Western Union Canada: fees and exchange rates

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International transfer fees: three words that strike fear into the heart of anyone trying to move money across borders. Whether you’re transferring money to a family member back home, or simply buying something from abroad online, you might find that the payment costs more than you’d reckoned, thanks to the sneaky extra fees that so many payment services charge, be they banks or specialist services.

Western Union Canada is a popular option for international transfers that’s been going for many years. In this article you’ll find out the following:

  • How much does Western Union in Canada really cost? And are there limits?
  • Western Union Canada costs and fees - and information about each of them
  • Western Union Canada exchange rates

How much does Western Union Canada really cost? And are there limits?

You’ve probably heard of Western Union. They’re one of the best known money transmitters and have been doing it for a long time.

The exact fee you’ll be charged by Western Union depends on a few different details. It may vary depending on how you pay Western Union, as well as how the receiver wants to get it. But the exchange rate - which, as discussed below, is essentially a type of fee - might vary too, depending on how much you’re transferring.

You could eliminate one of these uncertainties by considering Wise, an alternative online money transfer provider that always charges the mid-market exchange rate, regardless of how and how much you pay. The mid-market rate is the one banks use when trading between themselves, and the same rate you find on online currency converters. So you can be sure you won’t get a better rate elsewhere. Anyhow - more on that later. For now, here are the key details about Western Union in Canada.

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Western Union Canada limits

How much can you send with Western Union from Canada? Again, the answer depends on how you do it. If you’re sending money online, their FAQs state that the maximum limit is CAD 999. But you might encounter a higher limit if you go to one of their agent locations. The maximum limit may change depending on how the transfer is made, too - if you’re sending the money to a bank account, the limit might be different than if your recipient is going to collect cash.¹


Western Union Canada cost and fee overview table

Rather than charging various separate fees, Western Union folds its fees together into a single “transfer fee.” However, as noted above, that fee depends on several different factors. Here’s a summary of those different factors.

Western Union international transfer Fee
Destination country Affects how much is charged
Receipt method - cash or bank account Fee is generally higher if your recipient collects in cash (unless you pay in cash)
Payment method - credit/debit card or cash Cash payment is generally cheaper, but it’s only available if your recipient will collect in cash

Wise vs Western Union: A comparison

Let’s take a sample payment with an amount sent of CAD 1,000, from Canada to the USA, made via debit card. Here’s what this would cost at the time of writing - for both Western Union and Wise.

Fee Western Union Wise
Sending fee CAD 25 CAD 5.66
Debit card fee n/a CAD 11.37
Exchange rate* CAD 1 = USD 0.7344 (subject to change) CAD 1 = USD 0.75880 (guaranteed)
Recipient fee Depends on recipient bank Depends on recipient bank
Total paid CAD 1,025 CAD 1,000
Total received USD 734.45 USD 745.88

*Exchange rates taken at 12:18 CET on 20 November 2018

As you’ll see, in this example, with Wise you pay less, and the recipient receives more. You can save even more money with Wise if you pay via direct debit or wire transfer - options Western Union doesn’t offer via its website.

Sending money to or from Canada? Wise could save you money on transfer costs

Banks and money transfer providers often give you an inflated exchange rate to make extra profits.

Wise is different. Its smart new technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world. Which means you can avoid paying excessive fees when you send your money abroad.

Check out how to make your first transfer with Wise. And give it a try.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out Wise’s multi-currency account. Where you can manage and send dozens of currencies all from the same account, with a multi-currency debit card coming soon.

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Western Union exchange rates: A fee not always disclosed

Read the small print at the bottom of Western Union’s website, and you’ll begin to understand why that sample transfer with Western Union costs as much as it did. This is what they write on their FAQ page:

Western Union also makes money from currency exchange.

So: yes, they charge a transfer fee. But they also have a second way of making money off your transfer. That’s by charging an inferior exchange rate - inferior for you, that is, and better for them.

There’s only one real exchange rate, which is the mid-market rate, an average of all the buy and sell rates currently in use. But money transfer providers rarely offer this rate to consumers. Instead, they mark up the mid-market rate and pocket the difference.

So don’t forget: it always pays to carefully compare the exchange rate you’re offered. It’s not just about the fixed transfer fees you’ll be charged by a currency exchanger - you have to consider the total cost, because the exchange rate can make a big difference to this. With a service like Wise you can be sure, that you’ll always get the honest mid-market rate and a clear small fee for your transfers. Instead of hiding the costs in the rate, you get a clear overview of how much you’ll actually be paying in fees and how much money is received on the other side. With an easy online sign-up, why not check out Wise already today.

Western Union certainly offers a thorough service for international money transfers, working in huge numbers of countries around the world. But whether it’s the right option for you may depend on the numbers - good luck figuring it all out!


1. https://www.westernunion.com/ca/en/send-money/app/start
All sources checked on 20. November 2018


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.

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