Western Union Money Transfer: fees, exchange rate, and how it works in the UK [2022]

Gert Svaiko

This article is directed only to UK customers.

Want to know more about Western Union money transfer services? If you think of international payment options, Western Union is likely to be one of the first names that comes to mind.

But how much does it actually cost to make an international transfer with Western Union from the UK? And how does Western Union compare to other providers?

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Western Union fees for UK users, along with other costs. This includes exchange rates, which can make a big difference to the overall cost of your payment.

But remember that Western Union isn’t the only option for making international transfers. Another option for sending money worldwide is Wise. It’s fast, secure, transparent, and your British pounds are exchanged at a fair exchange rate – the mid-market rate.

Learn more about the Wise International money transfer

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

How to use Western Union to transfer money in the UK

There are a few different ways to send money with Western Union (WU).

Once you’ve signed up for an account, you can set up your first payment online, using the Western Union app or at an agent location. There are around 4,300 WU locations in the UK.¹

To set up a payment, you’ll need to choose how you want to fund the transfer, and how your recipient will receive it. For example, you can pay for your transfer with your bank account, but choose for your recipient to collect it in cash at a WU agent location.

You can use Western Union to make an overseas payment, but you can also use it to send money within the UK.

Can you transfer money online with Western Union?

One of the easiest ways to set up a payment with Western Union is online. You’ll need to register, then simply enter your transfer and recipient details.²

You can check fees before confirming the payment, and even track it online once it’s made.

All online payments at Western Union are encrypted for extra security.²

Are there any 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 you’ll be asked for some additional verification information.²

Once your account is verified, your online limit will be increased to £4,000 GBP within a 3-day period.² This is for payments where cash pickup is the chosen collection method.

If you want to send a bank-to-bank transfer, the upper limit will be £50,000 GBP per transfer.² However, this will depend on where you’re sending your money.

Common problems with Western Union money transfer

With Western Union being used by many people, some run into issues. Here are a couple of the most common problems with Western Union:

  • Declined or cancelled transactions. This can happen for a number of reasons, including failed ID verification checks or the transaction being declined by your bank.³

  • Lack of transparency on exchange rates. Some people find that Western Union isn’t always super upfront about exchange rates. Either the information isn’t readily available, or there’s inconsistency between rate mark-ups for different currency pairings.⁴

Western Union fees for international payments in the UK

Western Union doesn’t charge upfront transfer fees for many payments. However, it very much depends on the sending and receiving destinations, and the payment and delivery methods you choose.

For example, there’s no fee to send £1000 GBP to France (EUR) online.⁵ This includes payment by credit/debit card, Klarna or online bank transfer. The recipient can pick up in cash or receive the money in their bank account.

However, if you send the same sum to India (INR) and choose mobile wallet as the collection method, you’ll pay a fee of £2.90 GBP.⁵

The fees also tend to be higher when you pay for your transfer in cash at a Western Union agent location. For example, if you send a cash-to-cash payment of £1,000 to China this way, you’ll pay a fee of £24.90.⁵

What’s the exchange rate with Western Union?

When making an international transfer, the upfront fee isn’t the only thing to check. It’s also crucial to look at the exchange rate, as this may be hiding an extra cost. It could make your transfer much more expensive overall.

Western Union doesn’t use the real exchange rate, the one you’d find on Google. WU adds a margin to the rate⁶, in order to take a hidden fee that you’d never notice without comparing their rate against the real rate.

Western Union states in its Terms and Conditions that the exchange rate it offers may be less favourable than some publicly advertised exchange rates, and that they will keep the difference.⁶

Alternatives to Western Union

Of course, Western Union isn’t the only money transfer provider out there. To help you compare and get the best possible deal, let’s do a quick cost comparison.

If you want to send £500 to a family member in Germany (EUR), here’s how much it’ll cost at Western Union, Wise, PayPal and Remitly:⁷

Sending £500 to Germany in EUR

After reading this guide, you should have a better idea of how much it costs to make a Western Union money transfer.

Just remember that it’s important to compare exchange rates as well as fees, to work out the total actual cost of the transfer. There could be hidden fees behind a seemingly great deal – as some providers may add a mark-up to the exchange rate. This could mean paying more than you have to.

Sources used:

  1. Western Union - Send Money
  2. Western Union - Transfer money online
  3. Western Union Help FAQs
  4. MoneyTransfers.com - Western Union review
  5. Western Union - Send Money Online - Start
  6. Western Union Terms and Conditions

Sources last checked on date: 23-Aug-2022

*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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