Western Union fees (2024 guide) (2024)

If you’re planning on sending money overseas with Western Union®¹, understanding the different options and costs involved in making a Western Union transfer is important.

This guide covers all you need to know - plus, to help you compare your options, we’ll touch on the Wise Account as an alternative with the mid-market rate, and low fees when you send money to bank accounts internationally*.

What services does Western Union offer in the US?

With Western Union, you can make a transfer to a bank account, or have the recipient collect the cash from a Western Union location somewhere convenient for them. It’s possible to fund transfers using cash, bank transfer, credit or debit card.

Western Union has 57,000+ locations in the US if you want to set up your payment using cash, or if you’re sending locally and want the recipient to get their money in cash.

Western Union international payments can be sent to more or less any country in the world, although the delivery options do vary by country.

How much does it cost to send money with Western Union?

Western Union transfer fees vary and can include a couple of different costs²:

If you need to make a transfer directly to another bank account, which requires a currency conversion, you might be better off choosing a specialist in international money transfers like Wise.

We’ll look at that in more detail later. Up next: how the Western Union exchange rate can change the amount you pay overall.

Understanding Western Union exchange rates

We’ve already noted that Western Union makes money from currency exchange. That means there’s a markup - a fee - added to the exchange rate used for currency conversion.

To really understand what this means you need to know a bit about the mid-market rate. That’s the exchange rate that banks and financial institutions use when trading currency on the open market. You can check the mid-market rate using an online currency converter, or by using a simple Google® search for the currency pairing you need.

Because the markup used is a percentage it can quickly work out to be the highest of all the charges applied to your international transfer. It’s also pretty hard to spot, which can mean you’re paying more than you need to, without even realizing it.

Not all services use a markup. Some, such as Wise, use the mid-market rate and apply only a small transparent fee* to each transaction.

We’ll look at a worked example in just a moment - but in general, using a provider who sticks as close as possible to the real exchange rate can make a significant difference to your overall costs.

Western Union limits

There are some limits to how much money you can send with Western Union.

The exact amounts vary depending on your own transaction history, whether you’re sending money domestically, or overseas, and the exact payment route. Some states also have their own limits which might vary from elsewhere in the US.

For international transfers, you might have to provide information about the transfer purpose, and fund source, to ensure compliance with anti-terrorism and money laundering regulations.

Transfers to and from some countries are prohibited under US law.

Generally, you’ll find the following limits apply with Western Union³:
  • Unverified accounts can send up to 3,000 USD

  • Verified accounts can send up to 50,000 USD

You can verify your account in person or online, by providing personal information and your ID and address documents.

Western Union fees and charges

As we’ve already seen, the fees charged by Western Union vary according to where you’re sending money, the value of the transfer, and also the payment method.

We’ll look at a comparison of Wise vs Western Union in just a moment so you can see how the costs stack up against a different service.

Here’s a quick reminder of the charges you need to know about:

Type of feeAmount
International transfer feesDepends on how you fund the transfer and how your recipient gets the money
Exchange rate markupVaries depending on the currency and the transfer route

Not all payment options are available in all countries and currencies, so you’ll need to check the specific details for your transfer.

Wise vs Western Union: A comparison

Let’s look at a quick comparison to show how fees can work With Western Union. We’ll compare sending money online with Wise against sending the same payment with Western Union.

Here’s a comparison of what the costs will be to send 1000 USD to EUR, using both Wise and Western Union. In both cases, this assumes the transfer is funded by a bank account, paid with an ACH.

FeeWestern UnionWise
Sending fee0.99 USD6.42 USD
Exchange rateMarkup on the mid-market rateMid-market rate
Money received924.54 EUR935.95 EUR

Note: data correct at time of writing - 04.16.2024

As you can see, on the face of it, Western Union looks cheaper than Wise because the transfer fee is lower.

However, because Western Union uses an exchange rate markup, while Wise uses the mid-market rate with no fee added, your recipient gets more in the end with Wise.

This illustrates neatly why you need to look at both the fees and the exchange rates being used whenever you plan an international payment. Basing your decision on the upfront fee alone can mean you lose out.

Exchange money in just a few clicks with Wise

Wise can help you get a better deal on currency conversion in over 40 currencies, with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees*.

Open a personal Wise account for free online or in the Wise app, and order a linked debit card for spending and withdrawals in 150+ countries.

There’s no fee* to spend any currency you hold, and no foreign transaction fee to worry about.

Use your account when you travel or shop online in foreign currencies, send payments to 70+ currencies, and get your own local account details to get paid from 160+ countries.

Say goodbye to overcomplicated currency exchange.

Say hello to Wise

Sources:

  1. Western Union US
  2. WU Send Money
  3. Western Union FAQ - how much can I send

Sources checked on 05.09.2024

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Western Union fees (2024 guide) (2024)
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