Western Union vs. Bank Transfer

Western Union Vs. Bank Transfer
Image Credit: peshkov/iStock/GettyImages

You can send money to a person or entity through Western Union or your bank. There are variations in the process for each type of transfer, but both result in getting the money to the destination. The method that is best for you will depend on your needs.


Sending Money by Bank Transfer

A bank transfer is a method of sending funds electronically from one bank account to another. The account could be in the same bank or in a different bank, within the state, country or even internationally. You can complete the process online, on the phone or in person, depending on the available services at your bank. You must have the recipient's name, account number and bank name. For international bank wires, you will also need an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) to identify the account and a SWIFT code (Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to identify the bank.


Video of the Day

Sending Money with Western Union

You can send money to anyone with Western Union, whether or not they have a bank account. Western Union accepts payment from bank accounts, credit cards or cash. You can send the money to the recipient's account or have the recipient pick it up at any Western Union branch at their location. You will have to provide the name of the person or business. You might also need the recipient's phone number and address, depending on the location.


Bank Wire Fees

Banks charge a fee for wire transfers. According to the MyBankTracker website, fees for outgoing wire transfers range from about $25 to $30 for domestic and $45 to $65 for international transfers at the top 10 U.S. banks. Fees for incoming transfers range from $15 to $20 for domestic transfers and $15 to $30 for international. Intermediate banks will deduct their fees during the process of transferring the money to the recipient, and the recipient's bank will also deduct a fee when it arrives. The amount of money the recipient finally receives will be less than what you sent. The process can be completed on the same day.


Western Union Fees

Western Union's transaction fees depend on the amount you are sending, how you are sending it and the destination. The company allows customers to send money online, by telephone or in person. You can provide the money from your bank account or credit card with any of these options and by cash in person. The fees are lower when you send the money online and if you use your bank account. For instance, as of publication it would cost $5 to send $400 within the U.S. if you pay with your bank account online or $35 if you use your credit card. The fees are higher for international transfers. You can choose how fast you want the money to arrive, from within minutes to as long as six days. Faster service options cost more.


Advantages and Disadvantages

There are limits to the amount of money you can send through Western Union, based on factors such as the recipient's country, the service you select, your customer history and where you conduct the transaction (you can send more money at an agent location than you can online). There are no limits with bank transfers. Western Union's fees increase when you send more money, while a bank's fees typically stay the same. The fees for international bank wires can be significant and you might not know what fees will be deducted along the way before the money arrives. Western Union charges one service fee that you pay when you make the transaction.