Western Union Malaysia: Fees and exchange rate revealed

Yumiko Kijima

Western Union is a global provider of international transfers, offering currency conversion and remittance payments to over 200 countries.

However, if you’re considering using Western Union money transfer, there are some fees and costs you’ll want to know about in advance.

Let’s look at an example: an online bank transfer sending MYR 5,000 (including transfer fees) from Malaysia to a peso bank account in the Philippines.

Provider Transfer fees Exchange rates Amount a recipient gets
western-union-logo-my Western Union¹ (via bank account) MYR 10 Exchange rate with a mark-up (MYR 1 = PHP 11.6002) PHP 57,885.16
transferwise-logo-my Wise² MYR 35.57 Real exchange rate (MYR 1 = PHP 11.7293) PHP 58,231.63 Send money

(May 4, 2020 at 12:07(GMT+2) )

This example illustrates the fact that it’s important to check both the fees and the exchange rate being used when selecting an international payment service.

Although Western Union has a low transfer fee, there is a markup added onto the exchange rate, which pushes up the overall cost of the transaction.

Wise, on the other hand, uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, and charges a transparent transfer fee. This makes it easier to see the true cost of the payment - and in the example above, a recipient actually gets more in the end.

It’s worth noting that the Western Union exchange rate and fees may vary depending on how you choose to send the money. Typically paying in cash at an agent location - and having the payment collected in cash in the destination country - may result in a worse exchange rate being applied.³

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Western Union Malaysia fees and exchange rates

When you send money with Western Union, you’ll pay 2 different types of fee. There’s an upfront transfer fee, which everyone knows about - but there’s also an extra charge wrapped up in the exchange rates which are used.

Adding a markup to the exchange rate like this is fairly common among international payment providers - but it can mean your recipient gets less than you expect them to.

Here’s what Western Union says about currency conversion:

‘Western Union also makes money from currency exchange. When choosing a money transmitter, carefully compare both transfer fees and exchange rates. Fees, foreign exchange rates and taxes may vary by brand, channel, and location based on a number of factors. Fees and rates subject to change without notice.’

You can see this markup in action if you look at the Western Union exchange rate compared to the mid-market rate that you can find on Google or using the Wise currency converter.

  • Western Union exchange rate: MYR 1 = PHP 11.6002¹

  • Mid-market rate: MYR 1 = PHP 11.7293⁵

This means that if you send MYR 10,000 using the mid-market rate, your recipient should get PHP 117,293. However, making the same transfer using Western Union’s exchange rate they’ll only get PHP 116,002.

If you prefer paying at an agent location rather than a bank transfer (in this case your recipient will receive in cash), you may get a different Western Union exchange rate ringgit to peso. At the time of research, this rate was MYR 1 = PHP 11.5769, meaning that the 10,000 MYR payment would result in the recipient getting only PHP 115,769.³

Exchange rates correct at the time of research - May 4, 2020 at 12:07(GMT+2)

A cheap and transparent alternative: Wise

It’s good to know that not all money transfer services add a markup to the exchange rate. For instance, Wise always uses the real exchange rate without any markup.

You can send money from Malaysia to 70+ countries with Wise, and you’ll only ever pay a low, transparent fee. You always get the mid-market exchange rate for currency conversion, meaning no hidden fees to worry about.

If you get a Wise multi-currency account, you can also receive money from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and any Eurozone country, just as if you had a local bank account in those countries. Hold dozens of different currencies in your account, send payments around the world, or convert back to MYR and withdraw to your regular bank account.

To send money with Wise,

  1. Create a free account
  2. Choose an amount to send
  3. Add recipient’s bank details
  4. Verify your identity
  5. Pay for your transfer by bank transfer or debit/credit card

And that is it! You can track your transfer in your account and your recipient will also be notified when a transfer reaches them.

Join over 7 million customers and experience a cheaper, faster way to send money abroad. From Malaysia, you can send money abroad up to 4x times cheaper compared with using regular banks.

How to use Western Union

Let’s take a look at the different ways you can use Western Union in Malaysia.⁶

Western Union Online

You can use Western Union online or via an app - here’s how.⁷

  • Create a profile online using your email address
  • Start your money transfer - the first time you do this, you must choose to pay in store at an agent location
  • Visit an agent location with government issued ID within 24 hours of starting your transfer, and make the payment
  • Log into your account and upload an image of the same ID you presented at the agent
  • Your account will be verified, allowing you to make online payments in future

If it’s more convenient, you can also start transfers online, and then pay in store at an agent location. This may allow you to pay for your transfer in cash, as opposed to using a card or bank transfer.

Western Union agents

You can also send money direct to a bank account, or for cash collection by visiting an agent:⁸

  • Find a convenient agent location near you
  • Complete the Send Money form, and show your government issued ID. If you’re sending money direct to a bank account, you’ll need all the account and bank details. If sending for cash collection you’ll need to give the full name of your recipient, as shown on their ID card
  • Pay for your transfer - depending on the agent, you may be able to use cash, a credit card or a debit card
  • Get your Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN). You can track the transfer with this code, and you’ll need to give it to your recipient if they plan on collecting the money in cash

Via banks (Maybank, Public Bank, CIMB)

You may also be able to use Western Union via online banking or at your local bank branch. The exact process to do this will depend on the bank you use.

Here’s an example of how to use Western Union with Maybank.⁹

  • Log into your online banking, and select *Pay and Transfer *
  • Select Transfer, and confirm you want to make an overseas transfer
  • Choose the country you’re sending to
  • Enter the amount to send, and the currency
  • Choose Western Union as the method of transfer, and follow the onscreen prompts to add all the details required
  • Request a Transfer Authorisation Code (TAC) and enter it to confirm the payment

If you’re sending money direct from your bank account to your recipient’s bank account, you may get a better deal using online services such as Wise to send money using the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees.

How to receive money from Western Union

If you expect to get money through Western Union into your bank account, you won’t need to take any further steps to receive your payment. It will be delivered into your account as soon as the transfer has been processed.

If you’re planning on receiving your payment in cash, you’ll need to do the following:¹º

  • Choose a convenient agent location
  • Make sure you know the name of the sender, the amount being sent, and the MTCN
  • Visit the agent with your own government issued ID
  • The agent will confirm all the details and pay you the cash

You won’t be charged a fee to receive money from Western Union, but you should be aware that the exchange rate markup means you may receive less than you expect because of the way Western Union converts currencies.

Make sure you check out the true costs of making an international payment, including the upfront fees, and any additional charge rolled up in the exchange rate used. Compare the exchange rates and fees on offer with Western Union against an alternative like Wise to make sure you get the best deal available.

Get the real exchange rate: Wise🚀


  1. Western Union simulation Setting: send to Philippines, send amount: MYR 4990 (with transfer fees, the total cost is MYR 5,000), receive: bank account, pay: bank account debit. (May 4, 2020 at 12:07(GMT+2) )
  2. Wise simulation Setting: send from MYR to PHP, send amount: MYR 5,000 (this includes transfer fees) (May 4, 2020 at 12:07(GMT+2) )
  3. Western Union simulation Setting: send to Philippines, send amount: MYR 4990 (with transfer fees, the total cost is MYR 5,000), receive: cash at agent location, pay: pay at agent location. (May 4, 2020 at 12:07(GMT+2) )
  4. Western Union simulation Legal disclaimers and important info 2.
  5. Wise | MYR to PHP Currency Converter (May 4, 2020 at 12:07(GMT+2) )
  6. Western Union Malaysia | International Money Transfers
  7. Western Union Malaysia | Create and confirm your send money profile
  8. Western Union Malaysia | Send money from Malaysia online and in cash
  9. Maybank Malaysia | Western Union - Funds Transfer
  10. Western Union Malaysia | Receive money online or in cash in Malaysia

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 Wise Payments 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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