Western Union – Pros and Cons for sending money abroad

Western Union LogoSeveral years ago, I was using the services of Western Union to send money overseas, seeing as it is a reputable company that has been in the market since 1851 as a leading money transfer service. For the most part, I had no problems with their services, and I settled into accepting what Western Union has to offer. However, I later came across TransferWise and realized that it was possible to get better service. The rates were noticeable better, and the transfers are fast, taking a day, half a day, or sometimes, just a few hours.

How to Send Money With Western Union

How to send money with Western UnionThere are various options available for Western Union transfers including using a credit or debit card transfer, a bank transfer, online transfer, wire transfer, and making a deposit through cash. The main way that receivers get funds is by picking them up in person, though in some instances it is possible to have the transfer deposited into a bank account. I normally choose the wire transfer services where the receiver needs to collect the funds in person. To send the money, I used to visit an agent in person and provide them with all the details for transfer. Once they complete the transaction, I forward the tracking number to the receiver so that they can pick up in cash.
When I am pressed for time, I am also able to send money through Western Union by using by Bank’s website and choosing the funds transfer option. At the end of the transaction, I receive the MTCN number, which I send to the receiver so that they can pick up the money in cash.

My Favorite Western Union Attributes

There are several service attributes that make Western Union a good option for sending money. To begin with, whether I choose to send money as cash or when I opt for me prepaid card, in many cases it is almost instant. Otherwise, it typically takes between one and three days for the money to be available, especially if I send money to a location that is relatively remote. Once I initiate the transaction and send the money, I am sure that the person on the other end will receive it within ten minutes. It is also tried and tested, with years of experience in the market which enables me to trust this service as normally there will be no glitches in the transactions.

In addition, it is getting even more convenient, particularly with the introduction of Western Union Speedpay (once called Western Union Quick Collect) which helps making payments for all sorts of bills using in Western Union. For example you can pay for EPB bill, which makes it possible to settle electricity, water, and cable-telecom bills all at the same time. And this service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week. I find it highly convenient.

I also appreciate the convenience of being able to send money online using Western Union as this makes it possible for me to carry out any business necessary at any hour of day or night. I have also heard of the reloadable Western Union Prepaid Card which is available in Germany and Austria, and I was looking forward to being able to use it one day. There are two versions of the card that are available, the MoneyWise Prepaid Card and the Gold Card Visa. They both operate like normal visa cards and can be used to manage money online, as well as over the phone. If I send money to a person who is using one of these cards, or receive some money through Western Union, then the money can automatically and directly be loaded onto the cards, saving them the hassle of picking up cash.

Old School Audio Systems

Over time, my levels of satisfaction with Western Union services have come down for various reasons, and I have taken steps to explore the different options that exist for my family members to receive money.  Following conversations with friends who regularly send money overseas, I discovered TransferWise. In fact, I can safely say that at least 75% of those I spoke with are using TransferWise services as the only way to send money. It looks like sending money abroad with WU is already old school. I have been using TransferWise for close to three years now, and I do not see myself switching back to any other platform in the future. I am very happy with the decision that I made to switch to TransferWise money transfer services.

My Favorite TransferWise Attributes

Old Way New WayWhat I love about TransferWise is the control that I have by being able to transfer on an online platform. Then the charges are very low and the service is highly reliable. Compared with all the other money transfer services that are currently available, I find TransferWise to be transparent and highly competitive. They operate with real market exchange rates and have 0.5% fee for most of destinations. Even though it has only been in the market since 2011, I can understand why so many people I know have chosen to use this platform for money transfers especially when sending money overseas. It is often possible to receive the money on the same day, which adds to the overall convenience of this transfer service, for both the sender and the receiver. They also have the best customer service I have experienced with these kinds of services. When I called in to ask for help, I had someone take me through what I needed to do step by step.

The Fees Perspective

One of the service attributes that really place TransferWise above Western Union was the rates that are charged when sending money. Here is a simple comparison that illustrates how much I am able to save with a $1000 TransferWise transaction from New York to various parts of the world. For both Western Union and Transferwise I carried out the similar transfer from bank account/debit card to another bank account.

Note, I picked the cheapest possible options for Western Union transfers. All rates are taken on 19.12.2015 and data in the tables should be used only to compare fees.

Western Union fees for transfers from USA

All results are shown for sending $1000 from USA to different location and currencies.

DestinationFeeExchange rateReceiver getsReceive in
Australia5.00$1.34381,337.13 AUD6 days
Canada19.99$1.32051,294.20 CAD4 days
India0.00$65.925265,925.27 INRwithin 1 day
Philippines0.00$45.690345,690.34 PHP6 days

TransferWise fees for transfers from USA

All results are shown for sending $1000 from USA to different location and currencies.

DestinationFeeExchange rateReciever getsReceive in
Australia9.90$1.39431,380.50 AUD1-3 days
Canada9.90$1.39571,381.88 CAD1-2 days
India8.92$66.255165,664.10 INR1-2 days
Philippines9.90$47.275046,806.98 PHP1-2 days

Payment processing time is faster for TransferWise in all cases. Also, if you look carefully you will notice that Western Union exchange rates differ from what TransferWise offers. This is because WU adds extra interest on to off mid market rates when TransferWise doesn’t.

How much will use save using TransferWise instead

Same $1000 sent from USA to different countries.

DestinationWestern UnionTransferWiseSavings
Australia1,337.13 AUD1,380.50 AUD43.37 AUD
Canada1,294.20 CAD1,381.88 CAD87.68 CAD
India65,925.27 INR65,664.10 INR-261.17 INR
Philippines45,690.34 PHP46,806.98 PHP1116.64 PHP

As you can see TransferWise offers better fees for all locations except India. If you check the identical transaction with £1000 sent from United Kingdom you will notice that results are equally astounding.

And what about sending money from UK?

Results for sending £1000 from UK to different countries.

DestinationWestern UnionTransferWiseSavings
New York (USA)1,456.22 USD1,482.33 USD26.11 USD
Australia2,051.67 AUD2,062.76 AUD11.09 AUD
Canada2,042.90 CAD2,068.90 CAD26 CAD
India98,199.92 INR98,016.52 INR-183.4 INR
Philippines69,611.71 PHP69,730.70 PHP118.99 PHP
Europe1,363,72 EUR1,364.17 EUR0.45 EUR

Same thing observed from UK, you will benefit from using Western Union only when sending money to India. In all other cases TransferWise beats Western Union in terms of rates and payment processing time. As was mentioned before all results are based on currency rates observed on 19.12.2015.

> Still thinking? Get quote online and make the first transfer for free! <

You can always get instant quote for a payment with TransferWise and then compare it with what Western Union offers.

Conclusion

Western Union always used to be an impressive service, but the strides that are being taken by TransferWise impress me even more. You should consider trying this new service for the foreseeable future if you send money abroad regularly. Three years ago I made the decision to switch and I will continue using TransferWise on a permanent basis. In fact, I highly recommend that if you have been using Western Union, you make the switch right now to TransferWise, and enjoy better value services of higher overall quality. Delivering value, excellent service and saving money are advantages that you cannot overlook or take too lightly.