How Western Union works?

Western Union is one of the oldest remittance companies, which processes both online and in-store transfers. The company has been on the market for almost 200 years. How do they move your money internationally so quickly between different countries? And why it’s cheaper than international bank wires…?

WU History - How did they get to money transfer industry?

The company ruled the 19th century as the leading telegraph company in the US. They have developed the standards and the whole infrastructure for country-wide convenient information exchange. As the telegraph industry got outdated because of the phones, WU decided to utilize their worldwide connections and focus on money transfers.

Facilities all over the world

As you may or may not know, banks or any other financial institutions don’t really need to physically move the cash from one place to another. Instead, they only transfer the “ownership” of the money. So, for most of the time it remains in the same vaults. It’d be inefficient if each day banks would have to call the security guards to transfer millions of dollars to a different bank, just to receive the same amount from them the next day, as people constantly send and receive money.

Western Union started as a telegraph company, therefore they have established kilometers of cables and thousands of stations to conveniently communicate with facilities across the US and later the rest of the world. That’s why it was possible to transition into remittance service so seamlessly. In fact, that’s why wire transfers are called “wire”. A sender deposited money at one telegraph office and the operator sent a message and “wired” the money to another office. They have used special codes and passwords to validate the transaction. Then, the operator at the different location released the same amount of money to the recipient. The money didn’t have to move between the offices. They just stored and released it and kept track so that the total sum in the vaults match.

Nowadays, there are advanced systems and highly encrypted computer networks to exchange this information. And thanks to the global scale of Western Union operations, they are able to offer this almost instant in store transfers even more conveniently. They have locations in most of the major cities all over the world. There are almost 500,000 facilities in 200 countries. They have partnered with different financial institutions or postal services to make them more accessible. In fact, in some countries it’s easier to handle your transactions through WU than local banks.

How to send money in store?

To send money, simply:

  • go to the nearest WU agent location (you can find the map of facilities on their website)
  • remember to bring the cash and valid ID
  • fill in your recipient information
  • pass a special code to your recipient
  • after few minutes he should be able to pick up the amount at his local facility with a valid ID and using your code

WU Online payments

As today’s remittance market is heavily online-oriented, WU expends their services also to online money transfers. You can visit their website or download convenient mobile app to send money to any place in the world with a few clicks of a button. It doesn’t mean that your recipient needs to receive it also online. You can easily order the money to be picked up at a particular facility or transfer it directly to someone’s bank account.

How to send money online?

To send money online with WU:

  • register an online account on their platform
  • choose the destination country (as the cost and available transfer methods depend on the location)
  • choose your payment method (you can link your debit or credit card or wire a domestic bank transfer)
  • fill in your recipient’s information
  • click send button

Some banks might have integrated WU transfer into their own online banking platforms. If that’s the case, you can easily login to your bank and navigate to transfers, where “Western Union International Transfer” should be available and supported. That way you don’t need to register and the money is automatically deducted from your bank account.

Western Union Fees

The transfer costs depend on your recipient’s location and the transfer method. Usually, using a credit card is the most expensive. You can use the fee calculator on our platform, which shows you the transfer costs in all of the available remittance companies. That way you can simply use the current cheapest option and save money.

Western Union Review

If you are interested in sending money through Western Union, read this full article review of WU international money transfer services. You will learn about the pros and cons of this transfer method, opening and setting up an account and handling your first transaction. Read other users and customers reviews to get to know the first-hand experience.

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