What is Western Union?

If you’re considering paying Chinese suppliers with Western Union, it’s essential to understand what Western Union is and how it works.

The Birth of Western Union

Western Union Pay is a global money-transfer service, akin to PayPal and Payoneer. Established in 1871, it predates PayPal by almost 130 years and operates in over 200 countries worldwide.

How Does Western Union Work?

Sending and receiving money through Western Union is a breeze. Learn about the different methods and steps involved.

Sending Money

For local and international transactions, Western Union offers two popular payment methods:

Electronic Money Online Transfer

In-Person Payment

  • Visit a Western Union agent location.
  • Suitable for those who prefer face-to-face transactions.

Always double-check the 10-digit Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) when sending money to ensure it’s correct.

Receiving Money

Your clients in China can receive payments in various ways:

Directly into their Bank Accounts

  • Requires the MTCN number.
  • Ideal for those with bank accounts.

Into their Mobile Wallet

  • Requires the MTCN number.
  • Suitable for clients with mobile wallets.

In-Person at Western Union Branch/Agent

  • Requires MTCN and valid ID.
  • Convenient for those who prefer visiting in person.

Western Union’s Features

Although other payment providers like PayPal and Wise have entered the market, Western Union remains a strong contender. Here are its key features:

Track Transactions Online

  • Monitor your transactions with the MTCN.
  • Keep tabs on your money’s journey.

Lower Transfer Fees

  • Western Union offers low transaction fees (around 0.8%).
  • Be aware of currency conversion charges (about 2%).

Speedy Transfers

  • Choose from instant transfers (10-30 mins) or next-day transfers (24 hours).
  • Reliable and convenient for both parties.

No Bank Account Required

  • Send money to recipients without bank accounts.
  • Quick and easy access to funds.

Easy Sending

  • User-friendly WU app for online transfers.
  • A vast network of 525,000 agents worldwide for in-person transactions.

When to Use Western Union

While Western Union is a reliable payment method, it’s not always the best choice for paying Chinese suppliers.

Consider Using Western Union If:

  • You are paying for a cost-effective sample.
  • You are dealing with small transactions.
  • You need to transfer money quickly.
  • You want to save on fees for small orders.

Points to be Paid Attention

Protect yourself from potential scams when using Western Union for payments.

Be Cautious When:

  • Your Chinese supplier requests funds in a non-company account.
  • You are handling large transactions with a new supplier.
  • The supplier insists on Western Union for substantial orders.



  1. Can I Send $10,000 through Western Union?
    • Yes, but transactions above $3,000 require additional documentation due to anti-money laundering regulations.
  2. Is Western Union Cheaper than Bank Transfer?
    • In most cases, Western Union fees are cheaper than bank charges due to intermediary fees.
  3. How Can I Check If I Have Money at Western Union?
    • You can check online using your unique MTCN number on WU’s official site or by visiting an agent.
  4. What’s Next
    • When you send money, use legitimate business bank accounts, not personal accounts. Pay only a 30% upfront deposit to the supplier, with the rest after receiving proof documents.
  5. Visit our Sourcing Agents website if you want to know more about popular payment methods like Letters of Credit, Wire Transfers, PayPal, Western Union, or other payment methods. We offer 100% Buyer Protection, fastest shipping, and introductions to the best suppliers. Contact us for a free quote!

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