Wise, previously known as TransferWise, has been a true Fintech success story in the world of international money transfers.
Boasting a presence in over 70 countries, supporting more than 40 currencies, and providing a variety of transfer options, it has made moving money across borders easier and more affordable.
But how well does it deliver on its promise? That’s precisely what my comprehensive review aims to uncover.
Whether it’s personal transfers allowing individuals to send money to friends and family in other countries, business transfers facilitating global companies to remit funds to suppliers, customers, and employees, or its innovative, borderless account enabling users to hold and transact in multiple currencies, Wise seems to have a solution for every international monetary need.
Couple that with its status as a regulated financial institution known for robust security measures, round-the-clock customer support, and a highly intuitive website and mobile app, Wise has earned a strong reputation. But hearing about these features and experiencing them firsthand can paint two very different pictures.
In this review, I will share my personal experience of using Wise for different purposes, providing an in-depth evaluation of its features, assessing its strengths and weaknesses, and comparing it to other international money transfer services. Ultimately, my aim is to provide an informed recommendation on whether Wise truly stands as the wiser choice for your international money transfer needs.
NB: this review focuses on Wise as a brand. Visit the link if you’d like to see my thoughts on Wise business specifically.
MORE Read our full article on The Best Money Transfer Providers
Wise Review: My Verdict in 30 Seconds
After using Wise periodically for several years, I find it is an excellent way to send money internationally. It’s most cost-effective when dealing with smaller amounts.
Wise is a very easy way to send money abroad, and it does not inflate exchange rates, which differentiates it from many traditional banks. If you compare Wise to what a high street bank like Barclays might charge you, it’s a complete no-brainer; you can save a lot.
Wise offers a wide range of options for sending money, and it is particularly fast for certain transactions.
However, it is important to note that Wise may not be the best fit for everyone. While it does not markup its exchange rates, Wise’s services can still come with substantial costs. The platform charges a percentage transfer fee, which means it’s not the best solution for users who make frequent or high-value transfers.
Additionally, there are some limitations I want to point out. For example, cash delivery to a home or business is not an option, and the number of countries where money can be sent is fewer than 100. This could be a drawback for users who need to transfer money to less commonly serviced destinations.
Since their model is geared towards high volume, automated transactions, their customer service is also not the best in the industry, with some users reporting high wait times.
Overall, Wise is a reliable and convenient option for international money transfers. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of the platform before deciding if it is the right fit for your needs.
Use it for smaller amounts but, if you want to send larger quantities, I recommend someone like TorFX.
Who are Wise?
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a financial technology company that specializes in international money transfers. It was founded in 2011 by Estonian entrepreneurs Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann. The company’s mission is to make international money transfers “cheap, fair, and simple.”
Wise operates by using a peer-to-peer network to connect people who need to send money internationally with people who are willing to receive money in that currency. This allows Wise to bypass the traditional banking system, which often charges high fees for international money transfers.
Wise is a publicly traded company and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company is headquartered in London, England, and has offices in over 20 countries around the world.
Here are some of the key facts about Wise:
- Founded in 2011 by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann
- Headquartered in London, England
- Listed on the London Stock Exchange
- Offers international money transfers, multi-currency account, and borderless debit card
- Has over 10 million customers in over 80 countries
- Has raised over $1 billion in funding
- Was named one of “Europe’s Hottest Startups” by Wired in 2012
- Was named one of “The World’s Most Innovative Companies” by Fast Company in 2020
Wise Pros and Cons
- Transparent exchange rates: Wise does not markup its exchange rates, so you can be sure that you are getting the best possible deal.
- Fast transfers: Wise transfers are typically processed within 24 hours, and in some cases, they can be completed even faster.
- Wide range of currencies: Wise supports over 80 currencies, so you can send money to almost anywhere in the world.
- Convenient online platform: Wise’s website and app are easy to use and make it simple to send money internationally.
- Good customer support: Wise offers 24/7 customer support, so you can always get help if you need it.
- Higher transfer fees than some competitors: While Wise’s exchange rates are transparent, its transfer fees can be higher than some of its competitors, especially at higher amounts.
- No cash delivery: Wise does not offer cash delivery, so you can only send money to bank accounts or debit cards.
- No interest on balances: Wise does not offer interest on balances, so you may lose money if you keep your money in your Wise account for a long time.
- No dedicated account management
Wise’s fees are generally lower than those of traditional banks, and the company does not markup its exchange rates.
You can break Wise’s fees down into three categories:
- Currency transfer fee: This is a percentage of the amount being sent and varies depending on the currency being transferred. For example, the currency transfer fee for sending EUR to USD is 0.43% at the time of writing.
- Account funding fee: This is a fee charged for adding money to your Wise account. The fee varies depending on the payment method used, and it can range from 0% to 2%.
- ATM withdrawal fee: This is a fee charged for withdrawing money from an ATM using your Wise debit card. The fee varies depending on the currency being withdrawn and the ATM location. For example, withdrawing EUR from an ATM in the European Union is free, but withdrawing EUR from an ATM in the United States costs 1.75% of the amount withdrawn.
In addition to these fees, Wise may also charge other fees, such as:
- Wire transfer fee: A fixed fee of USD 4.14 is charged for receiving USD wire payments.
- Account closure fee: A fee of EUR 7 is charged if you close your Wise account within 60 days of opening it.
Wise also offers a number of fee-free services, such as:
- Registering for a Wise account
- Holding money in your account
- Converting money between 50+ currencies
- Getting account details in 9 currencies
- Receiving AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HUF, NZD, RON, SGD and USD (non-wire)
Overall, Wise’s fees are generally lower than those of traditional banks, and the company does not markup its exchange rates. However, they are being undercut by firms like Atlantic Money, who charge a flat 3 fee for any transfer.
Here is a table summarizing Wise’s fees:
|Currency transfer fee||Varies by currency|
|Account funding fee||Varies by payment method|
|ATM withdrawal fee||EUR 7 (if the account closed within 60 days of opening)|
|Wire transfer fee||USD 4.14|
|Account closure fee||EUR 7 (if the account is closed within 60 days of opening)|
|Free services||Registering for a Wise account, holding money in your account, converting money between 50+ currencies, getting account details in 9 currencies, receiving AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HUF, NZD, RON, SGD and USD (non-wire)|
What’s The Wise Money Transfer Experience Like?
Wise’s primary function is to facilitate international money transfers, and it does this with a focus on speed, efficiency, and transparency. The process is straightforward and user-friendly, allowing even first-time users to navigate it with ease.
Once you have set up your account, initiating a transfer simply involves entering the recipient’s details, the amount you want to send, and the currency. The platform immediately estimates the fees, the amount the recipient will get, and the estimated delivery time – all before you hit the send button. This transparent approach allows you to see exactly what you are being charged and the final amount that the recipient will receive.
Speed is another area where Wise shines. For certain transactions, money can be transferred almost instantaneously. However, the actual transfer time can vary depending on the countries and currencies involved, the method of payment, and even the time of the day. In most cases, though, I’ve found Wise to be faster than traditional banks and other money transfer services.
How easy is Wise to use?
I consider Wise very easy to use for the following reasons:
- The website and app are user-friendly. The interface is clean and easy to navigate. All the important information is clearly displayed, and helpful tooltips and instructions are throughout.
- The process of sending money is straightforward. Wise walks you through the process step-by-step, and there are clear explanations of all of the fees and charges.
- There are multiple ways to contact customer support. If you need help, you can contact Wise through email, live chat, or phone.
- Wise offers a wide range of educational resources. If you want to learn more about how Wise works, you can check out the company’s blog, FAQs, and other educational resources.
Safety and Security Measures: Is My Money Safe with Wise?
- A dedicated fraud team: Wise has a team of experts who work around the clock to protect your account and money from fraud.
- Real-time notifications: When you use your Wise card, you’ll receive instant notifications on your device. This helps you to keep track of your spending and spot any unauthorized transactions.
- Two-factor authentication: You can add an extra layer of security to your account by enabling two-factor authentication. This means you’ll need to enter a code from your phone and your password when you log in.
- Constant monitoring: Wise’s security operations team constantly monitors for any anomalies and keeps up with the latest attack vectors. This helps to keep your data and money safe.
- Regular vulnerability scans: Wise runs regular vulnerability scans to identify and fix any security flaws in its systems.
- Independent audits: Wise is audited by independent finance and IT auditors to ensure that its security measures are up to standard.
- Compliance with regulations: Wise is compliant with a number of regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means that your personal data is safe and secure.
- Bug bounty program: Wise runs a bug bounty program through BugCrowd. This means that it rewards people who find security vulnerabilities in its systems.
Customer Service at Wise: Responsiveness and Problem-Solving Capacity
Wise offers customer support through a variety of channels, including email, live chat, and phone.
According to Wise’s website, the average response time for email inquiries is 24 hours, and this is proven by my own testing. They claim the average response time for live chat inquiries is 15 minutes, but in my three tests, it got answered in under 10 minutes each time. This is still a fair wait, but at least you know what you’re in for.
I also called them twice, and it was answered promptly each time. My interactions with the Wise support team were positive: their representatives are knowledgeable and helpful and are able to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
That said, they don’t offer dedicated account managers as you’ll find with an operation like Torfx. This is understandable, since Wise focusses on automation, simplicity and volume. But it would put me off transferring a large amount of money with Wise, since that’s a scenario where I’d want close contact with a human account manager.
Is Wise Safe for Large Amounts?
Yes, I would consider Wise absolutely safe for large amounts of money. The company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom and has a good reputation for security.
They are set up to allow transfers up to $1,000,000.
Wise Money Transfer App Review
I had a mostly positive experience with the Wise Money Transfer app but not without some room for improvement.
Transferring money to several countries was a hassle-free process. When initiating a transfer, the app clearly breaks down the associated costs, which I found to be a huge positive. The exchange rate is displayed upfront, taking the guesswork out of transactions and letting you know exactly how much you’re sending or receiving.
I also like the user experience, which has been well thought-through. The interface is clean and straightforward, ensuring smooth navigation even for those who aren’t tech-savvy. Clear instructions guide the user through the process of setting up and executing transactions.
Despite its merits, the app has a few areas that could be improved. For instance, while transfers were generally processed efficiently, there were a few instances when I experienced delays. Also, I noticed that the app’s performance could be inconsistent during peak times.
Although readily available, customer support within the app could be more dynamic. The support system feels more like an FAQ section rather than an interactive platform. A live chat option would be a great addition for users to receive immediate assistance.
What are the alternatives to Wise?
|Provider||Exchange Rates||Fees||Processing Times||Currencies Supported||Limits||Customer Support|
|Wise||Mid-market rates + small margin||Varies (amount/currency)||Typically 1-3 business days||50+||Up to £1,000,000 per transfer||24/7 live chat, email, and phone support|
|Western Union||Mid-market rates + 2-5% margin||Flat: £10 + 0.4% of the transfer amount||Typically 1-2 business days||130+||Up to £500,000 per transfer||24/7 live chat, email, and phone support|
|MoneyGram||Mid-market rates + 3-4% margin||Flat: £3 + 2% of the transfer amount||Typically 1-3 business days||100+||Up to £9,999 per transfer||24/7 live chat, email, and phone support|
|WorldRemit||Mid-market rates + 2-3% margin||Flat: £0.30 + 3% of the transfer amount||Typically 1-2 business days||70+||Up to £100,000 per transfer||24/7 live chat, email, and phone support|
|PayPal||Mid-market rates||Varies (amount/currency)||Varies||200+||Up to £10,000 per transfer||24/7 live chat, email, and phone support|
|Revolut||Mid-market rates||Flat: £0 + 0.5% of the transfer amount||Typically 1-3 business days||30+||Up to £10,000 per transfer||24/7 live chat and email support|
|Remitly||Mid-market rates + 1% margin||Flat: £0 + 0.5% of the transfer amount||Typically 1-2 business days||150+||Up to £100,000 per transfer||24/7 live chat and email support|
|CurrencyFair||Mid-market rates||Flat: £0 + 0.5% of transfer amount||Typically 1-3 business days||50+||Up to £500,000 per transfer||24/7 live chat and email support|
Is Wise’s Exchange Rate Really as Good as They Say?
Yes, Wise’s exchange rate is generally very good. They use the mid-market exchange rate, which is the rate you see on Reuters. However, it’s important to note that Wise also charges a small fee for their service, so be sure to factor that in when comparing rates.
How does Wise Make Money?
Wise generates revenue primarily through two distinct fees: the Sending Fee and the Transfer Fee. In our tests, this came out at around 065% of the overall amount sent.
- Sending Fee: This fee is dependent on the payment method you use to fund the transfer, such as debit card, credit card, or bank transfer.
- Transfer Fee: This is a variable fee based on the total amount being sent and the specific currency pair involved
Since Wise is good for smaller transfers, at what point does it become more cost-effective to use another provider?
As the transferred amount increases, the percentage-based Transfer Fee also rises. The sweet spot for Wise is up to about £5k.