Wise vs Currencies Direct

Torn between Wise and Currencies Direct for your next international payment? This Wise vs Currencies Direct review is here to help. We’ll cover:

  • A full side by side feature comparison
  • Which provider is cheaper?
  • Which is faster?
  • Which is safer?
  • Which gets better customer reviews?

Summary: Wise supports more currencies than Currencies Direct, and has a flexible multi-currency account and card. For international transfers, Wise also uses a better exchange rate. However, Currencies Direct has currency risk management solutions which aren’t available through Wise.

Go To WiseGo To Currencies Direct
 

Wise vs Currencies Direct: side by side

FeatureWise Currencies Direct
Send payments to80+ countries, 50+ currencies40 currencies
Personal multi-currency accountsAvailable for 53 currencies to receive, send and exchangeCurrency wallets available to hold foreign currencies
Debit card availableYes, Wise Debit CardNo
Currency risk management solutionsNoYes
Fully licensed and regulatedYesYes
Business servicesYes, Wise Business AccountYes

So, to summarize:

  • Wise supports more currencies than Currencies Direct
  • Wise has a personal and business multi-currency account to support 50+ currencies, while Currencies Direct has a currency wallet which is mainly to hold a balance you’ve already converted with them to a foreign currency
  • Wise has a linked debit card on offer for personal customers – Currencies Direct does not have that option
  • Currencies Direct offers currency risk management services – Wise does not
  • Both providers are fully regulated, and offer both personal and business services

Currencies Direct is a specialist broker service which has a range of currency risk management products like forward contracts and limit orders. They also offer services in person and by phone, as well as online and in their app. Wise on the other hand is a specialist in fast, secure international payments made online and in-app only.

Wise international transfers use the mid-market exchange rate, which can mean they work out cheaper than using Currencies Direct. Wise also has a more comprehensive multi-currency account option, including a Wise Business multi-currency account, which lets you hold, exchange, send and spend more flexibly than the Currencies Direct equivalent.

Go To WiseGo To Currencies Direct

The important bits

WiseCurrencies Direct
RatesMid-market exchange rate with no markupExchange rates include a markup
FeesLow fees, varies by destinationNo fee
Speed50%+ of payments are instant, 80% arrive in 24 hoursMay take a day or two – will be confirmed when you make the payment
ServiceOnline, in app and by phoneIn person, online, in app and by phone
SafetyFully regulated and licensedFully regulated and licensed
Reviews (TrustPilot)4.5 star, Excellent, 170,000+ reviews4.9 star, Excellent, 7,000+ reviews

 

Rates: Wise uses the mid-market rate, whereas Currencies Direct adds a margin to the rate offered to customers

Fees: Wise has variable fees which are based on the destination country, Currencies Direct doesn’t usually charge a transfer fee

Speed: Currencies Direct delivery times will be confirmed when you arrange your transfer and depend on the currencies involved, Wise payments can be instant

Service: Both providers offer service online, in-app and by phone. Currencies Direct also has branches around the world, where you can get in person service.

Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated

Reviews: Both providers score Excellent review ratings on Trustpilot – but Wise has significantly more listed customer reviews showing

Pros and cons

WiseCurrencies Direct
Pros
  • Mid-market exchange rates + low fees
  • Transparent pricing
  • Send to 80+ countries
  • International accounts for personal and business customers
  • Hold and manage 50+ currencies
  • Personal service available – in branch and by phone
  • Currency risk management solutions for individuals and businesses
  • No additional transfer fee
  • Very highly rated on TrustPilot
Cons
  • Online and mobile payments only – no branches
  • No option for cash payments
  • Transfer fees vary by destination country
  • Multi-currency accounts are not interest bearing
  • Exchange rates include a markup
  • No cash payments
  • International account options are limited

Go To WiseGo To Currencies Direct

Wise vs Currencies Direct: The verdict

Wise and Currencies Direct both offer international payment services – but they’re very different businesses. Which suits you will depend on the specific services you need.

Currencies Direct operates through a broad range of channels, including phone and branch services – which means you can get personal support when you need it. As a specialist broker, Currencies Direct can also offer currency risk management services like forward contracts and limit orders to manage the risks of transacting in foreign currencies.

Wise on the other hand is a specialist in online and in-app transfers direct to bank accounts, and offers the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees. Wise also offers a multi-currency account for individuals and businesses, with a linked international debit card for personal customers.

If you need currency risk management tools, Currencies Direct will probably suit you better. However, you may find that Wise international transfers come with better rates and lower overall costs compared to Currencies Direct – making them a good choice if you want to send a one-off or recurring transfer.

Go To WiseGo To Currencies Direct

About Wise and Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct was founded in 1996, and has 23 branches around the world, with over 325,000 customers. You can send payments in 40 currencies with Currencies Direct. Currencies Direct also offers an impressive selection of currency risk management solutions like forward contracts and limit orders for personal and business customers.

Wise was launched as Wise back in 2011 as a low-cost international payment provider. These days, Wise has upwards of 13 million customers, and also offers personal and business accounts to hold and manage currencies, send and receive payments. Personal customers can also spend using a linked debit card.

With Wise you can send payments to 80+ countries, in 50+ currencies.

How do they work?

Currencies Direct

To use Currencies Direct you’ll need to register for an account in person, by phone, online or in the app. Once you’re set up you can make transfers 24/7:

  1. Log into Currencies Direct on the desktop site, or open the app
  2. Enter the country you’re sending money to, and the payment value
  3. Get a quote for the exchange rate available
  4. Confirm once you’re happy with the details
  5. Make your payment by international bank transfer if you’re sending in USD – if you’re using GBP or EUR you can also use a debit card
  6. Your transfer will be processed once Currencies Direct receive your funds

Go to Currencies Direct

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 some ID for verification.

Once your account is up and running make payments online and in the Wise app:

  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

Go to Wise

Wise transfers are made through Wise’s network of local bank accounts, so they arrive faster and don’t incur intermediary fees. When you want to pay for your transfer in dollars you’ll send the money to Wise’s local US account. Then Wise will make a payment of the equivalent amount in your preferred currency, from their account in the destination country. No money actually moves across borders, so it’s faster and cheaper than traditional international payments.

Wise vs Currencies Direct Fees

Currencies Direct transfers don’t have any extra fees apart from the currency exchange costs added to the exchange rate you’ll be quoted. Currencies Direct exchange rates beat the banks, but they do include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. As a large provider, they buy currencies at the wholesale mid-market rate and then add a small margin to the rate they offer customers. This covers their costs, but it does make it harder for you to work out what your payment is really costing you.

Wise doesn’t hide any fees in the exchange rates used, but instead has a couple of different transparent costs:

  • Fixed fee: covering the fixed costs associated with the transaction
  • Variable fee: covering the cost of the currency exchange

Sending a payment with Wise starts from 0.41% of the transfer value, and in Q2 of 2022, the average customer price was 0.61%. Learn more about Wise fees.

Wise vs Currencies Direct: which is cheaper?

Choosing an international payment specialist is almost certainly cheaper than sending money using your bank. However, as Currencies Direct doesn’t publish exchange rates publicly, it’s not possible to check their overall costs without first creating and verifying a customer account.

If you want to check how much your international transfer would cost with Wise you can get an instant quote on the Wise website or app. You’ll see the rate and fees right away, as well as the costs of your payment from a few other major providers. If a competitor within the comparison is cheaper than Wise you’ll always be informed to help you get the best deal.

Go To WiseGo To Currencies Direct

Wise vs Currencies Direct: which is faster?

Currencies Direct payment delivery times depend on how quickly your funds arrive and are cleared, and the recipient bank’s own processes. If you’re sending USD, you’ll have to check how long it’ll take the funds to get from your own bank to Currencies Direct, as that may involve an international transfer – not always a fast process. You can always ask about estimated wait time when you set up your payment – and you’ll get an email confirming when the payment has been dispatched, too.

In Q2 of 2022, 50%+ of Wise payments got to their destination instantly, and 90% arrived in 24 hours. However, the exact delivery time will depend on where you’re sending money to, and how you want to pay. You’ll see an estimated arrival time when you set up your payment.

Safety

Both Wise and Currencies Direct are fully licensed and regulated, and use both smart technology and dedicated service teams to keep customer money safe.

Currencies Direct is regulated by FinCEN in the US, and also licensed as a money services business in many US states. As a global business it’s also overseen by the FCA in the UK, and regulatory bodies in the EU, South Africa and elsewhere.

Wise is regulated by FinCEN in the US, and other global regulatory bodies around the world. Learn more about Wise Safety here.

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: Create your account online or in app with both Wise and Currencies Direct. Currencies Direct also offers the option to set up an account by phone, or by visiting one of their 23 branch offices around the world.
  • Making a transfer: Currencies Direct allows payments in USD to be funded by bank transfer only – this may require you to send a payment internationally through the SWIFT network. Wise typically allows local bank transfers, card payments and Apple Pay payments.
  • Ways to send money: Send payments to your recipient’s bank account directly with both Wise and Currencies Direct
  • Languages: Currencies Direct services are available in 11 different languages, with multilingual customer support. Wise offers 15 languages, plus multi-lingual support services.
  • Minimum & maximum amounts: Sending limits can vary by destination country, and based on your account type.

Go To WiseGo To Currencies Direct

Supported currencies

Currencies Direct supports 40 currencies on major payment routes. Wise supports 50+ currencies, and lets you send payments to over 80 countries.

Conclusion

Wise and Currencies Direct offer different features which will suit different customer needs.

Currencies Direct is a specialist currency broker with a range of currency risk management solutions on offer. You can also arrange transactions in person and by phone if you want to talk your options through with someone.

Wise was built to allow fast, low cost international payments online and using the Wise app. Transfers use the mid-market exchange rate with no markups, and transparent fees – which can mean they’re cheaper than transfer options available from Currencies Direct. Wise can also handle more currencies, which broadens its appeal.

If you need to set up a complex currency management strategy, or just want the reassurance of talking your payments through with a broker, Currencies Direct could be a good choice. However, if you’re looking for a fast digital transfer with transparent fees, Wise probably wins overall.

Go To WiseGo To Currencies Direct

FAQ

Is Wise or Currencies Direct cheaper?

Wise often wins on cost because it offers the real exchange rate with no markup, and low transfer fees.

Is Wise or Currencies Direct faster?

Wise payments are often instant, and 90% arrive within 24 hours. The delivery times for Currencies Direct transfers will be confirmed when you make your payment.

How many currencies do Wise and Currencies Direct support?

Currencies Direct supports 40 currencies and Wise supports 53 currencies.

By Justin Rampono Updated September 26th, 2022