If you need to send money from one currency to another, you will soon realize how expensive certain international money transfer services can be. In this Wise review (formerly known as TransferWise), I want to introduce to you a service that claims to be much cheaper, faster, and easier than the others.
But is Wise safe? How does Wise work? What are the pros & cons and what are other Wise reviews saying about the Wise account? Check out the following review before you transfer money internationally with Wise.
Spoiler: I’ve been using Wise / TransferWise for years now and absolutely love it! It became one of my two favorite business accounts (the other one being N26).
Table of Contents
What is Wise, formerly TransferWise?
Wise is a global technology company that makes moving money around the world easier, cheaper, and much more transparent. It is without a doubt that Wise is one of the cheapest ways to send money abroad and to transfer money internationally.
You may know Wise under the name of TransferWise, which was (and still is) popular for its revolutionary international money transfer system. In March 2021 the company underwent a rebranding to be able to represent the increased service portfolio even better.
Who Is the Wise Account for?
Wise is perfect for anyone who needs to spend, receive or send money internationally. That could be digital nomads, expats, long-term travelers, international students, or online businesses, or freelancers. If you have to deal with more than one currency, the Wise account works for you.
How Did Wise Start?
It all started in the UK in 2011 when the two Estonian guys, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, were tired of extremely high exchange rates when sending money abroad. With their incredibly smart idea of how to transfer money across countries their fairytale success story began.
Today, Wise is based in London but they have offices around the world and employs more than 2,200 people. More than 10 million people and businesses are using Wise today to process over £4.5bn in cross-border transactions every month, which results in customers saving over £1bn a year with the help of Wise!
The concept is so great that even Sir Richard Branson (yes, the famous entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Branson himself) invested 25 million USD in the company! If that doesn’t scream “Your business is freaking awesome!” then I don’t know what does.
What Are the Wise Account Features?
As said before, Wise cannot only transfer money internationally anymore but they are a broad portfolio of services you can use. Let’s have a look at the main Wise features:
- Bank details: You can get local bank details in 10 currencies (US dollars, British pounds, Euro, Canadian-, Australian-, New Zealand-, Singapore dollar, Hungarian forint, Romanian leu, and Turkish lira). With these, you can receive money in those currencies for free, hold the money there, or convert it.
- Balances: You can hold and convert money between 50+ currencies.
- Business account: You cannot only use Wise for your personal money transactions but also for any business-related money transfers.
- Direct debits: You can set up direct debits, e.g. to pay for rent, subscriptions, or utilities.
- Debit card: You get a visa debit card that you can use in over 200 countries without the hidden fees.
- Money transfers: The original feature. You can send money to over 60 countries at the real exchange rate and up to 7 times cheaper than traditional banks.
- Jars: The Jars feature allows you to keep money separately from your balances. If you want to save money this is a great way to stick to your budgets without accidentally spending too much money.
What is the Wise Multi-Currency Account?
Short version: The Wise multi-currency account is an online account for international people.
All you need to do is to register an account on Wise and verify it. After that, you can get bank details in up to 10 currencies (for FREE!). These bank details allow you to receive, spend and send money abroad.
Let’s look at an example:
You are US-American, currently live in Germany, and work online as a freelancer for a company in Great Britain. With Wise, you can receive your salary in GBP, convert it to EUR to pay for your rent, or send it to your mother in the USA to support her. You could also use your Wise debit card to pay at a restaurant while traveling to Turkey.
There are literally no borders, with Wise you have the all-in-one solution.
How Does Wise Transfer Money Internationally?
Curious about how Wise, formerly TransferWise, transfers money internationally so quickly and cheap? The company is using a network of people who all want to do the same as you: transfer money internationally.
This approach allows them to use a genius technique. Instead of actually physically exchanging money, Wise uses its own bank accounts in many different countries to simply trade the currencies with peer-to-peer technology.
Let’s look at another example:
- Paul wants to send USD 500 from the USA to Anna in France. A normal bank would take Paul’s money and send it to France. Wise doesn’t.
- Wise keeps Paul’s USD 500 in their bank account in the USA and takes the equivalent in EUR out of their bank account in France to give it to Anna.
- That means Paul’s money never leaves the USA. It simply gets redirected if someone else is doing a transaction the other way round.
- The money never crosses borders, which makes the process easier and so much cheaper.
What Are The Wise Fees?
Like most international money transfer services, Wise charges a fee for sending money abroad. This fee depends on three things:
- the amount you’re sending,
- how you pay, and
- the exchange rate.
If you want to check how much exactly you would pay for your individual inquiry, have a look at the Wise page and use their calculator for free. Here you will see EXACTLY the Wise fees. There are no hidden costs and no additional fees during the transactions. What you see in the calculator, is what you get (unless you wait a couple of days and the exchange rate changes).
What’s Special about the Wise Exchange Rate?
Wise uses an exchange rate called the mid-market rate, which is the exact same rate that banks use to trade money between themselves and the only real exchange rate out there.
The reason why other international money transfer service companies have different exchange rates is simply that they mark this rate up, i.e. add a hidden percentage to make a profit.
You might find other money exchange companies that don’t charge a fee but I can almost guarantee you that they will use higher exchange rates. After all, they need to make a profit, too. In most cases, you are better up paying a fee and the real exchange rate instead of no fee and a markup rate.
Is Wise the Cheapest Way to Send Money Abroad?
Wise is definitely one of the cheapest ways to send money abroad. If you compare it to a money transfer at a traditional bank, e.g. Deutsche Bank, Lloyds, Santander, or HSBC Standard, it is up to 8 times cheaper!
Even if you compare the Wise fees with other online money transfer services, e.g. PayPal, Wise is still a lot cheaper. That is mainly due to the fact that they use the real-exchange market rate.
Nerd Wallet, the go-to website for all financial questions, confirms that Wise is one of the cheapest ways to send money abroad in comparison to other big-name money transfer services.
Does Wise Charge the Recipient?
No, it doesn’t. If you send money to someone via Wise, that recipient is not going to get charged by Wise. When you make the transfer, you can see exactly how much the other person will receive and what fee you have to pay.
How to Create A Wise Account and Send Money with Wise? Step-by-Step Guide
If you don’t have a Wise account yet, don’t worry, the registration process is super quick and absolutely free. This is how you create a Wise account and send money internationally:
Step 1: Sign Up with Wise
To create a Wise account, simply go to the Wise Register Page, use your email address, Google, or Facebook account to sign up for free.
Step 2: Set the Amount
Next, you decide on how much money you want to send internationally and set the currencies. Now you automatically see the Wise fee and how much money your recipient receives.
Step 3: Fill in Your Details
If this is the first time you are using Wise, you need to fill in your details, e.g. your address and full name. Once your account is set, these details are, of course, saved so you don’t have to type them in every time again.
Step 4: Fill in the Recipient
Now you fill in the details of the person or business you want to send money to. You could either use their bank details or, if they have a Wise account, too, simply use their email to send them money.
Step 5: Verify your Details
Again, if this is the first time you use Wise, you need to verify your identity to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. But no worries, this is super easy. You simply need to upload an ID document, e.g. passport, or ID card. You only have to do so when you use Wise for the first time. After that, you don’t need to verify again.
Step 6: Review and Pay
That’s it! Now you can double-check the details and confirm the money transfer. You can then decide how you want to pay the amount you want to send, e.g. debit card, credit card, bank transfer, etc. These payment options can vary depending on your region and currency.
How Long Does It Take To Transfer Money with Wise?
Money transferals with Wise are super quick. According to their own statistics, this is what you can expect:
- Over 30% of transfers with Wise arrive instantly.
- 53% of all transfers arrive within an hour and
- 81% of all transfers within a day.
That matches with my personal Wise experiences. My transfers are usually between Germany, Australia, the USA, and Great Britain and they usually don’t take longer than a day or two. Great speed!
How long it takes to transfer money with Wise depends on several factors:
- The involved countries. Some countries and currencies take a bit longer. Depending on how quickly your recipient’s bank can process the money, it can take up to 5 days. But it is very rare that it takes that long.
- Your payment method. A general rule: card payments are quicker than bank transfers.
- Time of your transfer. The quickest time to process is during normal banking hours. Weekends or national holidays in the finishing countries will slow it down.
Wise will let you know how long it’s going to take before you submit your payment. They will also send you an email to tell you the status of your payment. You will know exactly where your money is right now at any time. Transparency at its best.
Is Wise Safe and Legit?
Yes, Wise is absolutely safe and legit! Wise is regulated just like any bank by financial authorities in any country they operate. These regulatory bodies make sure that customers get a fair deal and financial markets are run with integrity.
They also keep their own business accounts completely separate from their clients’ funds, as per FCA regulations. In case Wise should have any difficulties, your money is safe! In addition, your personal information on the website is protected by using HTTPS security encryption.
There is no room for doubt, Wise is definitely a safe money transfer service.
How Do I Reach the Wise Customer Service?
Wise is 100% internet-based. In case you have any questions, simply drop the Wise customer service an email, call one of their offices or webchat with one of the team members. The contact number for Wise is:
USA: +1 888 908 3833
UK: +44 203 6950 999
Australia: +61 28 0466 244
Germany: +49 5223 94730 01
Singapore: +65 3158 3259
Spain: +34 932 202 854
If you are looking for more Wise phone numbers, check out their help center > customer support contact (note: you need to be logged in).
Wise Experiences: Customer Reviews
As you may have guessed by now, I’m a total fan of Wise and love the multi-currency account and money transfer service. They are my go-to solution when I need to receive and send money abroad and they’ve never let me down.
But I’m not the only one. The review site Trustpilot collected more than 114,000 reviews. The result: Wise receives a top customer rating of 4.7/5 and is labeled as “excellent”.
The same goes for the Wise app: Both Apple and Google Play customers love the Wise app and gave great ratings:
Having that many happy customers in the financial industry really says something.
Ok, that was a lot of information about Wise. Let’s have a look at the summarized advantages of this international money transfer service:
- True Exchange Rate: Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate. Unlike other money transfer services, they don’t add any markup to the rate. That means you get the best possible rate, which results in Wise being up to 8 times cheaper than a normal bank.
- Low Fees: The fees Wise charges for their service are reasonable, fair and you always know exactly how much it is upfront. Absolutely no hidden fees.
- Transparent Process: With Wise, you will know exactly what exchange rate is used, how many fees there are (no hidden costs!), and how long the money takes to arrive. The process is very transparent at any time.
- Speed: Transactions are usually made instantly or within a day or two. That makes it a super-fast money transfer service.
- Wise Safety: Just like any other bank, Wise is regulated by the financial authorities in the countries they are operating in. That means Wise is safe and legit to use.
- Easy to Use: Both the website as well as the Wise app are super easy and intuitive to use. Their user experience is even rated with 5/5 stars on the Apple app store. Simply log in, select the amount of money and currency, type in the receivers’ details, and pick a payment method. To order a transaction doesn’t take more than 2 minutes.
- Payment methods: There are various payment methods you can use to send money internationally, e.g. credit card, bank transfer, or local payment methods such as SOFORT.
- Multi-currency account: Once you are registered, you get a multi-currency account with bank details of up to 10 different currencies to receive, spent, and send money internationally.
- Debit card: You get a free debit card included in the multi-currency account that allows you to get cash at ATMs or make card payments.
Like any other money transfer service, Wise, too, might not work in every situation. Here are the downsides of this service:
- Limited Currencies: At the moment, Wise can make international money transactions between 50 currencies. Although that is a lot and the most common ones are covered, such as Euro, British Pounds, US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, or Chinese Yuan, there are still a few missing. However, the team is constantly working on adding new routes.
Btw: Want to learn more about international banking for frequent travelers or digital nomads? Check out my post about the best online bank accounts and learn who has the best conditions for you.
Are There any Wise Alternatives?
You may have heard of some Wise alternatives, such as PayPal, Payoneer, or Monese. And yes, a few other international money transfer services and banks might transfer your money at a similar low service fee or even for free. However, you can be sure they sneak a markup onto the true exchange rate to make a profit.
After all, why should they work for free? Of course, they need to make a profit somehow. Unfortunately, you are often unaware of these hidden fees, so you pay more without even realizing it.
So if you want to look for Wise alternatives, please make sure these are transparent and you understand the entire process and are aware of all the fees you are being charged BEFORE you make your payment.
Wise Review 2021: The Verdict
There is a reason why Wise, formerly TransferWise, is often used as an international bank account. Wise is not only very safe to use. Its multi-currency account allows us to receive, spend and send money abroad in a completely new and easy way.
They are able to give you the real mid-market exchange rate without any markup that other money transfer services would charge you.
Their fees are low and reasonable and the transfer speed is outstanding.
The easy and transparent money transfer process makes Wise a very customer-friendly alternative to traditional banks or other transfer companies. And thousands of independent customer reviews confirm this.
If you are looking for a multi-currency account or/and an international money transfer service with great conditions, Wise is a brilliant option. I’m very happy I’ve found them years ago and wouldn’t want to use any other provider anymore.