In the dark times of old school banking (just a few years ago), businesses either juggled accounts in different countries or paid exorbitant fees for a multi currency account.
The biggest expense though might be the time it took to administer everything especially when you consider expenses in different currencies, accounting, approvals, reporting and cards management!
Now there are a few really good online based non-bank multi currency account services that make it much easier to get paid, make payments and manage – regardless of the currency.
Yes, low fees are a huge advantage. But that may not be the best bit:
Making it easy to accept payments can also unlock new markets.
Airwallex could be the right solution for your business but they also have some solid competition. In the Airwallex Review I am also going to uncover situations where Airwallex is NOT going to work and point you in the right direction to who might be.
Disclosure: This post may contain offers and affiliate links to save you money and it also helps us to keep providing the best information. For more information, see our disclosures here.
- Multi currency account with low fees (see fees below)
- Flexible ways to get paid and take payments in different currencies
- International money transfers at competitive rates of exchange
- Useful Visa card management
- Integration with Xero and other 3rd parties
- Not a real bank for credit options and guaranteed deposit insurance
- Relatively new and unproven
- Not yet available for individuals. AirWallex says this option may be made available in the near future.
- Relatively small number of currencies are available compared to competitors. (see our suggestions for alternatives below)
What Problems does Airwallex Solve? (And When to Avoid)
First things first, it is not available everywhere.
Airwallex can solve many challenges businesses face for sending and receiving payments in multiple currencies.
With Airwallex, you can receive 11 currencies (as if you had bank accounts in those countries) and make payments directly in those currencies or convert them inexpensively.
Speaking of making payments, managing card holders and creating new physical and virtual cards is made easy.
But the real advantage might be reporting like integration with Xero.
Airwallex can be an end-to-end solution.
Ultimately this can open up new markets and reduce the time and costs required to manage international business more easily.
When to Avoid
Airwallex is not yet available to individuals.
And for business, Airwallex is up against some more established services like the Wise Multi Currency Account (review) and Revolut (review). Apart from confidence of using more established services, in practical terms they have more apps and also have more services.
Airwallex is also not a real bank which in reality has many advantages but also some limitations.
For example, Airwallex has no overdraft protection and (while it is highly regulated) deposits are not guaranteed in the same way banks are.
For money transfers, businesses may do better using a specialist money transfer company particularly for larger transfers. While Airwallex is very competitive on fees, a specialist service can potentially do better if you consider specific needs like forward contracts, limit orders and currency strategies offered by services like OFX (review).
We discuss the alternatives in more detail (below)
- You want a low cost solution.
- You want and end to end solution.
- Personal purposes.
- You want to work with some exotic currencies.
Founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2015, Airwallex is very much a global success story with more than 1000 employees based across 19 offices including the United Kingdom, United States, Europe, Japan, China, Singapore, India and New Zealand.
1. How Airwallex Works
- Get paid and pay others in multiple currencies all in one place
- Setup global accounts to send and receive international payments online
- Spend less on foreign currency exchange fees: The exchange fee is 0.3% -1.0% of the transaction amount above interbank foreign exchange (FX) rates.
- Track and control your business expenses: businesses can manage and regulate payments. For example, your employees can set up payments for others to approve.
- Have access to virtual cards for international payments: You can instantly create virtual Visa cards which are available for immediate use. You can grant each team member their cards irrespective of their location.
- Sync your multi currency to Xero automatically: to ensure your records are always updated.
2. When Airwallex Works (and when it won’t)
2.1 When Airwallex Works for You
Get paid and pay others in multiple currencies
Many businesses grow much faster into new markets when the friction caused between multiple currencies is removed.
Free international money transfer and cheap exchange rate.
Most international transactions on Airwallex are conducted through the use of local payment technology. No transfer fees are charged.
A resource to manage and track your business expenses.
Airwallex gives you a platform to track, schedule, and manage payments. You can have sub-accounts, and create virtual cards for your team.
2.2 When Airwallex Won’t Work for You
The biggest issue we found is you may not be able to get it.
When we dug into the reviews on Trustpilot (below) and a large number of the negative reviews relate to not being approved to use their service.
2.3 Best Airwallex Alternatives
|Best Airwallex Alternatives|
|#1 Wise||Top choice for individuals, freelancers or smaller businesses|
|#2 Revolut (Business)||More integrations and features|
|#3 OFX||For more comprehensive money transfer options|
#1 Wise: Multipurpose- Business and Personal Use
Wise is recommended for international people, freelancers and smaller businesses because of its focus on providing what people want and commitment to low and transparent fees.
Over the years we have even watched their fees continually get lower. Because they were a money transfer company before anything else they are particularly strong at making this easy and inexpensive.
See if you can get the Wise multi-currency account here (opens a new tab) has lots of bank account like features but in many ways it can be better than a bank.
Some other benefits for you to consider:
- Multi-currency account: Hold, spend, and convert multiple (55+) currencies in 1 place
- Account details in major currencies to get paid and spend like a local.
- Affordable money transfers (especially for amounts below $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD): Just a small percentage fee and at the mid-market rate — for both business and personal accounts.
- Available in many places: 66 countries (including the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Eurozone) and supports transfers in 40+ currencies.
- MasterCard debit card: For easy and secure spending in multiple currencies.
- Dedicated business accounts for small or growing businesses are available with additional features like easy bulk payments and more.
You also discover more about the Wise multi currency account in our review.
3. How to Open an Account (The Easy Way)
These simple steps will help you sign up seamlessly:
- Visit their website to begin here
- Provide your basic details:
- Fill in your first name, last name, and business email, then create a password to secure your account.
- You will have to provide the name of your business, registered location, and a contact number. Then agree to the terms and conditions.
- Verify your account by clicking on a link sent to your email.
- Provide your business details:
- After verifying your account, you will be expected to provide your business registration location, your company structure, industry, and a link to your website or social media pages.
- You will also need to provide specific information about your business, like the type of goods and services your business provides. Don’t worry, it may not take more than 6 minutes.
- Provide your transaction details: Including where, how, and an estimate of how much you plan to send and receive.
- List of countries you will be receiving funds from
- List of countries you will be sending funds from
- List of countries your business is incorporated in where you have a physical office with employees.
- Platforms you will be collecting funds from, like Amazon, PayPal, etc.
- Where you will be paying money to, withdrawing money to accounts under the same name, like employees, suppliers, etc.
- Upload your documents: You will be asked to upload the following documents:
- Certificate of incorporation and Executed Trust Deeds. Be sure you upload all pages of the documents.
- Memorandum and articles of association.
- Personal ID and personal address for all directors. You will be asked to indicate whether any of the directors are Ultimate Beneficial owners
- Images of personal IDs for all Ultimate Beneficial Owners.
- Fund your wallet: Add funds to your wallet using a bank transfer
.… and you’re good to go.
We recommend that you carefully review every piece of information before submitting it as this could help smooth sailing.
Certain businesses are restricted to use this product because of government regulations and the increased risk of money laundering. Some of them are investment firms, arms dealers, gambling companies, etc.
3.1 Does Airwallex Have an App?
How Much Does It Cost to Use Airwallex?
Creating an account and making transfers on Airwallex is free. Airwallex doesn’t charge any monthly account fees, international fees, withdrawal fees, telephone enquiry fees.
So how do they make money?
- The margin on the exchange rate: between 0.3% and 1.0% above the interbank rate.
- Third-party fees- payments that automatically incur a small fee from their partners.
- SWIFT transfer (any currency) – $10-30AUD depending on SWIFT fee structure
- US domestic FedWire (USD) – $10AUD
- Singapore domestic RTGS (SGD) – $10AUD
- Hong Kong domestic RTGS (CNY, HKD, USD) – $10AUD
To sum it up, Airwallex is extremely competitive.
You can make free transfers and pay very low exchange rates.
5. Airwallex Reviews (inc. Negative Ones)
Airwallex is rated 4.0/5 on Trustpilot with almost 300 reviews. We sifted through real user reviews (both positive and negative) and found out 80% of these reviews are “Excellent” or “Great” while 18% had a “Bad” experience with the company.
Customers love the easy set up and onboarding. The intuitive user interface (UI) is appreciated by many as they unlock the potential Airwallex has to make payments and expenses easier to manage.
Although 18% had a one star rating, a large number of these relate to getting approved to use Airwallex. This could simply be that they have high standards when it comes to applying regulations within their own approval process.
People love Airwallex because of its:
- Easy to set up and use
- Great User Interface
- Awesome onboarding session
- Fast international transfers
This is what a reviewer, Sophie said about its awesome onboarding process:
“The onboarding session with Tash P was fantastic. Tash was incredibly knowledgeable, patient, and helpful! I’m enjoying using Airwallex so far.”
And another reviewer said this about it’s easy to set up and fast international transfers:
“Airwallex is the best app I have used for foreign currencies. It was easy and intuitive to set up and use. Transactions happen quickly and the virtual multifunction credit cards are awesome. I can pay in any currency I choose with one card. Amazing.”
However, not everyone had a good experience.
From the reviews, we found out that these bad experiences came from either of the following reasons:
- Longer verification timeline. Some applications took longer to verify or decline because of the company’s regulations as a financial service provider.
- Non-approval for application. According to the company’s policy, applications from businesses from industries that have an increased risk of money laundering were not approved.
Overall, if you consider that the a significant number of negative reviews came from not getting approved to use Airwallex this means that for most businesses who join, you are likely to have a positive experience.
6. Limits and Restrictions (You Should Know About)
- Airwallex is made for only registered businesses but promises to make it available for individuals in the future.
- It can only support 30+ currencies, which may not be ideal for businesses with operations across the globe.
- Not all businesses are eligible to use Airwallex because of some regulations as a financial provider.
- You can only fund your wallet from a bank account with a corresponding name on your Airwallex account.
6.1 Are Airwallex Money Transfers Safe?
While Airwallex are not a real bank they are regulated in multiple countries.
How do they keep your money safe?
- Your money and information are kept safe regardless of where you are. They are fully regulated in every country in which they operate.
- They have a two-factor authentication system to keep your money safe. This system offers 2 primary methods to generate authentication codes:
- Text Message (SMS) One-Time-Password (OTP).
- Mobile Authenticator App
- They also support 2FA on card transactions, also known as 3D Secure, or 3DS.
The different bodies regulating Airwallex in different countries include:
Australia: Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Transactions Report & Analysis Center (AUSTRAC).
Hong Kong: Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department as a Money Services Operator.
United Kingdom: Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Canada: The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC) authorized Airwallex to operate as a Money Service Business (MSB).
6.2 How Long Does It Take to Transfer Money With Airwallex?
The quick answer is 1-5 business days.
This, however, depends on the destination and currency pair. From reviews, most Non-SWIFT arrive within 1 day while SWIFT transfers arrive within 3 working days.
You will be able to see an estimate of how long your transaction will take from their interface.
The transfer speed is also a sum of these three parts:
- Time to Reach Airwallex Account (1-2 business days)
- Processing Time and Matching (can vary)
- Time to Reach Beneficiary Account (1-2 business days)
7. Other Business Goodness
- Save time by scheduling payments in bulk. You’re able to upload recipient and currency lists in .csv format which is perfect if you have several overseas employees.
- The multi-user access feature lets admins and team leaders create tailored permissions, custom roles, and enable dual approval for efficient, safe management of funds.
- Integrates with Xero accounting software for easy cash management.
For many businesses Airwallex is a great choice because of its low cost and excellent multi currency account backed up by strong customer service and thoughtful user interface.
While many services claim to be the best, few are in the same league as Airwallex.
But as we discovered (above) the biggest concern we have is they currently appear to have pretty tight requirements on who they accept. But as we explained (above) there are a few things you can do to see if are likely to get approved.