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.
This is not just another “CurrencyFair is awesome” type review, I am going to show you where CurrencyFair may not be the best option and even who else to consider.
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.
- Can be very inexpensive
- Great control over each step (if desired)
- Need to have money in your CurrencyFair account to secure rates
- Not available to US residents
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.
You can also get your first 3 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.
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.
Is CurrencyFair right for you?
Innovative use of peer networks keep fees extremely low for international transfers. To lock in exchange rates, you first send funds to your currencyfair account. Fees include a $4 or €3 fixed fee but on average are just 0.4% above the mid-market rate – 8X cheaper than banks.
For some, the extra step of moving money to your CurrencyFair account so you can lock-in one of the best rates you can get – is a great way to go.
But that is not all.
Gold standard in control
Once you have your money in your CurrencyFair account, they offer great control.
For example, they offer “Best rate available now” transfers which is likely to be an extremely competitive rate compared to the mid-market or interbank exchange rate.
In addition to this, they also enable you to “Choose you own rate” which gives you the option to wait for your rate to be matched.
7 Things You Need to Know (click to skip down)
- Rates, Fees, Cost and Hidden Fees?
- How to Sign Up
- How CurrencyFair Works (and when it doesn’t)
- When Things Go Wrong and Trustworthy Reviews?
- Safety and Security
- Bottom Line
Most other money transfer companies base their exchange rates they offer around the mid-market or interbank rate (wikipedia) 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.
1.2 Fees and Cost
Initially CurrencyFair charges 0.25 – 0.3% of the total amount exchanged when other customers match yours.
If there are no customers providing a competitive rate, CurrencyFair makes the transfer happen with their funds and charges 0.4% to 0.6%.
In both cases the rate you see includes a fee which is typically $4 or € 3.
Before you sign up you can get your first 3 transfers free and see what rate you can get.
On average CurrencyFair says customers pay around 0.4% on the amount they exchange. The rate you get will depend on the currencies and the amounts but even at 0.6% it is still very competitive.
However it is worth pointing out to get the best rates relies on the you having the funds available to your CurrencyFair account otherwise you are subject to exchange rate fluctuations. This time delay depends on the country (usually 2 or 3 days) and can work in your favour but either way it is an important consideration. If this extra step does not bother you – CurrencyFair may be a winning choice.
1.3 Hidden Fees
Another potential cost that seems to catch CurrencyFair customers out is the fees that banks charge at both ends. This can be a significant percentage if you are transferring smaller amounts below a few thousand.
A lot of this depends on the local bank account network they maintain worldwide. For major currencies and countries (like USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, SGD) – CurrencyFair is going to be about as good as it gets given its size, but it you want transfer money smaller currencies it may pay to shop around and see if the have local bank accounts. CurrencyFair is currently expanding into India and Asia and at the time of writing purchased a company to speed up the process.
2.1 Signing Up
Initial sign up for CurrencyFair is very straight forward.
It can be done in two ways:
- Register directly through the CurrencyFair website.
- Sign up using your Facebook account.
At this step you enter your Name, Country of Residence and Reason for using them.
2.2 Email Verification
After the initial sign up, you will be sent your CurrencyFair ID number which also verifies your email address.
2.3 Identity Verification
CurrencyFair at this point requires more information to meet regulatory requirements. Things like your date of birth, address, and phone number are required.
This information can sometimes be done automatically, but often you will need to upload some photo identification and/or proof of your address.
This part of the process is pretty easy if you have the required documents at hand and a camera on your phone or computer in which to share images of your documents.
An email confirms this process is complete, which can be almost immediate or up to 24hrs.
This is standard required practice for all money transfer services but some are better than others and the online service CurrencyFair provides was very smooth.
2.4 The Transfer
Now you have two main options.
- Send Money
- Top Up
Click “Send Money” if you want to send money as quickly as possible and “Top Up” if you wish to move money to your CurrencyFair account so that you are ready to transfer money at a later time and lock-in the best exchange rate at that point in time.
What does a transaction actually look like?
2.5 Track Progress
Knowing when money from your bank account is available is your account is automatically set to your email address but you also have the option of SMS, Browser notifications and Mobile app push notifications.
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!
3.2 Doesn’t Work
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.
However for most people following exchange rates and trying to play the FX game to get the best exchange rate is closer to gambling than being smart with your money.
There is more to this story.
There seems to be truck loads of positive reviews for pretty much every money transfer company including CurrencyFair.
However CurrencyFair has earned an impressive score of 9.3 out of 10 from TrustPilot for 2860 reviews and that is one of the highest in the industry.
But, there are differences in each service and it is in the negative reviews where lots can be learned.
Categorising One and Two Star Reviews from TrustPilot
After scouring 100s of reviews, most bad reviews relate to two things:
- Unable to do business 12%
- Money Delays / Lost 43%
- Better Rates Elsewhere 9%
- Customer Service 6%
- Accounts Locked After a Transfer 19%
- Other 11%
First this must be taken in context. These negative reviews account for less than 5% of customers and CurrencyFair has more positive reviews than pretty much every other company in the business. Now lets look at the ones that stand out so we get a better picture.
Money Delays / Lost
It is pretty normal for money transfer companies to have a bad review or two per hundred surrounding delays in their funds arriving. Often the reviewer is understandably very concerned and some even worry that CurrencyFair is a scam.
Far as we can tell the funds are never lost forever and most certainly not stolen – not a viable long term business move. Usually it is simply the banks at either end who can take significant time to process funds.
Accounts Locked After a Transfer
As amounts increase, the need for more checks on ID can become necessary. This occurs to about 1% of customers, but from personal experience it can be a bit frustrating.
CurrencyFair can ask for additional ID if the transactions reaches certain thresholds and after money has been sent to the CurrencyFair account. No doubt this is related to meeting regulatory requirements which they mention in responses.
“to comply with banking regulations, we are required to complete KYC (know your customer) checks on all new and existing customers”
“to comply with Anti Money Laundering regulations, we may need to contact customers to request additional information when a transaction is being processed.”
Most other transfer companies (which are geared towards transferring larger amounts from the outset) get all the ID checks out of the way before making even small transactions.
This is one reason we recommend using alternative services over $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500.
The speed of the transfer depends on the location and the currency desired.
With CurrencyFair there are three parts to the total time it takes.
- Time to Reach CurrencyFair Account
- Processing Time and Matching
- Time to Reach Beneficiary Account
In total a lot depends on the banks at either end however if you have additional requirements like using the “Choose you own rate” service – this often makes the P2P transaction slower.
Generally though the Processing Time and Matching process will be only a small part of the process which could be as quick as one day if you have the funds available and typically 4-6 working days in total.
As with most money transfer companies, CurrencyFair prioritises safeguarding you from any mishap that would involve your hard-earned money. CurrencyFair assures you that their services are regulated and monitored by numerous government offices.
Moreover, the company is under the regulation of European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009. They are regulated by both the Central Bank of Ireland and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
CurrencyFair (especially when you get your first 3 transfers free) is a dissevered leader in world of money transfers. By removing the currency risk from waiting for funds to arrive in its accounts it focuses on saving you money through its P2P network.
For some, not being able to secure rates unless you have the funds available will make other services more attractive.
For many others though, extremely competitive rates will be all they need.
Check out our other recommended providers for larger amounts or more telephone based services if it is important for you to be walked through the process including set-up.