7 Things You Need to Know Before Signing up with Wise
So you want to send money abroad - but is Wise (formerly Transferwise) your best bet?
In most cases, they are our go-to money transfer service.
But not always.
In the next few minutes, we will show you if Wise is best for you.
What's best for YOU now?
- One of the best money transfer services for small amounts under $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD
- Available in the US, Canada, UK, Eurozone, Australia, New Zealand
- Send money to over 70 countries
- Transparent and fair fees
- Transfers at the mid-market rate with no markup
- Available for both personal and business
- Offers a multi-currency account and Mastercard debit card
- No cash transfers
- Although Wise can transfer large amounts, we think there are better options.
Wise has super low fees and transparent money transfers for small (Less than $7000 USD) bank-to-bank transfers.
Importantly, they have great customer support as well as a number of great options, like their multi currency account, that makes them ideal for anyone who needs an efficient way to manage their international money.
This includes travelers, expats, and small businesses who do business overseas.
One reason many people choose them over others is you get to see exactly how much arrive (including fees) before you sign up with them.
The 7 Things
- 1. When it Works and When it Doesn’t
- 2. The (Real) Transfer Costs + Hidden Fees
- 3. How Does Wise Work?
- 4. How Fast are Wise Transfers?
- 5. What Reviews Really Say (inc. Negative Ones)
- 6. Is Your Money Safe with Wise?
- 7. Is Wise Best for YOU?
First a bit of slightly educational fun.
1.1 When it Works
Sending small bank transfers below $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD
If you’re looking for an international money transfer service to help you send small bank transfers to 70+ countries around the world affordably, Wise is your best option.
Wise’s fee structure makes it ideal for small international transfers and they pass on significant savings to the user by minimizing or removing hidden fees wherever possible.
Managing multiple currencies
Wise also offers a multi-currency account which lets their users hold, manage, and convert between 50+ currencies.
This can be helpful if you’re an expat, international traveler, freelancer, or small business who needs to pay and get paid in multiple currencies.
Easy spending in foreign currencies
Apart from the multicurrency account, Wise also offers a MasterCard debit card which can be used for paying for goods and services while traveling abroad or for buying anything online in a foreign currency with fair currency conversion fees.
The card can also be used to withdraw money in the country where it's issued as well as abroad.
Pay overseas freelancers and employees
Wise offers a dedicated account for freelancers and small businesses so that paying and getting paid in foreign currencies is seamless.
For businesses, Wise offers bulk payment options for overseas employees so that transfer fees as well as time spent on admin can be optimized.
Sending large amounts over $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD
Large bank transfers may come into play if you’re buying property overseas, emigrating, or want to pay for high business investments or expenses.
OK to be clear - Wise’s DOES offer large transfers over $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD.
But they are not our first choice.
When you first use Wise you will find they are excellent in doing everthing online from sign up to customer support.
Generally this is awesome: Inexpensive, fast, safe and without any issues.
However for large transfers we prefer services using a combination of telephone and online sign-up as well as 24/7 phone support.
The reason is simple.
International money transfers involve numerous banks and other third parties for any transfer no matter the size.
But things get far more complex and subject to frozen accounts and other issues as the amounts get over about $7000 USD.
This is where services that are designed for larger amounts from the outset tend to better.
TorFX (review) or OFX (review) offer services designed for large amounts and put a focus on doing this efficiently online with telephone support up front.
Not only that their fee starustures are designed to reduce (in percentage terms) as the amounts increase!
Sending cash transfers internationally
Currently, Wise only offers bank-to-bank or card-to-bank transfers to. However, if your recipient doesn’t have a bank account and you need to send cash abroad, Wise may not be the ideal option for you.
For these we recommend WorldRemit here who enable bank-to-cash transfers.
The biggest advantage of transferring money with Wise is the fair exchange rate they offer without a markup (the mid-market or interbank rate).
However, Wise is a growing and profitable company, so of course there are some fees involved.
Typically, they charge two fees:
Transfer fees - based on how fund your money transfer (bank, card, or wire transfer)
Variable fees - this is the service fee and is between 0.35%-2.5% of the amount and depends on the amount and currency pair
Wise also removes the hidden fees charged by sending and receiving banks by having local accounts in all the areas they service.
Overall, this can make Wise up to 8x cheaper than high street banks and often more affordable than competitors who don’t offer transfers at the mid-market rate.
Hidden fees - Lots of services and banks have fees which are hidden in the fine print. Theses fees can be significant. For example, with most banks and money transfer services, once all the fees are accounted (including the hidden ones) you can easily loose 5% - 10% of the original amount sent. Wise is the most transparent service out there. As they say in their marketing "We’re up to 8x cheaper than banks.". While we are pretty jaded from broken promises with Wise this is true.
Wise is available in the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand and supports transfers to 70+ countries. Check out if Wise lets you send money to your desired location.
After that, register your account on their website with your name and personal details or with a social account (Google, Facebook, or Apple accounts supported).
Verify your identity
Since Wise is a licensed money transfer service, they need to verify your identity before you can use their services. Usually, this is done by submitting a national ID (passport or driving license) or utility bill (gas or electricity). Sometimes they may also ask you to upload a selfie.
Please note: Verifying your ID on Wise (as well as other money transfer services) isn’t a one-time thing. They may ask you for additional documentation to process a transfer at any point after the initial verification - no matter how long you’ve been using their services.
Additional verification on Wise can depend on the amount, currency pair, or number of transfers you’ve set up in a specific time period.
Set up your transfer
Once you’ve verified your ID, check the rates and fund your transfer (with a bank transfer, credit or debit card, or location specific services like Klarna, Poli, etc.).
Once you approve the transfer, you should be able to track the transfer on the app or web portal.
3.1 The Wise App
The Wise mobile app is available for Android and iOS users. You can use the app to track exchange rates, transfer money, or manage your Wise multi currency account.
Wise’s transfer speed varies based on the funding method, amount, and currency pair.
Usually transfers funded with a credit or debit card are processed in a few hours. Same for popular currency pairs - these are processed in a few hours to 1-2 days.
Transfers in exotic currencies or those funded with a bank transfer can take 3-5 days.
Wise is rated 4.6/5 on Trustpilot with over 140,000 reviews, which is considered “Excellent.”
People love their efficient service, affordable rates, as well as fast and secure transfers.
However, not everyone was satisfied with their money transfer experience on Wise, and we were keen to find out why.
Here’s what we found after digging deeper:
Unexpected account shut downs
Many users were dissatisfied when Wise unexpectedly paused their transfers or blocked access to their accounts.
While this can be distressing, it is usually when Wise notices a red flag and acts to ensure compliance and keep your money safe.
As a licensed money transfer company, Wise is required to adhere to the anti-terrorism and money laundering acts of all the countries where it is regulated. So any account activity that needs checking to ensure they adhere to these rules can run into problems.
Don’t worry though: Although, we recommend using other services for large transfers (see above) incidents are relatively few and far between their customer service is top notch and will resolve your issues.
As far as you can reasonably expect, your money is completely safe with Wise.
Wise is regulated by authorities such as Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (USA), the UK Financial Conduct Authority (UK), National Bank of Belgium (Europe) as an Authorised Payment Institution, the Australia Securities and Investments Commission (Australia), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (Canada) and Financial Customs and Excise Department (Hong Kong).
It is also regulated in India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UAE.
Other than that, Wise keeps their users' money separate from their operating account (as legally required) and regularly audits their transfers to comply with the anti-theft and money laundering laws of various regulatory institutions.
One money transfer company is not the best choice for everyone.
As we showed in the section above - Wise doesn't work potentially as well as others where amounts are above $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD or where cash is needed.
However, generally Wise is excellent if you’re an expat or a frequent traveler. Wise not only lets you send money internationally to family and friends in 70+ countries, but makes it easy for you to manage your international money with their multi currency account and debit card.
This account lets you hold, manage, and convert between 50+ currencies, get local bank details in 10 major currencies, and get paid or pay like a local without hefty currency conversion fees.
Wise is also ideal if you own a small business and are looking to expand your global footprint.
With their dedicated business account (that also comes with a multi currency account), you can accept payments from clients in multiple currencies (for services as well as product sales) and pay your overseas employees, contractors, or suppliers affordably. Wise also integrates easily with popular business tools and cuts down admin time with bulk payments.
Overall, Wise is a great money transfer service for most bank-to-bank transfers - especially those below $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD.
In our own transfers with them and after many years of updating this review, we have found them to be excellent in every way - transparent with low fees but more than that they have a culture of going the extra mile.
Maybe the best part is you get to see exactly how much you’ll pay in fees on their website even before you sign up with them.
Ohh and lets not forget.
Wise also offers a very useful multi currency account and debit card ideal for everyone and especially expats, frequent travelers, and businesses who do anything overseas.