TransferWise is one of the fastest growing e-money services worldwide. The main goal for TransferWise is to eliminate the bank’s markups on currency rates and allow users to exchange money for the real exchange rate. The one, Google is showing you. There are no hidden fees as compared to traditional banks.
In this TransferWise review, we will evaluate the individual services that TransferWise is offering. We will also have a look at their core features and compare them to the competition.
Do you want to find out whether TransferWise is the cheapest option to transfer and exchange currencies? Keep reading to find out more!
Currently, 4 million users are saving money with TransferWise. According to the TransferWise statistic, users save $4 million on bank fees every day. The company was funded in 2010 and employs over 1,300 people across 11 offices.
The TransferWise ecosystem consists of three main services:
- Sending money as well as exchanging currencies for a low and transparent fee
- A free borderless account that allows you to hold over 40 currencies
- TransferWise debit Mastercard for cashless payments worldwide
Note that each service can be used individually except the TranferWise debit card which is connected to the borderless account.
- You can open a borderless account without ordering the card.
- You don’t need a borderless account to benefit from the low transaction fees and the real exchange rate.
I am using TransferWise for a few years now. First I only used the currency exchange service, later on, I opened the free borderless account as well as opted-in for the TransferWise debit card.
In this TransferWise review, I will share my experience with TransferWise. You will learn about the features, advantages, and disadvantages of TransferWise.
This isn’t another promotional article by someone who has never used the service but rather a transparent review by a real TransferWise user.
The borderless TransferWise account is supported in almost all countries except the following countries or regions:
Afghanistan, Brazil, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Republic, Crimea (sub-territory), Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Libya, North Korea, Sevastopol (city), Somalia, Republic of South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, US states (Hawaii and Nevada)
Last Update: August 30, 2019
The TransferWise debit card is available in most of the European countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (only Metropolitan), Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland, British Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey
Last Update: August 30, 2019
TransferWise supports money transfers in 50 countries at the moment:
Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Europe, Georgia, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Vietnam, Egypt, Ghana
Note that some countries can only receive money via TransferWise. Learn more about the exceptions and limits for supported countries here.
Last Update: August 30, 2019
TransferWise is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to transfer money in different currencies. I am not aware of any other service that offers such a fast and convenient solution to transfer and convert currencies. You can send money abroad within minutes without signing up for any special bank account.
The small fee that you are charged when transferring money with TransferWise in different currencies is up to 8 times lower as compared to what you would pay with your traditional bank.
In most cases sending money across borders with TransferWise is also much faster as traditional wire transfers.
Continue reading to find out more about how TransferWise works.
Best from TransferWise
TransferWise has a lot of useful features. Here is a brief overview of what you can expect when using TransferWise.
- Low-cost currency exchange for the real exchange rate (mid-market rate)
- A free borderless account with up to 40 supported currencies
- Free TransferWise debit card with free ATM withdrawals up to £200 (or your currency’s equivalent) per month
TransferWise is a great service when it comes to the simplicity of sending money abroad while avoiding hefty bank fees. It’s suitable for anyone who sends and receives money in different currencies such as digital nomads, students or expats.
TransferWise is however not the only service you can use to avoid currency exchange fees. While the borderless account is available for almost anyone, the TransferWise debit card is currently only offered to European customers.
In this TransferWise review, I will also talk about the limits of TransferWise and possible alternatives, such as Revolut that might be a better option for you.
In this TransferWise review you will learn the following:
- What is TransferWise?
- TransferWise Fees: How much does TransferWise cost?
- Opening the TransferWise borderless account
- Sending Money with TransferWise
- TransferWise Debit Card
- TransferWise Exchange Rate - this is what you need to know
- TransferWise app and its functionalities
- FAQ about TransferWise
- My experience with TransferWise
- Is TransferWise worth it?
- Conclusion of my TransferWise review
TransferWise is an electronic money service founded in 2010 in the UK. The company is regulated by the English FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) which keeps an eye on the operations and methods used by TransferWise. In the US the company is registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and regulated by authorities in each of the US states.
Note that TransferWise is not a bank. If you open the borderless account, your money will be stored at one of the partner banks.
- Your USD account is opened with Federal Saving Bank, Cross River Bank or Wells Fargo. Your balance is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation up to $250.000.
- Your EUR account is opened with the German Handelsbank. Your balance is insured by the European Deposit Guarantee Scheme up to €100.000.
Your money is always protected by the deposit guarantee schemes of the country where your account is opened which means that your balance is not insured by TransferWise.
TransferWise is always aiming to remain competitive when it comes to their pricing policy. It’s important to distinguish between the different fees that apply when using TransferWise service.
As mentioned before, TransferWise offers three different products within their ecosystem.
With each product, there are different fees that should be considered:
1. Sending and exchanging money
The cost connected to your transfer depend on three factors:
The TransferWise fee is calculated as a percentage of the amount you’re sending. The percentage varies from currency to currency. Small amounts come with a minimum fee. Read more about it here.
You can choose to transfer from your debit card, credit card or bank account. Different payment methods come with various fees. When you set up your transfer you will see how much each payment method costs.
Currency Conversion Fee
TransferWise deducts a currency conversion fee for every transaction between currency pairs. This fee varies between 0.35% and 2.85% depending on the currency. You can calculate the currency conversion fee with the currency converter.
The best way to find out how much you will pay for your transfer is to look it up on the TransferWise homepage. Just insert your currency pair and you will get instant information about the conversion rate as well as the conversion fee.
Click on this link to receive a free transfer on your first money transfer. That means that you will not be charged any conversion fee. Your money will be converted with the mid-market rate that you see on Google.
2. Borderless account
There are currently no annual or monthly fees for the borderless account. Additionally, you can order the TransferWise debit card for free.
3. TransferWise debit card
When it comes to the TransferWise debit card you need to be aware of the fees connected to the currency exchange and the ATM withdrawal fee. The shipping of the TransferWise card, as well as the reordering of a new card, is for free.
- The conversion fee is typically between 0.35% - 1.0% for currencies that you don’t hold in your account
- There is a 2% ATM withdrawal fee for cash withdrawals above £200/$250 or currency’s equivalent amount per month
Be aware that in some countries there might be a local ATM fee which you need to pay to withdraw cash. Always choose to withdraw money in the local currency to avoid ATM markups for currency conversion.
TransferWise is very transparent when it comes to communicating what the fees are being used for.
The small conversion fee that comes with money transfers via TransferWise cover the following:
- Operations and customer support
- Building and improving the service
- Money-moving costs
Note that the fees are changing several times per year for money transfers with and without the borderless account. You can find the latest pricing tables on the TransferWise website under Price checker.
The TransferWise borderless account is available in most countries with a few exceptions mentioned above.
The sign up for a bank account is free, there is no credit check and no time-consuming verification process. You can open a TransferWise account without visiting any branch or adding balance to your account. There is also no monthly or annual fee.
You can open the borderless account in a few minutes from your smartphone, laptop, tablet or desktop pc. Fill in the requested details such as your name, address, and email. Upload a picture of your ID and you are good to go.
Be aware that TransferWise is not a bank but an Electronic Money Institution. Your balance will be stored with one of the partner banks from TransferWise.
You can open accounts in multiple currencies and receive money in AUD, USD, EUR, GBP, NZD for free. This is a great advantage for people that receive their income in different currencies such as freelancers or digital nomads.
Sending money with TransferWise is simple. If you are not a borderless account user you can send money transfers in any of the supported currency pairs.
A transfer between accounts in the same currency is only possible if you have a balance in your borderless account.
To send money with TransferWise you click here (to receive a free transfer) and insert the amount of money you would like to send in the preferred currency.
In the second step, you choose the transfer type. You can choose between low cost, fast or advanced transfers.
If you have not signed up yet with TransferWise you will need to create a TransferWise account (not the borderless account).
Tip: If you hold the currency that you are transferring in your borderless account you can also choose the transfer type: balance transfer which is even cheaper compared to the other options.
In case you use TransferWise for the first time you will need to fill in some information about you.
After you have filled in your details you can insert the bank details from the recipient. In the next step, you will be asked to upload a picture from your ID to finalize the verification process.
After the ID verification, you review the transfer details and choose a payment method. Be aware that there might be another fee connected to payments with debit or credit cards.
I always use the balance from my borderless account, that way there are no additional fees added to my transfer.
The TransferWise debit card allows you to pay for your bills in the offline world.
You can order the TransferWise debit card from the app on your smartphone or from the web browser for free.
This is what you need to know about the TransferWise debit card:
- Free card payments with currencies in your account
- Free ATM withdrawals up to £200/$250 per month
- Small conversion fee between 0.35% and 1%
- Money conversion for the real exchange rate
The TransferWise debit card is cheaper in terms of fees as most debit cards offered by traditional banks. If you are looking for a debit card with the same features but lower conversion fee you might as well check out the free Revolut card. It comes with the same ATM withdrawal limit however there is no conversion fee during fx hours (weekdays) for most popular currencies, even if you don’t hold them in your account.
TransferWise Debit Card
Most users choose to use TransferWise because of their low currency exchange fees. TransferWise converts your money for the real exchange rate (mid-market rate) which you will also find on Google.
What you should be aware of however is the TransferWise conversion fee, which varies depending on the currency between 0.35%-2.85% (minimum fee is around £0,65). You can always double check the rate in the TransferWise app, that way you know upfront what’s the result of your conversion.
As someone who is traveling the world fulltime and working online, I am very much aware of how to avoid foreign transaction fees as well as conversion fees. I have an account with the N26 mobile bank as well as Revolut. Both digital banks are promoting their low currency exchange fees. Let’s have a look at how they compare to TransferWise.
Let’s say we want to transfer 1000 EUR in USD.
This is the actual Google rate: €1000 = $1120,65
Here is a comparison of the exchange rate for the currency pair EUR/USD as well as the conversion fee that you will get with N26, Revolut, and TransferWise.
Exchange rate: EUR/USD = 1.1206
Conversion fees: 5.42 EUR
Recipient gets: 1,114.48 USD
*fees between transfer types might vary
Exchange rate: EUR/USD = 1.12055
Conversion fees: 4.23 EUR
Recipient gets: 1,115.81 USD
Exchange rate: EUR/USD = 1.1203
Conversion fees: 0 EUR
Recipient gets: 1,120.03 USD
* add 0.5% conversion fee during weekends for the currency pair EUR/USD
Currency conversion with TransferWise is not the cheapest option
This comparison shows you that TransferWise uses the mid-market exchange rate that you will find on Google, however, the conversion fees are lowering the the converted amount of money.
N26 collaborates with TransferWise to ensure low fees for currency exchanges, one could think it would be the same fee. In my comparison, the fee that showed up in the N26 app is lower as compared to the TransferWise fee shown in their app.
Revolut offers the best exchange rate. It’s slightly below the mid-market rate from N26 and TransferWise however there are no conversion fees during fx hours (weekdays) which results in the best currency conversion. In case you would make the conversion during the weekend when the fx markets are closed, Revolut would charge you a 0.5% conversion fee. For 1000 EUR it would be 5.60 USD. The recipient would receive $1,114.70 which is still slightly more than with the TransferWise currency exchange.
My comparison proves that the cheapest way to convert money from EUR to USD is by using Revolut during weekdays. Note, that this might not always be the case as the conversion fee vary depending on the currency pair with both services TransferWise as well as Revolut.
It is always recommended to check the currency rates upfront to see which option is the cheapest. Read more about the currency exchange with Revolut here.
TransferWise allows you to convert currencies and transfer money to recipients around the globe.
With the TransferWise app, you can track your account activity of your personal as well as of your business account.
The app enables you to sign in with your fingerprint and gives you the option to secure your account with a two-factor authentication.
The TransferWise app does not support all of the features that you can use from the browser app. To get a better overview of your account you will need to sign in from your web browser.
Advanced functions such as account statements can also be viewed only from the browser app.
The mobile app serves more like a quick solution to send money abroad or check your account balance. In terms of features, it’s far not as developed as competing services from mobile banks such as the N26 or Revolut.
The TransferWise app is also not very intuitive to use. Often you need to browse around to find your way within the app.
How to send money with TransferWise?
There are two options on how to send money with TransferWise. You can use the TransferWise website or the mobile app to choose your currency pair and transfer money to the recipient. If you don’t have an account with TransferWise yet, you will be asked to sign up and verify your identity. Upon verification, you can choose the payment method such as bank transfer, debit or credit card.
How to request money with TransferWise?
The only way to request money with TransferWise is to share your bank details with the sender. The easiest way to do so if you want to receive money to your TransferWise borderless account is via your app. Go to Account, tap on the balance (view) and use the share button to send your account details to your contacts.
How safe is TransferWise?
TransferWise is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK as well as several other regulators in the US to ensure the company follows local regulatory standards and legal guidelines in all countries they operate. TransferWise is a safe and reliable service to exchange currencies and transfer money abroad.
What are the supported payment methods with TransferWise?
Transferwise supports the following payment methods:
- Debit card
- Credit card
- Apple pay
- Bank transfer
Note that fast payment methods with debit cards, credit cards, and apple pay come with additional small fees.
Can you use TransferWise to send money to yourself?
You can use TransferWise to send money in the same currency to yourself. In the TransferWise app, you save your bank details under recipients. In order to send money to yourself, you need to go to Account, click on your balance and then choose the option Send. Tap on your primary account and proceed with the transfer.
Is TransferWise the best way to send money?
TransferWise is one of the best ways to send money in different currencies it’s however not always the cheapest option. This depends on the currency pair, the amount as well as the time of the conversion. Sending money with Revolut might turn out to be the better option.
My experience with TransferWise isn’t the best experience I had with electronic money institutions. I believe that the service is useful to many people that travel, live abroad or often send as well as receive money in different currencies. There are more benefits than disadvantages that come with TransferWise services.
TransferWise likes to compare itself with traditional banks that charge high fees for international money transfers. They don’t compare their fees with mobile banks such as N26 or Revolut that follow very similar pricing policy as TransferWise. People who look at alternatives to TransferWise know this.
While it is true that most customers who are still using traditional banks to exchange and transfer money abroad will save money with TransferWise, it’s no longer the only option available.
The unique selling proposition from Transferwise is the exchange of money for the real exchange rate (mid-market rate) that you see on Google. There is however a conversion fee of 0.35% - 2.85% depending on the currency pair which lowers the final conversion amount.
Traditional banks often add additional markup on the exchange rate, TransferWise does not do this. There are however digital banks that use the real exchange rate as well and don’t add any conversion fees. For more information read my comparison berween N26 and Revolut.
TransferWise app comes with very basic bank account features. It’s nothing like apps from mobile banks such as N26 and Revolut. A benefit is however that you can access all of the functionalities through the web browser app. Revolut does not offer this option and N26 limits their features in their web browser app.
If you receive your income in different currencies such as AUD, USD, NZD, GBP or EUR TransferWise is a very good option for you as there are no fees as compared to other services such as Paypal.
TransferWise is also very convenient to send money abroad without any hidden fees. However, it’s not the cheapest option available.
You have nothing to lose if you decide to sign up with TransferWise as it is for free. Let’s look at some of the variables you should consider when using TransferWise.
Opening an Account & Transfering Money
Opening an account as well as transferring money is simple and time-saving. You can sign up with TransferWise and transfer money within 5 minutes. There isn’t any faster service that I am currently aware of.
The process of transferring money in other currencies is intuitive and transparent. An advantage of TransferWise is the broad availability. TransferWise is available almost to anyone with few regional exceptions. This is not the case with competing for service from mobile banks.
The TransferWise app is very basic. Users should not expect any advanced functionalities such as budgeting tools, saving accounts, etc. Sending and receiving money works well however it is not very user-friendly.
Many functions that are available in the web browser app cannot be accessed with the mobile app. Using the app once in a while is fine, it’s however not suitable for daily usage.
TransferWise is very transparent when it comes to showing their fees. You can see all the cost for your transactions up front. This isn’t the case with most traditional banks.
TransferWise comes with very competitive pricing policy. Users that decide to use TransferWise will in most cases save money.
TransferWise Customer Support
When it comes to the support you will have a better chance to contact TransferWise on Twitter or Facebook. I haven’t had any luck sending them emails.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any chat function within the app as compared to competing apps from N26 and Revolut.
Until now I haven’t had any serious issues with TransferWise, so I cannot evaluate the quality of the service in more tricky situations.
TransferWise is without a doubt a very useful service for anyone who is dealing with multiple currencies. Whenever you receive income in various currencies or pay your bills abroad, TransferWise offers a good and affordable alternative to services offered by traditional banks.
If you are a US resident TransferWise is the cheapest option when it comes to managing multiple currencies. Europeans and Australians can also try other services such as offered by Revolut.
If you want out to find out about banking options for digital nomads and travelers, read my in-depth article.