Western Union Review

Western Union is one of the world’s most recognised money transfer brands, with agents in almost every country on earth. Western Union India services include incoming payments for cash collection in India, as well as digital transfer services for customers looking to send money out of India. 

This Western Union review walks through all there is to know about Western Union, including fees, whether it’s safe to use, how fast it is, how to get set up, and more.

Western Union: Key points

Key features:

  • One of the most established and extensive money transfer services in the world

  • Western Union lets you transfer funds to more than 50 countries.

  • Send money online and using the Western Union app and using your online banking service

  • Collect payments sent from abroad to India, in cash at an agent location

  • Payout deposited directly into your recipient’s bank account for convenience

  • Huge agent network, covering over 500,000 global locations

Key stats:

  • Founded in 1861 as a telegraph company

  • Facilitated its first payment in 1871, and switched entirely to money transfer services in 2006

  • 34 digital transfers a second are processed by Western Union

  • 150 million retail and digital customers around the world

Pros:

  • Probably the biggest global agent network

  • Pay online using a bank transfer, payout to a bank account

  • Cash payments sent to customers in India from abroad can be available in minutes

  • Services in India are offered through a partnership with Yes Bank Limited, under the approval of the Reserve Bank of India

Cons:

  • The total cost of transfers isn’t always clear because of fees included in the exchange rates

  • Overall costs of sending money may not be the most competitive out there

  • Not all services are available in all destination countries

Overall: 

Western Union is one of the best known money transfer brands on the planet.

Having developed from an offline provider into the current hybrid of online, offline and mobile payments, Western Union has a great range of services backed up by a huge agent network. 

Western Union may not be the cheapest option out there for electronic payments, but the range of services and the convenience make them worth comparing to your bank.

How much can I save with Western Union compared to a bank?

Using a specialist provider like Western Union can often be much cheaper than opting for a regular bank when you need to send a payment overseas. That’s because banks often use high transfer fees and unfavourable exchange rates. Extra charges paid to third parties may further push up costs. Compare the costs of sending money overseas with your bank against the overall price of making a transfer with Western Union and a couple of other specialists to see which works best for your specific transfer.

About Western Union

When it was founded in the US over 160 years ago, Western Union was a telegraph service, helping people get messages to loved ones. A decade later, Western Union made its first pivot into money transfers, moving money via telegrams.

Over the years the services available from Western Union developed to suit consumer needs, including communications and financial products. 

Fast forward to 2006, and Western Union sent their last telegrams, and became entirely dedicated to domestic and international money transfer services. In some regions you can now send money with Western Union in person, online or using an app. Payout options vary by country, but include bank transfers, cash for collection and transfers to mobile money accounts. Western Union allows online transfers to 50+ countries from India.

Cash collection

You can collect payments in cash from a range of Western Union agents in India. Use the Agent Locator tool to find Western Union locations convenient to you.

The sender can set up your payment online or in the app. Then you’ll simply need to take the reference number, and a photo ID document to an agent locally to get the cash. 

If the sender uses the Money in Minutes service your payment could be available almost instantly.

Great for: getting money quickly, and in cash in India

Bank transfers

Set up a payment online or in the Western Union app and have it deposited in your recipient’s bank account directly. Payments usually arrive in a day or two. This can be a convenient option as your recipient won’t need to visit an agent to get their money. It can also be the cheapest way to arrange an international payment.

Great for: sending convenient international transfers online and in-app.

How does Western Union work?

Western Union’s journey into payment services began some 150 years ago as an offline service offering money transfers via the telegraph network. Over the years the products and services on offer have developed and evolved - but one of the stand out factors of Western Union remains its offline options. 

In India you can collect payments sent from abroad at Western Union agents, in cash. Western Union also offers payments online and in their app, which can be delivered direct to bank accounts.

Is Western Union safe?

In India, Western Union payments are offered through a partnership with Yes Bank Limited, which holds the appropriate category of RBI licence to provide remittance services. Yes Bank Limited is registered in India and carries out required customer verification checks and TCS (collection of tax at source) on behalf of Western Union, and to comply with all relevant legislation.

Bear in mind you should only send payments to people you know and trust. Western Union warns about criminals who can try to use their services to commit consumer fraud. There’s lots of information on the Western Union website to help you learn more about staying safe when sending money.

Read our detailed review on Western Union Safety.

Western Union pricing

Western Union costs can include a transfer fee and an exchange rate markup. The cost for your transfer will depend on several factors:

  • Destination country 

  • The currency sent

  • Payment amount

You can start to set up your payment online or in the Western Union app, to see the costs including the fees, exchange rates and delivery times.

Western Union exchange rate

Western Union exchange rates include a markup on the mid-market rate, and can vary by brand, channel and location. 

How long does Western Union take?

If you’re sending to a bank account it will usually take 1 to 3 working days to arrive, depending on the currency, country, and receiving bank’s processes.

Western Union Pros

  • Global agent network

  • Collect funds as a cash payout via an agent 

  • Cash payments can be available in minutes

  • Operates through Yes Bank under RBI approval

Western Union Cons

  • Fees and rates vary and may not be the most competitive option

  • Limited services in some destination countries

  • Cash pay out service can be more expensive than direct bank transfer 

How to use Western Union

Western Union India services include incoming payments for cash collection in India, as well as digital transfer services for customers looking to send money out of India. Here’s how to make a Western Union payment from India:

  1. Log into your account

  2. Select destination country

  3. Select the sending method

  4. Add or select your receiver

  5. Select a payout method

  6. Read information about how to protect yourself from fraud

  7. Review your transfer data and accept our terms and conditions of the service

Funding methods

Pay from your Western Union transfer from your online banking service, within 72 hours of arranging it.

Payout methods

Western Union payments are sent to bank accounts directly.

How to create an account

If you want to send money online or in the Western Union app, you’ll need to create an account:

  1. Download the Western Union app or open the desktop site

  2. Click Sign up

  3. Enter your personal details, email, and a password

  4. Follow the onscreen prompts to add your information

  5. Complete the verification process in person, or online by uploading your Aadhaar Card number

What documents you'll need

To complete the one time verification process in person you’ll need to go to a Yes Bank branch, with your PAN card and a proof of address.

How long does verification take?

If your account can be verified electronically it won’t take long. If there are any problems you’ll get an email asking for more documents - or you’ll just get an email notification to say your account is active. 

If you choose to be verified in person at a Yes Bank branch it’ll take 1 - 2 working days.

Western Union limits 

Western Union allows customers to send up to the equivalent of 10,000 USD for education purposes, or 5,000 USD for other eligible reasons.

Supported currencies

Western Union lets you transfer funds from India to more than 50 countries.

Western Union reviews

Western Union scores an average of 3.3 stars on Trustpilot, from a total of over 20,000 listed reviews at the time of writing. That’s an Average score.

Of the reviews that have been posted, 60% did give Western Union the highest possible Trustpilot rating. There’s particular praise for the ease of using the Western Union app. Here’s what a few happy customers said:

“Very good app, I haven't had any problems sending money”

“It is really easy using Western Union. I really like using the app because it saves my information and the people that I'm sending money to.”

When it comes to the less good reviews, 16% of people gave the worst available rating, with issues focused on things like high fees and complex customer verification processes.

Western Union accessibility

Use Western Union online or in the mobile app on both Apple and Android phones. 

Western Union customer service

Customer support channelWestern Union availability
Phone support1 800 102 7111
Chat supportAvailable via the app or desktop site

Western Union alternatives

  • Wise - send online and mobile payments which use the real exchange rate and low transparent fees

  • PayPal or Xoom - send instant payments at home and abroad - convenient and quick, but not always the cheapest. With PayPal your recipient will also need to set up an account to get their money.

Conclusion

Western Union is a giant in the world of international payments, with transfers available online and on the go through mobile apps. Western Union India services include incoming payments for cash collection in India, as well as digital transfer services for customers looking to send money internationally from India. If you’re making an international transfer it’s worth comparing Western Union against your normal bank - to see if you can save money.

Read our detailed comparison article to see how Western Union compares to Wise:

Western Union vs Wise

FAQ

How much does Western Union cost?

Western Union fees depend on the country you’re sending to, the value of the payment and the specific transfer type.

How long does Western Union take to transfer funds?

Bank transfers may take a day or two to arrive.

Is Western Union safe?

Western Union operates in India under the approval of the RBI.

How does Western Union apply exchange rates?

Western Union makes money from currency exchange. That means that there’s a markup - a fee - added to the exchange rate offered to customers.

Does Western Union have a mobile app?

Get the Western Union app on Apple and Android phones.

How does Western Union work?

Western Union supports transfers via a desktop site and mobile app. Send payments to a recipient’s bank account directly.

How many currencies does it support?

Western Union supports 50 currencies from India.

General advice: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions. We compare currency exchange and money transfer services in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. We only display reputable companies which we have researched and approved.

By Seyma Mektepli
Updated 15 August 2022