Please note: You should always refer to quotes you receive from transfer services themselves directly for exact amounts as they may vary from our estimates.
Aussie platform Airwallex was founded in 2015 and has now expanded across 19 international offices in 11 different territories (and has raised over $800 million). The company allows businesses to open multi-currency accounts with no monthly fees so that they can trade globally.
What is Airwallex?
Airwallex lets you open accounts in different currencies, without going anywhere near a bank (let alone a bank in another country). This allows you to receive, hold and spend money in a different currency, without having to convert the money to pounds. In turn, that means avoiding unnecessary currency conversion fees where banks traditionally love to nibble at your profit margin.
Lets say you’re a UK-based business, but you sell a lot of goods/services to customers in Italy, and you also have to pay a few overheads there too.
Without Airwallex, £2,000-worth of sales in euros might incur a 3% forex fee and land in your sterling UK bank account as £1,940. Let’s say you then have to send the equivalent of £500 in euros to contractors or service providers in Italy. Because of that 3% forex fee, this actually ends up costing you just over £515.
So whatever profit you would have made, it’s now £75 lighter.
With Airwallex, the £2,000-worth of sales in euros go straight to your Airwallex euro account. You then pay your Italian contractors or service providers in euros from this account. Let’s say you then decide to convert the remaining £1,500-worth of euros, moving it across to your sterling Airwallex account at Airwallex’s favourable exchange rates. This costs you around £7.50.
So by using Airwallex, your currency conversion has cost you £7.50 rather than £75. Not too shabby!
What currencies can I hold with Airwallex?
Airwallex allows businesses to open accounts to receive hold and send money in 11 currencies. These are:
- Euros (EUR)
- US dollars (USD)
- Australian dollars (AUD)
- Hong Kong dollars (HKD)
- British pounds (GBP)
- Swiss francs (CHF)
- Chinese yuan (CNY)
- Singapore dollars (SGD)
- Japanese yen (JPY)
- New Zealand dollars (NZD)
- Canadian dollars (CAD)
For each currency account you’ll get standard local account numbers/codes provided by Airwallex – all you need to send and receive funds in that currency.
Payments can also be collected into what’s known as a Global Account, from platforms like PayPal and Amazon, as well as from merchants and clients. Collected funds are transferred into your relevant currency Airwallex account.
Airwallex calculator: How much does it cost to send money with Airwallex?
How long do Airwallex international transfers take?
Airwallex transfers take as little as 1 business day and a maximum of 3 business days.
What else can Airwallex do?
Airwallex customers can also benefit from the following account features:
- Foreign transactions. As well as holding local currencies in the multi-currency accounts themselves, customers can also transfer funds in more than 40 currencies to over 130 countries, at competitive exchange rates.
- Multi-currency cards. Create virtual employee and expense cards for your business in just minutes. You will be able to track spending and set spend limits for individual cards, as well as pay with your multi-currency balance with no international card transaction fees.
- No fees. There are no sign-up or monthly account fees.
- Integrate with online stores. Connect your currency accounts with platforms such as eBay, Shopify and PayPal.
- API integration. Automate key financial processes, such as payment workflows, and streamline account management.
- Collect customer payments. You can also receive online payments from customers by creating a link in Airwallex and sending it to customers. Get paid in the currency and payment method of their choice.
- Xero integration. Link your Airwallex and Xero accounts easily to ensure your Xero transaction records are up to date for your accountant or bookkeeper.
Airwallex rates and fees
What fees are there?
One of the big benefits of Airwallex is that there are no account set-up or management fees. UK domestic transfers are also fee-free, providing they are carried out via Airwallex’s payment network. Any payments that are made via the SWIFT network will incur a fee of £10.
When exchanging currencies, Airwallex charges a 0.5% to 1% fee above the interbank foreign exchange rate. For card transactions, customers will pay the interbank rate, plus a small margin for the following currencies:
How to apply
To apply, simply click the “Get Started” button at the top of the Airwallex website. You will need to be a private limited company, limited partnership, general partnership or sole trader. Investment firms, arms dealers, gambling companies, pharmaceutical companies and charities will not be accepted.
Is Airwallex safe?
Airwallex is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and holds an Electronic Money Institution licence. This means customer funds must be held in a ring-fenced account. Should Airwallex cease trading, funds held in the account will be protected from other creditors making a claim against the company.
Is Airwallex a bank?
No. And because Airwallex isn’t a bank, funds are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which covers deposits of up to £85,000.
Pros and cons
- Avoid currency conversion fees by holding balances and receiving payments in local currencies.
- Enjoy super-competitive foreign exchange rates.
- No monthly account fees.
- Integrate with online stores like Amazon and PayPal.
- Sync your accounts with Xero to make accounting quicker and easier! (read “less hellish”)
- If your business only operates in the UK, in British pounds, you probably don’t need the functionality of a multi-currency business account.
- For now you can only hold 11 currencies (although that’s similar to competitor services).
- Not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
If your business regularly trades internationally, Airwallex is an option well worth exploring. With competitive foreign exchange rates, multi-currency cards that can be used by your employees, and no monthly account fees, Airwallex has a lot of plus points. However, always do your research, and compare fees and currencies against other accounts to ensure that it’s the right choice for you and your business.
If you want to sign up for an Airwallex account, you can get started by visiting its website. If you have read this review and decided that Airwallex’s account is not for you, you can also compare other business accounts on the market.
Frequently asked questions
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