Wise, formerly TransferWise, leads the market with its great rates and transparent business model. It provides an excellent money transfer experience for individuals and small business.
|Transfer speed:||1-3 days|
|Trustpilot score:||4 stars|
|Our score||5 stars|
What we like
- Mid-market rate is quoted to customer
- Transparent cost structure
- Excellent customer service
- Simple user interface
What we don’t
- Lack of advanced payment features
Wise, formerly TransferWise was conceived by two friends with a common problem. They found that moving money internationally was clumsy and expensive. In response, they wanted to develop an easier way to do things and save money in the process.
Almost a decade later, Wise is quickly gaining a reputation for being the most transparent service in the market. Millions of customers have used its platform so far, and the service continues to expand into new countries.
To learn more about this service and see if it’s right for you, read on for our in-depth Wise review.
Affiliate disclosure: If you sign up with a money transfer service after being referred from our website, we might earn a referral fee. Learn more.
About Wise, formerly TransferWise Money Transfer
What is Wise all about? Let’s begin our Wise review with some general information about the service.
Company profile and Wise founders
Wise was founded in 2011 by two founders, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann. The paid had run into issues of their own trying to transfer money between the United Kingdom and their homeland of Estonia. At the time, Taavet was an employee of Skype and Kristo was a financial consultant. To solve their own problem they created Wise.
Since the establishment of the Wise, the service has gone from strength to strength. It has received financing from a range of venture capitalists, including Andreessen Horowitz, Valar Ventures and Richard Branson. This placed the company in a good position to launch creative marketing campaigns with the intention of generating interest among its younger user base.
Wise continues to be run by its co-founders, Taavet and Kristo, who act as joint CEOs. Matt Briers has been recruited from Google to perform the role of Chief Financial Officer. He receives assistance from David Pratt and Dean Nash, who have been appointed Group Financial Controller and Corporate Counsel respectively. In 2021, the company rebranded from TransferWise to Wise.
Wise address is as follows:
6th Floor, The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street
London, E1 6JJ
International Wise locations
Wise has established local offices in the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
- United States
Wise countries and currencies
Wise supports the transfer of funds to approximately 90 countries. To accomplish this, the service has established a network of international bank accounts using its own locally domiciled subsidiaries. This allows Wise to facilitate many transfers without actually having to enter the currency market. It may also utilise the SWIFT network.
Wise has a minimum transfer value of £1, which is excellent news if you only need to transfer a small amount. Wise maximum transfer value is £1,000,000 or your local currency equivalent. This means that the service is suitable for larger personal transfers and also for small business.
Wise fees and exchange rate
What are Wise fees and exchange rate? It will take a few minutes to explore the foreign exchange market, so we can properly consider this question.
How the foreign exchange market works
Let’s begin with how the foreign exchange market works. Banks and other money transfer services will buy foreign currency at a price very close to the mid-market rate. They will then sell this currency to you, the customer, for a higher rate than they bought it for, taking a margin in between – known as “the spread”.
The spread is essentially a hidden cost that is not disclosed to you during the transaction. Then, in addition to the spread, some services will charge a transaction fee on top – which is typically the fee that they quote to you. In any case, the total cost of a transfer for you, the customer, is the combination of the two; the spread + transaction fee.
Q. Does the Wise exchange rate include a spread?
A. No, there isn’t a spread.
Q. What about Wise fees?
A. Yes, there is a transaction fee. The size of the fee depends on the amount being transferred.
But for the moment, don’t pay too much attention to the details. Rather, for the purpose of our Wise review, let’s consider the overall cost.
Why focus on overall cost?
If you focus on the exchange rate spread or transaction fee in isolation, it is easy to become lost in marketing gimmicks. Instead, it is more helpful to consider the overall cost when these factors are combined. For example, a typical bank will charge up to 5% of the overall transfer value in spread and transaction fee to complete a transfer on your behalf. Not great.
But what about Wise Money Transfer? To determine its overall cost we need to compare a transfer with a benchmark, the mid-market rate, which in theory has no cost. Practically speaking, it is unlikely that you will ever receive the equivalent of the mid-market rate, however, your goal should be to get as close as possible.
If you can achieve a total cost of less than 1% of the overall transaction value then you are on the right track. However, it really depends on what your needs are and if you are willing to pay a little bit extra for additional features, advice, or research. To find out the mid-market rate of any currency pairing, use this calculator at xe.com.
What is the cost of Wise?
To calculate the cost of Wise, we received three quotes to exchange British Pounds (GBP) into Australian Dollars (AUD) – for low, medium, and high values. The overall cost of each transaction was then compared against the mid-market rate and represented as a percentage of the transfer value.
Here is the calculation:
|Transfer amount||Overall cost|
An average cost of 0.50% means that for every £1,000 sent, on average £5.00 will be lost in spread + fees. By using this figure, we can make a general representation of Wise across a range of transfer values. Of course, it is not a perfect representation by any means, but it is helpful for comparative purposes.
Important note on SWIFT: You should be aware that any transfer conducted via the SWIFT network may incur additional hidden charges by correspondent banks; the exact cost depending on the amount of the transfer and the recipient bank. In our experience, these fees can be as high as £25 per transaction.
Wise review: Market comparison
So, how does Wise compare to other services in the market? To help you determine its relative competitiveness, we have prepared a chart. Beside the name of each service, we have listed its average cost, speed of transfer, receiving countries, and our review score – sorted from highest to lowest.
To sort this chart by column, click its respective headings. If you are reading on mobile, you may need to scroll horizontally to view all fields.
|wdt_ID||Service||Ave. cost||Speed||Countries||Our score||Review|
|1||Azimo||0.89%||1-3 days||200||2 stars||Read review|
|2||Currencies Direct||1.79%||2-4 days||188||3 stars||Read review|
|3||CurrencyFair||0.45%||2-4 days||157||5 stars||Read review|
|4||MoneyGram||3.50%||1-3 days||194||2 stars||Read review|
|5||OFX||1.20%||3-5 days||226||4 stars||Read review|
|7||OrbitRemit||0.43%||1-3 days||43||4 stars||Read review|
|8||Paysera||0.97%||3-5 days||174||3 stars||Read review|
|9||RationalFX||1.16%||1-3 days||201||3 stars||Read review|
|10||Remitly||0.77%||1-3 days||58||2 stars||Read review|
|11||Ria Money Transfer||3.06%||1-3 days||158||2 stars||Read review|
If you would like to learn more about the rationale of our Wise review, take a look at our review methodology.
A typical transfer with Wise takes 1-3 business days, from sending to receipt. The exact duration will depend on a few factors, including the currency pairings involved, the transfer value, as well as the particular systems of the sending and receiving bank.
Key payment features
How do payment features affect our Wise review? Let’s take a look at its capabilities.
A spot contract consists of a single payment from one currency to another at the current available rate. If you need to send money right away, simply login to the Wise app or website and with a couple of clicks a spot payment can be arranged.
Wise borderless account review
A multi-currency account allows you to send and receive payments in various currency denominations. It is useful for individuals and businesses who would like the flexibility of transacting in more than one country at a time. For many, it is a suitable alternative to opening a foreign bank account.
Wise phone number and support
Wise customer support can be contacted by phone or email. Here are the contact details for a few of its offices:
+61 28 0466 244 (AU)
+44 203 6950 999 (UK)
+1 888 908 3833 (USA)
In our experience, we found Wise customer service to be friendly and helpful. We did not have to wait too long to speak with someone on the phone, and our queries by email have been answered in a prompt and professional manner.
Is Wise safe?
As a customer, is Wise safe to use? Let’s take a look at some of its security measures.
Wise is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and is licensed as an Electronic Money Institution under reference 900507. Its subsidiaries are regulated by the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction of their operations, such as ASIC in Australia and MAS in Singapore.
Customer funds are held in trust
In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of Wise customers are held in segregated accounts and are kept apart from the company’s own operating accounts. This ensures the security of customer funds, should Wise encounter financial difficulty.
Website is securely protected
The Wise website is protected with TLS encryption, which prevents sensitive data from being intercepted during your visit. You can confirm that this is in place by recognising a green padlock next to the website’s URL on your browser.
Is Wise legit? A look at its reputation
Does Wise scam? Are there Wise complaints – or is Wise legit? Let’s take a look at its reputation.
As of publication, Wise has received over 90,000 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars; representing a positive experience in 94 percent of interactions with its customers.
Here are our observations of the feedback posted:
- Smooth payment process
- Transparent fee structure
- Easy to use once you get the hang of it
- Helpful customer service via phone and chat
- Some transfers took longer than expected
- Confusion about the identification verification process
- A deactivated account with no explanation provided
Upon viewing the Facebook and Twitter feeds of Wise, we can see that the service replies same-day to any query raised by its customers. Wise is obviously a very popular service, therefore, the messages range between troubleshooting and thank yous. Something very good to see indeed.
Wise is very good at marketing. Therefore, its social media feeds are filled with advertising campaigns. It also maintains a blog with interesting news and articles for people who transfer regularly and often live abroad.
The mainstream media reporting of Wise is generally positive. Many articles highlight the advantage of using money transfer services over traditional banks.
TransferWise aims to disrupt the banking world with a cheaper way to exchange money.The Telegraph
TransferWise is seen as crucial not just to the success of London’s fintech scene, but London’s emerging tech sector as a whole.Business Insider
TransferWise takes a machete to the hefty fees that banks levy to send money across borders.The Economist
Wise account user experience
How does product design affect our Wise review? Let’s take a look at its user experience.
The Wise website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and functionality. It is available in 13 languages; English, Chinese, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
Wise app review
A Wise app has been developed for Apple and Android devices. By using the Wise app you can access your account at any time and use its core features; such as initiating new payments or tracking the status of in-progress transfers.
The registration process is very quick and takes around 1 minute. All you need to do is enter your email address and password. Alternatively, you can sign up with your Facebook or Google accounts.
Before you can commence transferring funds with Wise, you will first need to verify your identity. This will typically require providing two types of documents:
- Photo identification, such as a passport or drivers licence
- Proof of address, such as a bank or utility statement
How does Wise work?
As a part of our Wise review, we will take you through an example transaction. If you would like some guidance in navigating your own account, you can follow along below.
Step 1 – Sign up and login
Visit wise.com, sign up and login. To begin a transfer, click Send Money.
Step 2 – Select currencies
To formalise your quote, enter the value of either the sending or receiving currency, and click Continue.
Step 3 – Select a recipient
Select your intended recipient – the details of which are entered in a separate menu.
Step 4 – Confirm transaction
The terms of your quote are presented, including the exchange rate and fees applicable. When you are happy to proceed, click Confirm and Continue.
Step 5 – Select payment methpd
Select a method of payment and click Proceed to Payment.
Step 6 – Deposit funds into local account
You are provided with instructions to proceed with your part of the payment. If you selected bank transfer, now is the time to deposit your funds into the local bank account of Wise.
Step 7 – Track payment
When your funds are received by Wise, it will complete the final leg of the transfer. You can track its status online or with the Wise app. You will also receive email updates throughout the process.
Finally, once the transfer is complete its status will be updated accordingly. The funds should arrive in your recipient’s bank account shortly.
In our experience, Wise was simple to use and we were satisfied with the instructions provided along the way. The entire process took approximately 2 business days, and the funds arrived into our recipient’s account as requested.
Wise review: Final thoughts
While the service is focused on addressing the needs of consumers, it may also be suitable for small businesses. If you think that it will fall short of your business requirements, you may like to consider services like CurrencyFair or WorldFirst. That said, we have no hesitation in recommending Wise.
If you have any questions or feedback about our Wise review, let us know in the comments below.