Hi, I’m Quinn Askeland. In 2016, I started Transumo after experiencing expensive, slow, and frustrating international transfers and payments through banks. My mission is simple: to help others simplify and reduce the cost of transfers and payments. Fortunately, today, there are excellent alternatives for international money transfers and payments. See My Full Bio.
Wise, formerly TransferWise, is a one-of-a-kind financial services provider that helps international people, overseas freelancers, and businesses manage their money with ease and transparency.
In most Wise reviews, the focus is on the services they offer (money transfers, a multi currency account and debit cards).
But because Wise offers much, we think there is a better question? Is Wise really good for YOU?
We will cover:
- International people (like Expats and long term travellers)
- Businesses (small and medium)
And you might be wondering: What about those negative reviews you can find online?
Well no money transfer service is perfect.
We dig deep into the wise reviews from real people to see how it might impact you – this means we analyze the good, the bad and yes, even some ugly.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which can save you money. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Let’s dive in.
1. What is Wise?
While Wise has some banking features (like letting you hold and manage over 40+ currencies and offering local bank details in major currencies), Wise isn’t a real bank (though their services can replace many things you do with a bank and are a good deal cheaper).
The Wise card (review) powered by MasterCard which can be used to withdraw money from ATMs globally. It can also be used to pay for goods and services online as well as while travelling.
Wise also offers dedicated business accounts for small and medium businesses who are looking to expand their global footprint online. Instead of jumping through hoops to get local business bank accounts worldwide, businesses can simply sign up for Wise to send and receive payments in 80+ currencies without exorbitant bank fees.
Here’s what works with Wise:
Their transparent fee structure with no hidden costs
Wise is known for offering bank-to-bank international transfers at the mid-market rate (similar to the interbank rate) without charging a mark up on the exchange rate.
Instead they charge a fixed fee based on the country, currency, amount, and payment method (bank transfer, debit or credit card, local payment methods like Sofort, iDeal etc.).
Get the latest Wise rates and fees (opens new tab).
Typically, Wise’s fee ranges between 0.6%-1% of the transfer amount, which is extremely competitive compared to banks and services like PayPal International (who charge anywhere between 3-4% on the exchange rate + fixed fees and card fees if any).
And here’s another bonus Wise has up their sleeve: they minimize hidden costs (like unexpected bank fees) through local bank accounts in all the areas they service.
Their customer service
In our view, great customer service is a critical part ofinternational money transfers.
The reason is simple: Most money transfers are simple and easy to do but if things go wrong, suddenly customer service is super important.
Wise consistently scores well on 3rd party review sites through its customer service team which seems to achieve what other can’t – online based service
Ease of use
There are lots of moving pieces when it comes to handling your money online, especially if you’re moving to another country, travelling, growing your freelance practice, or taking your business global.
Wise keeps it easy, fast, and transparent with their industry leading currency converter widget as well as their mobile and web app that let you keep tabs on rates, set up transfers, hold multiple currencies, and withdraw money with ease.
If you highly value customer service, we recommend Wise Vs TorFX because they are both excellent in this regard but have other differences.
2. Wise for Expats and Long Term Travellers
Moving abroad to live in a new country or finally getting that one-way ticket to travel the world can be exhilarating.
But not having an easy, seamless way to access and manage your money overseas can be quite stressful.
Paying rent, getting around the new city, buying your groceries – even the simplest things end up being a nightmare.
Wise understands that expats and long-term travellers need access banking features as soon as they land in a new country, continent, or city.
But when you’re emigrating, getting set up with your local bank account can take a while. And that’s not even a possibility if you’re frequently on the move as a long-term traveller.
This is where Wise’s multi currency account (review) comes in.
The multi currency account lets you hold and manage 40+ currencies, which means you can hold the currency of your home country and spend in the local currency.
Get the latest exchange rates for their multi currency account are here.
With banks, when you pay for things you are restricted to one currency. Paying for things in different currencies usually involves expensive fees included in the exchange rate.
But with Wise, when you pay for something, they first use the any money you have in the same exchange rate and then (relatively inexpensively) convert funds you have in other currencies – starting with the one that attracts the least fees.
This is done easily through the MasterCard powered debit card (currently available for residents of the US, UK, Australia, and EEA). The card can be used in 200+ countries for ATM withdrawals and for payment of goods and services at stores, restaurants, etc.
Wise also sets you up with international bank details so you can get paid like a local in 30 countries without paying any conversion fees.
The multi currency account gives you access to:
- Australian account number and BSB code
- British account number and sort code
- European IBAN
- US account number and routing number
And, if you want to send money back home, Wise offers bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers to 80+ countries.
However, Wise may not be for everyone. Here’s why:
- Instant transfers not supported
- Doesn’t support direct debits
- Not a real bank (if you’re looking to dip your toes into digital banking, check out N26 or others like it)
Related: ACH Vs Wire Transfers (for funding transfers)
Related: What is Remittance? (for cash transfers)
3. Wise for International Freelancers
Building a freelancing business while working with best-fit clients from all over the world and traveling full-time is pretty much the dream right?
You love everything about your chosen lifestyle – but only if there was a way to stop paying those pesky fees that eat into your margins.
When you started, getting paid with bank transfers seemed like the safest way – but the unnecessary delays and big fees left you cold.
Then you turned to PayPal since everyone seems to have an account. But even with the ease and speed, you’re still leaving a chunk of change on the table in fees.
The Wise Business Account makes it easy for international freelancers to get paid in 80+ currencies without paying exorbitant fees.
You also get US, Eurozone, Australian, New Zealand, and UK bank details for free so can you start invoicing in local currencies and withdraw them into your debit card or bank account.
Other cool perks include a global MasterCard debit card, integration with accounting software like Xero, and monthly statements to keep you on top of your freelance earnings.
- Though widely available in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, EEA, China, Singapore, etc.and 60+ other countries, registrations and features are limited in some areas.
For example, you can’t sign up for a debit card from Canada and you can’t sign up for an account at all in some countries (like India, Malaysia, etc.).
4. Wise for Businesses
Businesses expanding their global footprints online need as little friction as possible when they start operating in a new region.
However, that’s easier said than done.
Setting up foreign banks accounts usually means wading through regulations and paperwork, which leads to both delays and complications.
An alternative to this is the Wise Business Account (review) which can be set up in minutes and is ideal for both product and service-based businesses
Signing up gives you access to
- A multicurrency wallet (hold 50+ currencies)
- MasterCard debit card for employees
- Open API (wiki) for easy integration with multiple platforms (including integration with account software like Xero)
- Bulk payouts (local and international) to pay suppliers and employees
- Receiving payments in local currencies from Stripe and Amazon
A particularly useful feature for growing businesses is Wise’s monthly volume discount, which rewards businesses for transferring higher amounts via Wise.
- As mentioned above, the Wise Business Account doesn’t allow registrations in some countries and limits features in others.
- Can’t be integrated in payment gateways like Stripe (so not the best for standalone e-commerce businesses)
- Restrictions on how much money can be received for businesses receiving in USD or having a Singapore account address
5. Potential issues and How to Avoid Them
After going through hundreds of reviews (both positive and negative) on Trustpilot (where Wise is rated 4.6/5), where there are over 130,000 reviews, we noticed some individuals and business complained that they lost access to their account after transferring.
This can definitely be alarming – as an individual, you’d be stranded without money especially if you’re travelling and a business, this would mean you’d be strapped for operating cash or your suppliers and employees wouldn’t receive their payment.
As a regulated financial service provider, Wise is supposed to audit and flag unusual account activity to keep your money safe from theft or fraud.
There are many reasons an account can be flagged. One could be that they require more documentation from you to meet regulations. This occurs with larger amounts over approximately $7000 USD and is the main reason we recommend other services for larger amounts. That said, Wise can still transfer larger amounts.
Most importantly, rest assured, you will almost certainly get back access to your account once their checks are over and Wise’s customer service team is responsive and helpful.
A couple of ways to avoid this:
- Keep your documentation handy for large transfers
- Double check your recipient details before sending
- Make sure your transfer complies with Wise’s service agreements
Another issue that came up was transfer delays – however, these were mostly due to mismatched expectations.
Bank-to-bank transfers on Wise can take anywhere from 1-4 days to be completed, depending on the currency corridor, amount, and time of day (transfers initiated on weekends or holidays are typically delayed due to reliance on banking hours).
And while card-to-bank transfers on Wise are fast (completed in a few hours), they are by no means instant (unlike Western Union’s near-instant Money in Minutes service, which is also more expensive).
Other than this, for most people Wise chalks up scores of positive reviews with respect to ease of use, transparent rates, service features, and customer support.
Wise can be excellent way forinternational people, overseas freelancers, and small to medium businesses to manage their money with ease and transparency.
Although technically not a bank, Wise offers services that makes living and doing business internationally easier for multiple currencies all while keeping their fees transparent and affordable.
Alternatively, if you simply want to transfer money get the latest Wise rates and fees.