Dealing with Western Union

While I am documenting, I feel I have collected enough info on this one too. Yes, you can send money via Western Union. It costs too much I wouldn't do it but it is popular and I got involved in some transfers because "the other person" wanted to use it.

After four tests, my conclusion is that as long as you don't go to the Western Union office itself but, instead, to an agent, you get decent service. Besides being generally hostile in the WU office (in Estelí) they try to play games. For example, they very carefully look over any cash you bring them and reject it if it happens to have a dirt mark on it. Then, they try to give you market up and turn bills for your change or when you are receiving money.

My good experiences have been at Cruz Lorena. They have been friendly and professional. The money they give you looks like money, not used papel higenico.

The one non-problem I had with them was that I handed them a copy of my passport for ID. They didn't like it. But, they were totally happy with my Nicaraguan driver's license. This is particularly amusing because: * It has no address on it * It doesn't have my signature But, if they are happy, I'm happy.

Speaking of ID, when I picket up a package at DHL today, I was asked to write down the number of my ID. I was somewhat surprised as the woman there knows me and never asks. Of course, she just asked me to write down the number--she didn't actually ask to see it. I think you just have to make sure you get all the blanks filled in on the forms.

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Western Union takes a big chunk to be sure. Some people expected the fees to drop a little, years back, when Moneygram came to Central America. I cant comment on most parts of Nicaragua, but Moneygram ended up charging, originally (in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras), the exact same commission percentage as did Western Union -- though I have read that they now slightly undercut Western Union. There was again some "hope" when Lloyds was going to initiate their own system in the Americas, but they never followed through then pulled out of several Latin countries. And, again, later when the Elektra electronics stores got into the tranfer business (North America, Mexico and Central America, only), but even that is no deal. I am repeatedly amazed when I meet business people here who use Western Union with some frequency, especially for larger amounts of money. Seems silly to me, since I can have Wells Fargo send $400-4000 to me at the oldest bank in Honduras or Guatemala, for a flat $40 fee. Western Union in Honduras --and like you, I know only when I helped oother people use it-- is a giant nuissance. Out of three tries, the fastest receipt of the actual money was more than 3 days. Last time, they requested 2 additional photo i.d.'s when they said my friend's employee did not look like her passport photo. Well, like most people in Central America, she does not have 3 photo i.d.'s. Since her spouse works for the Police Chief, the matter was cleared up in a few minutes once it went this far, but I am not sure how long it would have taken if she did not "know" someone.

Western Union Comment.

For many years, I have had only one credit card and that one is "American Express" and is good in Nicaragua with "Creditmatico".

When I owe charges for the previous month, I pay the money by Western Union. The cost (no matter how many U$ American that I owe) is U$15 + IGV which = a total of U$17.25.

I check my balance on the internet and I send the money and I am done. If I check my balance due with a telephone call , the call costs and with Western Union, I have proof of payment and no problems.

Many years ago, I gave them my passport for the number and now I don't go because my wife takes the the last receipt with the passport number and I have no problem. I don't even go there. ___________________________________________________________________

Online banking?

Alan, If you do not mind me asking, do you do this because it is the most convenient, or safest, or cheapest way you found -- where you are in Nicaragua? Since you check things online anyway, have considered some form of online banking, if only to pay the AMEX card? Just curious, because if you use the AMEX card monthly, and pay via WU, then that might be close to C3500 per year (if my math skills stil serve).


I depends on how often one uses the CC, and on what one buys, and if it is bought on interest. For many people, using a true internet bank (one which covers for free a few money orders per month, as well as a few ATM withdrawls - no matter where they are) is superior to all other options, but for others, not so. A lot might depend if one can or is willing to have a base-bank in the U.S., Canada, or parts of Europe. If you have good, regular, internet access, you might find that bypassing the local/national bank is best for you, all things considered.

Western Union vs On-line Banking.

#1 -- My money in the USA (Amercia) is not accessible unless I'm there in person or unless I'm dead and one of my daughters can then access the money. In emergencies, I do have an access method. This access method was created by me to protect me from me.

#2 -- I keep enough money in "BanPro" in Nicaragua to last me about a year. I also have certain other monies that are wired to me from the USA (America) on a periodic basis which I also use in Nicaragua.

#3 -- I can not pay on-line with my "BanPro/Nicaraguan" account. I have one idea and this may now be possible. For the last 10 years or so; we only had "Banco Caley Dagnal" on the "Atlantic Coast" and that bank was bought by "BanPro" in April of this year. "BanPro" does have the "Visa +" debit card and I do have the forms; but, I do not yet have the debit card.

#4 -- I can not use the AmEx card in Puerto Cabezas except in the airlines. I personally charge on "La Costena" airline and I pay them when I want. I can widely use the card in Bluefields; but, I don't travel there much anymore. I really don't go anywhere much anymore. I go to Managua every 2 or 3 months and then I use the credit card. Since I pay the balance in full monthly, I only use Western Union about 4 or 5 times a year. I can use Western Union and the amount is credited by AmEx the next business day.

#5 -- The Western Union charge is U$17.25 flat (IGV included) for whatever amount of money I'm sending to AmEx. To finally answer the question -- Western Union is safe and fast and convenient and I don't go -- I send my wife or accountant. I have the receipt -- I forget it. _____________________________________________________________________