8 Must Knows Before You Sign Up
- Both are very low cost
- Fundamentally differ in the way they move money, which will suit different needs better
- Both excellent for smaller transfers, but we recommend others for larger transfers
Let’s see how they stack up. 🤔
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which can save you money! For more information, see my disclosures here.
- Who Can Get One?
- Costs and Fees (+ Hidden Fees?)
- Ways to Send Money
- Payout Methods
- Transfer Speed
- Reviews (inc. Negative Ones)
- Customer Service and Support
CurrencyFair and Wise (formerly TransferWise) are leading the way for smaller transfers (below $7000 USD). CurrencyFair keep fees low with its P2P (peer to peer) platform giving unrivalled control over the exchange rate while Wise is a leader in transparency on fees and excellent service online.
Above $7000 USD / 4000 GBP / 9500 AUD/CAD / 5000 EUR is considered a large amount and for these a provider that is designed for larger amounts is a better option. (See fees)
These fundamental differences can be explained by how they work.
How CurrencyFair Works
While most money transfer companies are happy providing a much better service that is just a fraction of the cost, CurrencyFair takes the world one step further to money nirvana.
CurrencyFair offer two low-cost ways of sending money – exchanging your currency in their P2P marketplace or processing the transaction directly when there are no peers in the pipeline. Either way, you save a bunch but using the P2P marketplace to essentially swap money safely with others. The experience is both empowering and potentially the cheapest way you will find.
It also helps that they offer Transumo users get the first 10 transfers free.
How Wise Works
Wise is focused on transfers through their excellent online platform with telephone support for troubleshooting.
While they don’t offer “free transfers” they are also very transparent on fees – So you can see exactly what you will pay using their widget here.
Guaranteed rates enable you to lock in a transfer for 24 – 48 hrs while you fund the transaction.
Wise also has some distinct value add with its offers a multi-currency wallet, prepaid Mastercard debit card and optional Borderless account (review). This gives you a bit more flexibility to hold, transfer, and receive money like a local providing international bank details in major currencies such as USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, and NZD.
Both Wise and CurrencyFair are very competitive on fees.
Both say they are “8x cheaper than banks”, but it does vary between different currencies and different amounts.
In our testing (and real life use) we found that both Wise and CurrencyFair are indeed just a fraction of the costs and 8x cheaper can be achieved. Here some approximate numbers (because it can vary depending on currencies and other factors):
- Wise – 0.35% to 1%
- CurrencyFair – 0.4% to 0.6%
- Banks –3% to 7%
- PayPal – 6% to 8%
- Best International Money Transfers – 0.4%-1.8%
CurrencyFair can have an edge on Wise with its P2P marketplace but you have to consider that in order to execute on these rates the money needs to be funded in your CurrencyFair account.
Wise on the other hand guarantees the transaction rates they offer, and so while they might be just slightly more expensive your money can stay in your bank account until you have the transaction locked in.
Above $7000 USD we recommend OFX (review) because of their international customer support network and fee structure which diminishes as amounts increase. Alternately TorFX (review) gets excellent reviews and is recommended if you want the ultimate in telephone support from sign up to transactions.
|CurrencyFair is available in 62 countries and supports transfers to 153 countries.|
However, they’re not available in the US.
|You can sign up for Wise in 69 countries and send money to 60 countries worldwide.|
They have a good presence in almost all continents and are available in the US.
CurrencyFair supports more countries for international transfers, including registrations from and transfers to island countries (Anguilla, Aruba, Greenland, etc.). However, they are not available in the US yet, which can be a major drawback for some users.
Overall, if you’re located in Europe, UK, and Australia and looking for low cost transfers to both major and remote regions, CurrencyFair is a great option.
Wise doesn’t support as many receiving countries. But they do have a well-distributed footprint in Asia, Africa and South Americas and support registrations from the US.
|CurrencyFair lets you send money in two ways – by matching your exchange rate with another user in the P2P market place or sending it directly if you don’t want to wait.|
Their fees depend on the transfer method and they charge a % of the amount + a fixed fee (usually €3 or equivalent).
Usually the % fees are higher when CurrencyFair steps in to complete the transfer (0.4% to 0.6% of the amount exchanged, depending on the currency pair).
But if you can wait, swapping with a peer can often get you an incredible exchange rate (near the interbank rate) and lower transfer fees (0.25% or 0.3%, depending on the currency pair).
You can also get the first 10 transfers free.
|Wise’s fees depend on the amount, how you fund your transfer, and the target currency.|
Wise is known for their transparent rates and affordable transfers at the inter-bank rate.
Typically, you’ll pay between 0.4-1% of the transfer amount, which is extremely competitive compared to banks (who charge 3-5% of a transfer).
Plus, they have bank details in all the supported countries, which means you’ll never face unexpected deductions (either for transferring money from your bank account to Wise or when your recipient gets the amount transferred to theirs).
Compare Wise and see exactly what you will pay using their widget.
CurrencyFair is usually the most affordable option in most cases.
But CurrencyFair doesn’t operate local bank accounts in Canada or New Zealand, and a few other countries it supports registrations from.
So, while you can use the service in these countries and their fees may be lower the fees banks charge can drive up the total cost of the transfer. For smaller amounts these fees can be significant.
Wise also has local bank accounts in all the areas it services. This means you’ll see the exact amount you’ll pay and the amount your recipient will get on the currency convertor widget on their homepage before you initiate the transfer.
So which service is best for you? It really depends on where you’re from and which currency you want to exchange.
Once you get that down, you can’t go wrong with either service.
|CurrencyFair supports 21 currencies for local and international transfers and 17 currencies for receiving money.|
Overall, CurrencyFair supports 38 currencies for sending and receiving money.
Check out the full list of supported currencies here.
|Wise lets you set up international transfers in 20 currencies and local transfers in 30 currencies.|
Overall, Wise supports 50 currencies for local and international transfers.
Check out the full list here.
If you sign up for Wise Multi Currency Account (review), you have access to a few more currencies for setting up transfers or if you want to get paid like a local.
Plus, with Wise, you get international bank details in major currencies like USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, and CAD.
Check the full list of currencies supported by Wise here.
While CurrencyFair has a larger base of receiving countries (153), they support fewer currencies for transfers.
That’s why Wise is the clear winner here, especially if you count the extra flexibility of the Borderless account.
|You can fund your transfers on Wise with:|
Wise offers a lot more flexibility for funding your transfers, including debit and credit card support for most countries as well as some location-specific funding methods.
Both CurrencyFair and Wise support card-to-bank and bank-to-bank transfers from a number of sender countries.
So if your recipient has a bank account, you can’t go wrong with either service.
However, if quick access to cash is needed (as an expat or while travelling or send money to family), check out WorldRemit (review).
Here’s how transfer speed looks like on CurrencyFair:
Here’s how transfer speed looks like on Wise:
On paper there’s very little difference between the transfer speeds of both the services, but here’s why we’ve picked Wise.
If you choose the P2P method on CurrencyFair, currency conversion can take a couple of days (instead of being processed usually on the same day).
That said, your transfers are processed quicker on both services if you fund it with a card (card-to-bank).
|CurrencyFair is rated 4.7/5 on TrustPilot with over 4000 reviews. 84% found their service “Excellent” while 10% rated it “Great.”|
But we were also concerned why 3% of their users had a “Bad” experience with the service.
After trawling through the negative reviews, we found that the top issues were frozen accounts and poor customer service.
As a regulated financial services provider, CurrencyFair needs to audit transfers for compliance and to prevent theft, fraud, and money laundering activities.
So frozen accounts – though disheartening – is quite common in the money transfer industry.
Check out our full review of CurrencyFair here.
|Wise is rated 4.6/5 on TrustPilot with over 86,000 reviews.|
86% of their users had an “Excellent” experience and 8% had a “Great” experience.
The 3% who had a “Bad” experience reported transfer delays and frozen accounts as the top causes of dissatisfaction.
Transfer delays can be avoided by understanding how long Wise actually takes to transfer your money, depending on the funding method or target currency.
Frozen accounts, on the other hand, are those that are under review by Wise (also a regulated financial services provider).
But the good news is Wise is always proactive and steps up to help their customers whenever they are in a jam.
Both CurrencyFair and Wise are excellent money transfer services in most cases. But when it comes to resolving customer issues, Wise has a reputation of saving the day with their fast response time.
For online-only services like these two, this can make a huge difference.
|CurrencyFair’s customer service team can be reached via live chat, email, or phone. They also have helpful guides on their website.|
But while their email response time is pretty fast (2 hours on average), their customer support team can be hard to reach by phone (you may have to wait for up to 12 hours for a call back).
|Wise offers excellent support to their users via phone, email, and live chat (depends on their workload). They also have an extensive Help section on their website.|
Moreover, their customer service team is known for being fast and helpful when users hit a transfer snag.
Neither CurrencyFair not Wise have physical presence in the countries they operate to help folks with their transfers.
That’s why it’s so important to have a robust customer service team to reassure users. Wise seems to have nailed keep customer service high with costs low.
With 4 wins for Wise (was TransferWise), 1 for CurrencyFair, and 2 ties, it would be easy to say Wise is the winner.
But as we have shown, they are quite different and for some CurrencyFair will be the winner.
That said, I will try to make this easy!
If you’re looking for currency transfers between popular corridors, need international bank details in major currencies, and perhaps think a prepaid MasterCard is a great add on, Wise is a fantastic choice.
On the other hand, CurrencyFair provides a unique option with extremely low fees. For some, their P2P platform which provides more control and the best exchange rates in the industry is an excellent reason to use them. Also getting the first 10 transfers free will makes them hard to resist a trial run at the very least.
So which service is right for you?
It ultimately comes down to your unique long-term and short-term needs.