7 Things You Should Know Before You Sign Up
In 5 minutes or less I am going to show you 7 things to consider to see if WorldFirst is the best choice for your needs.
This is not just another “WorldFirst is awesome” type review, I am going to show you where WorldFirst may not be the best option and even who else to consider.
Like all our reviews, I will uncover the good, the bad and even the ugly, so that you can make the best call.
First, here is a quick roundup of pros and cons.
- Mix of online and telephone support
- Competitive rates for large amounts (Price Promise)
- No fees (Personal Accounts)
- Minimum transfer amount is $1000 (Personal Accounts)
- Not available in USA from 2019
- May not always be the cheapest for smaller amounts
- Exchange Rates (what you really get)
- Transfer Fees and Other Costs (inc. hidden fees)
- How to Sign Up
- Customer Service – Good or Bad?
- Speed – How fast are they really?
- Security – Is your money safe?
- REAL Customer Reviews
The Low Down
In a world of fake news, are the review sites reflecting truth?
On its website, WorldFirst proudly proclaims it has five stars on Feefo.
If you are in the UK, check out their rediculously good exchange rates here (from July 2019) (opens a new tab) to keep reading.
In Australia or another country? Click here to see get the latest exchange rates and reviews (opens a new tab) to keep reading.
Is WorldFirst right for you?
A good choice for businesses and individuals due to their fees which are tiered and transparent. Based on competitive exchange rates they are up to 85% cheaper than banks for 27 currencies. WorldFirst enables booking forward contracts and bulk payments bank to bank – online or by phone.
So apart from being happy using the service ourselves we decided to look at more deeply on another review site (Trustpilot) where it get 4 stars and dig into the 18% of one star reviews it has to see if WorldFirst has some issues you need to know about (jump down to findings below).
Spoiler Alert: The majority of negative reviews relate to speed and hassles signing up. As we discuss in our sections on Speed and Security, both of these types of complaints are common in the industry and as you will see a lot of the hassle can be removed by reading our tips below.
To save you the same frustration, read on and understand how things work.
What Else We Uncovered
WorldFirst has a mix of advanced online and telephone based services geared towards larger amounts. Starting with a minimum transfer limit of $1000 USD/£1000/$2000 CAD/AUD, those looking to transfer smaller amounts (definitely less than a few thousand) should consider P2P providers like TransferWise (see our review) who are more focused on a simplified online experience and are hard to beat in terms of transparency and costs.
However WorldFirst are also unique in that they offer a “Price Promise” so that you get the best rates on your trade (we will talk about that in detail in a short while).
Apart from cost, WorldFirst offer a customizable service aimed at individuals and business including advanced tools like forward contracts. So for larger amounts and just ensuring things run smoothly, they are a great choice.
Forward Contacts: Secure an exchange rate today for a fixed amount of currency, for a set period of time.
For the UK and Europe, check out their online registration process here (opens a new tab) so you can keep reading.
For Australia and Asia, check out their online registration process here (opens a new tab) so you can keep reading.
Once signed up, you can trade online or by calling their representative. From what we learned, WorldFirst has an efficient customer service experience and their representatives are available to help you at each step of the process right from registration to completing your transaction.
WorldFirst is a solid choice for those looking to transfer larger amounts and appreciate the ability to speak to a customer service person at any stage.
WorldFirst are designed to be a much cheaper alternative to banks and have a cost structure that improves (in percentage terms) as your transaction amount increases.
Moreover, you can place your orders both online and over phone.
If you have a business and have specific needs like bulk payments or simply want to lock in a rate now over a period of time – they can be a great choice.
I know from first hand experience selling a house and then moving your money overseas can be stressful. Roy does a pretty good job of explaining some of the advantages of WorldFirst and service like them.
UPDATED July 2019
For the UK, WorldFirst claim you can get “up to 85% cheaper than the competition” because they take a smaller margin on the rates compared to banks.
Impressive in reality?
WorldFirst have introduced an extremely competitive tiered fee structure based on turnover.
These fees are the best in the industry for larger amounts.
For smaller amounts they are also very competitive although it is possible to do marginally better.
For Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan
WorldFirst say you can “enjoy bank beating rates” because they take a smaller margin on the rates compared to banks.
True, but here is how it works.
The exchange rates that you see online are the interbank rates, i.e. the rates at which banks buy and sell currency to each other. These are not the rate that you get when you make a transfer because banks keep a margin on these rates for their own profit.
WorldFirst also keeps a margin, but it is significantly lower compared to banks.
WorldFirst claims that customers usually save up to 0.25% to 4% of the amount they transfer. This can be substantial depending on the total amount being transferred. You also get even better rates if you are transferring bigger amounts.
WorldFirst can save you money on your currency transfers especially in the UK! For the rest of the world, they operate on lower margins than banks. Moreover, if you are not in the UK they offer you best price promise which is pretty great if you want to ensure you are getting the best rate.
You do not need to pay any fees to open or hold an account with WorldFirst. There is no transfer fee for all personal transfers. If you have to make a business transfer, you may have to pay anything between $10 and $30 depending on your volume of business. There is no transfer fee for transactions above $10000.
However what no one seems to tell you is the banks at either end of the transaction often do charge fees. Although these fees are set by the banks involved, they can be significantly reduced by the network of local banks WorldFirst maintains. A lot depends on the countries you are transacting between, but if you plan on making numerous transactions in the future it can be a really good idea to check if there is local bank accounts at both ends.
WorldFirst does not charge any fee on personal transfers.
Business transfers attract a small fee of $10-$30; however, there is no fee for transfers above $10000.
To minimize costs, it can be helpful to ask WorldFirst if they have local bank accounts in the sending and receiving countries. For large amounts, the bank fees start to become less in percentage terms.
Signing up with WorldFirst is can be done either online or on phone. Our experience is their representatives are quite prompt and helpful. It can take less than 10 minutes to set up your account, but it may take another hour (or more) for them to verify all credentials and check the compliances before the account is up and running.
When you sign up for an account, you will be asked to fill up details such as:
- Full name, contact information, email address
- Social security number, date of birth
- Country of residence
- Proof of a government issued ID such as passport or driver’s license
- Once the account is set up, you will have to enter details of the transaction including:
- Amount you intend transferring
- Where you want to transfer funds
- Details of the recipient including currency you want to send, bank account details
Making a Transaction
After you have provided the fund transfer details, you will get an exchange rate quote.
At this point, you can either send the money right away or lock in this rate and make the transaction later on.
You will then need to deposit the funds into the WorldFirst account. WorldFirst will convert the funds into the required currency at the quoted rate and send it to recipient bank.
The signup process is pretty straightforward. If you have the necessary documents handy, your registration process will take only a few minutes.
WorldFirst account managers can help you with the process and you will be ready to transact in about an hour if all the compliance requirements are met.
Fund transfer methods and options:
With WorldFirst, you can transact through their website, mobile app or phone. You can deliver and receive funds through bank accounts only. Debit card, credit cards and other payment options are not allowed. There is no limit on the maximum amount that can be transferred, but there is a minimum limit of $1000.
WorldFirst offers both spot contracts and forward contracts. If you have to make an immediate transfer at the going rate, a spot contract is the best choice. With a forward contract, you can book an exchange rate for up to 2 years. You will need to pay a margin amount to lock-in the rate and you can deposit the remaining amount at the time of delivery.
They allow you to make multiple payments from a single trade. You can also make one payment from several trades.
WorldFirst offers ease and convenience of placing orders both online and through phone calls. Amongst other helpful tools, you can book exchange rates for up to two years.
WorldFirst is a customer oriented company and their representatives are available on phone or mail to help you with your account opening and trades.
You can call their toll free numbers during business hours Monday to Friday. Alternately, you can fill in a form and request a call back from the representatives.
One of the key advantages of using a service like WorldFirst is telephone support. This is especially important when you are dealing with foreign banks. Being able to speak to someone who is familiar with banking in your country (and who you can understand) is incredibly helpful. WorldFirst gets top marks in this regard because of its network of offices.
Also, if you cannot use their online platform for some reason, you can call up the account managers and place your order immediately.
WorldFirst offers great service. Their representatives can be contacted for any assistance. However, the support services are not available over the weekends. If weekend trading is important, you might want to check out OFX (review).
The speed of fund transfer depends on certain factors including the currency you are sending or buying, the amount of trade and the bank used. If you are trading Euros, US dollars or GBP, you can get same day payment as far as WorldFirst is concerned.
WorldFirst effectively make the transfer as soon as they receive your cleared funds. The funds will reach the destination bank the same day. However, the time it takes for the whole transaction to complete from end to end is determined by the banks at either end more than anythings else.
For WorldFirst’s part, funds transfers to Australia and New Zealand usually clear on the same day. Sending US dollars to a country other than the US may take up to 4 days. Exotic currencies such as Indian rupee may take longer.
Please be aware that there can be delays from the banks’ side, which is beyond control of anyone.
The actual speed of transaction depends on the currency, amount and where it is to be sent. Key currencies such as US dollars, GBP and Euros can be delivered the same day. Exotic currencies may take up to four days. It is best to get an estimate from the relationship managers if you need quick delivery.
There is technical (electronic) security and corporate security to consider.
It is beyond the scope of this review to understand the technical side of security. That said, it is very much in WorldFirst interest to safeguard your funds at a technical level. Although nothing is perfect, it seems as though the bigger risk is something going wrong while you are moving money.
The Biggest Safeguard
Because WorldFirst maintains a physical presence in countries like UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia and other countries it needs to be registered with the regulators of those countries.
WorldFirst is registered in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) as an Electronic Money Institution.
In Australia they are regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“ASIC”).
In Hong Kong they are regulated as an Money Services Operator by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
In Singapore they are regulated as a remittance business by The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
In Practical Terms
They are required by law to hold sufficient capital to safeguard both their customers and business. This means even if they go out of business, your money should be protected.
In reality, your money is only with them for a short period of time. The risk of loosing your money from giving them the wrong bank details is far greater.
As the review sites attest, they are quite particular about client compliance and validate all documents well before opening the account. This can be a big advantage if you intend on moving relatively large amounts.
However this also means that the sign up process can be quite involved which can lead to disappointment if you are not approved for whatever reason.
WorldFirst is one of the most regulated companies in the world, which is a good thing when it comes to moving your money internationally through banks. The flip side of this is that you might be disappointed. This is a big reason why we recommend P2P providers for smaller amounts, but prefer companies like WorldFirst for larger amounts because you are approved n advance for larger amounts (no locked accounts).
You can best judge the quality of a service through actual client testimonials. So, we sifted through hundreds of client reviews to see what people think about them.
WorldFirst enjoys a less than perfect score of 8/10 from 263 reviews on TrustPilot.
63 percent of the reviewers found the service excellent but 18 percent thought it was poor, which means we need to dig a lot deeper.
Let us find out what they liked or disliked about WorldFirst.
What Reviewers Liked
Customer service: Most reviewers were all praises for the customer service. They were guided well right from the beginning and the team ensured that their transactions were smooth and quick. People appreciate that they are assisted by a personal relationship manager and they can speak to them directly when required.
Competitive rates: WorldFirst customers are really happy with the exchange rates they get. Many of them claim to have saved a lot of money by choosing to transfer through WorldFirst than a bank.
Check out their currency converter here (opens a new tab) so you can keep reading.
What Reviewers Didn’t Like
Speed: A large percentage of reviewers claimed that they did not receive the funds in designated accounts within the promised time. WorldFirst has clarified that this was primarily due to delays at the bank’s end. (See Speed above) They have also explained that they do not hold client’s fund in their own account or use any part of it for their working capital. Funds are held in a segregated account and are transferred when due.
Account opening hassles: Some reviewers are not too pleased because either their account opening application was rejected outright or the process took too long. However, we believe that such delays are mostly due to compliance requirements and rarely because of administrative lags.
The Final Word
WorldFirst is a reliable and efficient currency transfer service recommended for larger amounts.
The majority of negative reviews (some even claim WorldFirst are a scam) are related to factors outside of their control. If you are reading this far, well done because now you have a great understanding of these factors and how money transfers work.
Thanks for reading.
Happy Transfers! 🙂