Western Union is an international cash transfer service that has been around in some form or another since the 1850s. Typically, people use Western Union to send cash to friends and family when separated by great distances. All you have to do is visit one of the company’s 500,000 agent locations, fill out a form and hand over the cash. The person on the other side of the transaction can then visit their local station to collect the money.
Poker sites that serve the US market are especially partial to Western Union thanks to high success rates in an increasingly regulated industry. Finance laws in the United States make it difficult for players to deposit via other means, so Western Union is often the go-to choice for players who have had problems depositing with credit cards.
The best Western Union poker sites are able to process transactions and credit your account within 24-48 hours. Although this isn’t as fast as a normal credit card deposit, it’s still a reliable alternative if your credit card has been declined in the past. It takes a little longer because a person associated with the poker site actually has to visit a Western Union station in person to claim the funds and then credit them to your account.
How it Works
Funding your account with Western Union works exactly like sending money to a friend. If you log in to your poker account and choose Western Union as your deposit method, the poker site will inform you that it will e-mail you instructions for completing the deposit.
A short time later, you’ll get an e-mail telling you where to find the nearest WU station and instructions for filling out the cash transfer form. These instructions will give you an individual’s name and address plus tips for filling out other questions asked on the form.
Take your cash and head to the nearest location. Often this will be a local Walmart, gas station or pharmacy. Most locations only accept cash but some do accept credit and debit cards. Fill out the form according to the instructions provided by the poker site and then give the form and money to the agent.
Now, all you have to do is wait for the poker site to receive the transfer and add it to your account. I usually visit Western Unions earlier in the day and have been fortunate enough to have my deposits credited that same day. Just know that you may have to wait a day or two depending on the day of the week.
You should also be aware that poker sites don’t mention Western Union by name. It may be listed as a “cash transfer,” “rapid transfer” or something else along those lines inside the cashier area.
There’s no way around it: Western Union is an expensive deposit method. The fees vary based on the amount being sent and the destination country, but they start at around $25 and go up from there.
Can I withdraw via Western Union?
Yes. I have personally received numerous withdrawals through Western Union and have never had a problem. When you request a WU withdrawal from your poker site, they will send you instructions for claiming your money.
You’ll be given a reference number plus other information needed to claim the payout. Take the information to your nearest station and either give it to the agent or use the automated terminal to input your information. If everything goes well, you’ll walk out with a bunch of cash in hand.
Is Western Union Safe?
Security is a major concern with Western Union because if you send your money to a scammer, you’re out of luck. There’s a reason why those ancient Nigerian prince e-mail scams have their victims to send money via WU. It is important that you only do business with respectable, big name poker sites such as those listed here.
As long as you stick with safe poker sites, you’ll be treated well. I follow the 2+2 poker forums religiously and monitor the threads there to see how people are faring with various deposit methods. Players who stick with reputable sites never have problems getting their account funded within a reasonable amount of time.
Once again, the key to depositing safely with Western Union is to only do business with well-known poker sites.