Using Western Union on the road!

Western Union

If you travel much, you probably will need to use Western Union at some point. It can be pretty easy to use but there is a few things that you should know before using it. I have used Western Union in American Samoa, Samoa, Fiji, Thailand and the Philippines to name a few places.

In some places, just sending yourself money using Western Union is really your only option. ATM machines do not exist in El Nido, Palawan for example. In some cases, it is not even safe to use your debit card because of criminals. It is just best to go pick up money at the payout agent.

For me, it is a no brainer because Western Union actually owns the bank that I with so I can send it right in my online banking and get more points for a lower rate (at some point in the distant future)

What is the cost of Western Union?

Let’s look at the cost of sending to some of these places. Let’s just look at 10 places that I have visited in the past. We will be sending $300 and using the “in minutes”service that they offer.


What I take from this is that you will get raped on the exchange rate no matter where you are but in most places, you are raped by the fees too.

It is no surprise that being in Southeast Asia is going to give you a better rate than being in Samoa. They amount of transfers going into a country will be much higher in Vietnam than it would be in Tuvalu. Therefore, it would only make sense that they have to be competitive.

I am not sure that it matters how you send money. While the rate might be better at ATM machines, all the different fees from bank make it competitive with Western Union in my experience.

How to send money from the United States?

You would just go to their website and click send money. It is a pretty straight forward process but I want to walk you through it so you can easily get money to pay for dinner.

You will need to know where you are (country), how much you want to send, what currency to send it into, how you want to receive it, and how fast you want to get it.

Next you need to tell Western Union who to pay. All you should need to do here is fill in your name and if you have a local phone, put it there so it will text you the MTCN (reference number).

One thing to note here is that your name has to be exactly as your passport reads. This includes your middle name. This is uncommon for Americans to use our middle name but Western Union expects it.

Now, you need to confirm your transaction. This is an important page that you need to re-check things. This is the final checkpoint.

Another thing to make sure your WU account number is right. Every time you get send money, you get points. Once you get enough, you can get cheaper transaction fees.

Now, you just need the MTCN (reference number) to take to the agent. You should get this emailed to you. You should have everything you need. Just find the closest Western Union and go get your lunch money.

Make you take your passport with you as Western Union normally expects people to use it as a primary identification.


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