How to use a Wise account [2024]

Tarah Ren
Şeyma Mektepli
Last updated
June 19, 2024

Wise is a non-bank financial service provider which offers the Wise account to let customers hold, exchange, send, spend and receive multiple currencies all in the same place.

Wise uses mid-market exchange rates, and low transparent service fees which can mean you save compared to using a bank whenever you need to send or spend in foreign currencies.

This guide walks through how to use a Wise account in Canada and abroad, to get you started.

Key points: How does a Wise account work?

Here’s a quick overview of some important ways you can use your Wise account:

  • Hold money in 40+ currencies, and exchange between currencies with mid-market exchange rates and low fees

  • Spend and withdraw with your linked Wise card in 150+ countries, with some free ATM use every month before fees apply

  • Send money to 160+ countries from your Wise account balance, from your bank, or with a card

  • Receive payments conveniently like a local in over 10 currencies from 30+ countries using local account details

  • Buy foreign currency within your account, for future use and to lock in exchange rates

Wise account prosWise account cons

✅ Most major global currencies are supported for holding and exchange

✅No monthly or annual fees to pay

✅It’s free to spend any currency you hold with your Wise card 

✅Many Wise payments are instant 

✅No foreign transaction fees

✅Safe to use - Wise serves 17 million + customers globally

❌Variable transaction and service fees apply

❌No cash or check deposits 

❌No credit or overdraft facilities

❌Wise is not a bank, so not all the services you get from a bank are available

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How to use a Wise account for the first time

It’s easy to open a Wise account in the Wise app, or online. The process can be completed in minutes, by adding some personal and contact information and uploading an image of your ID and address documents. After verification you can top up, and start using your new Wise account.

You’ll be able to send money to individuals and businesses at home and abroad, and instantly access local Wise account details in 10 currencies to receive payments from others. Then, if you want to get a Wise card for online and in person spending and withdrawals, you can order a Wise debit card for free.

Cards are delivered on average within 14 business days - but if you’re a Wise personal account customer you can start spending with a virtual card before the physical card arrives. Just add your digital card details to a wallet like Apple Pay to tap and pay wherever contactless is accepted.

How to setup a Wise account

You can easily open a Wise account online or in-app:

  • Open the Wise sign up page on the desktop site, or download the app

  • Sign up for an account using your email, Google or Facebook account

  • Enter your personal and contact information

  • Follow the prompts to upload your ID for verification

  • Once your account is verified, you can start to use your account

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To keep customers and their money safe, and to comply with law, you’ll need to get verified to use Wise. This is as simple as taking a photo of your ID and address documents and uploading them as part of your application. Documents like your passport or driving license are accepted as ID, and you can prove your address with a utility bill, bank or credit card statement for example. Other documents can also be accepted, so if you’re not sure what to use, reach out to Wise customer support by starting an in app or online chat.

To activate the account and start transacting you’ll need to add an opening balance. You can do this from your bank or with a card, by following the prompts to add money. You can then also open currency balances to let you hold foreign currencies, order a card and get local account details to be paid by others, all within the app. We’ll cover how in more detail later.

How to use a Wise account without a card

Once you have opened your Wise account you have the option to order a Wise card fee-free - but you can still use your account without a card if you’d rather.

Without your card you can use your Wise account to hold and exchange 40+ currencies, make transfers internationally to 160+ countries, or to receive payments in 10 currencies.

How to use a Wise account to transfer money

Wise is an international money transfer specialist, so you can send money from your Wise account balance quickly, cheaply and conveniently. When you send money from your Wise account balance you’ll find several handy features:

  • Transfers in certain currencies are free to send

  • You can send to other Wise users with just a name or email

  • Some Wise transfer limits are higher when funded from a Wise account balance

  • You can make transfers on the move with the Wise app

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Here is how to send money with Wise, using your Wise account balance:

  1. Open the Wise app and click on the ‘send’ button on the home page

  2. Enter the amount and currencies

  3. When prompted, choose the Wise balance to fund the payment

  4. Add the recipient bank details following the on screen instructions

  5. Click ‘Continue’ to review the transfer

Wise has a transparent fee structure, so before you confirm your payment you can clearly see the exchange rate and the transfer fee, and the amount the recipient will get deposited to their account in the end.

If you have a balance in the currency you need, you can also fund your transfer from this.

Here’s how to send money with Wise using an existing currency balance:

  1. Open the Wise app and tap the currency balance you want to send money from

  2. Click ‘send’

  3. Enter the recipient details - if the recipient is a Wise account user you can just use their Wisetag, email or phone number

  4. Enter the amount and currency to see the exchange rate being used and the transfer fee

  5. Click ‘Continue’ to review the transfer

If you’re sending money from a Wise balance to another Wise account, there’s no Wise fee if no currency conversion is needed. There’s a small conversion fee applied if you are sending in a different currency. If the recipient doesn’t have a balance in that currency, Wise will automatically open one for them, for free.

Can I transfer money from my Wise account to my bank account?

You can easily transfer money from your Wise account to your bank account.

Here is how to withdraw money from your Wise account balance to your bank:

  1. Open the Wise app and click on the ‘send’ button on the home page

  2. Enter the amount and currency you want to withdraw

  3. When prompted, choose the Wise balance to fund the payment

  4. Add your bank details following the on screen instructions

  5. Click ‘Continue’ to review the transfer

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To make withdrawals easier you can also save your bank account details as a recipient. Give the account you’re using a custom name which you can simply pick from your recipients list, to speed up the process next time you want to withdraw. There’s no need to enter your bank details again, as all the required information will be safely stored within your account.

Here’s how to add your own bank account as a named recipient for faster withdrawals:

  1. Open the Wise app and look for the ‘Recipients’ tab

  2. Click on your name under the ‘Recipients’ tab

  3. Go to ‘Account settings’ and turn on the option marked ‘My account’

  4. Click on ‘add a nickname’ under ‘Account settings’ to give your account a custom name for next time

Within your Wise app you’ll also be able to turn on other features like the Primary CAD account function, to automatically direct CAD to that account when you receive a payment from someone else. There’s also the option to mark a recipient account as a trusted account to skip repeating the authentication process and make payments faster. As this function removes the authentication process for future transfers it should be used with caution - only turn it on when you’re certain the account details you’ve used are correct.

How to use Wise account details

One of the great features of Wise account is that it provides account details in over 10 currencies, allowing users to receive payments like a local in foreign currencies. Opening balances and getting account details is free for personal customers, and there is a one time fee of 42 CAD for Wise business customers to get local account details.

Wise account supports account details in over 10 currencies:

🇬🇧 British pound (GBP), 🇪🇺 Euro (EUR), 🇺🇸 US dollar (USD), 🇦🇺 Australian dollar (AUD), 🇳🇿 New Zealand dollar (NZD), 🇵🇱 Polish zloty (PLN), 🇸🇬 Singapore dollar (SGD), 🇷🇴 Romanian lei (RON), 🇧🇬 Bulgarian lev (BGN), 🇨🇦 Canadian dollar (CAD),   🇨🇭Swiss franc (CHF), 🇨🇿 Czech koruna (CZK), 🇩🇰 Danish krone (DKK), 🇭🇰 Hong Kong dollar (HKD), 🇭🇺 Hungarian forint (HUF), 🇯🇵 Japanese yen (JPY), 🇳🇴 Norwegian krone (NOK), 🇸🇪 Swedish krona (SEK), 🇹🇷 Turkish lira (TRY)

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With your Wise account details you can get paid conveniently from 30+ currencies like a local. Receiving payments in 19 currencies is free. Receiving CAD SWIFT has a fixed fee of 10 CAD, and receiving USD wires has a fixed fee of 6.11 USD per transaction. Other payment methods in CAD and USD are also free to receive.

Here’s a rundown of the Wise local account details you get for each currency.

CurrencyWise local account details
  • Institution number

  • Transit number

  • Account number

Wise Euro Account
  • SWIFT/BIC code

  • IBAN

Wise GBP Account
  • UK sort code

  • Account number

  • IBAN

  • SWIFT/BIC code

Wise AUD Account
  • BSB code

  • Account number

Wise NZD Account
  • Account number

Wise SGD Account
  • Bank code

  • Bank name

  • Account number

Wise RON Account
  • Bank code (SWIFT/BIC)

  • Account number

Wise USDAccount
  • ACH and Wire routing number

  • Account number

  • SWIFT/BIC code

Wise HUF Account
  • Account number

Wise TRY Account
  • IBAN

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How to use a Wise account to receive money

Let’s move on to examine how to setup your Wise account to receive money internationally:

  1. Open the Wise app and click on ‘+ Open’

  2. Select the currency you want to get paid in from the list of supported currencies - let’s say GBP for this example

  3. The balance will be opened immediately

  4. To get paid, click on ‘More’ and ‘Receive’ from within the currency balance

  5. Click on ‘your GBP account details’, to see your UK sort code, account number, IBAN and SWIFT/BIC code

  6. Copy the account details and give them to the sender

Wise also offers a convenient ‘Request a payment’ link, which allows you to request money from others easily. All you need to do is tap on the currency you want to get paid in and click on ‘More’. Choose the ‘Receive’ option, and then ‘Request a payment’. Tap ‘Get paid by anyone’, enter the amount and create the link. All you need to do is to pass this link to the sender, so they can make the payment quickly to your Wise account.

Learn more: How to receive money internationally with Wise

How to add money into a Wise account

To send or spend from a Wise account balance you’ll first need to top up. Wise offers different payment methods with varying fees and speed, depending on the currency you want to add to your account. You can top-up a Wise account in many currencies, including CAD and some other major world currencies.

Here’s how to add money to a Wise account:

  1. Open the Wise app and click the currency you’d like to top-up in

  2. Click on ‘add’ and type the amount to top-up

  3. Choose the payment method and currency to pay in

  4. Click ‘continue’ to see how to proceed based on the payment method chosen

Before you select your preferred payment type from the payment method list, you’ll be shown the fees and delivery fee so you can see how much each option will cost transparently, and when your money would arrive in the account.

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The most common method for adding money to Wise is with a manual bank transfer. With this option you’ll need to make a bank transfer from your bank account to Wise, using the payment details shown in the app when you select this top up option. With this method, you’ll need to make the transfer from an account in your own name. Other common top up methods include paying with a credit or debit card, or a wallet like Apple Pay.

You’ve got another couple of options when it comes to adding money to your Wise account. Firstly you can use your local account details to receive money from an account in someone else’s name - handy if you’re expecting money from a friend or family member for example. And secondly, if you already have money in your Wise account, in another currency, you can just convert between currencies. Wise uses mid-market exchange rate with low fees whenever you convert currencies.

How to open a foreign currency balance in Wise?

Your Wise account supports 40+ currencies for holding and exchange. Opening a currency balance is quite easy and can be done in just a few taps of the app.

Here is how to open a Wise foreign currency balance:

  1. Open the Wise app and click on ‘+ Open’

  2. Choose the currency you want from the list

  3. Your balance will be opened instantly and you can start using it

Once you have opened a currency balance you can use it to top up in that currency, to convert funds to that currency, or for payments. There’s no fee to spend a currency you hold in your account with your Wise card, in any of the 40+ supported currencies available.

How to open a Euro account in Wise?

Here is how to open a Wise EUR balance:

  1. Open the Wise app and click on ‘+ Open’

  2. Choose EUR from the list

  3. Your balance will be opened instantly and you can start using it to top up, convert and spend

  4. If required, click on ‘More’ and then ‘Receive’ to see EUR account details and receive money from others in EUR

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How to pay with my Wise account

When you open your Wise multi-currency account you’ll have the option to also order a Wise debit card to spend and withdraw internationally in 150+ countries when traveling. You’ll also be able to use your card to make purchases from international websites in foreign currencies, with no foreign transaction fee to pay.

Once you have your verified Wise account, you can order a Wise card for free. The card is delivered to your registered home address by mail, in 14 business days. Once you have your physical Wise card, you’ll need to activate it by going into the Cards tab in the Wise app and entering the code that’s on the card into the app or make a Chip and PIN payment and then choose balance inquiry.

Learn more: How to use Wise card abroad

Here is how to start paying with your Wise account and card:

  1. Open the Wise app and click on the ‘Card’ tab

  2. Select ‘Order a card’, then ‘physical’

  3. Pay the one time card order fee

  4. Activate the card on arrival following the steps explained in the information that comes with the card

When it’s time to use your card to pay, if you have enough balance in the currency needed, Wise’ll simply use that balance for the purchase and it’s free to spend. If you don’t have enough balance in that particular currency, Wise will use smart conversion technology to complete the payment from another currency that has the lowest fee, using the mid-market exchange rate.

It is not possible to choose a ‘main’ account to spend from as Wise does it automatically to ensure you always pay the lowest available fee. However, if you want to set aside a certain currency balance which you won’t spend with your card, you can open a Jar in that currency and move your balance there. This splits the balance out from any other currency you hold, so you can’t accidentally spend it with your card.

How to use Jars in Wise account

The Wise account has a handy ‘Jars’ feature, which allows you to split out funds in a currency of your choice to keep the balance separate from any other currency you hold. When you move money from your balance to a Jar you can’t spend it with your Wise card. This can be helpful in a few cases:

  • If you’re saving for a specific event or purchase

  • If you want to build up a vacation budget in a specific currency

  • If you’re holding funds for investing later

  • If you need a rainy day fund which you can’t accidentally spend

Here’s how to open a Wise Jar:

  1. Open the Wise app and go to the home page

  2. Scroll to the far left to find the Open option and select it

  3. Select Jar and then the currency you want to hold

  4. Assign your jar a name and an icon

  5. Add money from a balance

How can I withdraw money from my Wise account?

You’ll be able to withdraw cash from your Wise account using your Wise card, in 150+ countries. It’s free to make 2 withdrawals every month to the value of 350 CAD and after that there’s a fee of 1.5 CAD + 1.75% of the withdrawal value. Make a withdrawal as you would with any other card, by simply inserting your card to an ATM, entering your PIN and the value you want to withdraw, and taking your cash and your card.

If you prefer, you can also withdraw a balance from a Wise account to another bank account with a money transfer. To do this all you have to do is log into your Wise account and tap Send. If you’re withdrawing to an account you’ve used before you can pick it from the recipients list, or you can enter the details manually. Add the value of the withdrawal and the currency to see any fees and the exchange rate which will apply.

How much money can I keep in a Wise account?

For most currencies you can hold as much as you’d like in your Wise account. However, there are a few exceptions which it’s worth knowing. For example, if you have Wise USD account details with a routing number which starts with 026, there’s a limit to the amount you can receive to your account using your Wise details. However, this limit is still pretty high, at  35 million USD in a 365 day period for a personal customer, and 150 million USD for businesses - allowing most customers to transact pretty freely.

How to buy foreign currency in a Wise account

You can buy and hold foreign currencies in a Wise account. All you need to do is to convert between currencies you already hold, or top-up the foreign currency balance that you want to buy. You can top up in 20+ currencies. You’ll see the available currency options for topping up automatically on the ‘Top-up screen’, under ‘Currency to pay in’. If the currency you need isn’t there, you can often still top up in a different currency and convert within the account.

Can I use a Wise account as a normal bank account?

Wise is not a bank, and the Wise account is not a bank account. However, a Wise account offers many similar features which can be useful for day to day money management across a broad selection of currencies.

You might want to use your Wise account to:

  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies for travel, spending or future bills

  • Spend online and in person in 150+ countries with your linked card

  • Receive payments from others in over 10 currencies with local account details

  • View and manage your money easily online and in app

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Key takeaways: How to use a Wise account

The Wise account offers a selection of powerful international features which can be handy for anyone who regularly transacts in foreign currencies. Not only is it easy to use Wise, all currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate and with low, transparent fees - and there’s no monthly charge or minimum balance to worry about.

  • Use Wise to hold and exchange in 40+ currencies with mid-market rates and low fees

  • Spend and withdraw with your linked Wise card in 150+ countries

  • Send money to 160+ countries and receive payments conveniently in over 10 currencies

  • Buy foreign currency within your account, for future use and to lock in exchange rates

  • Keep on top of managing your money easily with the Wise app, instant transaction notifications and ways to view your balance in a glance

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