Wise does much more than international money transfers – combined with a multi currency account and cards they are leading a revolution. In this review, we will show you what Wise can do (and can’t do) as well as make it clear when there are some good alternatives.
Are you tired of the high costs, hidden fees, slow transfers and terrible customer support when it comes to international money?
You’re in the right place.
Wise could well be your best option to manage your international money seamlessly, getting paid, paying others, transferring money or simply exchanging currencies without the excessive fees.
But they are not for everyone!
But don’t worry, I will show you some great alternatives and also how to get the most out of Wise if you do end up choosing to use them.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which may save you and do not cost any more. For more information, see my about here.
1. The Basics
Most review sites and the reviews are pretty positive when it comes to Wise, but not all. On Trustpilot, Wise has a rating of 4.3/5 on 193,000 reviews in 2023. Of these, 82% are “excellent” (5 Stars) with another 10% who consider OFX as great (4 stars).
>> Do not miss What do Wise Customers Say? (including Negative Reviews) ⬇️
|💳 Payment options||Bank account (ACH, SWIFT or wire transfer), debit card, credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.|
|🚚 Delivery Options||Bank account only|
|🚧 Transfer Limits||Minimums vary depending on destination but can be as little as the equivalent of $1 USD. |
Americans are $15,000 per day using ACH and $1.6 million per international transfer when funded with a bank wire transfer.
|🏦 Established||2010 in London, UK|
|💁 Clients||Personal and Business (Worldwide)|
|💱 Currencies||Check yours are here|
Send money to over 160 countries
Hold money in over 40 currencies
A card to spend in over 40 currencies in over 150 countries
|🏛️ Physical Offices||United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore|
|💻 Availability||Online and mobile|
|⚖️ Regulation||Regulated in Europe, USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong|
|🔒 Security||Fraud Team, Security Team, 2FA|
|⭐ Reviews||“Excellent” – 4.4/5 from over 186,000 reviews on TrustPilot (Feb 2023)|
|💰 Fees||Total Fees Average – 0.61% (Very Competitive)|
|🌐 Official Website||Visit Wise|
2. When Wise Works
Wise keeps fees low and transparent, make transfers as fast as possible and they have excellent online customer support.
But don’t take my word for it – try for yourself: Use the Wise calculator (no sign up required) to see the fees and when it will arrive.
The truth is, that while others claim “no fees” and then build healthy fees into the exchange rate, Wise avoids the usual smoke and mirrors.
Instead they use the mid-market rate and then show you the fees upfront.
The mid-market exchange rate, is the rate used by banks to exchange currencies, to calculate the cost of currency exchange. This rate is also known as the “real” exchange rate and is the average between the buy and sell rates. By using the mid-market rate, Wise ensures that customers avoid bank markups and get the best possible rate for their currency exchange.
In contrast, banks and the competitors of Wise include a fee in the exchange rate plus they often add on another fee. When comparing Wise with other options, it’s crucial to consider the total fees involved.
To sign up follow these steps:
Initial sign up for a Wise money transfer (formerly TransferWise) can be done in two ways:
- Sign up using Google or Facebook
- Register on their site starting with their super useful currency guides
3. When Wise Doesn’t Work + Alternatives
But there are situations where Wise doesn’t work the best:
- Cash Transfers
- Large Transfers
- Customer Support (in some situations)
Cash transfers require middle men and that means extra costs which is usually passed on to you. Wise doesn’t offer cash transfers because it goes against their mission of “money without borders – instant, convenient, transparent and eventually free.”
Meanwhile old-school services like Western Union, Ria and MoneyGram have traditionally filled this gap which is enabled by large fees and maybe even a fax machine or rotary phone.
Thankfully, there is a middle ground, and services such as Remitly offer a solution where the recipient can pick up cash or even have their mobile phone topped-up.
These companies are able to keep fees low by utilizing their online efficiencies while still providing cash pickup services through partnerships with local banks and money transfer agents.
Wise Vs Remitly
Wise Vs Remitly are important to compare because they are both great at international money transfers, but they differ in important ways.
Wise is slightly more transparent and has a simple fee structure for its transfers.
On the other hand, Remitly offers Express or Economy transfers, and delivery through bank, cash pickup, mobile money, or home delivery.
Remitly can only send money from these 17 countries: United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, and Sweden.
Wise on the other hand can send money from almost any country in the world with high limits on the amount you can send and transfers are bank-to-bank although you can fund the transfer in many ways.
Wise Vs Revolut
Revolut Vs Wise is a great comparison because both offer multi-currency accounts and cards, great money transfers, and the ability to hold balances in different currencies.
While they share many similarities, Wise is generally considered simpler and more straight forward to use.
On the other hand, Revolut offers more features geared towards frequent travelers and digital banking. The costs of using each service are also different, but generally Revolut is more complex.
Wise Vs PayPal
Wise Vs PayPal is also an important comparison because both offer international transfers. However Wise is more specialized in international transfers while PayPal is designed for more suitable for e-commerce transactions.
For transfers, Wise has transparent fees and competitive exchange rates and is usually the better choice if you need to make international transfers frequently and want to save on fees.
In contrast, PayPal’s international money transfers generally mean higher and more complex fees, making Wise the better choice.
Amounts Above $7000 USD
(Approximately £4500 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD AUD)
When it comes to making larger money transfers, financial institutions such including money transfer services must follow tougher anti-terrorism and money laundering regulations once the amount reaches about $7000 USD.
This typically means more ID is required. In the meantime, your account can be frozen or transfers delayed.
To avoid these issues, it’s best to use services that specialize in handling larger amounts of money.
These services may require more information during the sign-up process, but they typically offer better support, ideally 24/7 telephone assistance. And having 24/7 phone support can be a huge benefit, as it allows for any bottlenecks to be resolved quickly even when the banks involved operate on different time zones and have different transfer limits.
Additionally, services that handle larger transfers tend to charge progressively lower fees as a percentage of the total amount.
Wise Vs OFX
Wise Vs OFX is important to compare because are both great services for transfers to a bank account anywhere in the world, but for different amounts. In our Review of OFX we uncover we show why they are top of their game.
So that OFX can make money on smaller transfers they sometimes add a $15 fee (below $10,000) however we organised to have this fee removed (opens a new tab) so you can avoid this fees all together – if applicable.
OFX offers a combination of online and offline customer support including 24/7 phone support, it is best for transferring larger amounts over $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD.
Where the OFX online experience is simple yet effective, the Wise experience provides many more options and a great user experience.
This means Wise is be better for smaller transfer and their optional multi currency account and card can be very useful.
So while both score around 4.3/5 on Trustpilot (excellent) we score them 4.9/5 if you use them as intended.
While we are on the subject of large transfers with excellent customer service, Currencies Direct for USA and Canada (review) and their sister service TorFX for Australia and UK (review) both have a very customer driven approach and score incredibly well on Trustpilot with a 4.9/5 each. But if you like doing things online stick with Wise or OFX transfers (compared).
To be clear: Wise can make large money transfers and they even discuss the extra requirements here. Wise even charge lower fees if you send large sums of money (over the equivalent of £100,000 per transaction in U.S. dollars) meanwhile OFX automatically reduces the % fees the charge as amounts increase.
» Want more options? Check out the best ways to transfer money internationally
4. Wise Transfer Costs (+ Hidden Fees?)
The fees Wise charges for transferring money vary depending on factors such as the amount being sent, the currency of the recipient, and the chosen payment method.
Here are some total fees comparisons:
- Banks – 3%-7%
- PayPal – 6%-8%
- Cheapest Money Transfer Services – 0.4%-1.8% (variable on the amount and currencies involved)
- Wise – 0.65% on average
Sending $1,000 USD from the U.S. to Mexico (with the recipient getting Mexican Pesos)
|Transfer Method||Amount that Arrives||Notes|
|Wise||18,230.96 MXN||All fees included. Total fee includes $2 ACH fee.|
|Remitly – Economy||18,190 MXN|
|Remitly – Express||17,790 MXN|
|OFX||18,111.39 MXN||As amounts increase OFX becomes even more cometitive|
|Bank Wire||17,399.01 MXN||Additional fees from receiver bank|
Sending $10,000 USD from the U.S. to the U.K. (with the recipient getting British Pounds)
In addition to this there is a $2 ACH fee which goes up to $41.23 if you use a credit card, but these fees are mostly passed on to 3rd parties like the credit card issuer like Visa or Mastercard.
|Transfer Method||Amount That Arrives||Notes|
|Wise||£8,304.52||All fees included. Total fee includes $2 ACH fee the sending bank charges.|
|OFX||£8,266.85||All fees included.|
|Bank Wire||£8,060.38||Additional fees from receiver bank.|
As you can see the amount and countries can change the fees.
To Check the Fees for Your Transfer: Simply open the Wise calculator, (opens in a new tab) or use widget below:
However, when you compare hundreds of different currency pairs and amounts you will find that Wise is very competitive.
According to their very revealing Q1 2023 mission update, the average fee is 0.65% which is also excellent. Remember for many transfers where currencies are common like USD, GBP, AUD, CAD this average fee is usually a lot lower – often below 0.4%.
However some fees can be no so obvious and even hidden. To ensure the most money arrives it is helpful to understand there are four main fees that money transfer services charge:
4 Main Fees
- Sending Fee: This is a payment processing fee which is applied to the payment method used to fund the transfer, such as credit or debit card fees.
Wise gives you many options at this step including free ones. This fee can speed up the transfer.
- Transfer Fee: This is the fee charged by the service provider for sending the money from one country to another.
The main fee Wise charges is this one. Wise charges a percentage of the amount based on the countries and currencies.
- Exchange Rate Margin: This fee is based on the difference between the mid-market exchange rate (the rate banks use to trade currencies with each other) and the exchange rate offered by the money transfer service.
Wise uses the mid-market rate but this is where other services build in fees.
- Receiving Fee: Banks will usually charge a fee to receive the money if it comes from an overseas source. Beware though, this fee can be at significant cost to the receiver with fees of $10 – $50 USD. Wise and other quality services can usually eliminate this fee by using local bank accounts.
Saving the Most Money
Using Wise is a good start but if you want to compare with other services you need to consider the four fees and especially the receiving fee which often goes unnoticed because the receivers bank charges this.
Most folks miss this, but another way Wise helps is to guarantee your rate after you lock in a transfer.
Wise guarantees the rate for 2 to 72 hours. The time depends on the country you are sending from and is based on how quickly it takes for funds you are sending to arrive at Wise from your bank. Weekends or public holidays when banks don’t transact are added to the time the guarantee the rate.
Some services do not guarantee the rate. This means you are at the mercy of exchange rate fluctuations which can go either way quite easily by 1% or more each day.
This gives your bank time to get the money to them.
They say, “If your money doesn’t reach us in time, we’ll still convert and send it as soon as possible. But we’ll use the mid-market rate instead.”
But in real world transfers, we found that Wise is more than good on its promise.
For example, I once transacted Saturday morning knowing my bank would take at least 48 hours from Monday morning to send them the money. In the 4 days or so it took for them to get the money, the exchange rate had moved slightly against them, but they gave me the rate we originally locked in.
In late 2023, Wise is introducing dynamic charges which may be an additional charge they “when you’re sending or converting a currency that’s less used around the world, or when foreign exchange markets are volatile.”
We will keep a close eye on this, but they will no doubt be very transparent about this fee when they are adding it.
There is a good chance that for many currencies they simply won’t. And they go on to say, “Dynamic charges don’t necessarily mean an increase in prices. In fact, it may mean a decrease.”
5. Wise Transfer Speeds
When it comes to transfer speeds for bank-to-bank transfers, we have found Wise is top of its game.
Wise also has become good at showing you in advance when money will arrive.
But speeds vary considerably.
They are pretty vague on their website here because international wire transfers can literally take “1-5 business days”.
However they are dedicated to speeding up transfers and we have noticed improvements over the years. As they said in a recent update “55% of transfers are now instant”.
|Wise||55% of transfers are now instant|
but can take 1-5 days
|Larger transfers can be slowed by additional checks|
|Remitly (Economy)||3-5 days|
|Remitly (Express)||Usually within minutes|
|Revolut||Instant to other Revolut users. Can take 1-5 days|
|PayPal||Instant to other PayPal users||Can take additional days if you compare bank to bank|
|OFX||1-5 days||Less chance of additional due diligence checks for large transfers|
Wise is very proactive in trying to reduce transfer speeds through efficiency and partnerships.
Wise does not have an Express option like Remitly, but the express option Remitly offers does increase the costs significantly. Wise instead shows the different ways you can fund the transfer which in turn changes the speed and cost.
To compare Wise to Revolut and PayPal you have to consider that additional time may be required to move money between bank accounts.
When you consider the balance between keeping costs low and fast transfers bank to bank, Wise comes out on top but without the option to just pay more for additional speed.
For larger transfers (over $7000 USD) transfer are usually slower regardless of who you use but speed can be slowed by additional checks of ID. These additional checks can often be avoided by using services that are intended for larger transfers like OFX. However this usually means more checks when you sign up.
It can help to understand what causes speeds to vary because there are things you can do to speed things up.
- The way you fund the transfer
- Country you are sending to
- Time of day you transact
(1) The way you fund the transfer has a big impact on speed. Most money transfer services are pretty limited in this regard but where possible Wise offers a number of options, which for a small fee can speed things up.
These options vary based on the sending country but you can see the options available to you here. (See A in image)
(2) The country you are sending money to is usually not something you can change, but this does make a big difference. This is because of many factors including if SWIFT or SEPA and other factors can mean this time can range from instantaneous to 2 days.
Fortunately, Wise has a trick up its sleeve.
Wise reduces the time transfers take by having local bank accounts around the world which means it can make many transfers as fast as possible and sometimes instantaneous. (See C in image) The alternative banks and many others use, often involves the SWIFT system – which usually takes days.
(3) The time of day you transact and the time of week can greatly affect when money arrives. The banks at either end of the transfer don’t work on weekends, holidays and they tend to close around 4pm or 5pm each day.
6. What do Wise Customers Say (including Negative Reviews)?
No matter which review site you look at, you will find the majority of Wise reviews are very complimentary.
For example, Trustpilot averages the reviews and finds Wise to be “excellent” with a 4.3/5 rating based on over 193,000 reviews.
But, what about the negative reviews?
It can be insightful to dig into what these reviews are saying – particularly those with one or two stars.
Why not simply read them, you might ask?
Well, if you’re anything like us, sifting through hundreds of reviews is often unhelpful and a waste of time (unless, of course, you categorize them).
This is because different individuals, currencies, countries, amounts, and banks can all result in vastly different experiences.
However when you understand what the issues might be you can organize them and get a view of the bigger picture.
And there is a wealth of valuable information.
So we analyzed 100s, so that you can learn from it. It is important to keep the negative reviews in perspective, as they account for only 5% of customer reviews.
- Easy of use
- Fast transfers
- Low fees
Here’s what 2 users had to say on Trustpilot:
“I have a personal & business account on Wise.
– easy to use
– Fees are transparent
– Smooth general experience
– Simple way to hold multiple currencies
– Jar functionality is extremely useful !”
“I use it all the time, easy, fast and trustworthy.
The conversion rates are always the best i can find and the fee is reasonable
There are also many many ways to pay which is great”
- Accounts Deactivated After a Transfer
Wise can and sometimes does deactivate accounts with money inside or during transfers.
No doubt this is related to meeting regulations, but can understandably be very upsetting and frustrating.
Truth is, this is a challenge faced by all money transfer services and you will almost always get your money back.
The bigger issue is that in order to get your money back it seems that telephone based customer service for troubleshooting could be a challenge.
However it must be said, for the vast majority of people, this will not be an issue.
- Money Transfer Delays
A significant number issues relate to the money being delayed. Some believe the money has been lost and some even think Wise might be a scam or fraudulent.
This seems like a big problem but in almost all cases what we found has nothing to do with Wise at all, and is more about the banks at both ends who take time to process transactions.
For example, on public holidays and weekends banks at either end of the transaction will usually wait until the next business day.
As we discuss above in “When Wise Doesn’t Works + Alternatives” using a service set up for large transfers is our recommendation for smooth transfers and phone based customer service. Smaller transfers typically do not run into as many issues.
7. Wise Features
- Wise Multi Currency Account
- Wise Debit Card
- Wise Business Account
7.1 Wise Multi-currency Account
For some people and businesses choosing a great multi currency account can make managing money far easier, cheaper and save a lot of time.
And the Wise multi-currency account has lots of bank account like features plus much of the the usability of PayPal minus many of the expensive and complex fees PayPal and banks can charge.
With their multi currency account you can:
- Earn very competitive interest on your funds in some countries.
- Receive your salary, pension, tax benefits, etc.
- Hold over 40 currencies to spend, send and receive money.
- A card to spend in over 40 currencies in over 150 countries to spend like a local when relocating or travelling abroad
- Pay your utility bills or mortgage without the currency conversion fee
- Get paid like a local with international bank details in 10 currencies (USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, SGD (Singapore dollars), TRY (Turkish lira), RON (Romanian lei), and HUF (Hungarian Forint).
- Spend online without foreign exchange fees
- Get an optional international prepaid debit card that can be used in 200+ countries for travel, or simply paying for things and services without the crazy fees.
However, unlike a bank account, Wise is 6 to 8x cheaper for conversions within the account, but there are things you can’t do:
- You can’t opt for an overdraft
- Your money is protected and safeguarded, but not guaranteed under government financial protection schemes
- Accounts are subject to regulations which can cause accounts to be frozen.
Also, the account number and sorting code you receive for your multi-currency account are “electronic destinations” (think reference numbers) for your money and not actual, full service current or savings bank accounts.
Generally these “electronic destinations” work just fine, but they do introduce potential for human error which can result in delays.
The reality for many people is that these are small drawbacks compared to the b
7.2 Wise Debit Card
You can apply for the Wise debit card in most EEA countries, the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore – which covers about 70% of the countries they serve.
The Wise debit card is powered by MasterCard and can be an inexpensive tool for travel or simply buying goods and services. And it has wide reach allowing you to spend in over 40 currencies in over 150 countries.
You also get free ATM withdrawals worldwide up to £200 GBP/ $250 USD or equivalent per month (over that amount, you’ll pay a 2% fee per withdrawal).
The card can save a small fortune in fees if you’re travelling or have moved abroad or for online shopping.
Of all the fees a bank issued card can load on the biggest is often the currency conversion fees.
With a Wise card connected to your multi-currency account, spending money in the same currency is free.
And if you’re spending in a different currency, you’ll pay a small conversion fee between 0.35% and 2.85% when you convert money.
For common currency conversions, fees are usually at the low end below 1%.
7.3 Wise Business Account
You can sign up for the Wise business account from pretty much anywhere in the world, which is extremely convenient for expanding your global footprint.
In our review of the Wise business account we have more details.
- Pay your overseas employees
- Receive payments from clients
- Get debit cards for spending in any currency
- Integrate Wise in your online store
- Get debit cards for spending in any currency
- Earn interest through Wise interest – click to see the latest rates and more information
The cost to get access to the international bank details in the Eurozone, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain for example is just $31 USD, £16 GBP, $42 CAD, € 21 EUR, $22 AUD or $40 NZD respectively.
Seeing the fees you pay on Wise for overseas transfers, upfront without signing up is a good sign of what Wise is all about.
For small transfers, Wise is our top choice (and has been for many years running) but nothing speaks louder than the fact that we use them ourselves personally for personal transfers and business.
And Wise is like a box of chocolates.
Like their Multi-currency account and debit card could be game changers in your life or business.
However, as we discussed in What do Wise Customers Say? (including Negative Reviews) ⬆️, if you need to speak to human at critical times, or want to transfer larger amounts we think other services may be better.
Check out our money transfer comparison for larger amounts or more telephone based services.
But if you are like most people, with Wise you might find your whole world of managing money just got a lot better.
Is Wise Safe?
Yes, Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a safe and trustworthy company. The company is authorized by financial regulators in various countries, including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the US. Wise uses advanced security measures like as two-factor authentication.
Is Wise Inexpensive?
When you consider 3rd party fees banks charge at each end, Wise has significantly lower total fees compared to banks, PayPal, remittance companies and many other services.