How Does Wise Work?

Learn how Wise works to send or receive money overseas.

Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) offers a new way to send and receive money in a broad range of currencies - saving you time and money compared to using banks or money changers.

If you’re wondering how Wise can be so much cheaper than using a bank, this guide is for you. We’ll cover how Wise works - and also how you can use Wise to cut the costs of transacting in a foreign currency.

In this review we will cover:

TransferWise is a money transfer service that offers excellent exchange rates and lots of payment options

How does Wise work?

Many years ago when sending money overseas customers could only go to a bank to transfer money to an overseas bank account or send cash at penalty rates through Western Union.

The banks would charge you a transfer fee of up to $50 and give a very poor exchange rate which often included a markup of 3% or more on the mid market rate. You’d often also run into extra intermediary fees which mean your recipient got less than you were expecting in the end.

Wise works differently, with its own payment network of thousands of bank accounts around the world. This means that Wise can move money faster, with lower costs, and no risk of sneaky intermediary fees. These savings are then passed on to consumers in the form of lower fees and a better exchange rate.

Here’s how it works: let’s say you’re sending a payment to a friend in Germany. 

  • You’ll set up your transfer with Wise online or in the Wise app
  • You deposit the agreed amount into the Wise USD account here in the US
  • Wise will then send the amount you need, to your friend in Germany, from their EUR account in the EU

This simple solution means no money actually has to cross any international borders - cutting out the costs of currency conversion and allowing Wise to offer you an exchange rate very close to the mid market exchange rate with low, transparent fees which are easy to spot and compare.

Learn more about Wise

How Wise makes money?

Wise is a champion for transparent fees, which means you’ll always see what you’re paying for the services you choose. When it comes to sending international payments, there are 2 separate fees which are broken out when you model your transfer. That means you’ll always know ahead of time how much your payment will cost. 

  • Fixed fee: this covers the fixed costs associated with your payment - for major currencies this may be in the region of $4.30 - $4.80
  • Variable fee: this covers the cost of the currency exchange - for major currencies the variable fee is normally around 0.4% - 0.5%

To put this into context, banks and money changers normally charge +3% on the exchange rate, as well as any upfront fee - this exchange rate is considered the 'retail rate'. Airports are the most expensive place to buy foreign currency and normally charge +6%, which is considered 'above retail rate'.

How much does it cost?

Here’s a breakdown of the fees involved when sending $1,000 to a range of major global currencies with Wise. Find out more about it here: Wise fees.


Sending 1,000 USD to:Fixed feeVariable feeTotal fee
AUD4.76 USD4.26 USD (0.43%)9.02 USD
BRL5.55 USD12.40 USD (1.26%)17.95 USD
CAD4.82 USD4.36 USD (0.44%)9.18 USD
CHF4.35 USD4.66 USD (0.47%)9.51 USD
EUR4.67 USD4.26 USD (0.43%)8.93 USD
GBP4.77 USD4.26 USD (0.43%)9.03 USD
INR4.78 USD5.25 USD (0.53%)10.03 USD
JPY6.17 USD5.04 USD (0.51%)11.21 USD


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Who owns Wise?

Wise Founders offers a mid market exchange rate

Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann set up Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) in 2011. As expats living in London they were tired of paying so much to send money home.

According to Crunchbase, Wise has raised over $1.3 billion in 12 rounds of venture funding. In its last round of funding in August 2021, 99math raised $1 million. Investors into the company include Techstars, BlackRock, JP Morgan.

Is Wise safe and legit?

Yes it is.

Wise use bank grade security are regulated round the globe. On their website they use HTTPS encryption and 2FA for logins and passwords to transfer money.

By law they have to 'safeguard' your money, which means they have to protect '100%' of it by keeping your money in segregated accounts in 1st class banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Barclays and Deutsche Bank.

Finally they use 3DS for card payments and employ their own in-house security team to monitor fraud and keep your money and data secure.

Learn more about Wise safety here.

Wise make sure security is tight by being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

How to Open a Wise Account

Recipient gets a mid market rate to their local bank

Open a Wise account online or in the Wise app - here’s how: 

  1. Download the Wise app or head to the Wise desktop site
  2. Tap register
  3. Create an account using your email, Apple ID, Google ID or Facebook details
  4. Add your personal information, following the onscreen prompts
  5. Get verified
  6. You’re ready to go

How to Get Verified on Wise

To use Wise you’ll need to create an account, and depending on the type of payment you want to make you might need to provide paperwork to get started. This may include:

  • Proof of identity, like a passport
  • Proof of address, like a utility bill in your name

You may be asked to take a selfie holding your proof of ID for verification. In some cases, you’ll be asked for further identification and paperwork when you make a transfer. This tends to happen when sending high value payments, and is often required by law.

Ready to Get Started?

How to Use Wise

Once you have your Wise account all set up and verified you’ll be able to arrange international payments, or add and convert funds in your Wise multi-currency account. Wise multi-currency accounts also allow customers to send and receive international payments, and spend using a linked travel debit card.

send money internationally

How to transfer money internationally with Wise

With a Wise account you can send money in 50+ currencies to 80+ countries. Simply follow the steps laid out below, and your money could be with the recipient in minutes. Transferring money with Wise is easy - and you can get started online or using the Wise app, without even needing to leave home:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Type in how much you want to transfer, or how much you need the recipient to get
  3. Enter the recipient’s details - bank account number or email
  4. Check over the details
  5. Fund your payment using a card or bank transfer
  6. Confirm and your money will be on the move


How do you transfer money from Wise to Wise?

You’ll be able to transfer money from your Wise multi-currency account to another Wise account online or in the Wise app. In fact, you can even make a payment with just a phone number or email address. Easy.

How long does a Wise to Wise transfer take?

Wise to Wise transfers are super fast - your funds will arrive in seconds so you can use them right away. That means there’s no need to wait for your money, it’ll be in your Wise account in no time at all.

How do I deposit money into my Wise account?

Add funds to your Wise multi-currency account in dollars - or any of the other 50+ supported currencies, to make payments and spend on your linked debit card anywhere in the world:

  1. Open the Wise app or website
  2. Choose the currency you want to add
  3. Enter the amount you want to top up
  4. Select your preferred payment method
  5. Check, confirm and make the payment

How do you withdraw money from Wise?

Once you have a balance in your Wise multi-currency account you’ll be able to:

  • Send payments to individuals and businesses in 80+ countries
  • Spend your balance with your linked international Wise debit card
  • Withdraw to your own bank account in the US

There are low, transparent fees when you withdraw money to your own bank account, which you’ll be shown when you set up the transfer.

How do I receive money from Wise?

Recipient gets a mid market rate to their local bank

Receiving money from Wise is easy and free. The recipient does not need to have a Wise account to receive the money, as the payment will be deposited into their bank account directly. If you’re expecting to get a Wise payment just give your bank details to the person sending the money and wait for the money to arrive in your bank account. Many Wise transfers are instant - and the vast majority arrive in 24 hours.

To learn more on how to send money with Wise click here.

How do you receive money internationally?

In most cases, to receive an international payment you’ll need to give the sender all the details listed above, plus your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code.

What details should you give to receive money?

To receive a payment through Wise you’ll need to give the sender your account details, including:

  • Your name as it appears on your bank account
  • Your bank account number
  • Your account routing number(s)
  • Depending on the specific payment you may also need to give your address, or a reason for the payment


How to use the Wise mobile app

By making money transfers possible on mobile phones, Wise has expanded its business reach. Gone are the days of having to line up in a queue during your lunch break to send money overseas in a bank.

Sending money with their user first mobile app is quick and secure. Wise have tried to make the process as seamless as possible with lots of shortcuts like setting up new transfers for previously used details and recipients.

You are also able to check the status of your transfer, send in your documents for verification, make payments using debit card or credit card. Wise have apps for IOS in the Apple store and Androids in Google Play.



TransferWise send money abroad with bank transfers

Ready to go?


Wise was built to make it cheaper, faster and easier to transact in foreign currencies. You’ll be able to open a Wise account online or in the Wise app, to send payments to 80+ countries, hold and exchange 50+ currencies, and get paid with your own bank details for 10 different currencies. 

Wise works differently to banks and traditional exchange services. By setting up its own payment network, Wise has been able to drive down the costs of international transfers, and pass these savings on to customers through lower, more transparent fees and a better exchange rate.

Open a Wise Account to Get Started


How do you transfer money from Wise to my account?

Send payments online or in the Wise app, in 50+ currencies. Just enter the recipient’s bank details, confirm the currency you need, and add the amount you want to send.

Do you need a bank account for Wise?

Wise payments can be sent to other Wise accounts, or the recipient’s regular bank account, in a broad range of countries and currencies.

Can you deposit cash into your Wise account?

You can not deposit cash into your Wise account. Top up your account with a card, wire transfer or ACH.

What is the maximum you can send on Wise?

Wise transfer limits can vary depending on the currencies involved and your location. Typically you’ll be able to send up to 1 million USD per transfer.

How long does it take to transfer with TransferWise?

Many Wise payments are instant and the vast majority arrive within 24 hours.

Which bank does Wise use?

In the US, Wise uses Community Federal Savings Bank (CFSB) and Evolve Bank and Trust (EVOLVE). Wise also has accounts in trusted financial institutions around the world to allow for smooth, low cost payments in 50+ currencies.

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By Arlene Mc Donnell Updated September 16th, 2022