Transferring money was traditionally a long, arduous, and expensive process. Sending funds overseas often required you to wait until the perfect moment, when exchange rates were favourable. In the digital age, much of that has changed, thanks in no small part to companies like Wise (formerly known as TransferWise). In our Wise review, we look at how the service has developed, what you can expect now, and what we like and dislike about it.

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Andrew Cook
Andrew Cook
Hi, I'm Andrew and I am a news writer for CompareBanks. My main focus is on digital and online banks and looking at the banking landscape is changing within the UK and around the world.
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Overview

First Glance

Transferring money was traditionally a long, arduous, and expensive process. Sending funds overseas often required you to wait until the perfect moment, when exchange rates were favourable. In the digital age, much of that has changed, thanks in no small part to companies like Wise (formerly known as TransferWise). In our Wise review, we look at how the service has developed, what you can expect now, and what we like and dislike about it.

Features

Contact Info

Transferring money was traditionally a long, arduous, and expensive process. Sending funds overseas often required you to wait until the perfect moment, when exchange rates were favourable. In the digital age, much of that has changed, thanks in no small part to companies like Wise (formerly known as TransferWise). In our Wise review, we look at how the service has developed, what you can expect now, and what we like and dislike about it.

At a Glance

Let’s start by taking a top-level look at some of the pros and cons of using Wise. As with every service, there are positives and negatives, many of which depend on what you’re using the service for:

Pros:

  • Simple to complete sign-up and easy to use
  • Provides exchange rates that are competitive and usually better than high-street banks
  • High transfer limits, meaning you can send a lot each day
  • Multiple ways to pay, including debit and credit cards and Google/Apple Pay

Cons:

  • Money can only be sent to other bank accounts, no cash option
  • You’ll need to provide proof of ID and address to make transfers
  • Additional fees depending on the service you want

So, a fairly mixed set of points, although generally more positive and negative. Let’s look at some of these in more detail.

What is Wise?

Wise is a money transfer service that launched over 9 years ago in the UK. Founders Taavet and Kristo, both from Estonia, were tired of the hassle of converting British Pounds into Euros each month. It was expensive and time-consuming. Instead of going through traditional banks, they formed Wise to help make the process faster, easier, and less expensive.

Since these humble beginnings, the company has reached far and wide, with 14 offices and over 2,200 employees. They have over 8 million customers and transfer more than £4 billion each month. As well as providing transfer services, the company now also offers both a multi-currency Borderless account, as well as a debit Mastercard.

Who is Wise for?

If you regularly make overseas currency transfers, Wise is the service for you. Yet it’s not just for those people. With the many services and features, there are plenty of people who can benefit from the service. As well as sending money, you can also receive it from overseas, and get paid in and spend money in a variety of international currencies.

With the Borderless account, you can also hold over 50 currencies in your account, which you can access and convert instantly. You can also access bank details in a range of different currencies and set up direct debits. So, if you regularly travel or deal with people overseas, there’s plenty that appeals. Similarly, if you like to purchase goods or services from different countries, you’ll also benefit from a Wise account.

How does Wise work?

It’s quick and easy to get started with Wise. You can start by going to the homepage and using the calculator to check the exchange rate and fees, even before you get started with an account. This is useful, as it means you can make sure it’s competitive before you proceed. Wise always uses the mid-market rate from Reuters, meaning it’s often very good.

If you decide to proceed with Wise, you can then create a free account to get the process started. It doesn’t matter if the recipient doesn’t have an account, you can still use the service. In some cases, you might need to verify your account, which can take 1-3 days.

Wise has bank accounts all over the world. When you send money, it goes into the account of the country you’re in. Then, money is sent from an account in your recipient’s location directly to their account.

You then need to provide account details for your recipient. Unfortunately, you can’t send them cash to pick up, it has to go straight into a bank account. You can then pay for the transfer and the fees using a credit card, debit card, bank transfer, or by other means.

Wise has bank accounts all over the world. When you send money, it goes into the account of the country you’re in. Then, money is sent from an account in your recipient’s location directly to their account.

What features do you get with Wise?

There is plenty to like about the service on offer from Wise, as well as many benefits of using it. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the main features that come with a Wise account:

  • Free to set up. Just about anyone can get started with a free Wise account, which can be set up in a matter of minutes.
  • Simple money transfers. The main draw of Wise is that you can easily transfer money to just around anywhere in the world.
  • Competitive rates. Compared to a lot of competitors, the service is affordable, with a competitive mid-market exchange rate.
  • A Borderless account. The multi-currency account allows you to hold a variety of different currencies and spend, accept, and convert between them.
  • A Mastercard debit card. If you’re spending money while you travel, the Wise Mastercard gives you access to funds in your account.
  • Invoice software integration. You can connect your Wise account to a range of different invoicing software, making it easy to automate invoices.
  • Monthly statements. Keep track of your transfer activity each month with detailed accounts of transactions in and out.
  • Intuitive app. The easy-to-use and secure app is available on iOS and Android.

What options do Wise offer?

There are a few different options available when it comes to using Wise. To start with, there are three different ways that you can transfer money:

  • Fast transfer. As the name suggests, this gives you the chance to instantly transfer money. You can send it from your debit or credit card, although it costs more to use this method.
  • Low-cost transfer. For a slower but more affordable service, the low-cost transfer allows you to send money from your bank account.
  • Advanced transfer. If you want to transfer money in GBP from an account outside the UK, you can do so with this option.

As well as these options of personal transactions, you can also get a Borderless account that lets you hold a variety of different currencies and get bank account details for some of them. There is also a business account, which has many of the features you get with a standard Borderless account, but with more of a business focus. 

What are the charges for using Wise?

There are several fees associated with using Wise, and these differ depending on your situation. These factors include:

  • The amount you’re sending
  • How fast you want to send the money
  • The type of payment you make
  • The current exchange rate

Let’s take a look at an example. At the time of writing, if you wanted to send £1,000 into Euros using the low-cost transfer, the recipient would get €1,098.94. There would be a fee of £3.75 charged for the transaction, which is a fixed fee of £0.26 and a variable fee of £3.49. This variable fee is charged as a percentage, which is 0.35%. For a fast transfer, the variable fee is 0.65%, making the total £6.73.

How safe is Wise?

Wise's record speaks for itself. The company has served millions of customers and moved millions of pounds in money over the years. There are several reasons that make it so secure. For a start, they are FCA registered, meaning that they have to adhere to a strict set of rules. Additionally, they have the same level of security that a high-street bank would offer, meaning your details and data are safe.

Wise also uses a specialist in-house team to keep an eye on things. They use a variety of cutting edge technology to make sure that your funds and your data remain safe. Reviews show that they also have an excellent rating of 4.6 on Trustpilot, showing just how positive their customers feel about them. 

What about customer service?

Overall, the customer service on offer is of a high standard. They have personalised support when you log into your account, as well as a variety of troubleshooting topics. However, on their website, it’s hard to find exact details of how to reach the customer service team or what their opening hours are. Despite this, reviews are generally good in this area.

What else makes Wise stand out?

Wise stands out because of the comprehensive level of service that they offer. Whether you’re a business or personal customer, you can get an account that’s the right fit for you. What’s more, they claim that they’re on average 8x cheaper than the leading banks in the UK. If you want to transfer money safely and securely, there are few competitors that offer such a level of service.

Wise: The Verdict

Overall, Wise is a very good option for those looking to transfer money overseas. Over the last decade, the company has established itself as one of the leading service providers in the industry. With competitive rates, a variety of options, and plenty of additional features, it’s not hard to see why.

More About Wise

Wise is a money transfer service. Founded in 2011, it was developed by a pair of Estonian men splitting their working time between Estonia and the UK; financial consultant Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, Skype’s first employee.

Based primarily in the UK, Wise has additional offices in Tallinn, Singapore and New York. The company’s primary focus is to provide people who need to make international money transfers with a low-cost, efficient means to do so.

Wise supports more than 750 currencies and offers multi-currency accounts.

The company began offering a bank account, the Borderless account, in May 2017. Initially aimed at just businesses and freelancers, the account is now available to a wider customer base. A multi-currency debit card, offered via Mastercard, was launched in January 2018 for EU customers and later, those in the United States. More countries will be added later this year.

Wise Products and Services

Wise allows customers to link a bank account to their account via an app and add payees in order to transfer money.

The Borderless account gives customers international bank details, allowing them to receive money from more than 30 countries without paying a penny in fees. These customers get a British account number and sort code, plus Australian, European, US and New Zealand account details.

Borderless accounts can hold more than 40 currencies and switch between them almost instantly, spending at the real exchange rate. Customers can also withdraw funds at ATM machines, up to £200 in 30 days.

The Borderless account for freelancers allows self-employed people to invoice all around the world and be paid in local currencies without fees.

Business customers can pay invoices and manage their payroll in over 70 countries and can even send money to non-Wise customers.

Wise Security

Wise is not a bank but is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the 2011 Electronic Money Regulations.

Wise Contact Details

Wise
6th Floor
TEA Building
56 Shoreditch High Street
London
E1 6JJ

Telephone: 020 3695 0999

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Wise Reviews

Paul Smith
July 17, 2021

“Great place for currency account! Have been using for a while and very pleased”

Great place for currency account! Have been using for a while and very pleased.

2 persons found this helpful