Western Union France international transfer: An overview


If you need to pay someone in France, or you’re planning a trip there and want to send money back home, you can do it all through Western Union.

With over 500,000 branches worldwide¹, Western Union is a good option for travelers and tourists, as well as businesses and freelancers. You can also use it to send money to friends and family in other countries.

But Western Union isn’t the only option for international transfers to and from France – and it isn’t always the cheapest.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the fees, exchange rates and restrictions for using Western Union in France, along with alternative services which could save you a few euros.

One of these is Wise. Send money online with Wise and you’ll get low fees and the real exchange rate on every transaction.

See if you can save with Wise

But first, let’s see how much Western Union will cost you for sending money to and from France.

Western Union France fees

There are two key costs to compare when sending money internationally. The first is the upfront transfer fee, charged by the payment provider. The second is often overlooked – the exchange rate. We’ll look at this in more detail later.

Firstly, let’s see how much Western Union charges in transfer fees for sending money to and from France.

It’s important to note that fees with Western Union can vary depending on where you’re sending to and from and how much you send.

Other key factors include the payment method (i.e. credit card or bank transfer) and the receiving method (i.e. bank deposit, cash pickup).

To give you an idea of the costs of using Western Union, let’s put a couple of hypothetical examples under the microscope.

Sending to France

Imagine you’re at home in the US and want to send $1,000 to your friend traveling in France. For this example, you’re using a straightforward bank-to-bank transfer.

Here’s what Western Union will charge, including the exchange rate, compared to another provider such as Wise:

Provider Fee to send $1,000 USD from US to France Exchange rate Total received
Western Union² $0.00 USD Mid-market rate + mark=up1 USD = 0.8420 EUR €842.00 EUR
Wise³ $9.02 USD Mid-market rate 1 USD = 0.848650 EUR €841.00 EUR

Sending from France

For our second example, let’s imagine you’re the one who’s visiting France on holiday. A family member back in the US needs you to send them around 1,000 euros.

Using Western Union, here’s how much it would cost – again, compared to another provider like Wise:

Provider Fee to send €1,000 EUR from France to US Exchange rate Total received
Western Union² €1.00 EUR Mid-market rate + mark-up 1 EUR = 1.1634 USD $1,163.38 USD
Wise³ €9.20 EUR Mid-market rate1 EUR = 1.17810 USD $1,167.26 USD

Just a quick note here on exchange rates. They can change from minute-to-minute, so it’s likely that the rates given here will be different from the ones you get for your transfer.

Exchange rates

There’s one obvious thing to note about the examples given above.

This is that **the exchange rate matters just as much as the transfer fee. **

Some providers such as Western Union have very low fees, or no fees at all. But they also add their own mark-up to the exchange rate. This is added on top of what is known as the mid-market exchange rate, the one you’ll find on currency sites like XE.com or when you do a Google search.

This mark-up can make your transfer more expensive. In some cases, such as the example above where you’re sending money from France to the US, it makes Western Union the most expensive provider.

But as you can see, not all international transfer services apply this mark-up. Some such as Wise always use the mid-market rate. Send money to France and there is a small upfront transfer fee to pay, but the payment could still work out cheaper than other providers thanks to this fair exchange rate.

What transfer and payment methods are available?

When you send money to or from France with Western Union, you can choose how the recipient will receive the payment.

The two options are a direct bank account deposit or cash pick-up. This is where your recipient collects the money in cash from their local Western Union agent.

Payment methods

The other option you’ll be given when sending money with Western Union is how you want to fund your payment. There are a number of different payment methods available depending on the country you’ll be sending from.

If you’re sending to France from the US, you can fund your payment via²:

  • Credit or debit card
  • Bank account
  • Cash in-store.

If you’re sending from within France, you can choose from the following payment methods⁴:

  • Credit or debit card
  • Bank account
  • Cash in-store (only available with cash pick-up).

How long does my transfer take?

Western Union transfer times depend on the countries you’re sending to and from, plus the payment and receiving methods.

The fastest way to send money seems to be when you choose cash pick-up as the receiving method. For example, it can take a matter of minutes for a debit-credit card payment sent to France for a cash pick-up⁴. But the same transfer carried out bank-to-bank (funded by your bank account and deposited straight into the recipient’s) can take between 0-5 business days⁴.

Available currencies

Western Union is truly global. It handles nearly 130 currencies, and lets you send money to over 200 countries and territories worldwide⁵.

Western Union France limits

There are limits to how much money you can send to and from France using Western Union. Again, it all depends on the origin and destination countries for the transfer.

Sending money from France? You can send up to €1,000 at once with Western Union without needing to verify your identity. Once you complete this extra step though, you’ll be able to send €5,000 in one transaction⁶.

If you want to send money to France, say from the US, the maximum you can send will be $50,000 USD².

Frequently asked questions

What kind of customer support does Western Union offer?

If you have a question about using Western Union or need help with a transfer, customer support is available via phone or email. If you’re in the US, you can also contact a Western Union representative via live chat⁷.

If you’re in France and need customer support from Western Union, you can call or send an email to Customer Care. There’s also an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) service should you need it⁸.

How many locations does Western Union have in France?

There are more than 10,000 Western Union agents in France⁹, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a convenient location that meets your needs.

How can I track my transfer?

Once you’ve set up a payment with Western Union, you can track it using the Western Union website. All you’ll need is your Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN)¹⁰. This is provided once your transfer is confirmed. The MTCN is also useful for the recipient, as they can track when their money is ready for collection.

You can also track transfers through the Western Union app for Android and iOS.

And that’s pretty much all there is to sending money to and from France with Western Union. You now have the lowdown on fees, exchange rates, maximum sending limits, transfer times and payment methods.

But remember to always check and compare before hitting ‘send’ on any international transfer. Always look at the full cost of the transfer, including any mark-up on the ‘real’ exchange rate as well as the fee. It could be that there’s a cheaper provider like Wise out there for your particular transfer.

Sources used:

  1. Finder - How much will a Western Union transfer cost you
  2. Western Union - Send money online
  3. Wise - Send money online
  4. Western Union France - Send money online
  5. https://corporate.westernunion.com/index.html
  6. https://www.westernunion.com/fr/en/faq-send-money.html#Q7
  7. https://wucare.westernunion.com/s/customer-care-home?language=en_US
  8. https://www.westernunion.com/fr/en/contact-us.html
  9. https://www.westernunion.com/fr/en/send-money-to-france.html
  10. https://www.westernunion.com/fr/en/faq-send-money.html#Q7

Sources checked on 4 August 2020.

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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