Can You Do Better? – Costs, Services and Much More
Wise formerly TransferWise (from March 2021) is no doubt one of the best money transfer services out there.
- Great rates, excellent customer service, transparency on fees
- May not always be the right choice for you
What could you be missing out on? 🤔
And who can you turn to when TransferWise doesn’t line up with your specific needs? 👍
Let’s find out.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and savings on transfers if you use some of the links! For more information, see my disclosures here.
- 7 Ways TransferWise Works
- 8 Ways They Might Not Work (plus who might be better!)
- TransferWise Alternatives
- TransferWise Alternatives Snapshot
Before uncovering other services which may be better it is important to establish what is great about TransferWise.
TransferWise is known for their low and transparent (bank-beating) rates.
And here’s the kicker: You can see exactly the fees you will pay and how much money will arrive using this widget (opens new tab).
You can also compare with other services at the same time.
As you will see, they let you transfer money at the interbank rate which they call the “real rate” without charging a margin on the exchange rate.
So how do they make money?
By charging a variable % of the transfer amount, which they show.
As we said in our full review;
far cheaper than banks and insanely transparent starting with the real exchange rate and then showing the fees up front. They are particularly good at smaller transfers …
But wait – before we get stuck into transfers for many people the Borderless account is a potential game changer that you might want to know about.
The optional Borderless Account (review) enables a multi-currency account to hold and manage money in 40+ currencies, a prepaid MasterCard debit card (that’s great for online payments as well as while travelling) with international bank details in most major currencies (for example, GBP, USD, CAD, AUD, NZD, and EUR).
For now let’s stay focused on money transfers.
When is TransferWise right for you?
1.1 You’re comfortable handling all aspects of money transfer online: TransferWise is an online only service that lets you make card-to-bank and bank-to-bank transfers.
1.2 You want to send small amounts: Since TransferWise charges a % of the transfer amount in transfer fees, they are great for transferring smaller amounts.
Below $7000 USD / 4000 GBP / 9500 AUD/CAD / 5000 EUR is considered a small amount.
1.3 Your recipient has a bank account: Want to send money directly to your recipient’s bank account? TransferWise is a great option.
1.4 You don’t want any hidden fees: TransferWise maintains local bank accounts in all the areas it supports. This means your very unlikely to face any unexpected fees from banks at either end (while funding your transfer or when the transfer amount reaches your recipient’s bank account).
1.5 You need a multi-currency wallet: If you frequently move money for personal or business reasons, a multi-currency wallet is a great perk enabling you to switch between currencies with very low fees. Once you transfer funds to your wallet, you can easily lock in a favourable exchange rate and initiate a transfer.
1.6 You want a prepaid MasterCard debit card (no to low fees) for travelling and paying for goods online: The prepaid MasterCard debit card is issued free with TransferWise Borderless. There are no annual fees or minimum balance requirements. Plus, you get free ATM withdrawals of £200/month worldwide (with a 2% fee applicable after the limit). Currency conversion fees apply when you pay in a foreign currency online or withdraw money from an ATM abroad and a small fee is may be charged (wiki) to get the card in some countries.
1.7 You want international bank details in major currencies: With TransferWise Borderless, you get international bank details in GBP, USD, CAD, AUD, NZD, and EUR. This means you can get paid in these currencies without being charged a currency conversion fee. This is particularly helpful if you’re a frequent traveller or a digital nomad.
TransferWise (review) is available in 59 countries and lets you transfer money to 60+ countries worldwide, which covers all major and most lesser known currencies.
If you want to check how you can use them – check out their pretty handy currency guides.
2.1 You need phone support for signing up or setting up your transfer: Plenty of people aren’t comfortable handling all aspects of money transfer online. If you need to speak to a human while setting up your account and the transfer, check out TorFX instead (See “TransferWise vs. TorFX” below). TorFX is big in UK, Europe and Asia (inc Australia, New Zealand) but not available in North America, however the next one is and also has telephone support.
2.2 You want to send large amounts: TransferWise’s whole business was originally designed around smaller transfers and part of this came a fee structure and online platform focused on this. However for large amounts, OFX is our recommended preferred option. (See “TransferWise vs OFX” below).
2.3 You need a wider selection of receiving countries: TransferWise supports currency transfers between most major countries (59 sender countries and 60+ receiving countries). But if yours is not listed and you need more options, XE supports over 170 receiving countries (See “TransferWise vs XE” below).
2.4 You want to send cash or top up a mobile wallet: TransferWise supports card-to-bank and bank-to-bank transfers. If you need more payout methods, WorldRemit may be better for you. (See “TransferWise vs WorldRemit” below).
2.5 You want the most affordable rates: TransferWise is one of the most affordable currency transfer services out there, with rates up to 8x cheaper than banks. But sometimes, CurrencyFair can get you even better rates. (See “TransferWise vs CurrencyFair” below).
2.6 You want instant transfers to friends and family only: Currently, TransferWise doesn’t support instant money transfers. If you want to send money to your family members urgently, Remitly is a great option (See “TransferWise vs Remitly” below).
2.7 You’re based in the Eurozone and need an alternative prepaid card: The MasterCard prepaid card issued with TransferWise Borderless is a great option for frequent travellers and digital nomads. But if you’re based in the Eurozone (wiki), you should check out N26’s prepaid debit card (See “TransferWise vs N26” below).
2.8 You want to send money without revealing your bank details: If you don’t want to reveal your bank details to your recipient, PayPal is a great tried and tested alternative. (See “TransferWise vs PayPal” below)
Prefer a quick overview? Skip to “TransferWise Alternatives Snapshot” below.
|TransferWise is an online only service.|
Despite this, they are known for their great customer support and they have a comprehensive FAQs section (with country-specific guides) to help you with your transfer.
But TransferWise doesn’t provide phone support for getting signed up or setting up transfers which may be a deal breaker for some.
|TorFX is a great option for larger transfers if if you like having industry leading telephone support.|
They have two distinct offices to help based on where you are located.
Once you sign up for your account, you can get phone support or email support for setting up your transfer.
You will also be assigned to a Personal Account Manager who can guide you.
Alternatively you can also initiate transfers online or via the TorFX app.
Check out our full TorFX review here.
|TransferWise’s fees depends on the amount you’re transferring, payment method, and the target currency.|
TransferWise charges a percentage (0.4 – 1%) of the transfer amount as transfer fees.
These very competitive fees combined with their excellent online experience make them a sure choice for smaller transfers ($7,000 USD and below).
|OFX charges a flat $15 fee for transfers below $10,000 + a margin on the exchange rate.|
However you can get that $15 fee waived for ever here, which makes them economical for both large and small transfers.
As for the margin on the exchange rate, as amounts increase the percentage fees charged actually decreases. (They start at about 2% and it goes down to 0.4%)
This fee structure combined with their online and telephone support makes for an excellent balance between fees charged and customer service needed.
For larger amounts, having the ability to lock in transfers online easily but then have telephone support to ensure the transaction runs smoothly makes them a winner for larger amounts.
|TransferWise supports registration from 50+ countries (overall they have a great presence in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, and Asia) and they support transfers to 60+ countries.|
TransferWise supports transfers in 40+ currencies.
When you sign up for TransferWise Borderless, you get access to a few more currencies for local and international transfers. However, the Borderless prepaid card is only available in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and US.
|XE is a an excellent service for Europe, UK, US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand.|
XE supports transfers in 60+ currencies to over 170 countries worldwide.
While the supported receiving countries may vary depending on your location, their coverage is pretty impressive.
They also have English, Spanish and French telephone support.
|With TransferWise, you can make affordable card-to-bank and bank-to-bank transfers. This is great if your recipient has a bank account or you just want to send money to yourself.||Other than bank-to-bank transfers, WorldRemit also supports cash pick ups, mobile wallet transfers, air-time phone top ups, and door-to-door delivery (only in Vietnam).|
This is helpful when your recipient doesn’t have a local bank account.
WorldRemit is also available in 44 countries and supports transfers to 150 countries worldwide.
|TransferWise charges 0.4% – 1% of the transfer amount (depending on the currency) as transfer fees and doesn’t have an exchange rate mark up.|
Plus, they have bank details in all the areas they support, so there are no unexpected deductions from banks at either end.
This makes TransferWise one of the most affordable money transfer services out there.
|With CurrencyFair, you can send money in two ways:|
CurrencyFair’s fees depend on the transfer method and they charge a fixed fee (€3 or equivalent) + a % of the transfer amount.
Sign up using this link you get your First 10 Transfers Fee Free (opens a new tab).
When you swap currencies in their P2P marketplace, you can potentially secure a transfer below the interbank rate.
Moreover, CurrencyFair’s percentage fees are also much lower than TransferWise’s fees
Plus, they have local bank accounts in the majority of the supported areas (except New Zealand and Canada). This makes them the most affordable option in most cases.
CurrencyFair also supports registrations from and transfers to many island countries (for example, Anguilla, Aruba, Greenland, etc.), unlike TransferWise which services mostly popular currency transfer corridors.
|TransferWise tries to process most of their transfers within the same day. But in some cases, it may take 2 – 5 days for the money to reach your recipient.|
The reality of this is that the banks at either end often take the majority of the time needed.
|Remitly lets you transfer money instantly to your family.|
They offer two options of sending money:
Express – where your family can receive the funds in minutes. This is a more expensive option, but in case of emergencies you might be happy to pay a premium.
You can fund Express transactions with a credit or debit card.
Economy – This is a more affordable albeit slower option. You can fund these transfers with a bank transfer.
Remitly supports bank-to-bank transfers, cash pickups, and mobile wallet transfers.
But here a few things to consider:
- Remitly exists with a unique vision – to make money transfer easy, fast, and affordable for immigrants based in developed countries.That’s why they support registrations from 16 sender countries and transfers to 50 recipient countries. And, they don’t support transfers between these 16 sender countries. (The sender countries include: UK, US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Sweden)
- You can only initiate personal transfers with Remitly (examples of personal transfers include utility bills, rent, medical expenses, or travel expenses).
The N26 card is not just a prepaid travel card. It’s a MasterCard debit card linked to a full-service bank account. Yep – N26 is a licensed (in Europe) digital bank and a great alternative to traditional banking for individuals and digital nomads who travel frequently or do business in multiple currencies.
Unlike N26, TransferWise Borderless is not a licensed bank and only has some banking features (such as holding multiple currencies in the multi-currency account and transferring money locally and internationally).
|TransferWise supports bank-to-bank payments and card-to-bank payments. In either case, you’ll need banking details of your recipient.|
TransferWise also has business services which are set to rival PayPal.
|One of the biggest advantages of PayPal is the ability to send money to folks without knowing their bank details or revealing yours (you can simply send money to the email address associated with your recipient’s PayPal account).|
You can also integrate PayPal into your payment gateway if you have an e-commerce store.
That said, all this convenience does come at a cost.
Overall, PayPal is a great alternative for sending money to someone without revealing your bank details or asking for your recipient’s details. However, the PayPal’s fees are quite hefty (6-8% of the transfer amount) compared to other players in the market and sometimes even high street banks (who charge 3-5% of the amount).
|Great phone support||TorFX||Once you sign up for your account, you can get phone support or email support for setting up your transfer.|
You will also be assigned to a Personal Account Manager who can guide you through every aspect of the transfer.
|Sending large amounts||OFX||OFX mix of online and telephone support combined with great fee fee structure makes them a great option.|
|More options for receiving countries||XE||XE supports transfers in 60+ currencies to over 170 countries worldwide.|
|More payout methods||WorldRemit||WorldRemit supports cash picks, mobile wallet transfers, air-time phone top ups, and door-to-door delivery.|
|Better rates||CurrencyFair||Enable transfers at exchange rates below the interbank rate with their P2P option.|
|Instant personal transfers||Remitly||Send money instantly to your family with Remitly’s Express option.|
|Alternative to the TransferWise Borderless Prepaid Card||N26||Get a MasterCard debit card linked to a full-service current account. You can receive your salary in the account, set up direct debits, and the card is also great for travelling.|
|Send money without revealing bank details||PayPal||You can send money to a recipient’s email address associated with their PayPal account.|
But don’t just take our word for it.
TransferWise is rated 4.6/5 on TrustPilot and even when we analyzed the negative reviews, we found that keeping the amounts below $7000 will avoid almost any potential issues.
But there are many moving parts while transferring money. And, while most services try to be comprehensive and all inclusive, it’s not always possible.
That’s why it’s important to stay in the know about each service’s strengths so you can choose the right one that speaks to your needs.
The reality is that it may make sense to use more than one service.