Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder. He’s ghostwritten hundreds of articles on fintech, finding his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Traveling internationally for nearly half his life — and getting burned once by an OTC money exchange — Zak's vowed not to settle for anything short of the mid-market rate again.
Wise, unlike a lot of its competitors, makes it crystal clear how much you are paying in fees before you transfer. Money transfer companies can often try to hide fees and exchange rate markups from the user, making Wise a breath of fresh air. Wise offers accounts for both standard users sending to other individuals as well as business accounts with extra features like Xero integration.
When it comes to online transfers, I would be surprised to see big names like MoneyGram and Western Union offering better rates, but keep in mind that other online-specific companies may offer better deals than Wise. If you find yourself traveling overseas frequently or receiving payment in foreign currencies, be sure to look into the Wise Borderless account to see if it fits your needs.
Must read: TransferWise has rebranded to Wise
As TransferWise has expanded beyond international money transfers, the company has changed its name to Wise. As a user, not much will change for you – you’ll be redirected to Wise and can still access your account the same way as normal.
Easy to use. We signed up for an account and initiated a transfer through the website in less than three minutes.
Affordability. When compared to a bank, Wise’s fees and exchange rates will almost always be better.
Access to the mid-market rate. Wise offers the mid-market rate on all transfers sent through its network. All you have to think about are fees when comparing transfers.
High daily sending limits. A cap of 10,000,000 HKD per transfer is in place, but some sending methods and locations may lower that limit.
Multiple payment options. Pay with a debit card, credit card or bank account. When using the Wise mobile app, you can also pay with Google Pay and Apple Pay.
What to be aware of
Bank account transfers only. Funds must be sent to the recipient’s bank account; there is no option for cash pickup.
Two-step process. You’ll first send the money to Wise, and then Wise will deposit the money into your recipient’s bank account. This extra step can sometimes add time to your transfer.
Fees. Because Wise offers the mid-market rate, it relies on fees to make a profit.
Wise’s fees and exchange rates
Fees are determined by the following:
Amount. The more money you send, the higher your fees will be. This is because the fees are based on a preset percentage. Each currency uses its own percentage.
Payment method. You can pay by bank account, bank wire transfer, debit card or credit card — each uses its own fee based on the amount you are sending, but the percent will typically be the same no matter how much you send.
Wise fees explained
When we checked on 30 Jan, 2021, Wise’s fees tended to be as follows, based on the type of payment method you are using:
0.5% – 1%
0.85% – 1.35%
0.5% – 1%
0.5% – 1%
To give this more context, here is what sending $5,000 HKD to Australia through Wise looks like on 30 Jan, 2021:
Wise exchange rates explained
Wise uses the mid-market rate for transfers and also allows you to lock in a rate for a day or more to complete your transfer. When we checked Wise’s rates against the mid-market rate on Google and XE, they were similar. Wise’s rates update multiple times a day.
Calculate your transfer with Wise
Choose your currency and desired transfer amount. Exchange rates change frequently, so visit Wise’s site to get a final quote.
Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
Wise transfer speeds are dependent on how much you are willing to pay in fees and when you send your transfer.
Fastest option — instant When using a credit or debit card, you’ll pay more in fees, but your money can arrive instantly in your recipient’s bank account. Your credit card might charge you an additional cash advance fee, further increasing the cost of your total transfer.
Cheapest option — up to four business days Making a bank transfer through your bank account to pay for your transfer is typically the cheapest way to send money through Wise, but it’s almost always the slowest. It typically takes two days for Wise to receive your money and an additional two days to transfer the funds to your recipient’s bank account.
What currencies can I send with Wise?
Wise offers money transfers to over 50 different currencies. You can check out the full list of the currencies above, but the following are some of the more popular ones:
CNY Chinese yuan
GBP British pound
INR Indian rupee
MXN Mexican peso
LKR Sri Lankan rupee
PHP Philippine peso
VND Vietnamese dong
Case study: Katia's experience
I began using Wise when I moved to the US from Australia a few years ago. I tested a few money transfer services and Wise was — and still is — my favorite for a couple of reasons:
It’s transparent. As soon as you enter the amount of money you want to send, you’ll see the real, mid-market exchange rate as well as Wise’s fees. The rate changes so much that if I get distracted and come back to the site a few minutes later, it may have already changed. That’s how I know it’s current.
The fee is small. Especially compared to the traditional banks — as someone who regularly transfers money between two continents, I appreciate this. The funds usually appear in my account in 24 hours, but it can take longer if I hit send just before the weekend.
Is Wise safe?
Wise was founded in 2010 and serves millions of customers a year. Wise is fully registered and accredited by many global agencies, using the following global standards to protect your money:
Follows strict rules set by regulatory agencies. In every country where Wise operates, it is registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies when necessary.
Bank-level data security. Encryption and data storage at Wise are handled in the same way as your bank.
Two-factor authentication. Protect your account with 2FA, with optional biometric locks on the Wise mobile app.
In-house 24/7 digital security team. A security team works around the clock to monitor transactions for suspicious activity and accounts for fraudulent logins.
Registered with/Regulated by
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Financial Intelligence Unit (AUSTRAC)
Belgium and the European Economic Area (EEA)
National Bank of Belgium (NBB) as an Authorized Payment Institution
Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Authorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF)
Customs and Excise Department (CCE) of Hong Kong
Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
Kanto Local Financial Bureau
Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia)
Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
United Kingdom and the European Economic Area (EEA)
UK Financial Conduct Authority, The Information Commissioner’s Office
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA)
Wise reviews and complaints
As of October 2020, Wise’s reviews are moderately positive overall, with 86% of reviews on Trustpilot ranking it as Excellent, which is better than many competing money transfer companies. Overall, Wise’s clear fee structure and transparent rates make it easy to trust, but that doesn’t mean it is perfect. Customers often complain about slow customer service and turnaround times as well as the fact that missing a dash in your transfer account number can heavily delay your transfer.
How can I pay for my Wise transfer?
HK customers can pay using the following methods:
Debit or credit card. These payments are processed immediately.
Bank Transfer. You’ll need to allow one to four business days for your funds to reach Wise. You may also pay via FPS by sending the money to firstname.lastname@example.org and most likely the funds will arrive on the same business day.
Google Pay and Apple Pay. These services can be used through the Wise mobile app and are processed straightaway. However, these payment methods may be charged as a cash advance.
The funds are deposited directly into your recipient’s bank account once Wise receives your payment. Wise allows you to make secure one-off transfers to a range of destinations around the globe. However, there currently is no option to set up recurring transfers.
How do I send money through Wise?
Follow these six steps to have money sent in as little as a few minutes:
Register. Create your free account online or through the mobile app.
Enter your sending amount. Look at the fees and delivery time.
Add recipient’s bank account information. Make sure to include the routing and account number.
Verify your identity. Have your passport or valid driver’s license ready.
Pay. Enter your bank account, debit, credit card or digital wallet details to pay.
Track your transfer. Check the status online or in the mobile app.
Wise is a straightforward company that presents fees and exchange rates alongside your transfer. Given that you can lock-in your transfer rate for many hours after first seeing it, it’s worth checking Wise’s prices first before exploring the competition. If you are ready to make your transfer with Wise now, head on over to get started by creating your free account.
Yes. Set up a business profile with Wise to begin saving on business payments. If you’re interested in Wise for your e-commerce store, read our review of the features on offer.
Does Wise have a debit card?
Yes. Wise has a debit card but currently not available to Hong Kong residents.
How can I cancel my Wise transfer?
In your account, navigate to the pending transfer and there’ll be a button called Cancel transfer. This will work if the money is still being sent to Wise or if it’s being converted. However, once Wise pays your recipient, there’s no way to get it back. If the details are incorrect, the money will usually bounce. Wise will let you know in this case, so you’ll have the opportunity to update the details or cancel the transaction entirely.
Always make sure you trust the business or person you’re sending a money transfer to.
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