Do you need to send money overseas?
If so, you can avoid the high fees your local Western Union or Moneygram agent charge by trying an online alternative. Perhaps your best option might be TransferWise. It’s possible to complete international money transfers for almost any country in the world.
TransferWise can also be an easy way to receive money from other countries. Plus, you can use TransferWise for personal and business reasons.
This TransferWise review will help you see how your transfer fees and exchange rates can be different. If it’s a good fit, you’ll have an easy way to transfer funds and save money.
TransferWise may charge fewer fees than competitors if you send money directly to a foreign bank account. Their borderless account gives you local bank details in six major currencies. You also get a debit card that makes it easy to make purchases in almost any corner of the world.
Table of Contents
- How TransferWise Works
- Borderless Account
- Sending Money
- Receiving Money
- TransferWise Debit Card
- TransferWise for Business
- Is TransferWise Safe to Use?
- Customer Reviews
- TransferWise Positives and Negatives
- Who Should Use TransferWise?
- When to Avoid TransferWise
How TransferWise Works
TransferWise lets you send money to over 60 countries across the globe. You can also receive money as you get free bank details for six different currencies. Some transfers can finish the same day, although many take several days.
In extreme cases, it can take over a week to transfer funds. A prime example is transferring cash into Moroccan dirhams.
Instead of walking to your local money transfer agent, TransferWise lets you complete the process online. You can see real-time currency exchange rates to calculate your transfer costs quickly. Plus, it’s possible to fund your transfer by credit card, debit card or bank account.
You can use TransferWise for personal or business money transfers.
Transfer destinations from the United States include most regions:
- Africa (i.e., Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa)
- Asia (i.e., Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea)
- Australia and New Zealand
- Europe (i.e., Bulgaria, Great Britain, Eurozone, Norway)
- Hong Kong
- Latin America (i.e., Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica)
It’s not possible to transfer money to every country in the world. If TransferWise doesn’t support your desired country or currency, you can place a request.
For instance, TransferWise doesn’t serve the Caribbean or Latin American countries like Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti or Honduras.
You also won’t be able to transfer funds to small nations in Oceania like Papua New Guinea or the Maldives. And your selection in Africa is limited to a handful of currencies.
As of December 18, 2019, TransferWise supports 52 different currencies.
With 22 currencies, you can send or receive funds. Some of the most popular currencies that TransferWise supports include the US dollar, Euro, British pound and Indian rupee.
The Australian and Canadian dollars also support sending and receiving. Plus, you can make same-currency transfers if you wish.
For the other 30 currencies, TransferWise only lets you send money but not receive funds. For instance, you can convert US dollars into Chilean pesos.
However, TransferWise won’t convert Chilean pesos into US dollars. You also cannot transfer Chilean pesos to another person in Chile.
The quickest way to see your transfer options is to look at the transfer details for a single currency. You can view which transfers that TransferWise supports and what recipient information you need.
To get the most value from TransferWise, consider opening their “borderless account.” This free multi-currency account lets you hold over 40 currencies at once. World travelers can benefit the most from this account and avoid fees.
You get a TransferWise debit Mastercard to make purchases and load your account.
Perks of a Transferwise borderless account include:
- Convert funds at the real exchange rate
- No foreign transaction fee
- Free ATM withdrawal fees (up to $250 every 30 days)
- No annual fee
World travelers and business people may also appreciate getting local bank details in six currencies.
You will get local banking access for these currencies:
- US dollar. ABA routing number and account number
- British pound. Account number and sort code
- Euro. SWIFT/BIC and IBAN
- Polish zloty. Account number
- Australian dollar. BSB code and account number
- New Zealand dollar. Account number
Having these various accounts makes it easy to transfer money and avoid fees. For example, friends or customers can make a deposit directly into one of these six accounts fee-free. Then you can instantly spend or convert to a different currency.
You will likely pay a conversion or purchase fee. But at least you have access to your cash in nearly any world currency.
There are no fees when making debit card purchases or using a digital wallet like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. The currency conversion fee can be between 0.3% and 3% depending on the new currency.
Most people use TransferWise to send money to friends. This process is pretty straightforward. From the online site or mobile app, you can see the following information:
- Current exchange rate
- Transfer fees
- Estimated transfer time
Some transfers complete on the same business day, but most take one or two banking days. Others may take as long as a week if you fund the transfer from a bank account. You can fund most transfers with a credit card, debit card or bank account debit.
You will need to provide TransferWise with this information to send money:
- Your personal information (can start with a Facebook, email or Google account)
- Full name and address of the recipient
- The recipient’s bank account information
TransferWise can request the recipient’s bank details if you don’t have them. Make sure the recipient’s information is correct to avoid transfer delays. This process can be similar to getting a money order.
In most cases, you will need to send money to the recipient’s bank account. If this isn’t an option, a traditional transfer agent like Western Union can be a better fit.
Each currency has transfer limits. Lesser-used currencies tend to have lower limits.
United States dollars can have some of the most generous limits. When transferring from US dollars, you can transfer up to $1 million for personal or business in most states. Although your daily checking account withdrawal limit may only be $15,000.
The transfer limits are low for Canadian currency. You can only transfer up to $9,500 with direct debit per 24 hours. In addition, credit and debit cards have a maximum of $3,000 per transfer limit. Interestingly, TransferWise lets you transfer up to $1.5 million in local Canadian wires.
It’s easy to see the transfer limits for each currency. Simply select the originating currency to view the limit.
Regardless of the TransferWise limits, your bank may have smaller daily withdrawal limits. For instance, your bank may only be able to withdraw up to $5,000 per day.
One of the most annoying traits for money transfer services is that each one might use a different exchange rate. If you compare the rates between an airport currency booth and a local ATM, you’re familiar with this variable rate.
Speaking from experience, try and get local currency from a local ATM first. You will usually get a better rate than the currency booth. You “spend less” to convert your cash and get more money in your wallet.
TransferWise uses the mid-market rate to reduce transfer fees. This rate is the average of the “buy rate” and “sell rate” other platforms may use to determine your exchange rate. These two rates increase the transfer costs and mean less money is converted.
If you invest in stocks, buy and sell rates are similar to the bid and ask price for stocks.
The mid-market rate is the same rate you see when googling exchange rates. One example is “USD to Euro.”
When getting a quote on TransferWise, you will see the exchange rate. It is usually guaranteed for at least 24 hours. As long as TransferWise receives your cash within that time frame, the exchange rate won’t fluctuate.
Each transfer quote lists your potential fees upfront. You will also see how much funds the recipient will receive based on what you pay. Other transfer services might add the amount to the transfer amount. Instead, TransferWise deducts the fee from the balance.
Let’s pretend you send $1,000 US dollars, and the transfer fee is $11. TransferWise keeps the first $11 for fees, so you actually send $989.
The exact fees you pay is dependent on the transfer method. The cheapest option is funding your transfer from a bank account. Paying by credit card is the most expensive option. TransferWise also charges a fee to cover transfer costs and operating expenses.
Here are the fees you can expect to pay when sending $1,000 US dollars to a friend in Spain. TransferWise doesn’t charge your friend anything. But you will pay two different charges.
The first amount you’ll pay depends on your funding source:
- Bank account debit: $3.49
- Wire transfer: $5.34
- Debit card: $12.35
- Credit card: $36.61
The second charge goes to TransferWise to pay transfer fees and other costs. For this transfer, you will pay between $5.38 and $5.53.
TransferWise withholds both fees from the starting balance. This means your friend will receive the equivalent of $990.98 US dollars. With a mid-market rate of 0.898950, your friend will get 890.84 euros in one business day.
If you pay for the transfer by credit card, your friend can access the funds sooner. But since the fees are roughly $30 higher, your friend would only get 861.30 euros instead.
How long it takes to deliver your money mostly depends on three factors:
- Your funding source (i.e., bank account, debit card or credit card)
- Transfer amount
- The recipient’s country of residence
Transfers funded by credit or debit cards are the fastest yet most expensive. These transfers can complete within one hour in some cases. Bank account debits and wire transfers are cheaper but can take between one or two days for most currencies.
Larger transfers take longer to complete than smaller ones. Transfer speeds are something to keep in mind for time-sensitive purchases like buying real estate.
TransferWise also requires you to verify your identity for large transactions. The verification process takes two days. You can do this before scheduling your first transfer. Also, you may need to show proof of how you earned or received the money you want to send.
It’s also possible to use TransferWise to receive money for yourself. Although your receiving options are limited to a borderless account. But this is an easy way to avoid transfer fees.
You get local bank details to receive deposits in the following currencies:
- British pound (GBP)
- Euro (EUR)
- Australian dollar (AUD)
- New Zealand dollar (NZD)
- Polish zloty (PLN)
- US dollar (USD)
People who live in the Eurozone can send funds directly to your Euro currency account to avoid fees.
TransferWise probably isn’t the best PayPal alternative. But it can be a fee-free way to get funds at a local level.
Simply provide your banking details to the person sending you money. They can direct deposit the funds into your account. Neither of you will pay a fee.
You can make purchases with your TransferWise debit card or send money to others. TransferWise will charge you the mid-market rate when you convert your funds into a different currency.
The only way to receive cash from others is via direct deposit into one of your six TransferWise bank accounts. How quickly you obtain your funds depends on the bank transfer speeds.
It’s possible to receive your cash the same day or a few days from now.
You won’t pay any fees to receive funds into your borderless account. Although, you will probably need to pay a 0.2% fee if you fund your own accounts from a non-TransferWise account.
And you will pay a fee to convert funds into a different currency. This fee is between 0.35% and 3%. Plus, it’s also possible to pay a fee for debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals.
TransferWise Debit Card
The TransferWise debit card is free and comes with all borderless accounts. You only need one debit card for all transactions.
Since it’s a Mastercard, it has near-universal acceptance. It can be used for payments at any merchant that accepts Mastercard. This card has a lot more flexibility than a prepaid debit card.
Key perks of using your TransferWise debit card include:
- No foreign transaction fees. Other debit cards may charge up to 3% on international purchases.
- Free ATM withdrawals on the first $250 US dollars monthly. You pay a 2% fee on all withdrawals after the first $250 withdrawn.
- No currency conversion fee if you load your card with the local currency. TransferWise charges an average conversion fee between 0.24% and 3.69% if your account doesn’t have a local currency balance.
- Can use your debit card for online purchases. Try to make a purchase in one of the six local bank accounts to avoid conversion fees.
While you will likely pay some fees, this card is a hassle-free way to pay in multiple currencies.
TransferWise for Business
Most of this TransferWise review focuses on personal money transfers. However, this section is specifically for business owners. You might work from home as a freelance or travel abroad often for a large corporation. Regardless of your business size, TransferWise is free to join.
TransferWise for business is free and offers these perks:
- Free business debit card
- Integrates with Xero
- Local bank details for multiple currencies (United Kingdom, Eurozone, Australia, New Zealand and the United States)
Recipients don’t need a TransferWise account to receive cash or pay invoices. By providing your local bank details, it’s possible to avoid fees other payment processors charge.
The funds are deposited into the recipient’s bank account when you send money. Like a business checking account, you will receive monthly banking statements for tax purposes.
Is TransferWise Safe to Use?
Sending money to the other side of the world might seem unsafe. Most of us are familiar with wire transfer scams and various banking schemes. One way TransferWise limits risk is by only supporting transfers for the largest and most stable currencies.
TransferWise also has 12 local offices across the globe. You can contact their customer support team within your TransferWise account for live support.
Your TransferWise cash is stored at some of the world’s largest banks. For example, US local bank details are for a Wells Fargo account. Barclays is their go-to bank for the United Kingdom and Eurozone.
While no bank or TransferWise is immune from failing, these banks are widely-recognized for the large cash reserves.
When possible, TransferWise registers with national regulatory agencies for oversight. In the United States, it is the US Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
TransferWise is also regulated in these countries:
- Belgium and the European Economic Area
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom and the European Economic Area
- United States
TransferWise currently has a Trustpilot score of 4.6 out of 5 stars. There are plenty of positive reviews, but you will see negative reviews too.
Some of the reasons verified users like TransferWise include:
- Transfer fees can be cheaper than PayPal
- Transparent transaction fee
- Transfer speeds can be fast
- A local address isn’t needed to get foreign banking details
The most common complaints against TransferWise are:
- Do not ask for all your personal details at signup. Additional verification can delay transfers from completing on-time.
- All transfers are final and cannot be canceled or recalled.
- Some users report having their account closed without reason
Overall, TransferWise is a legit way to send money overseas. You can also use it to send money to yourself if you have a bank account with a different currency. But TransferWise only offers bank access for six currencies at this time.
TransferWise Positives and Negatives
There are some pros and cons of using TransferWise.
- Free multi-currency account to send or receive funds
- Transfer fees can be less than other bank and transfer agents
- TransferWise debit card lets you spend money in over 40 currencies
- Transfers must deposit into a recipient’s bank account
- Large transfers can take several days to complete
- Cannot send money to every currency
Who Should Use TransferWise?
The following people can benefit the most from using TransferWise:
- People who need to send money overseas to friends and family
- Freelancers and businesses with international clients
- International travelers needing instant access to multiple currencies
When to Avoid TransferWise
You might avoid TransferWise in these instances:
- The recipient doesn’t have a bank account
- TransferWise won’t support a local currency
TransferWise makes it easy to send money to others in the same currency or another one. The transfer fees are easy to understand. It’s worth considering TransferWise if you currently send money directly to a bank account and want to pay fewer fees.
DoesTransferWise make it easier for you to send money overseas? Why or why not? Please leave a comment to share your thoughts.