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.
7 Must Knows
Wise and Currencies Direct are international money transfer services that seem pretty similar.
Both services let you send money overseas at affordable rates and with excellent customer service.
But here’s the deal: They are not the same.
In the next 5 minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the two services.
We uncover some important differences that will affect which is better for you.
Here is the good, the bad and even the ugly, so that you can decide.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and savings on transfers if you use some of the links! For more information, see my disclosures here.
Quick Comparison: The Lowdown on Differences
Wise and Currencies Direct are two of the most trusted providers of international money transfers. On Trustpilot, Wise has a rating of 4.2/5 from 196,000+ reviews, while Currencies Direct has an amazing rating of 4.9/5 from 9,900+ reviews, which is very rare in this industry.
Right from the outset, they were designed to serve quite different people and this is still the case today.
Currencies Direct is an excellent choice for inexpensive large transfers(above $7000 USD) and excellent phone support at every step of the process. Get a current quote from Currencies Direct for the amount you want to send.
Meanwhile we believe Wise is the best for inexpensive smaller (below $7000 USD) bank to bank transfers where fast and efficient online transfers are easily done. Get the latest rates and fees through the Wise calculator (opens new tab).
Although both are can handle smaller or large amounts, we will do our best to show the main differences which highlights their strengths and weaknesses.
- Our top choice for transfers below $7000 USD
- Affordable fees
- Super transparent fee structure
- Easy to use online platform and app
- Rates guarantee (2-72 hours)
- Available for personal and business
- Extra features (e.g. multi-currency account)
- Bank-to-bank or card-to-bank transfers only
Currencies Direct Likes:
- Our top choice for transfers above $7000 USD
- Best customer service in the industry (phone-based)
- Flexible transfer options
- Available for personal and business
Currencies Direct Dislikes:
- Only for residents of the USA, the UK, Europe, Canada, India, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal (if in Australia, Asia, and New Zealand use TorFX)
1. Real Fees & Hidden Costs
- Transfers at the mid-market or interbank rate
- Transparent fee structure: see the exact amount your receiver will get
- No margin on the exchange rate
- Very low fixed fee (Approx. between 0.5-1.5% of the amount)
- Volume discounts over 140,000 USD /100,000 GBP
- Eliminates sending and receiving bank fees with local bank accounts in areas they service
- However, credit or debit card charges are applicable for card-funded transfers
- No fixed fee most of the time
- Very low margin on the exchange rate (Approx. 0.5% – 2% of the amount, compared to 3-5% charged by banks)
- Margin on the exchange rate decreases as the amount goes up (making large transfers over $7000 USD very affordable)
- Possible hidden charges: There may be sending and receiving bank fees or taxation in the receiving country above certain amounts
- Currencies Direct offer a exchange rate guarantee.
2. Which is Safer? – Equally Safe in Most Cases
- Wise is regulated by, authorities such as Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (USA), the UK Financial Conduct Authority (UK), National Bank of Belgium (Europe) as an Authorised Payment Institution, the Australia Securities and Investments Commission (Australia), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (Canada) and Financial Customs and Excise Department (Hong Kong). It is also regulated in India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UAE.
- Wise is listed on the London Stock Exchange
- Wise keeps your money separate from their operational funds. Usually, customers’ money is kept in banks like JP Morgan or Barclays, depending on your location
- Their website has a valid, industry-leading SSL certificate and their app uses two-factor authentication to keep your money and data safe.
- Currencies Direct Ltd is licensed and regulated in all the sending countries including the US as a Money Services Business FinCEN. They’re also licensed as a Money Transmitter in most states in the US.
- They’re also regulated by the FCA in the UK, the Bank of Spain in the EU, FINTRAC in Canada, and South Africa through an Authorised Dealer Bank in South Africa in accordance with South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Exchange Control Rules and Regulations.
- They have a Level 1 credit rating by Dun and Bradstreet
- They have offices in the USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, India, as well as Spain and Portugal in the EU
- Their customer support can be reached by phone
- They use industry-leading encryption technology on their website and app
You might also like Is Wise Safe?
3. Ease of Use – Quite Different
- Everything is online with Wise – you can set up transfers on their website or by downloading their mobile apps (available on both Android and iOs)
- Very transparent about their fees and processes
- They have an extensive FAQs section should you have any questions
- They have a responsive customer service team who are available via email and chat.
- Currencies Direct is available both online and offline (offices)
- Personal Account Manager can offer customized advice on the phone
- They also have a mobile app (available on both Android and iOs) which you can use to set up and track your transfers.
You might also like How Wise Works.
4. Reviews (inc. Negative Ones) — What Others Are Saying
Wise is rated 4.2/5 on Trustpilot with over 190,000 reviews, which is considered “Excellent.”
- Transparent and affordable fees
- Easy to use platform
- Very fast transfers
Get the latest rates and fees through the Wise calculator (opens new tab).
“Amazing service! Fast, reliable, and fees much more advantageous than those applied by normal banks!”– Claudia on Trustpilot
“Love how simple it is to use and transfer money. Also like there is only 1 charge”– Barbara K. on Trustpilot
“Very efficient, takes seconds I would not use any other company”– Richard G. on Trustpilot
- Frozen account and funds
Some users complained that their accounts and funds were unexpectedly frozen.
However, Wise’s customer service team is quick to resolve these issues.
As a licensed service provider, Wise audits their transfers to prevent fraud, theft, or to comply with region-specific guidelines.
To prevent unexpected hold-ups, make sure:
- You’re processing business transfers from a business account (not a personal account)
- Sending money to someone you trust
- Funding your transfer with a bank account you hold
Currencies Direct is rated 4.9/5 on Trustpilot with over 9,000 reviews — which is very rare in the industry.
- Sets users up with a Personal Account Manager to ensure excellent customer service
- Personalized transfer advice
- Competitive rates for large transfers
Get a current quote from Currencies Direct for the amount you want to send.
“First time I have used a service of this kind so was naturally a little apprehensive about negotiating my way through the process. No need as my account manager Ethan Carne made the whole experience very easy. Helpful and professional from beginning to end with excellent follow up to make sure everything was as it should be. Would certainly recommend.”– A. Smith on Trustpilot
“I received a very professional and personal service from the team. I received personal advice on how to deal with issues transferring funds from my bank to their account and then we monitored and assessed the right time to transfer the funds to France.”– Ian on Trustpilot
“I recently used Currencies Direct and dealt with Germaine Boselli. They gave a very competitive rate and a first class and friendly service. I will definitely use them again.”– Anthony W. on Trustpilot
- Frozen funds
Some users have complained that Currencies Direct held their funds for many days, which is concerning.
But the reassuring thing is you can reach them on the phone to resolve this. From what we could tell, this took a week or so.
In case your funds are frozen, it’s because Currencies Direct has chosen to audit the transfer to prevent misuse of their platform as a licensed financial services provider.
Note: Finally this negative needs to be taken in context of a 4.9/5 star rating. This means only 2% left a “Bad” review. For comparison, many major American banks record “Bad” reviews of over 80%.
5. Transfer Speeds
Typically, Wise processes their transfers in 1-2 days when you’re working with major currencies such as USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD, NZD, SGD.
Wise is optimized for smaller transfers (which requires fewer checks and verifications), so funds go through fairly quickly.
Transfers funded via credit and debit cards can even be processed in a matter of hours (for major currencies), but are also more expensive. Bank transfers are slower but more affordable.
Currencies Direct fulfills transfers to their most popular destinations like Canada, USA, Sweden, Japan, Spain, South Africa, and Australia in 24-48 hours.
If you’re sending to exotic locations, they may take 3-5 days.
This is the industry standard for larger transfers above $7000 USD as there are usually more checks involved.
6. Customer Service and Support — Both excellent, but in different ways
- Responsive customer service team who can be reached via email and chat
- Extensive FAQs section
- End-to-end phone support from onboarding, booking transfers, to troubleshooting
- Personal account manager
7. Awesome Extras
- Multi-currency account for both individuals and businesses to hold and transfer between over 40 currencies
- Dedicated business account with useful integrations and bulk payment options
- Volume discount for transfers above $140,000/100,000 GBP
- Get international bank details in 10 major currencies to pay and get paid like a local
- MasterCard debit card with free worldwide ATM withdrawals and low-cost online payments (card also available for business accounts)
- Multi-currency accounts for businesses and online sellers
- Batch payment processing for businesses
- Flexible payment options like spot contract, forward contract, and market orders to save big on current or future transfers of large amounts (above $7000 USD)
Wise wins this round because their international money management tools are awesome for many different people — travelers, digital nomads, freelancers, and businesses.
You can use their multi-currency account to accept payments from people around the world. Their debit card allows you to spend multiple currencies like a local. And they’ve got some great tools for businesses too — like batch payments.
The cool perks offered by Currencies Direct are limited to businesses only, but these can be extremely helpful and cost-saving for large businesses and high-volume e-commerce stores.
Essentially, Currencies Direct functions more as a more old-school forex broker who can share personalized advice with you or your business.
Although we’ve picked a winner in each category, it can be difficult to say which one is better when they stack up against each other.
So here’s the key takeaway: They’re both our top recommendations for different needs.
We believe it is hard to beat Wise in terms of cost, efficiency, speed, and customer service when it comes to bank-to-bank transfers below $7000 USD. Plus, their multi-currency account is a great add-on for both individuals and businesses.Get the latest rates and fees through the Wise calculator.
Currencies Direct on the other hand is one of the best services out there for large transfers above $7000 USD. Users love being set up with a Personal Account Manager who can explain the process, answer all their questions (whether they’re new to large transfers or have done it before), and help them figure out how to minimize the transfer costs.Get a current quote from Currencies Direct for the amount you want to send.
So while both companies look the same on the surface and can do many similar types of transfers, they actually serve very different needs.
We hope you’ve now found the right one for your specific needs and preferences.