Why keep I saying: do not use Western Union?

Paying online has become very lucrative.

In the last 10 years many new payment systems have come up. One thing they have in common is that these payment systems must be secure and safe. And with all these new companies like: Paypal, Stripe, all kinds of bank transfers like iDeal, Qiwi, WebMoney, AliPay etc. you still see a very old payment system.

It’s Western Union.

In all my articles I advised you: do not use Western Union. Use credit cards or PayPal.

Let’s dig out the reasons why.

What kind of company is Western Union

10 reasons why not use western union logoIn 1851 Western Union started as a telegraph company and stayed this in all kind of ways till 1987. Since this year an investor bought WU and changed this company into a money transfer financial service. (Wikipedia: Western Union)

Currently Western Union is mostly known for the easy way of sending money between relatives in different countries.

How does money transfers with Western Union work?

You can send money through Western Union without having a bank account. By simply going to a Western Union office somewhere in your town it is possible to send money form your pocket to someone else’s pocket.

You deposit the money at the WU desk to a persons name and place somewhere on this world. The other person can go to their WU office and pick it up.

5 Reasons why people use Western Union

When Western Union started there was a need for this service.

  1. In countries many people do not have a bank account. For example because they work outside their home country, or because they just don’t have a bank account. With WU they can send money home.
  2. It’s very easy to instantly send money to relatives and family.
  3. You can send money (paper cash) direct from your wallet to your relative’s wallet.
  4. You don’t need the Internet to send your money between countries.
  5. You can use it if you don’t have a credit card or PayPal account. PayPal is limited in several countries.

These are all plausible reasons.

But when I talk to you, I know you do have access to the Internet. And when it comes to buying online in China, you are not sending money to relatives. And I bet you do have a credit card or PayPal or both of them.

5 Reasons why people should NOT use Western Union

The difficulty with Western Union payments is the lack of protection. A money transfer is very safe if you know the recipient well. But if you don’t, it’s like giving your money to a stranger in the bus and hope everything will work out well.

Why shouldn’t you use Western Union online?

  1. No payment protection means no refund policy. If your money has been collected, it’s gone forever.
  2. The recipient can be a third party. Or worse it can be anonymous. If you don’t know the recipient, using Western Union is like throwing dice.
  3. If a web site only offers WU it can probably a fake or fraudulent site. Because these companies make use of the fact that you have no protection. Or it’s because they are not allowed to use PayPal for their company or accept credit cards (banned by CC or PP).
  4. Every legitimate online China store offers multiple payment methods. Why not protect yourself and use a safer payment system like PP or CC.
  5. Western Union advises its customers not to send money to someone that they have never met in person!

The last reason is probably the best reason for not using Westering Union online. And to stay away from this payment system when it comes to online paying. WU is great for sending money between relatives across different countries. But in the online shopping industry, it’s better to use more secure and safer options.

My question to you:

Have you ever paid online with Western Union to buy products?
Why did you do this? Did you receive your products?

Please write your answer down in the comment box below.

I hope this article has given you some insights why I suggest NOT to use Western Union as payment system. These arguments count also for MoneyGram or Bank of China or any other payment system that works like WU.

Did you like this article? Please share this article on Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Wishing you safe purchases from China!


PS. In the Safe Buying in China Secrets eCourse we have covered several payment systems. Which are safe, which not. What alternatives do you have for credit cards and much more. Click here for more info.


Founder of StartBuyingInChina. It all started as an hobby. I liked to categorize the few Chinese stores I knew. After 6 years over 150 blogs were published. I created a wonderful online course about Safe buying online in China, and served over 1.000.000 people. Thank you for being here!

    18 replies to "Do or do not use Western Union – 10 reasons"

    • Faisal Sharif

      I haven’t tried any purchase before; however, from keep reading the websites .. I find Albab.com is the safest
      Alibab.com has different levels of suppliers .. always chose the golden supplier with Trade Assurance … the transaction should be made via Alibaba.com website (my account) … with Trade Assurance … means the supplier is assured by a certain bank in chain ,, when the no delivery or not complying with what is been agreed on .. y will not lose yr money (may be partial) .. y can complain within 90 days to albab.ba … the will investigate .. all depends on agreements and specs agreed … where y should be careful prior to pay … for example if y did not specify the color … the supplier can send any color … if y dont agree on duration of delivery … y can complain abou late delivery

      The transaction should be made via Alibaba.com my account .. so Alibab.com can supervise it
      Note that Trade Assurance only works on suppliers located in China Mainland … to the best I know

    • Marian

      thank you very much, that was very helpful, but i been scammed thru the paypal as well,
      i sent half amount of agreed price to seller on alibaba website and I never received my items or money back. I was try to contact Alibaba customer service then Paypal company then police department in China but this is almost impossible to get in touch with them in this world or find some correct phone numbers or any other way to get money back or ivestigate what has happened.

    • Chigozie Nonyelum

      Wow! Very helpful, thank you very much Mr Bastiaan am forever grateful to you.

      Though I’ve not bought any product from China before and am looking forward buying from there online.

      Still looking for better and affordable site both in shipping. Thanks once more

    • Jimmy Manibusan

      I’ve actually used WU 3 or 4 times…but that was after very rigorous talking and lots of proving from seller or business contacts. That meant showing me proof of customer receipts right then and there (so they don’t have time to make bogus receipts), providing a contact number to call and address I could verify over google, most especially doing video to video conference calls to speak directly to whom I’m in contact with. Also, I made a very small sample order with WU payment so as not to be deceived, but I’ve never actually order in large quantities either…so who knows, maybe they sent me the actual product from the sample payment, but if I were to send bigger amount probably I won’t see any products after.
      I have to say, those times I did pay WU I consider lucky catch for me, because I actually received my products. Now, from hearing too much about so many people losing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars because of WU, I always demand CC or PP only…and if they still insist on WU, I just thank them for their time and stop communication immediately. But, sometimes when you let them know that you no longer will deal with them, guess what…suddenly they can accept PP or CC..so be careful people…sometimes the contacts are really working for a company but the WU payment is to THEM and not the business! That’s how I’ve learned some people in China make their money, by scamming others within the business!

      • Bastiaan

        Thank you for your addition. It is good to hear you are so careful. I hope this will help others too!

    • MN Rahman

      why paypal can save us, can we cancel payment when item that we buy never accepted, can you explain too Meneer bastiaan?

      • Bastiaan

        Yes, Paypal has a policy to start a dispute and get a refund. Please check your Paypal policy for this.

    • Branka

      I always and only used PP payment mode. It is most secure way to pay the goods.
      Bastiaan, your course is very well and helpful, it should be the first opening page on the Web, before buying in China, for everyone who does not know, or is not sure where and how to buy goods in China. My compliments for all your help and effort!

      • Bastiaan

        Thank you Branka for your great compliments. I like to add your comment to my front page!

    • Nikki Jackson

      I sent money by Western Union for a TV from a company in China, They confirmed with a receipt of money and even sent a tracking no… However the tracking number no was fake and I never received the TV and I could not get any response from this company again either… Big lesson learned and a sore wallet…

      • Bastiaan

        Hi Nikki,
        This is a classic story. Please see this blog article from some months ago: Looking through the eyes of a scammer.
        Can you tell us what company it was? I like to add this company to the black list.
        Good luck next time.

    • Tcharlx

      You saved me from buying from this buycheapelectronic-dot-com who insisted on WU. Thx man!

      • Bastiaan

        Hi Tcharlx. Well, glad I did. This is what I like to hear 😉 You’re welcome.
        Did you see this video about fake scammers sites, I made a weeks months ago?

        • Tcharlx

          I have never used WU and never will. Not even after all I’ve learnt from you and the video about scamming sites. I owe you one, boss…!

          • Bastiaan

            You’re welcome! No problem!
            (by the way, you can use WU if you know who is the beneficiary)

    • Suryawan

      I’d never use western union service though the sites offers very cheap price compare with others, there’s no guarantee that they will sent your package

    • Chuckp

      Never used western union and never needed it. I avoid sites that only use bank transfer.

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