How To Receive a Western Union for the First Time

Western Union transfers millions in transactions every week across the globe. If you are using Western Union to receive money for the first time. The process might seem a little confusing at first.

In this article, we will discuss all aspects of receiving money through Western Union so that you can be prepared for your first visit to the store, and know what to expect.

Most of Western Union’s money transfers are paid out without any hiccups. There might be some scenarios where you might face some issues picking up the funds. All of which we are going to discuss here.

western union receiving money

How Does Western Union Work

Western Union is one of the world’s largest and oldest remittance companies. It was started back in 1851. It did not exactly start off as a remittance company, but has established itself as one of the major shareholders in the market.

Every Western Union transfers has two major entities i.e: the sender and the receiver. The sender is supposed to deposit funds to Western Union through their various platforms (Retail and Digital) for which they pay a small fee.

Once the fund deposit has been confirmed. The sender is provided an MTCN (Money Transfer Control Number) as a confirmation for the money transfer. 

The receiver can use this MTCN to track the transfer and get paid depending on the payment method that was selected by the sender (Retail, Bank, Mobile Wallet).

With over half a million locations all around the world. Funds are available within minutes to respective receivers.

Different Ways to Receive Money At Western Union

Western Union has different options for receivers to get their funds. How you get the money is decided by the sender at the time of making the transfer. These options are:

Retail Pickup

Western Union has over a half a million retail stores in the world. It has partnerships with many retail giants like Kroger, WallMart, RiteAid and more. 

You can receive money by going to any of these locations. Retail transfers are paid out in cash. If you are receiving funds in a different currency. Currency exchange charges will also apply. However, these charges will be charged from the sender when the funds. 

Bank Transfer

If you don’t prefer going to a Western Union location. You can claim your funds as a bank transfer. Western Union will deposit your money straight into your bank. However, the transfer may take longer than Retail transfers since the bank is involved in the transaction.

Mobile Wallet Transfer

Western Union mobile wallet is linked to the receiver’s phone number. Mobile wallets only work with careers that support Western Union. Here is a list of supported mobile wallet carriers in the US. 

how to receive western uinon

How Long Does a Transfer Take to be Available for Pick Up

Money in Minutes

Paid with: Cash, Debit/Credit Card

Western Union’s money in minute service makes the transfer available for pickup  in minutes anywhere in the world. The transfer fee for Money in Minutes is on the higher end. 

Next Day Service:

Paid with: Cash

Next Day service is only supported at the store and has to be paid in cash. In a next day transfer, funds are available for pickup after 24 hrs. The fee for this transfer is less than Money in Minutes.

Bank Transfers:

Paid with: Bank Account

If your money transfer is coming from or going to a bank account. The transfer can take up to 0-4 business days to be deposited depending on your bank. Bank transfers have the cheapest fee, but take more time to process.

Where to Pick Up a Western Union Transfer

It’s really hard to miss a Western Union location. When there are more than 500,000 retail locations across the globe. Western Union does own any of these stores, but these are merely franchises that work in collaboration with Western Union. 

In the US, Western Union has partnered with many retail giants including WallMart, Kroger, Dollar General and more. The best way to figure out a nearby Western Union is to use Western Union’s agent locator tool

Each Western Union store has its own limits of sending and receiving money. So if you are receiving a considerable amount of money. Let’s say more than $500, it’s always a good idea to call the store upfront and confirm if they’ll be able to pay the amount.

You can search for stores using your zip code or the name of the city. 

Can I Send to Money to Myself with Western Union

Yes, sending money to yourself is supported within the TOS of Western Union. To send a transfer to yourself you have to mention your name in the sender and receivers field, and have to show a valid government issued ID that matches the name.

In every Western Union transfer, the receiver has to be present at the store to pickup the funds. Someone else cannot pickup money on the receivers behalf.

What do you need at the Store

Depending on which store you choose to get the funds. The process of receiving funds can differ. Some Western Union stores will have agents to complete the transactions. Some stores might have Kiosk machines you would have to use to make a successful withdrawal. 

Common example of stores using a Kiosk is WallMart. 

Regardless of which store you choose. Here are the few things that you need to receive money at Western Union.

  1. The MTCN 
  2. Sender Phone Number
  3. Name of the Sender
  4. The state/country it came from
  5. Amount of the Transfer
  6. A valid government issued photo ID

Western Union ID Requirement to Receive Money

Western Union is really strict when it comes to identification. It’s the only way they make sure transfers are more secure and paid out to the right person. Out of the many reasons you might have a problem receiving the transfer. The ID issues come on top of the list. 

Here are the ID requirements from Western Union to Receive Money.

  1. The Name has to exactly match as the receiver
  2. Is has to be issued by a government
  3. Is has to be a photo ID
  4. It need to be within validity date

Test Questions for no ID pickup 

In the US you can receive money transfers for less than $300 without an ID. These transfers are protected using a test question by the sender. 

Such transfers can be picked up by the receiver only by giving an answer to the test question. 

To know more about Test Questions and the rules that apply to such transfers, read this article.

Age Limit to Receive a Western Union

Western Union requires an ID to pickup money transfers at the store. Keeping that in mind, you should be at least 18 to receive money from Western Union.

If however, you are receiving funds with a test question. You should be able to get the funds even if are below 18.

What is the Limit To Receive Money from Western Union

western id requirements to receive money

Receiving limits in Western Union can be categorized in to 3 major categories:

  • Store Payout Limits (Applies to store)
  • Amount limit on receiving 
  • Number of transaction limit

The common misconception people have about receiving limits at Western Union is that there is 1 unique limit that applies to all receivers on a monthly basis, which is not true. 

The amount you can receive can vary depending on the receiver. The factors that contribute to this limit is the location, receiving history, amount and sending state of the transfer. Since these factors can vary in case of every user. The limit will also vary. 

Another misconception about receiving limits is that they apply on a monthly basis. The limit does not reset itself at the start of a new month. It actually applies to the last 30 days of transfers you make. 

Receiving limits also apply to the number of transfers you make. Which is usually capped at 5-7 transfers in the last 30 days. In case, you have not exceeded the amount of transfer limit, but have exceeded the number of transfers limit you will still be blocked from receiving money until the limit resets. 

To read more about how receiving limits at Western Union works read this article.

How Long Does Money Stay in Western Union for Pickup

Western Union keeps the money available for pickup for 90 days after the sending days. If 90 days have been passed and you have still not picked up the funds.

The transfer would not be available to you anymore, and you would have to ask the sender to send a transfer after getting a refund on the current one.

Errors While Receiving a Money Transfer

Western Union delivers transfers worth millions each day. Most of these are picked up by their intended receivers with no issues at all.

However, no platform is perfect, and in some transactions you can get  errors while receiving your money. 

Here are some of the most common issues reported at customer support lines while receiving a money transfer, and what to do about them

Money Transfer being Paid by Another Terminal

Money transfer being paid by another terminal indicates that your transaction is being viewed or edited by another terminal. A terminal in Western Union platform refers to any system that has access to your money transfer. 

A common example would be the agent at the store or the customer support of Western Union. This does not mean that your transfer is being stolen or paid out to someone else. All it means that the store would not be able to access to pay the funds until the previous terminal has closed the transfer. 

You can read this article to get further details on this receiving error.

Solution: The solution to this error is pretty simple. Just wait for 15-20 minutes and the transfer should be automatically available. While you are waiting do not check the status of the transfer online or ask the agent to access the transfer. It might put the transfer on lock once again for 20 minutes. 

TXN Paid only in Payout Area Indicated by Sender Error

This error indicates that you are trying to receive a Western Union in a location where it is not intended to be received. Every Western Union transfer can only be picked up in a specific country or state as specified by the sender. 

You can read this article to get more insights on this receiving error.

Solution: Confirm the receiving state of the transfer by calling customer support. Once you confirm that the transfer is supposed to be picked up at a different location. Ask the sender to request location changes on the transfer, and you should be able to get the funds. 

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