7 Things You Should Know Before Sign Up
In 5 minutes or less I am going to show you 7 things to consider to see if CurrencyFair is the best choice for your needs.
Like all our reviews, I will uncover the good, the bad and even the ugly, so that you can make the best call.
First, here is a quick roundup of pros and cons.
- Inexpensive options available for both individuals & businesses
- Great control over each step (if desired)
- Two low-cost options to exchange & send money: match FX rates with peers or send money with CurrencyFair’s best rates (matches the mid-market rate)
- Not available in the US
- Limited number of currencies supported (21)
- Can only transfer into bank accounts (mobile wallets not supported)
- Not ideal for some – see “When CurrencyFair Works and (when it doesn’t)” below
Full Disclosure: While we aim to show you the good and the bad in each review so you can make the best choice, there are links contained in this page which are affiliate links (and while not costing you anything) could earn us a commission. We often also get the opportunity to provide you with exclusive discounts (see below) and offers as part of using the link. If you use these links thank you for supporting our mission to making money transfers simple (and better for all 🙂)!
CurrencyFair offers huge savings on transfers compared to banks, and a much better way to transfer you money.
They are also leaders in when it comes to putting the control of your money in your hands.
Not only that!
You can also get your first 10 transfers fee free (opens a new tab).
Compared to its competitors it is very inexpensive and leading online service with lots of control for people with a service that seems geared to smaller amounts below about $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD/SGD.
For most individuals and businesses CurrencyFair works very well, however for larger amounts or in smaller countries, costs may rise as they need to step in to complete the transaction and the need for more documentation (for regulatory reasons) becomes likely. See “When Things Go Wrong and Trustworthy Reviews? (below)” for more.
They also require that you have funds available in your CurrencyFair account in order to secure rates and if you simply prefer to speak to a customer service person throughout the process, other options may suit you better.
- How it Works (pretty awesome)
- How to Sign Up
- When CurrencyFair Works (and when it doesn’t)
- Rates, Fees, Cost and Additional Fees?
- When Things Go Wrong (inc. negative reviews)
- Safety and Security
See what you will get.
CurrencyFair is rather unique through its P2P (Wikipedia) platform and offers huge savings on international transfers compared to banks and compare very well with other similar services.
It is quite simple.
With CurrencyFair, you can choose your own exchange rate in their peer-to-peer marketplace as long as another user (transferring in the other direction) matches or accepts your rate.
If you don’t want to wait for another user, you can initiate a transfer anyway and CurrencyFair will ensure you get the best available rate. This rate usually matches the interbank or mid-market exchange rate (Wikipedia) and they say it can be up to 8x cheaper than regular bank rates (which in our experience is true).
But unlike most other providers, they require that you have funds available in your CurrencyFair account in order to exchange and transfer funds.
You can also set daily or weekly alerts so you can move money at the best possible rate.
CurrencyFair also offers business accounts that make it easy to pay overseas contractors and receive international payments.
1.1 Get 3 Transfers Free
Sign up using this link you get your First 10 Transfers Fee Free (opens a new tab).
1.2 Identity Verification
CurrencyFair at this point requires more information to meet regulatory requirements. You often need to upload some photo identification and/or proof of your address (typically a national ID and proof of address; check list of supported documents here). However, this information can sometimes be verified automatically if CurrencyFair has approved Electronic Verification from your country of residence.
This part of the process is pretty easy if you keep the required documents handy and share a clear photo with them (make sure no information is covered or obstructed).
An email confirms this process is complete, which can be almost immediate or up to 24hrs.
If CurrencyFair is unable to verify your id with the uploaded documents, they’ll send you an email and ask for additional documents.
This is standard required practice for all money transfer services but some are better than others and the systems CurrencyFair provides is generally very smooth and fast.
1.3 The Transfer
Now you have two main options.
- Send Money
- Top Up
a. Send Money
Click “Send Money” if you want to send money as quickly as possible. This option moves your money from bank account to your CurrencyFair account. Once CurrencyFair receives it, they automatically exchange and transfer the money out.
Heads up: the exchange rate may change between the time you initiate a transfer from your bank account to when the money actually gets deposited into your CurrencyFair account. Also check out Speed (below).
b. Top Up
With the Top Up option you can hold money in your CurrencyFair account till you’re ready to exchange it.
CurrencyFair usually prefers online bank transactions to “Send Money” and “Top up” your account. But this could vary according to the currency and the exchange amount.
They also offer Express Deposits with Visa or MasterCard debit cards in some countries.
1.4 What does a transaction actually look like?
Three pretty simple steps.
1.5 Track progress
CurrencyFair sends you an email when money from your bank account is available in your CurrencyFair account. You can also set up SMS alerts, browser notifications and mobile push notifications to stay in the know.
3.1 When it works
Basically CurrencyFair’s big advantage is that they transfer your money without actually transferring any money at all.
CurrencyFair is a peer to peer (P2P) service. What this means is that they match people who want to transfer one currency into another, with people who want to do the opposite swap (as much as possible anyway).
This results in very inexpensive transfers for major currencies.
3.2 When it doesn’t
- If you’re transferring larger amounts (above $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD/SGD), CurrencyFair may ask for additional documents for regulatory compliance. Others like OFX (review) are recommended not just because they get this documentation out of the way right from the start but they also have customer service people in many of the major countries which can be extremely helpful because each bank in each country has their own rules and limits and they can ensure things run smoothly.
- If you want to time the market to get a desirable exchange rate, CurrencyFair requires that have your funds ready to go in your CurrencyFair account. For some this means CurrencyFair might not be the best option.
- CurrencyFair also doesn’t seem to be a great choice for digital nomads. You may be denied transfer services if you’re travelling (long term) to a country where CurrencyFair registration is not supported (even if you have created your account from a supported country and initiating transfer to a supported currency).
Most other money transfer companies base their exchange rates they offer around the mid-market or interbank rate, which is the best rate possible. CurrencyFair has created a market for people all around the world to choose the rates they can get and swap with each other.
This rate offered in theory will always be extremely competitive and close to the mid-market or interbank rate. CurrencyFair also steps in to make transactions happen at a competitive rate if required.
4.2 Fees and Cost
- CurrencyFair doesn’t charge you anything for transferring money from your bank account to CurrencyFair. But fees are applicable if you opt for Express Debit.
- If you’re opting for peer-to-peer transfer via the marketplace, CurrencyFair charges 0.25% – 0.3% of the total amount exchanged when other customers match yours.
- However, if you’re not willing to wait and are looking to make a transfer now with CurrencyFair’s best available rate, they make this transfer happen with their funds and charges 0.4% to 0.6%, which is still way lower than a bank rate or international wire transfers.
In both cases, the rate you see includes a transfer fee which is the currency equivalent of €3 ($4).
You can also save the transfer fee if you use the link we negotiated for you at the bottom of this page.
4.3 Additional Fees
Another potential cost that CurrencyFair customers should be aware of is bank charges in locations where CurrencyFair doesn’t have a local bank account (the banks charge a fee at both ends). This can be a significant percentage if you are transferring smaller amounts below a few thousand.
In recent years CurrencyFair has dramatically improved and now covers most major countries.
For example for the USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, HKD, SGD, CZK, CHF, DKK, SEK and NOK they have local bank accounts into and out of your CurrencyFair account. 👍
Notable exceptions are CAD and NZD, which are fine if you are just sending money (they have local bank accounts) but you will likely attract an additional fee if you are receiving funds into Canada and New Zealand.
There seems to be truck loads of positive reviews for pretty much every money transfer company including CurrencyFair (I mean this is probably not surprising, when the competition is banks).
However, CurrencyFair is rated 4.7/5 with over 3,800 reviews on TrustPilot, which is considered “excellent.” and is one of the highest in the industry.
CurrencyFair users are raving about the efficient and fast transfer service, great exchange rates, and the transparent fee structure.
However, there’s loads to uncover from the negative reviews too because they show where any pain point might be experienced and we have found that they can be really useful when deciding if a service is right for you.
CurrencyFair is no different.
So, after trawling through 100s of reviews (both positive and negative), we’ve listed the top 3 issues people faced:
5.1 Unable to track funds/contact customer service
Some users experienced unexpected delays with their fund transfers, which prompted them to reach out to CurrencyFair via the chatbot on the website.
Unfortunately, their chatbot can seem unhelpful on occasion and their contact information is hard to locate. CurrencyFair seems to prefer resolving customer issues via email rather than on the phone – which no doubt helps to keep costs low.
Essentially, many people felt stranded without being able to track their money and reach customer service. Some people were worried CurrencyFair was a scam, which shows how concerned some people were.
While CurrencyFair’s response time on email is fairly quick (about 2 hours), for some people instant telephone support is going to be a must even if the costs are slightly higher.
5.2 Some transactions were flagged
Some users were left frustrated when their transactions were flagged as “suspicious” and were asked to submit additional documents.
While this can be annoying, as a regulated financial institution, CurrencyFair is required to conduct regular checks to curb illegal activities.
The transfers that were flagged were usually of larger amounts.
This is major reason we recommend using alternate money transfer companies if you’re transferring more than $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD/SGD.
The companies we recommend for larger amounts tend to avoid regulatory issues by getting extra checks out of the way from the outset.
5.3 Refusing service to registered users while travelling
CurrencyFair can refuse to transfer your funds if you initiate transfer with your registered account in while travelling to an unsupported country for a long time (more than 3 months).
However, chances of this happening are pretty low since CurrencyFair is available in more than 150 countries.
But if you don’t want to take a chance, we suggest taking a look at a TransferWise borderless account (review).
Transfer speed mainly depends on the location and currency.
The transfer speed is also a sum of these three parts:
- Time to Reach CurrencyFair Account (1-2 business days with Faster Payments or CHAPS in the UK)
- Processing Time and Matching (can vary)
- Time to Reach Beneficiary Account (1-2 business day)
You can see an estimate for all supported currencies here!
Essentially, a lot depends on the banks at either end. And, if you have additional requirements like using the “Choose your own rate” service – this can make the peer-to-peer transaction slower.
Generally though the Processing Time and Matching activity is a small part of the process which could be as quick as one day if you have the funds available and are working with common currencies.
Typically 1-6 working days in total.
More specifically, here are the main currency channels with number of business days expected following:
EUR CAD 3-4, AUD CAD 3-4, EUR AUD 3-4, AED CAD 6-7, AED USD 5-9, AUD AED 2-3, AUD EUR 2-4, AUD INR 1-3, CHF EUR 2-5, DKK USD 2-6, EUR AED 2-3, EUR CZK 1-3, EUR GBP 1-3, GBP AUD 1-3, GBP DKK 1-2, GBP EUR 1-2, GBP USD 1-5, SEK USD 2-6, USD DKK 1-3, AED AUD 5-7, AUD NZD 3-4, AUD HKD 2-3, USD EUR 2-4
As a regulated financial institution (regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland under the European Communities (Payments Services) Regulations 2009 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission), CurrencyFair makes sure your hard earned money and personal information are safe – so far as we can tell.
For example, as part of being regulated they ring fence your funds in segregated accounts. This means CurrencyFair can’t touch your money or invest it and that you should get it all back in case they shut shop.
They also depend on industry-leading safety and security protocols such as two-factor authentication and 256 bit encryption via SSL from VeriSign on their website.
CurrencyFair is a leader in the world of money transfers – they have done a great job of empowering individuals and small business owners while cutting costs.
They do this by removing the currency risk from waiting for funds to arrive in its accounts it focuses on putting you in control and saving you money through its P2P network.
We also love that you can get your first 10 transfers free which makes trying them a no brainer.
However if you plan on transferring relatively large amounts or value phone support especially during the transfer process we will recommend others.
Also for smaller countries and currencies, if you find that you are getting charged fees from your bank accounts at either end, then we suggest trying TransferWise (review) who might charge larger fees but have an extensive local bank network worldwide which makes them cheaper.