to date rates and information, always check the official sites of each provider.

In this example, your recipient would receive a little more with Western Union, but this example only considers the cost of sending GBP from your account, to EUR in Spain. But bear in mind that this provider could charge differently depending on the country you’re sending to. Also, Western Union likely will add a mark-up to the exchange rate so you need to be careful of fees hidden within this mark-up.

TransferWise is committed to transparency, and they have created a comparison tool, to allow all customers to quickly and easily compare exchange rates from a range of providers and banks, including Western Union. This tool allows you to start your research and find the best option for you to save you money when you send money internationally.

Are there limits?

When sending money online with Western Union, there are some limits to consider. If you want to send more than 799.99 GBP in a 5-day period, then they will need to ask you for some additional verification information. Once you account is verified, your online limit will be increased, so you can send up-to 4,000 GBP within a 3-day period.

If you want to send the money via a bank transfer, then you will be able to send up to 50,000 GBP per transfer, but this will depend on where you are sending your money.³ If you need to send larger amounts abroad, then these limits may be an issue.

When sending money internationally you expect to pay a fee for the service, but you shouldn’t pay more than you should. Spending the time to research offers from a range of providers for your specific transfer will ensure that you find the option that is best for your needs.

When making a decision, remember that although some providers may quote zero fees or 0% commission - there is no such thing. There is likely hidden fees behind a seemingly great deal - as many providers add a mark-up to the exchange rate that they offer to you.

TransferWise offer the real exchange rate and are upfront about fees, as they don’t think you should pay more than you should. Send money abroad the cheap, fast way with TransferWise, and see if you can save.

Sources used:

1.Western Union: Terms & Conditions
2.TransferWise: Western Union vs TransferWise
3.Western Union: Limits when sending money online

Sources checked on 01-August 2019.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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