Summary of how to use Western Union in 2022


Mar 20, 2014
The purpose of this post is to serve as a pinned set of instructions. If you have helpful tips to add, or corrections to errors or omissions I may have made, by all means post them here. But please post questions elsewhere, so this thread does not become cluttered.

The promo code to avoid fees is GECO. The code is used by looking at the right side of the page where the charges are summarized, and clicking on "I have a promo code" which appears in blue letters. For me, YMMV.

Most of us US expats here in Argentina (hereafter AR) use Western Union (hereafter WU) to send ourselves money from the USA. There are other services such as Xoom or Moneygram, but those will not be covered here.

WU sets its own exchange rate. This usually varies somewhere between the CCL rate and the Blue rate. There are many exchange rates here in AR, and explaining them all is not within the scope of this post. This WU rate can vary from hour to hour, or it can remain the same for days or even weeks, though the latter is uncommon. As with all things AR, there are no certainties, and Your Mileage May Vary. WU does not treat all customers the same. We don't know why or how they are divided, or into what categories; all this is opaque. Welcome to Argentina.

It has been suggested by some that there are potential advantages to creating your WU account while you are still in the USA. I have no opinion on this.
I do begin my transactions on the US site, at

You can pull your funds from one of three sources - Debit Card, Credit Card, or Bank Account. Each has a different fee. Bank account carries the lowest fee, but usually involves a delay of 4 business days. Transfers funded by Debit Card have higher fees, and Credit Card fees are higher still, but both are usually available without significant delay, once you are an established customer. Your first transaction, or your first transaction with a source of funds different than you have used before, may be subject to additional delay. Don't even bother asking us how long, that is utterly unknowable. Welcome to Argentina.

You can receive your transaction via deposit into an Argentine bank account, or you can pick up cash at a WU office. The former involves yet further delay, while cash pickups funded by Credit or Debit card are usually available within minutes.

There are many, many WU offices in BsAs, but the two big ones where you have the best chance of enough cash being available are -

1) In the downtown area, on the corner of Cordoba and Montevideo, five blocks west of 9 de Julio. Roughly two blocks east of the Callao stop on the D line of the Subte.

2) in the Belgrano area, on the corner of Cabildo and La Pampa. Between the Juramento and Jose Hernandez stops on the D line of the Subte.

You should urgently seek to avoid both these offices on the first 3 to 5 days of the calendar month, as they will be extremely busy, with potential wait times of 45 minutes to one hour plus. You should ask yourself, as the end of the month approaches, if you have enough cash to get you through to the 6th day of the next month, and plan accordingly

The AR peso is as stable as a fart in a whirlwind. Banking and money issues here can be awkward, difficult, and unreliable. It's a very good idea to keep a week's worth of pesos on hand as an emergency reserve. It is, however, a bad idea to tell anyone that you do so. It is an even better idea to keep a small reserve of dollars on hand as a last ditch emergency reserve. These dollars need to be in the form of 100 dollar bills, of the latest series, in perfect condition - no rips or tears, no marks or writing. And absolutely don't tell anyone you have dollars on hand.

While the WU system is usually fast and reliable, there have been occasions when the system had problems. Over Easter weekend of this year, and for the last few days prior to this weekend, many of us were unable to initiate transactions. We received an error message saying our banks had declined the transaction, even though there were in fact no problems at our banks whatsoever. Others were able to carry out transactions at this time with no problems whatsoever. Welcome to Argentina.
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May 25, 2014
This is an excellent summary, thank you. I'd like to add some specific notes for European users:
  1. Please note there's no EU-wide Western Union website. You'll need to create your account on the local Western Union website of your country of origin or where your bank account is (or not... more on this below). For example, for Spain, for France, for the Netherlands, etc.
  2. Fees vary greatly from country to country. For example sending €1,000 will set you back €6.90 to €8.90 per transaction if you're using a Spanish WU account, but only €1.90 to €3.90 per transaction if you're using a Dutch WU account.
  3. Payment methods also vary - for some countries like Ireland, France and the Netherlands you can pay via bank transfer or local payment methods (e.g. iDEAL in the Netherlands, which makes it faster and cheaper), whereas in others you can use a bank transfer only for a certain minimum amount and your only option might be debit/credit card.
  4. You can create an account in any country as long as you can provide an address in that country, but you don't have to be a resident there. By "provide" I mean just type in an address. They won't ask for address verification (just address confirmation, i.e. typing it and hitting a "Confirm" button), just ID verification when you hit your first €1K in transfers. The ID can be from any country, even non-EU.
  5. If you are paying via manual bank transfer, and you are using a Wise account: as of last year, Wise no longer allows bank transfers to Western Union's bank account. You'll need to use a "normal" old-school EU-based bank to use this payment method. Wise debit cards still work, though.