Our complete TransferWise Review for 2020 — one of the most popular online money transfer companies in the United States and the world.
When you look online to make an international money transfer do you keep coming across TransferWise? It's often the cheapest money transfer company, but does this mean it's reliable? In this review, we help you figure out if TransferWise is the best and the safest option for you to use.
TransferWise is good for
- Offering the best exchange rate
- Very transparent with transfer fees
- No minimum money transfer amount from the US
TransferWise rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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What is TransferWise?
Created by two friends in 2010, TransferWise makes it fast, easy and cheap for you to send money abroad. A combination of slick, punchy branding and some of the lowest fees in the currency exchange industry have made them one of the biggest international money transfer providers in the USA and the world.
They have millions of customers and handle billions in transactions every year.
The TransferWise USA service is built for speed, simplicity, and transparency. It’s extremely easy to create an account and send money — recipients can expect to get their funds quickly after you make payment, and they offer best-in-class exchange rates.
Communications from TransferWise are top-notch too, and they provide fully featured mobile apps for Android and Apple phones.
All of this has made them into an incredibly popular way for people in the United States to transfer money to family and friends. Even better, they are much cheaper than using your local bank, Western Union or PayPal.
Pros and cons of using TransferWise
For most international transfer needs, we love TransferWise, but they’re not quite perfect.
Let’s break it down and explain what TransferWise is great at and where they have a few issues.
- Money transfer services are very easy to use.
- Completely open and transparent about how much they charge, so there are no surprises.
- Transfer fees are really (really) low, especially if you’re sending smaller amounts overseas.
- They use the mid-market rate, so you get to the best exchange rate.
- Access to the multi-currency account and Mastercard debit card.
- Provide services to both individuals and businesses.
- Loved by their customers.
- You can only pay by bank transfer, debit card , or credit card — you can’t fund your transfer with cash or a cheque.
- TransferWise doesn’t support all currencies or provide transfers into all countries.
- You can only send money to someone else’s bank account, which is a challenge if the recipient doesn’t have access to one.
- Recipients can’t get their money as a cash pickup, have it delivered, or have it transferred to a mobile wallet.
- For larger amounts of money (more than $10,000), a specialist foreign exchange provider might be a little cheaper.
How much does TransferWise cost?
It's easy and very clear what they are charging you, which means there are no hidden fees. However, it's still very important to understand the 2 different types of fees they charge:
1. Card Payment Fees
If you want to pay for your USD transfer by card, TransferWise charge a fee. For personal transfers they charge 1.25% for debit cards and 3.8% for a credit cards. Business card payment fees are different. It will cost 1.1% for debit cards and 4.33% for credit cards.
When you pay with a card that's not American to send USD, TransferWise charges 0.8% if your card was issued in the European Economic Area (EEA), and 4.55% if it was issued outside the EEA.
You can avoid these fees by paying via a bank transfer
2. Service Fees
The service fee that TransferWise charge is made up of a fixed fee and a percentage of the amount you send. This varies depending on where you are sending the money or what currencies you are converting.
It's simple to work this out even without signing up for a TransferWise account if you use the TransferWise Fee Calculator.
TransferWise Fee Calculator
How TransferWise works
TransferWise is a peer to peer (P2P) service. The process is seamless and is completed almost instantly.
Once you pay TransferWise in USD to send money to Europe, they store your funds in a local US account until they find another customer who wants to send a similar amount of EUR to the United States.
After they've found a match TransferWise will send the EUR from the other customer to your bank account in Europe.
The swap of money happens via TransferWise’s local accounts all over the world so they can cut exchange rates and lower transactions fees.
When should you use TransferWise for your international money transfer?
So, you need to send money from the USA to someone abroad and TransferWise is sounding like a good option, but how do you know if it’s right for you? Just ask yourself these questions:
Do you need to get the money to the recipient quickly? If so, TransferWise is a wise choice, with transfers to most countries only taking a couple of business days (Monday to Friday).
Are you worried about getting ripped off? TransferWise is upfront about their low fees — they’re often the cheapest USA provider around, and they’re almost always in the top three least expensive. You’ll also get the real exchange rate, meaning you dodge those nasty, hidden fees that some companies charge.
Do you want to make sure your money is safe? Good news, TransferWise is properly regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the United States and other agencies around the world. TransferWise uses the latest encryption and security, so you don’t need to worry.
Are you concerned it will take a while to create an account? TransferWise makes it easy to create an account online, so they will get everything up and running quickly.
Are you looking for a service that’s easy to use? TransferWise has you covered, with fast and easy transfers, multiple ways to pay, and communications and notifications that keep you informed.
Do you want to pay by cash or cheque? Sorry, you’re out of luck, TransferWise doesn’t let you pay this way, you can only fund your international transfers with a bank transfer, wire transfer, or a card.
Does the person you’re sending to have a bank account? If not, you’ll need to look elsewhere as TransferWise only lets you send funds to other bank accounts. That is, unless you have a TransferWise Borderless Account.
Does the person you’re sending to want to pick up their money as cash? Oops, no can do with TransferWise, it’s accounts only.
Getting set up with TransferWise
How to create an online account with TransferWise
Before you can send money from the US, you’ll need to create an account with TransferWise.
Don’t worry, it’s much easier and faster than it sounds.
- Head on over to the TransferWise sign up page
- Sign up for an account using your email and a strong, unique, and secure password
- Alternatively, you can sign up by using your Google or Facebook account
- Once you’ve signed up, TransferWise will send you an email for verification
- You’ll need to follow the instructions in the email
- You’re all set and you can make a transfer
How TransferWise asks you to prove who you are
TransferWise needs to keep everyone’s money safe, and that means verifying your identity. They’ll sometimes need to ask you for identity documents — this might happen when you first create your account, or when you make a transfer. We know it can be a bit of a pain, but those are the rules, and every currency provider needs to know who you are.
Depending on how much you’re transferring and where you’re sending the money, you’ll need to provide an ID document and a proof of address.
Here’s what TransferWise accepts:
Examples of accepted identification
Passport with photo
Driver's License with photo
Immigration ID or Residence Permit
U.S. Military ID
Examples of address documents
Bank or credit card statements
Gas or electricity bills
US government documents
Make sure your id is valid and not expired
Make sure it shows your full name, your current address and date of birth
Getting these documents to TransferWise is a piece of cake, as you can upload a scan or photo through their website. Although TransferWise says it can take two or three days to verify your identity, in most cases it’s much quicker — often the same day.
How to send money with TransferWise
Here’s what you need to do:
- Create your free account online
- Set up your transfer and see how much money will arrive in the overseas bank account
- Send digital copies of your ID for verification
- Pass on the bank details of the person receiving your funds overseas
- Double check the summary TransferWise provide and press ‘Confirm’
- Pay for the money transfer and track the international money transfer
The details you’ll need when you’re sending money
When you make a transfer, you’ll need to provide TransferWise with information about where you want the money to go. You’ll be able to get this information from the person receiving the money, and if they don’t know all the details, they can get them from their bank.
Alternatively, if you want the recipient to provide details, TransferWise has a “Money to Email” service — just provide the recipient’s email address and TransferWise will contact them and ask for the relevant information.
Here’s what TransferWise expects you to provide:
- The amount of money you’re sending
- The countries you’re sending money from and too
- The currencies that you’re sending money between
- The recipient’s name and address
- Bank details of the recipient’s account
The bank account details you’ll need vary between countries, but typically you’ll need to provide the sort code or routing number and the account number. In some cases, TransferWise will ask you for a SWIFT code or IBAN (International Bank Account Number.)
How you can pay for your transfer
TransferWise offers several payment methods that let you fund your overseas transfer:
- Bank transfer to a TransferWise account
- A debit card linked to your bank account
- A credit card
You can pay by most types of debit or credit card, including Mastercard and Visa.
If you’re paying by bank transfer / wire transfer, TransferWise requests that you don’t pay until you’ve arranged to send money. They will then provide bank account details and a reference number so that your payment goes to the right place. They accept payment by Faster Payments, Bacs or CHAPS.
If you make a card payment via credit card, your provider may charge your card as a “cash advance.” This can mean higher interest rates, and could also result in you starting to pay interest on the amount immediately. Check with your card provider to see if that’s likely to happen to you.
TransferWise does charge slightly differently, depending on how you choose to pay for your transfer, with a payment from a bank account having a low fee, and debit or credit cards charging slightly more.
TransferWise sending limits
TransferWise offers several payment methods that let you fund your overseas transfer:
TransferWise does have some sending limits, but they are very high so you usually don't have to worry about it. You can send up to 1 million USD ($1,000,000) when you transfer money, depending on how you pay for it. For example, paying by card does have lower limits.
Customer reviews and support
TrustPilot customer reviews for TransferWise
You shouldn’t just rely on our review of TransferWise, it’s also worth exploring what other customers say. We read some customer reviews on TrustPilot. For starters, more than nine in ten customers said that TransferWise was “Excellent” or “Great.”
Positive reviews focussed on transparent fees and quick transfers:
“I’ve used it a few times now to move money and it has been done fast and securely. Saved me a large amount that I would have otherwise lost to currency exchange fees and poor conversion rates from banks - saving money is earning money! The customer service has been excellent as well, they give quick and helpful replies.”
Negative reviews mentioned bank fees (which are outside the control of TransferWise), delays in transfers, issues with getting verified, or account suspension:
“After money has been received by TransferWise, it takes approximately 2 days for the recipient to receive. It would be better if it was delivered faster.”
All in all, though, TransferWise scores very well, with a TrustPilot TrustScore of 4.6 out of 5.
TransferWise Customer Support
Trust and safety
Can I trust TransferWise?
You bet. They have millions of customers and handle billions in transactions every year. They’re independently regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the United States and by other agencies around the world. They use state-of-the-art security to keep all of your information secure, and they have excellent reviews from customers.
Where is TransferWise regulated?
Here’s the list.
- Australia: The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and registered with the Financial Intelligence Unit (AUSTRAC) as a money remitter.
- Belgium and the European Economic Area (EEA): The National Bank of Belgium (NBB) as an Authorised Payment Institution, with passports rights across the EEA.
- Canada: Registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) as a Money Service Business (MSB) with registration number M15193392.
- Hong Kong: Regulated by the Customs and Excise Department (CCE) of Hong Kong.
- India: Approved by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for facilitating outward remittances from India under the guidelines set out by RBI.
- Japan: Regulated by the Kanto Local Financial Bureau and licensed as a Funds Transfer Provider.
- Malaysia: Regulated by Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia) and has a Remittance (Class B) license.
- New Zealand: TransferWise operates as a foreign entity and is supervised by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
- Singapore: Regulated as a remittance business by The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
- United Kingdom and the European Economic Area (EEA): Authorised as an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) by the UK Financial Conduct Authority, with passports rights across the EEA.
How safe are my login details when I use TransferWise?
They’re very safe. TransferWise has robust security and encryption in place to protect your personal information, and you can also use 2FA for extra security. You should still use a unique, strong password for your TransferWise account.
TransferWise Borderless Account and MasterCard Debit Card
TransferWise provides a couple of additional, innovative services. The Borderless Account is a multi-currency account that lets you hold up to 40 different currencies in the same account and send to over 50 different countries.
You can easily transfer money between currencies using TransferWise exchange rates. You also get local bank details in the US, the UK, the Eurozone, New Zealand, and Australia that allows you to have money paid directly into your Borderless Account.
- There are no foreign transaction fees or annual fees
- Free to take out up to $250 every 30 days
- Easy to use app which converts money for you and offers instant notifications
- Use it around the world, so you can spend anywhere that accepts Mastercard or Apple Pay
- Convert between your different currencies with the real exchange rate
If you have a Borderless Account, you can also get a TransferWise debit card on the MasterCard network. This lets you spend money from your account anywhere MasterCard is accepted, and there’s no foreign transaction charge, just TransferWise’s exchange rates and low fees. Read our full review on the Borderless Account and Debit Card here.
Through the Borderless account, TransferWise can provide business support for your international transfers and currency exchange.
You can use TransferWise for you personal and business needs and this gives you the flexibility to set up your account in the way that best suits you.
Some business customers use TransferWise's Borderless Account to receive and make payments in the US, Euro in Europe, AUD in Australia and pounds in the UK like you have local bank details there.
Ready to go?
How much does TransferWise cost?
TransferWise has very low transfer fees, and you can check out how much they charge using their calculator.
Typically, they charge a small percentage of the overall transfer amount, then add on a fixed fee. Their charges do vary depending on where you’re sending money.
In most cases, the percentage fee will be around 0.5 to 1 percent of the total you’re sending, plus an additional fee of $1 or $2. You will also pay a little more if you’re paying for the transfer with a debit card or credit card.
How long does TransferWise take to transfer funds?
It can take anything from a few minutes to a few business days for TransferWise to get money to your recipient. The actual length of time depends on the currencies and countries you’re sending money between, how you’re paying, when you pay, and if you need to verify who you are. Note: payments with bank transfers can take slightly longer to clear, which may delay things.
In most cases, it takes fewer than two business days.
How does TransferWise apply exchange rates?
TransferWise uses the base, mid-market rate for calculating exchange rates. This is the best exchange rate available.
Does TransferWise have a mobile app?
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