Can I use Wise as a bank account?

Wise is a global specialist in digital account services, currency conversion and international money transfers. You can open a Wise Account in the US as a personal or business customer, to hold 40+ currencies, get paid from overseas conveniently in a selection of currencies, send money to 160+ countries and spend in 150+ countries with a Wise card.

But can you use a Wise Account as a bank account? This guide explores how a Wise Account works, and how it’s different to an account you may get from a bank or credit union in the US.

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Key points: Wise Account

  • Open a Wise Account online or in the Wise app, with no need to leave home
  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies, and view and manage your account on the move
  • Add money to your Wise account in a selection of supported currencies, or get paid in USD and foreign currencies by others
  • Send money to 160+ countries, and spend overseas in 150+ countries easily and with low fees
  • Currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup
  • There’s no foreign transaction fee when you spend with your Wise card
  • Wise is not a bank, but it is licensed and regulated for the services it offers in the US

Wise foreign currency account and card

Can you use Wise as a bank account in the US?

Wise is not a bank – it’s a financial technology company – and so your Wise Account is not a bank account. However, there are some similar features between a Wise Account and a bank account, making it a convenient way to manage your money, particularly when you travel.

Here are some of the features you’ll get with a Wise Account, which you might also get with a bank or credit union account:

  • You can hold a balance in your account, and receive payments from others easily
  • You can get a linked debit card to spend and make cash withdrawals more or less globally
  • You can send money in USD and a selection of other currencies, for deposit to a bank account
  • Your money is safe – while Wise looks after your balance in a different way to a bank, your funds are safeguarded, making it a secure choice – more on that later

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Unlike many US bank accounts, Wise supports holding a balance in multiple currencies, and allows you to switch from one currency to another conveniently, with the mid-market rate and low, transparent fees. This can mean that the Wise Account is especially popular for frequent travelers, expats, international students, and people making regular payments abroad for themselves or their business, as the powerful international features can come in handy and drive down costs.

Wise Accounts also let you receive payments from others in foreign currencies or from other countries, which can be helpful if you’re a freelancer working with international clients, a business owner looking to get paid from marketplaces and PSPs in foreign currencies, for example.

While the Wise Account is not a bank account, it can still be used as a primary account, and can be a good choice for people managing multiple currencies at once, living abroad, or traveling. Learn more: How to open a Wise account

Can I use a Wise USD account as a US bank account?

Wise is not a bank, and so a Wise USD account is not the same as an account you’d open with a US bank or credit union.

When you open a Wise Account you can manage your money in USD and other currencies, using your phone or laptop. Here are a few of the ways you might use Wise to manage your USD balance:

  • Receive payments in USD from others to Wise by ACH or wire
  • Send USD to people in the US, and choose to send foreign currency payments to 160+ countries – often instantly
  • Spend and make withdrawals in USD and foreign currencies using your Wise card – there are some free ATM withdrawals every month, too
  • Hold a balance in USD alongside 40+ other currencies, and switch from one to the other if you need to

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Wise Account vs bank account

So, as we’ve seen, the Wise Account is not the same as a bank account or credit union account. However, there are features that are common to both account types – as well as some differences. Which is best for you may come down to how you need to use your account – and in many cases it makes sense to have both a USD bank account and a Wise Account to manage your money both at home and internationally.

Here are a few important pointers about a Wise Account vs a bank account:

Wise AccountBank account
  • Free to open an account, with no ongoing charges
  • Fully digital onboarding and verification process, manage your account in an app easily
  • Get a linked debit card for convenient spending and withdrawals globally
  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies conveniently
  • Accounts for personal and business customers in the US
  • Regulated globally with industry standard digital security measures in place
  • Accounts are usually free to open, but may have ongoing maintenance fees
  • Get a linked debit card for convenient spending and withdrawals globally
  • Accounts for personal and business customers in the US
  • Access other financial services, like loans and insurance, from the same provider easily
  • Use the bank’s branch network for face to face service if you need to
  • Fully licensed and regulated in the US and other countries

Learn more about it here: Wise multi currency account review

Is Wise considered a foreign bank account?

The Wise Account is not a bank account, but it is a multi currency account (foreign currency account). With a Wise Account you can get local account details in 10 currencies, to receive money conveniently from 30+ countries.

Once you have a Wise Account open, you can get local account details in the Wise app or by logging in online. These details can be used to get paid by others – just give anyone who needs to send you a payment your Wise account details in the currency they want to send, and they’ll be able to set up a local payment to Wise easily.

To give an example, here are some of the account details you’ll get with Wise:

  • To get paid in USD, you get a US account number and a routing number, plus a SWIFT/BIC code
  • To get paid in GBP, you get a UK account number, IBAN, SWIFT/BIC code and a sort code
  • To get paid in EUR, you get a European IBAN and a SWIFT/BIC code
  • To get paid in CAD, you get a Canadian institution number, transit number and account number

In total you’ll be able to get local account details in 10 currencies to receive money internationally to Wise. It’s often free to get paid into your account, although it helps to know that there’s a 4.14 USD fee to receive a USD wire, and a 10 CAD fee to get paid in Canadian dollars by SWIFT. You can ask the person sending you money to use a different payment method – like ACH for the US – to avoid this charge.

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We have detailed guides on different currency accounts you can open with Wise:

Wise Euro account | Wise Canadian dollar account | Wise Australian dollar account | Wise USD account

Is it safe to keep money in a Wise account?

Yes, Wise account is safe to use. Wise is licensed and regulated to offer services wherever it does business. In the US, this means Wise is FinCEN registered and holds a state license in many US states. In other states and territories, Wise offers services through Community Federal Savings Bank, which is supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.

As well as being properly licensed and regulated, Wise has been built with digital security in mind. You’ll find features like 2 factor authentication, instant transaction notifications and easy ways to freeze a payment card or raise a query in the Wise app.

Learn more here: Is Wise safe to hold money?

Does Wise count as a US bank?

No, Wise is not a US bank. In the US, Wise holds state licenses to trade in some states, and elsewhere offers services through Community Federal Savings Bank, which is supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency. Learn more about How Wise works.

Conclusion: Wise as a bank account

Wise is not a bank – and so a Wise Account is not a bank account.

Wise Accounts do offer many features you’d get from a bank or credit union account – as well as some you may not, such as ways to hold and exchange 40+ currencies, and mid-market rate currency exchange.

This means that the Wise Account can be used as a supplementary or primary account by US customers, particularly those who need to hold, send, spend, receive or exchange a diverse range of currencies conveniently in one place.

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Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
March 13th, 2024