Wise, formerly Transferwise, is a leading provider of international money transfers that offers a lot more besides. My Wise review will be a detailed look at the company’s history, services, fees and reputation.
Hopefully, my close-up inspection of the company will help you decide if Wise is a good fit for you.
Who is Wise suitable for?
In my opinion, Wise is a good choice for individuals who transfer money overseas or receive money from outside of the US on a regular basis. The money transfer services offered by Wise are among the best available, and the fact you have access to other services on top of this is a nice bonus.
I also believe that businesses who deal with non-US based providers or customers on a regular basis, which in today’s connected world is almost a given, will enjoy the ease and speed with which you can send and receive currencies with Wise.
That said, I should warn you, regardless of whether you want to use Wise as an individual or for your business, a Wise account is not a bank account. As such, they should not replace your traditional bank, as Wise does not offer some important services and functions you may want, such as cash deposits.
- Great user platform
- Large range of currencies
- No markup on exchange rates
- Fees are rising
- Lacks banking licence
- Mixed customer support reviews
Who is Wise?
Wise, formerly Transferwise, is headquartered in London and was founded by Estonian businessmen, Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, in 2011. As the old name implies, its initial focus was transferring money by offering a low-cost international money transfer service allowing customers to send money around the world.
The idea was a success, and, in less than a year, it was handling assets worth over 10 million USD.
Wise steadily gained a reputation as an innovative disruptor in the financial sector; its success even being acknowledged by the World Economic Forum, who, in 2015, named Wise a Tech Pioneer.
With global recognition came global success and the company soon opened an office in Singapore, as well as other offices across the world. On February 22, 2021, the company rebranded from TransferWise to Wise and, shortly after the rebranding, launched an IPO. The IPO was a success and valued the company at $11 billion.
Wise still offers the best possible exchange rates for foreign currency transfers and is my go to choice if I need to transfer money, but it has since expanded its services to become a leading neobank. Wise customers can use their account to receive their wages, spend money with their Wise debit card, pay their bills, and a lot more besides.
Who owns Wise?
Following its IPO in 2021, Wise became a publicly traded company, and shares can be bought and sold on the London Stock Exchange. The largest shareholders are co-founders, Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, with investment companies such as AH Capital Management LLC and Baillie Gifford & Co. also holding significant stakes.
Accounts and products available at Wise
Wise offers two different account types, one for individuals and the other for business, available via desktop and, also, an iOS and Android app.
Wise Personal Account
This Wise account is intended for personal use by individuals and is a great choice for anyone with family or personal connections outside of the US as it’s a low-cost and hassle free way of sending money abroad.
With your Wise account, you can make almost instant transfers—the time-frame is anywhere from a few seconds to five days, and depending on the account type and country you are sending to, transfers to countries, such as India or Mexico, usually take just a few hours to go through.
Needless to say, your Wise account also lets you receive money from abroad safely and quickly, whether it’s rent from a foreign property, wages from a non-US employer, or birthday money from friends and family abroad.
Wise Business Account
The Wise Business Account offers the same speedy foreign currency transfer services as the Personal Account but with a few extras that make it a great choice for professionals and business use.
I really like the Wise Business Account. It’s great for dealing with foreign currencies and makes dealing with non-US customers or suppliers a breeze and, if you or your company have any dealings overseas, you will wonder how you managed without the Wise multi-currency account.
However, what’s really cool about the business account is its ease of use and how it can be painlessly integrated into your online payments system. This is a real boon as it provides you and your clients with a great front-end experience and, at the same time, makes foreign currency payments as easy as pie.
Wise is available either via your desktop browser or by downloading the Wise app from the iOS and Android store fronts.
I found the browser experience to be robust, and navigating the various menus was a straightforward process. The UI is nicely designed and the user experience as a whole is simple and readily understandable. A nice feature is the cost calculator, which Wise doesn’t hide and which lets you calculate the exact costs of money transfers before you take the plunge.
The mobile app is perhaps even better as Wise really has refined the key functions for mobile users, and delivers a stable and intuitive experience. It’s no surprise to see the app scoring well on both the Android and Apple store fronts, with scores of 4.2 and 4.6 out of five respectively.
I can confirm those scores are well earned as, during my time with the app, I was able to manage my account; send and receive currencies, and do everything that I needed, no matter where I was.
Wise fees are low and, whilst not the lowest available, I would be hard pressed to recommend a reputable provider that lets you transfer money at such low cost.
Opening an account with Wise is free and there is no account fee, management fee, or similar hidden cost associated with Wise. The only time you pay anything is when you do something, which seems fair to me.
Wise offers very low transfer fees for sending money, but these are variable fees depending on the currency and the amount involved. Sending money with Wise to another Wise account in the same currency is free, regardless of where in the world you or the recipient are based. For other currencies, a small conversion charge is levied on the transaction.
The good news is that Wise converts your money at the mid-market exchange rate, which is better than the rate used with your traditional bank account. The difference between this rate and how others exchange your money can really add up. For example, some providers may use dynamic currency conversion, which basically pulls a rate out of thin air—and no, I am not exaggerating—on top of which you will find some banks levy a thirteen percent transfer fee. So, yes, the savings are substantial.
To help you calculate the costs of transferring money, Wise has a very handy and easy to use cost calculator, which lets you know exactly how much you will be paying and exactly how much will be arriving in the overseas bank account.
To give you an example, I will now show you the costs associated with a transfer of 1,000 USD to Mexico. The total fees for this sum would be $10.32, of which the fixed fee for the wire transfer would be $4.28, and the variable fee would be $6.04 (0.61%). What this means is that $989.68 would actually be sent to the recipient, and when carried out at the mid-market rate, the recipient would receive 18,186.46 MXN.
Using the same dollar amount, but this time sending it to India, would cost $11.07, so you would be sending $988.93 for a total of 81,816.65 INR.
Conversely, if you want to add money to your account, you will only have to pay a variable fee, again this varies depending on the amount and currency. To help give you an idea, let’s assume you are adding 1,000 EUR to your account, the variable fee associated with this transaction would be just 4.72 EUR (0.5%).
The costs associated with the Wise debit card are just as pocket friendly. You will have to pay $9.00 to order the card, but this is a one-off cost and, in my opinion, is more than worth it if you are someone that travels outside the US on a regular, or even irregular, basis.
With the card, you can make two free withdrawals of up to $100 per month, after which, it’s $1.50 per withdrawal, and there is a 2% fee on any amount you withdraw above the $100 amount.
If you are using the card to make a purchase, you will be charged a low variable fee. Again, the exact amount you pay depends on the amount, but to give an example, for a 900 EUR transaction, you would be paying $4.48.
Services and tools with Wise
Wise are a foreign currency specialist, and a Wise account will never replace your traditional bank account
With Wise, you can receive foreign currencies and send money knowing that you are doing so at the best possible rate, and without being charged exchange rate margins, transfer fees, and other extortionate measures that traditional bank accounts levy on customers.
That said, however, on top of their excellent Wise money transfer services, they do offer some pretty useful services that help you get maximum bang for your buck, wherever you may be.
Wise Debit Card
Wise account holders can take advantage of the Wise debit card. This is a regular debit card provided by Mastercard, and is a great way of spending money overseas. Whether it’s for business, study, or pleasure, with the Wise debit card you are getting a card that lets you spend money where you want and how you want without leveraging you with rip-off fees.
The card is available to all Wise account holders for a one-off cost of $9.00. This is a card that is made for the road, but, even if you don’t plan on setting foot outside of the US, it’s also great for making foreign purchases online. Any time you are exchanging your money with the Wise card, you are doing so at the mid-market exchange rate, which helps give the best deal for your money.
Another neat feature of the Wise debit card is that it is compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Wise Multi-Currency Account
The Wise multi-currency account, formerly the Wise Borderless account, is a multi-currency account that lets you make swift foreign currency transfers and receive payments from over fifty countries, and up to eighty countries if the recipient has a bank account in USD, Euro, or GBP.
The multi-currency account is a great way of receiving international money transfers, regardless of whether its foreign pension payments, wages, tax rebates, or rents. Basically, any payment from overseas, regardless of its nature.
With your multi-currency account, Wise provides you with account details for nine currencies, namely, CAD (Canadian Dollar), GBP (British Pound), EUR (Euro), AUD (Australian Dollar), NZD (New Zealand Dollar), SGD (Singapore Dollars), TRY (Turkish Lira), RON (Romanian Lei), and HUF (Hungarian Fortin).
This way, otherwise costly international money transfers become cheaper local transfers, helping you save a lot of money on transfer and exchange fees. Best of all, if you want to, you can hold the currency until such time as you decide to spend it.
On top of this, with the Wise multi-currency account, you can receive payments and hold currencies for more than fifty countries for free. This is great for those with dealings overseas as it means, not only can you receive payments from abroad, but you are also able to pay utility bills, or similar such expenses, in the local currency, and without incurring any extra costs.
Wise Money Transfer
Wise offers international money transfers which enables you to send money to locations across the world. According to their website they are cheaper to use than many banks for your international money transfer so you can send money abroad without high money transfer fees.
How to open an account with Wise
If you need to transfer money on a regular basis, or are planning on sending money abroad, you may want to find out how to open an account with Wise, especially if you are after a reputable and low-cost money transfer provider.
The process of opening an account with Wise is straightforward and will take you no more than a few minutes. Simply follow the easy steps listed below:
- Go to the Wise homepage and click on the “Register” icon, or download the Wise app from the Android or Apple storefront.
- When prompted, provide an email address and fill in your personal details, or alternatively, provide your Google, Facebook or Apple account details.
- Lastly, verify your account so you can send and receive payments to and from your account, by providing a valid form of ID, such as a passport, driver’s license, or other officially accepted proof of identity.
Once your account is verified you will be able to enjoy mid-market exchange rates, low fees, and the ability to make international payments quickly and with the minimum amount of hassle.
Wise: How to add and withdraw funds
When you have successfully opened a Wise account, you can start adding funds to your account.
Depositing money into your Wise account can be done online or by using the Wise app. The account can be funded in USD, or any of the 20+ supported pay-in currencies. For the purpose of my Wise review, I funded the account using USD, and I will now guide you through the steps:
- Log into your Wise Account online or on the Wise app
- Tap the + Open option at the top of the home screen
- Select Balance
- Tap the option to open a USD Balance from the selection of currencies shown.
If this is the first time you’re making a transfer of funds into your account, you’ll be asked to complete a verification step. This will require you to first deposit a small amount of money to activate your Balance.
To withdraw money from your Wise account, you simply need to log-in to your account, either on the Wise app or online from your desktop.
Once you have logged-in to your account, it’s just a matter of following the below listed steps:
- Go to Home and select the balance you want to withdraw from
- Select Send
- Choose the bank account you want to send your money to
- Enter the amount you would like to send
- Confirm the payment.
Wise Customer Support
The same attitude and focus on quality is applied to its customer support and service, which I was very impressed with when I dealt with them.
Wise is a specialist provider and focuses on doing a few things, but doing them well. This focus on quality has helped it become a globally respected company in a little over a decade.
You can contact the customer support team at Wise through email, phone, and live chat. Support through live chat is available 24/7, and I was able to get in touch with a human agent almost immediately. I found the agent I dealt with to be polite and knowledgeable, and they were able to resolve my issue then and there.
Phone support was just as pleasant to deal with, though it is limited to Monday to Friday, but I got in touch with a human agent in relatively short time and, once through to a customer team agent, I found them to be professional and competent.
Email support is the slowest means of contact, but they do try to respond to emails within 24 hours. In my case, I received a response within a day and was provided useful suggestions on how to resolve my issue. If you are not in a rush, and willing to go back and forth, then the customer support provided by email is perfectly good.
Lastly, Wise do offer a general help page where you can find the answers to a number of common problems. The Wise help center is a great little resource as it has answers to most topics you can think of, and is clearly laid out by theme for quick answers to common problems. In case your problem is not so common, there is a search function to check for solutions and, if your attempts to find an answer are without success, then the customer service team is on standby to lend a hand.
Wise customer reviews
Wise TP Review
Wise has an impressive rating of 4.4 out of 5 on Trustpilot, with the majority of the 185,000 reviews giving Wise a five-star rating.
There are some negative reviews, as is always the case with anything. However, a quick scan of these reveals that they are mostly from customers annoyed with “slow” transfers. In fairness to Wise, however, some transfers may take a bit longer than usual as they are required to do compliance checks on certain transfers. Interestingly enough, some negative reviews focused on a poor customer service experience, something that I did not experience when I was researching my review.
“Trust Wise’s indicated payment dates at you own peril”
“I use Wise for my business as a transactional account as we make payments in many different currencies. We had some really fast payments (less than a day), but then we also had, for some inexplicable reason, payments to accounts to which we make payments on a monthly basis taking up to 3 business days! What is most frustrating is that Wise seems incapable of providing any indication of when a payment will happen once the first advised date is missed.”
“Used to be a great company. Not now.”
“I have been a TransferWise/Wise user since almost the beginning, around 2010. It was a revolutionary service “The Skype of Money Transfer,” and a true game-changer. I used to be treated very well.
Now, they offer no customer support whatsoever, and place lengthy holds on your deposits without giving an explanation.
I hope Wise takes a look at how they’re treating their customers, before someone comes along offering the same product but with decent customer service.”
That said, the overwhelming majority of reviews are positive with 84% giving Wise a five-star rating. Some of the poor reviews may be justified, as it can be extremely frustrating for a money transfer to get caught up in red-tape, but as an authorized payment institution, Wise has no choice when it comes to compliance checks, and for that reason sometimes Wise money transfers take a bit longer.
As I said, the majority of Wise’s customers are delighted and leave comments, such as:
“One of the best multi-currency accounts”
“Very flexible account, with many currencies.
Fast delivery of payments. Clear menus and transparent fees. Possibility to withdraw cash without additional fees (although only in selected ATM-s and up to 200 EUR/month).”
“I really enjoy using this app…”
“I really enjoy using this app because it has centralized my accounts across countries while giving me an honest rate for my transactions. The rapid transfers and instant exchange of money have also facilitated my living abroad and being able to manage money across nations. Highly recommend.”
And just to prove the point that you can’t believe everything you read, some even praise the customer service experience;
“I’ve been with Wise for just over two years…”
“I’ve been with Wise for just over two years, and they’ve been Outstanding.
Their customer service team has always been friendly and fast to respond, and payments have been effortless whether I’m sending or receiving internationally or domestically.
Up until now, I have just been using Wise only for international business payments and receipts, but I’ve recently been very disappointed with the communications and general service at my main business bank, so planning to transfer everything across to Wise. I feel in considerably better hands with Wise!”
Safety with Wise
The tools and services Wise offers its customers are best in class. If you need to make a money transfer then there are very few companies that do what Wise does as well, and as cheaply as they do it.
So, you may be wondering, is Wise safe? Is it a reputable company? After all, there is a saying that if it’s too good to be true, then usually it’s not.
Rest assured, Wise is a reputable international money transfer service provider and, whilst it’s not a bank, it is subject to the same rigorous standards of oversight as all financial service companies operating within the US. As I already mentioned in my Wise review, the company has been around for a while and has millions of satisfied customers, but, in addition to having a long track record, the company is fully compliant with all relevant legislation.
Wise is safe, very safe. After all, if you are handling money transfers worth five billion dollars every month, safety and security is pretty high on your list of priorities. As with large banks or brokers, Wise takes steps to protect itself and its customers against fraudulent activity.
In the US, Wise is regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and this registration must be renewed each year if it wishes to continue operating in the US. On top of this, Wise is authorized to operate in most states. In those states where it is lacking a direct licence, it is sponsored by the Community Federal Savings Bank, to which it is a listed service provider.
Additionally, whilst Wise is not a bank, it does, by law, ‘safeguard’ your money. This means that any funds you have with Wise are not technically held by them, but, rather, are kept with a fully regulated bank entirely separate from Wise.
These banks are premier banks and include the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Barclarys in the UK, and Deutsche Bank in Germany. This means that not only is your money as safe as can be, it also means that, in the unlikely event of Wise going bankrupt or suffering financial hardship, your money will remain untouched.
As well as being fully compliant with US and global regulations, Wise offers bank grade security to customer accounts and transactions. This means top-tier HTTPS encryption on transactions, which ensures maximum security on transactions at both ends of the transaction, whether it’s small or large money transfers.
As well as the highest level of encryption, Wise also offers two factor authorization, aka 2FA, to help protect your account and your transactions. With 2FA, every time you log-in you will be asked to confirm your identity, either by means of a text message, fingerprint, or even facial recognition. This helps ensure that the risk of unauthorized transactions is kept to an absolute minimum, ensuring you and your money remain safe.
On top of this, Wise has a dedicated in-house fraud and support team. This team works 24/7 and monitors all accounts on the Wise platform for signs of potential irregular activity, to make sure your account and your money is safe from potential fraud or hackers.
Is Wise safe to use?
Yes, Wise is safe to use. With Wise, you can send money, receive money, and store over fifty currencies safely and securely.
Is Wise a bank?
Wise is not a bank but, rather, a currency exchange specialist. That said, you can rest easy knowing that Wise is a fully regulated financial service provider.
Wise Customer reviews
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