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Review: Circle digital wallet app

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Send money to your friend's account in US dollars, euros or British pounds.

Circle isn’t just a payment app: It’s also a good option for international money transfers. Circle offers excellent exchange rates that can beat other money transfer services. And you also get instant transfers and no fees for sending, receiving or withdrawing money.

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$0

Min. Transfer Amount

No limit

Max. Transfer Amount

3 - 5 days

Transfer Speed

Details

Product NameCircle
Min. Transfer Amount$0
Max. Transfer AmountNo limit
Transfer MethodsOnline
Transfer OptionsOne off payments
Transfer Speed
Minimum transfer time
3 - 5 days
Customer ServicePhone, Email
Available CurrenciesAED, AFN, ALL, AMD, AOA, ARS, AUD, AWG, AZN, BAM, BBD, BDT, BGN, BHD, BIF, BMD, BND, BOB, BRL, BSD, BTN, BWP, BZD, CAD, CDF, CHF, CLP, CNY, COP, CRC, CUP, CVE, CZK, DJF, DKK, DOP, DZD, EGP, ERN, ETB, EUR, FJD, FKP, GBP, GEL, GHS, GIP, GMD, GNF, GTQ, GYD, HKD, HNL, HRK, HTG, HUF, IDR, ILS, INR, IQD, IRR, ISK, JMD, JOD, JPY, KES, KGS, KHR, KPW, KRW, KWD, KYD, KZT, LAK, LBP, LKR, LRD, LSL, LYD, MAD, MDL, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MRO, MUR, MVR, MWK, MXN, MYR, NAD, NGN, NIO, NOK, NPR, NZD, OMR, PAB, PEN, PGK, PHP, PKR, PLN, PYG, QAR, RON, RSD, RUB, RWF, SAR, SBD, SCR, SDG, SEK, SGD, SHP, SLL, SOS, SRD, STD, SYP, SZL, THB, TJS, TMT, TND, TOP, TRY, TTD, TWD, TZS, UAH, UGX, USD, UYU, UZS, VEF, VND, VUV, WST, XAF, XCD, XPF, YER, ZAR, ZMW
Online Transfer Fee$0

How does Circle work?

Before you can send money on Circle, you need to add funds or link a payment source. You can do that by adding a debit card or bank account. (Circle used to allow credit cards, but it doesn’t anymore.) Circle is similar to Venmo, which lets you send money to and receive money from friends. The company is positioning itself as a platform for sending everyday payments — for example, to split the electricity bill with roommates or request money for the dinner tab you picked up. In this article, we’ll look at how Circle can work for international money transfers.

Circle is best for:

  • Easy payments. Send money like you send a text.
  • Group payments. Send money in a group chat of up to 20 people.
  • No fees. Circle charges no markup or transfer fees.

Easy online transfers without the fees

Cost is an important factor in any international money transfer. Sending money overseas can be expensive given high transaction fees and confusing exchange rates. The Circle app is a cheap way to send domestic payments as well as international transfers.

Finding a money transfer service without fees is rare, and on top of that Circle doesn’t mark up the exchange rate. The rate Circle gets is the rate you get.

However, there are limitations. You can only exchange USD to EUR or GBP to your friend’s Circle account, and the transfer speed can take up to four days.

How much will I pay to send money with Circle?

There are no fees to link a debit card or bank account. There are also no fees to send, receive or withdraw money. Circle occasionally offers promo codes for new users that can save you money.

Exchange rates

Money transfer services usually make a profit by offering a slightly worse exchange rate than the mid-market rate.

For example, if the mid-market rate says that $1,000 is worth 950 euros, a money transfer service might exchange your $1,000 for 920 euros instead. Consequently, the service will effectively make a profit of 30 euros.

Banks often charge 3% to 4% above the mid-market rate, and even the best online money transfer services usually charge 1% to 2%. By comparison, Circle does not mark up the rate. The rate Circle gets is the rate you get.

Our experience transferring money with Circle

Here’s what we found when we sent a live transfer to France through the digital wallet Circle.

  • Circle’s exchange rates can’t be beat, offering rates near or at the mid-market rate, or the rate banks and other transfer services use when trading among themselves.
  • It took a speedy two days for our recipient to transfer their money from their Circle account to a French bank.
  • Once we downloaded the Circle app, we were able to sign up and initiate a transfer in under 4 minutes.

What types of transfers does Circle support?

You can deposit money into and withdraw money from Circle via debit card or bank transfer. Circle does not offer the flexibility of rate locks, forward contracts or recurring transfers. It only offers one-off transfers.

How can I send a transfer through Circle?

After you’ve linked a payment source — your debit card or bank account — Click the Send Money tab of the Circle online platform or app. Some things to keep in mind:

  • You can send money via email or text.
  • Once your recipient receives the funds, they can cash out via debit card or bank account.
  • On Circle, you can send US dollars, euros and British pounds.

Maximum transfer amounts and available countries

Circle has both weekly and daily limits, and the countries it supports

Transfer limits

All users can use Circle’s app to send up to $400 a week using a debit card. Once you apply and are approved, that amount increases to $3,000 a week.

To withdraw from your account, you’ll need at least $30.

Countries

You can use Circle in:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Circle supports US dollars, euros and British pounds.

Pros and cons

Pros
  • Strong exchange rates. The rate Circle gets is the rate you get.
  • No fees. You won’t pay a fee to deposit, send, receive or withdraw money.
  • No transfer limits. Though you will need to have at least $30 in your Circle account to cash out.
Cons
  • Limited service. Circle supports only three major currencies to 30 countries. And if you’re a resident of Hawaii and a few other states, you’ll need to find another service until Circle is licensed in those states.
  • Government-issued ID required. You’ll need to upload a license or passport to send money, which could deter those without either form of ID.
  • No live chat option. If you have questions, you’ll need to call or submit an online form for help.

How does Circle compare to other services?

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.837 EUR 4,187 Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
For larger transfers, get no transaction fees and no maximum send limits.
Go to site Show details
$1 Same day USD 0.00 0.842 EUR 4,210 XE offers fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
$0 1 - 2 days USD 1.99 0.829 EUR 4,143 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 1 - 2 days USD 40.00 0.846 EUR
4,195
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.842 EUR 4,208 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

How do I get started with Circle?

To get started with Circle, register for a free account on its website or through its mobile app. You’ll need to input your personal contact information and upload a government-issued ID — like a license or passport — to send money. Then you’ll need to link your Circle account to a debit card or bank account. Circle will notify both you and your recipient of your transfer’s progress.

Sending €10,000 to France from the United States

You live in the United States, and you want to send 10,000 euros to your friend in France. Here’s how you would complete a transfer through Circle:

  • Link a debit card or bank account to your Circle account (this is free).
  • Click the “Send” tab in your Circle app.
  • Select euros as the currency and enter “10,000” as the amount to send. As an example, you might see that this costs $10,545 because of the exchange rate.
  • Specify your friend as the recipient and send the money (this is also free). You will be charged $10,545.

Your recipient will receive the money. At this point, they can withdraw the money for free via debit card or bank account. Debit card providers and banks typically take one to four days for processing.

Circle reviews and complaints

Circle gets mixed reviews online. At Trustpilot, the reviews score of 1.5 out of 5 as of October 2020.

Bottom line

When considering options for money transfers, cost might be your primary concern. In that case, be sure to compare Circle against leading money transfer providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your transfer.

Frequently asked questions about Circle

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