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Review: Wise (TransferWise) money transfers – January 2022

Wise offers a low-cost way to send money overseas with an easy verification process.

Must read: Wise isn’t available in South Africa

Unfortunately, you can’t send any money overseas from South Africa with Wise. If you reside in another country, you may be able to, but it’s best to check with XE first. For services that do send from South Africa, check out our full list of international money transfer companies.

Review by


Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder who’s been specializing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology for four years — covering everything from ICO booms, crypto winters, memecoins and more. He’s mined and minted cryptocurrencies, and remembers the days when DOGE was just for fun. Zak’s focus is in breaking down technical concepts (like yellow papers) for the average folk to digest on their morning commute. Before diving into all things crypto, Zak contributed to Finder’s money transfers vertical.

Expert review

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.

Why should I consider Wise?

  • Easy to use. We were able to sign up for an account and initiate 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 $1,000,000 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 with ACH or wire transfers. 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.
  • Requires a Social Security number. You’ll have to provide your SSN and possibly other identification before sending your first transfer through Wise.
  • Fees. Because Wise offers the mid-market rate, it relies on fees to make a profit.

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.

How long does a Wise money transfer take?

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 an ACH payment 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, but the following are some of the more popular ones:

  • CNY Chinese yuan
  • EUR Euro
  • GBP British pound
  • INR Indian rupee
  • MXN Mexican peso
  • LKR Sri Lankan rupee
  • PHP Philippine peso
  • VND Vietnamese dong

Case study: Katia's experience

Katia Iervasi profile photo
Katia Iervasi
Writer

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.

Must read: Temporary sending limit to Mexico

As of 20 Jan 2021, a temporary limit of US$980 (or the same amount in Mexican pesos) has been placed on transfers to Mexico by Wise. We’ll update this information once the limit has been lifted.

Is Wise safe to use?

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.

Wise reviews and complaints

As of March 2021, 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?

Customers can pay using the following methods:

  • Debit or credit card. These payments are processed immediately.
  • ACH bank debit. You’ll need to allow one to four business days for your funds to reach Wise.
  • Bank wire transfer. Allow up to one working day for your transfer to reach Wise. Beware of extra fees charged by your bank.
  • 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:

  1. Register. Create your free account online or through the mobile app.
  2. Enter your sending amount. Look at the fees and delivery time.
  3. Add recipient’s bank account information. Make sure to include the routing and account number.
  4. Verify your identity. Have your passport or valid driver’s license ready.
  5. Pay. Enter your bank account, debit, credit card or digital wallet details to pay.
  6. Track your transfer. Check the status online or in the mobile app.

How do I reach Wise’s customer service?

Wise offers support in two ways:

By email

To contact Wise by email, visit the Contact Us page and enter your email address, select the topic of the question and provide as much detail as possible about your problem.

By phone

Wise provides phone support in 12 regions. Both standard users and Wise Business users can contact support during business hours.

  • Standard users call +1 888 908 3833
  • Business users call +1 888 829 3669

Does Wise have a mobile app?

Screenshot of Wise's app

Wise has a mobile app on both the Google Play and Apple App stores. The app makes it possible to do the following:

  • Quickly repeat a transfer. See a complete list of past money transfers and send to past recipients in a few taps.
  • Log in with biometrics. On phones that support face scanning and thumbprint reading, use these features to lock your Wise account.
  • Get rate updates. Waiting for the perfect exchange rate? Set up rate tracking to get updates when the price is in your favor.
  • Increase your payment methods. Pay for your Wise transfer with Apple Pay and Google Pay while using the mobile app.
Ratings accurate as of March 12, 2021
Google Play Store4.4 out of 5 — based on 8,056 customer ratings
Apple App Store4.7 out of 5 — based on 20,825 customer ratings

Compare Wise to other transfer services

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 60 1 day ZAR 0.00 0.064 USD
642
Skrill offers easy transfers to many popular destinations, but keep an eye out for added fees. Go to site Show details
AUD 2,000 2 days ZAR 0.00 0.064 USD
642
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour ZAR 500.00 0.064 USD
609
Use promo code FREE to send your first transfer with no fee. T&Cs apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Go to site Show details
EUR 8 3 - 5 days EUR 3.00 0.064 USD
640
Special offer: New customers get unlimited fee-free transfers for their first 3 months. T&Cs apply.
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
USD 2,000 1 day ZAR 0.00 0.064 USD
642
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
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.

Bottom line

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. Unfortunately, however, if you reside in South Africa and want to make use of a money transfer service then you’re better off using one of the many money transfer services that do support the South African rand.

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