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WorldFirst vs. Wise (TransferWise)

Compared to banks, WorldFirst and Wise offer lower fees and better exchange rates on money transfers. Here’s how they stack up against each other.

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WorldFirst has discontinued its services in the US effective January 30, 2019. The company will accept no new trades or transactions after this date, and inbound transfers received after 5 p.m. CT will be returned to the sender.

If you’re a personal or business customer who’s concerned about your account, call 737-226-5240 for assistance.

To find a suitable alternative, compare money transfer specialists to find the best rates, fees and turnaround you’re eligible for.

WorldFirst and Wise are two strong contenders in an increasingly crowded market for money transfers. Let’s compare their fees, exchange rates and transfer speed to see which one comes out on top.

WorldFirst and Wise : How they work

WorldFirst transfers money for businesses, online sellers and individuals. For a personal transfer, you tell WorldFirst how much you want to send, then they quote an exchange rate. After you send your money, WorldFirst will convert the funds and send them to your recipient’s bank account.
Sending money through Wise is a similar process: Input how much you want to transfer, then send your money to Wise. They will convert your money and send it to your recipient’s bank account.
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Which offers lower fees?

WorldFirst

While WorldFirst charges a flat fee for transfers, Wise charges a percentage fee plus a small fixed fee. They range from 0.5% to 1.5% of your transaction — and sometimes a bit higher, depending on the currency you’re transferring to. For example, to send $1,000 to China, you’ll pay 1.1% of your transaction (or $18.79). To send to the Philippines, the fee drops to 0.75% ($10.92).

Wise

While WorldFirst charges a flat fee for transfers, Wise charges a percentage fee. They range from 0.5% to 1.5% of your transaction — and sometimes a bit higher, depending on the currency you’re transferring to. For example, to send $1,000 to China, you’ll pay 1.5% of your transaction (or $15); to the Philippines, the fee drops to 1% ($10).

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Winner: Tie
Wise is cheaper for very small amounts, given its minimum fees. WorldFirst is cheaper for large amounts, charging a flat fee instead of a percentage fee.

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Compare other money transfer services

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
OFX
24 hours
$0

View details
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Dunbridge Financial
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours
$0

View details
Dunbridge Financial offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on transfers to more than 120 countries.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally £5,000)

View details
Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
XE
Within minutes
$3

View details
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
WorldRemit
Within an hour
From $1.99

View details
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Instarem
Within an hour
$1

View details
Exclusive: Use code GET60 and save $30 on each transaction over $200. Valid for the first two transactions and till 31st July 2021. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers

View details
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
MoneyGram
Within an hour
From $0

View details
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Which offers better exchange rates?

WorldFirst

WorldFirst offers a pretty tight spread between its exchange rate and the mid-market rate — usually 0.2% off the mid-market rate.

Wise

Wise converts money at the mid-market rate, which is stellar compared to banks. But watch for the percentage fees charged for transfers.

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Winner: Tie
WorldFirst and Wise offer similar exchange rates. Though Wise’s rate — the mid-market rate — is an almost unbeatable deal.

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What’s the mid-market rate?

The mid-market rate is what your money’s actually worth on the global market compared to another currency. It’s the midpoint between worldwide supply and demand for that currency — and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves.Use this rate as a baseline to compare against the rates provided by your bank or transfer service. With it, you’ll discover which companies offer the best rates.

Which is faster?

WorldFirst

For your first transfer, WorldFirst requires a wire transfer, which usually takes a business day. Afterward, you send money via ACH direct debit, which takes a few business days.

If you’re sending British pounds, US dollars or euros, WorldFirst will make a same-day payment once it receives your money, though it may take up to one business day for your account to be credited.

For all other currencies it takes one to four days for money to reach your recipient. To transfer US dollars to other countries, it may take up to four days.

Wise

First, sending money to Wise could take up to four days. Credit or debit card is the fastest way to send money. ACH bank transfers takes the longest.

Wise will then convert your money within a few hours to two days, and your recipient will receive the funds within a few business days. In total, it takes from one to six business days to complete a transfer.

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Winner: Tie

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Which offers more options?

Payment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
WorldFirstBank transfer (wire for first transfer; ACH Direct Debit available after)$1,000 minimum; $25,000 initial transaction maximum and $50,000 afterBank transfer1-6 business daysMost popular countries include Australia, Canada, Europe, USA and UK
WiseBank transfer, credit or debit card$3 minimum; $49,999 (personal) and $199,999 (business) maximumBank transfer1-6 business days39 countries
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Case study: $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 to Canada

Depending how much money you want to send, you’ll pay varying fees to transfer through WorldFirst and Wise. Let’s see what costs are for transferring different amounts of money.

$1,000: It’s about even, with a slight advantage to Wise

WorldFirstWise
Transfer fee$10$9.90
Exchange rate1 USD = 1.3270 CAD1 USD = 1.3299 CAD
Transfer speed1-5 business days1-6 days
Total received1,313.73 CAD1,316.73 CAD

The difference is 3 Canadian dollars (or $2.26).

$5,000: WorldFirst wins

WorldFirstWise
Transfer fee$10$49.50
Exchange rate1 USD = 1.3270 CAD1 USD = 1.3299 CAD
Transfer speed1-5 business days1-6 days
Total received6,621.73 CAD6,583.67 CAD

The difference is 38.06 Canadian dollars ($28.62). WorldFirst is cheaper in this example.

$10,000: WorldFirst is the big winner

WorldFirstWise
Transfer fee$0$84.41
Exchange rate1 USD = 1.3270 CAD1 USD = 1.3299 CAD
Transfer speed1-5 business days1-6 days
Total received13,270 CAD13,186.74 CAD

With a difference of 83.26 CAD ($62.60) and a $0 transfer fee, WorldFirst comes up big here.With a $1,000 transfer, WorldFirst and Wise cost about the same. Transferring larger amounts earns you higher savings with WorldFirst.

While WorldFirst wins on fees if you send money through an ACH bank transfer, your costs increase if you send money via wire transfer (which typically comes with a fee of $15 to $30). WorldFirst requires you to send money through wire transfer for your first personal transfer.

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What is the ACH?

The Automated Clearing House (ACH) is a network that moves money and information between bank accounts through direct deposits and payments. It processes more than $40 trillion each year and supports more than 90 percent of all electronic payments in the United States.

Bottom line

Costs for WorldFirst and Wise run neck-and-neck for smaller transfers.

For your first transfer, you’ll pay more through WorldFirst because you’ll have to send money via wire transfer. For larger transfers, WorldFirst is generally cheaper because it charges a flat rate, while Wise charges a percentage of your transfer.

Ultimately, you’ll want to compare your options to find the best service for your situation.

Frequently asked questions

How do WorldFirst and Wise compare to banks?

Both services beat banks on fees and exchange rates. Either one will save you money on currency transfers.

Does WorldFirst or Wise charge for accounts?

No. It’s free to sign up for an account on both platforms.

Does WorldFirst or Wise accept cash or check payments?

Unfortunately, neither service accepts cash or check payments.

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