TransferWise and CurrencyFair are solid options for international money transfers. We compare them head to head to see who has the edge.
Compared to most banks, TransferWise and CurrencyFair are excellent options to transfer money. Most important, they charge low fees and offer favorable exchange rates — two big factors that will determine how much you’ll save on your transfer.
TransferWise and CurrencyFair: How they work
It’s easy to transfer money through TransferWise and CurrencyFair, and the process is pretty similar for both services.
With TransferWise, enter how much money you want to transfer, and then send your funds to TransferWise. TransferWise will convert the currency and send it to your recipient’s bank account.
For CurrencyFair, you set the exchange rate you want on your currency, and then you’ll be matched with someone who wants to exchange money with you. After your currency is converted, CurrencyFair will transfer it to your recipient’s bank account.
Send $1,000 to Italy
Say you’re a business owner who needs to buy a few things from a supplier in Florence. Here’s what a transfer would like with TransferWise and CurrencyFair.
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 0.93455 EUR||1 USD = 0.93100 EUR|
|Transfer speed||1–6 days||2–4 days|
|Total received||934.55 EUR||931.00 EUR|
While TransferWise offers a slightly stronger exchange rate, you’ll pay almost $8.50 more in transfer fees and could wait up to two extra days. However, going with either service will result in big savings over big banks.
Who offers lower fees?
TransferWise charges a percentage of your transfer, which changes based on which currencies you’re exchanging. The fee is incorporated into your transfer. (Check out TransferWise’s pricing page for details on fees.)
If you’re transferring money by credit card, you’ll pay a transaction fee.
|Via bank transfer||Via credit card||To exchange currency|
|$0||Typically 0.3% to 2%||About 1% ($3 minimum)|
When customers exchange money on CurrencyFair, CurrencyFair charges a fee of the total amount. If there isn’t anybody on CurrencyFair for you to exchange with, it will step in and exchange the money for you at a higher fee.
There’s no fee to send money to CurrencyFair.
|Via bank transfer||Via Irish debit card||Exchange currency with another user||Exchange currency with CurrencyFair|
|$0||$0||0.15% of total amount||0.4% to 0.6%|
Though a money transfer service might not charge for bank transfers, your bank may charge you for sending in your money. Your recipient’s bank may also charge fees for receiving money.
TransferWise charges a 1% fee to exchange currency. CurrencyFair charges 0.15% if you exchange with another user. This gives a slight edge to CurrencyFair.
Who offers better exchange rates?
TransferWise exchanges money at the mid-market rate. That’s a great deal compared to most other money transfer services, though you should still keep an eye on the site’s percentage fee.
Because CurrencyFair is a marketplace that matches users, your exchange rate will vary. Depending on what you’re willing to exchange for, you could get anywhere from a poor rate to something even better than the mid-market rate.
Judging purely on exchange rates, this battle is a tie. TransferWise converts at the stellar mid-market rate, but you could theoretically get the mid-market rate or better at CurrencyFair.
It can take up to four days to send money to TransferWise, depending on which method you use.
|Credit or debit card||Wire transfer||Bank transfer (ACH)|
|Immediately||Up to 1 business day||1–4 business days|
Currency conversion takes anywhere from a few hours to two days, and it takes a few business days for the money to be sent to your recipient.
In total, it takes from one to six business days to complete a transfer.
It takes up to two days to send money to CurrencyFair, depending on which method you use.
|Debit card||Bank transfer|
|Immediate (only for Irish debit cards from a bank in the Republic of Ireland)||1–2 business days|
It’ll take one to two business days for CurrencyFair to convert the money and send it to your recipient.
In total, it takes two to four days to complete a transfer. If you have an Irish debit card, your transfer could be completed in as little as one business day.
TransferWise could technically take longer to transfer money, but more often you can expect it to take as long as CurrencyFair.
If there’s one weakness to both TransferWise and CurrencyFair, it’s that you can’t pay by credit or debit card for all currencies. TransferWise offers credit and debit card payments for currencies like the British pound and Australian dollar, but not for others like the Japanese yen or US dollar. CurrencyFair only offers debit card payments from Irish cards. Expanding credit and debit card payments would speed up the transfer time for many countries.
Who offers more options?
|Payment Methods||Minimum and maximum transfers||Delivery methods||Transfer speeds||Countries and currencies|
|TransferWise||Bank transfer, credit card or debit card||$1 minimum; $36,000 maximum||Bank transfer||1–6 business days||39 countries|
|CurrencyFair||Bank transfer or debit cards (Irish cards only)||None||Bank transfer||2–4 business days||160+ countries|
TransferWise and CurrencyFair are very similar, and each edges out the other in a few respects. For example, TransferWise offers credit and debit card payments for more currencies. On the other hand, CurrencyFair offers transfers to more countries and potentially gives you a better rate than the mid-market rate.
Still, you’ll want to compare your options to find a service that’s best for your situation.