Wise Review: Fees, Rates and Alternatives 2023
Wise is a global technology company focused on building the best way to move money around the world. Launched in 2011, Wise now has over 10 million customers and is moving the equivalent of over 100 billion dollars every year.
This Wise review covers all you need to know about Wise, including fees, whether it’s safe to use, how fast it is, how to get set up, and more.
Wise: Key points
International money transfers, and multi-currency account services for individuals and businesses
All currency conversion uses the real mid-market exchange rate with no markups and low, transparent fees
Wise uses its own payment network - a different approach to traditional banks - to cut costs and move money faster
10 million customers, moving over $9 billion internationally every month
Send payments to 80 countries, spend with your Wise debit card in 200 countries
International accounts can be used to manage and spend 54 international currencies
Get local bank details for 10 currencies to get paid to your Wise account for free from 30 countries
Make international debit card withdrawals in 2.3 million ATMs globally
Typically the cheapest service available, and always transparent (no hidden fees)
40% of transfers are instant, 80% are delivered within 24 hours
Registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the Authorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), as well as the appropriate regulatory authorities everywhere it operates
Access your account and make transactions online or in the Wise app for convenience
Personal, business and enterprise level services available
Payments arranged online and in-app only - no cash or cheque transfer options
Fees and limits do apply, and can vary based on the destination country
No branch network - all customer service is online and by phone
Wise has built its own payment network that has made it significantly faster and cheaper to send money abroad. On top of that, they are also completely transparent, showing you the total cost of your transfer and using the mid-market exchange rate. They've also expanded their offering to a multi-currency account, which makes it easy for people and businesses to send, spend, receive and hold multiple currencies.
How much can I save with Wise compared to a bank?
Wise has built its entire business around offering low fees and the mid-market exchange rate for every payment.
Exactly how much you can save with Wise depends on where you’re sending money to, the transfer value, and how you’ll pay - we’ve looked at a few examples as a comparison below to help build a picture.
|Send amount in CAD||With Wise your recipient gets:||With OFX your recipient gets:</stron>||With Remitly your recipient gets:|
|1,000||779.37 USD||761.26 USD||758.11 USD|
|5,000||3,893.73 USD||3,852.67 USD||3,797.43 USD|
|10,000||7,807.83 USD||7,767.35 USD||7,598.03 USD|
Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research - 15 February 2022
The examples in the table assume you’re sending a bank transfer from a CAD account to a recipient in the UK. As you can see, Wise typically offers the best value in our comparison - and the amount you save can keep on growing the more you send.
See how much you can save - and get more comparisons over on the Wise website or app.
What is Wise?
Wise explains that its mission is to build the best way to move money around the world, by using new technologies and transparent charging structures. Best in this context means offering customers the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient way to make payments, through a secure and easy to use process.
Wise launched in 2011 as a money transfer service, but over time has added extra services into its portfolio. Wise now has three focus areas:
Wise money transfer
Wise international transfers are fast, cheap and secure thanks to smart technological approaches which cut out many of the time consuming, and expensive intermediaries typically involved in cross border payments.
You can send money to 80 countries, and payments will be deposited directly into your recipient’s bank account for ease.
There’s no need for your recipient to have a Wise account themselves. Just create the payment on the Wise website or app, setting either the amount you want to send, or the amount you need the recipient to receive. You’ll then instantly see the fees and exchange rates which apply.
Great for: anyone who needs to send money abroad direct to a recipient’s bank account - one off and regular payments are all supported.
Wise multi currency account and card
With the Wise multi-currency account you can hold 54 currencies and send payments to 80 countries easily - you’ll also get local account details in 10 currencies: GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, NZD, CAD, HUF, SGD, TRY and RON. That’s perfect if you need to get paid in these currencies, as you can receive local transfers in any of these currencies, fee free.
You can open a free Wise multi-currency account online and get a linked debit card for easy spending and cash withdrawals around the world. Just top up your account in your preferred currency and then switch to the currency or currencies you need at the real exchange rate. Manage your account in the Wise app and you’ll always be able to see all your available currency balances at a glance.
Great for: people and businesses sending and receiving frequent international payments.
In addition to the Wise money transfer services and multi-currency accounts, there are additional features and benefits for businesses and enterprise clients.
Get local bank details in 10 currencies to get paid more easily by international clients
Hold, send payments and switch between multiple currencies
Pay international suppliers, contractors and team members more easily in their preferred currencies
Make batch payments through a simple csv file upload, to cut admin time
Add users to the account profile to let team members access functionality
Automate payouts with the smart Wise API
Integrate with your favourite cloud based accounting software
Great for: businesses of all sizes, from freelancers/sole traders, to large corporates and enterprise level customers.
How does Wise (TransferWise) work?
Wise has built its own payment network which is cheaper and faster to operate compared to SWIFT - the system used by traditional banks to send international transfers. That means better prices and faster transfers.
The way Wise works is actually surprisingly simple. Instead of moving money across borders through complex payment networks, Wise has its own network of accounts in all the countries it operates in. When you make a payment in dollars you send it in CAD to the Wise account in Canada. Wise then transfer the equivalent amount from their account in the destination country, in the currency you need. That means no money really has to cross borders, cutting the costs and the time involved.
Regular banks on the other hand typically use the SWIFT network - a network of partner banks which pass payments between themselves until they reach the correct destination account. SWIFT is established and reliable - but also expensive and slow. Each bank involved in the payment chain can add an intermediary fee which is tricky to predict and pushes up prices.
With Wise, because there are no intermediaries, there are also no surprise costs - allowing a more transparent payment structure.
Is Wise (TransferWise) safe?
Wise is registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the Authorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) in Canada, and the appropriate financial regulatory bodies in all the countries it operates in.
Wise transfers are made using leading edge technology, and with a dedicated anti-fraud team on hand to ensure money is kept safe. Here are some key facts about Wise safety and security:
Regulated by FINTRAC and the AMF in Canada, FinCEN in the US and other global regulators
Customer funds are safeguarded using leading financial institutions
Wise is regularly audited to check everything is working smoothly
Advanced data protection and 2-step authentication processes are used
Round the clock fraud prevention systems including both technology and a dedicated team
Wise is a publicly listed company, with some 10+ million customers and 2,800 employees - and is trusted by 17 banks and 300,000 business and enterprise customers
Wise (TransferWise) pricing
Wise has disrupted the international payment market by challenging banks and established providers on fees. Wise has transparent fee and pricing principles, which you can learn about here. In short, Wise aims to:
be radically transparent
charge as little as possible
make premium the new normal
lower fees over time
There are also discounts available that automatically apply to your account if you’re sending higher amounts - more on that coming up later. Here’s the lowdown on how Wise fees work.
Wise fees can be split into 2 costs:
Fixed fee: covering the fixed costs associated with the transaction. For major currencies this can be in the region of $1.75 - $2
Variable fee: covering the cost of the currency exchange. For major currencies this can be in the region of 0.5% to 0.6% of the transfer value
You’ll always see the fee upfront before you make your payment. Here are some cost examples for sending 1,000 CAD to some popular major currencies:
Sending CAD to:
|AUD||1.75 CAD||5.16 (0.52%)||6.91 CAD|
|BRL||2.76 CAD||13.32 (1.35%)||16.08 CAD|
|CHF||1.87 CAD||5.56 (0.56%)||7.43 CAD|
|EUR||1.63 CAD||5.16 (0.52%)||6.79 CAD|
|GBP||1.77 CAD||5.16 (0.52%)||6.93 CAD|
|INR||1.78 CAD||6.15 (0.62%)||7.93 CAD|
|JPY||3.53 CAD||5.94 (0.6%)||9.47 CAD|
|USD||1.88 CAD||5.16 (0.52%)||7.04 CAD|
Wise exchange rate
Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate - that’s the one you’ll find on a currency converter tool or with a Google search - without any hidden fees.
That’s different to many banks or international payment providers, which add extra costs into the exchange rates they offer in the form of a markup. These fees can be tricky to spot, so customers end up paying more than they need to without ever realising it.
Wise multi currency account and debit card fees
There’s a full rundown of the Wise international account and card fees here. Let’s look at the key details:
|Service/fee type||Wise multi-currency account fee|
Get local details for 10+ currencies
Hold 50+ currencies
|Get a Wise debit card|
Free - you just need to deposit the equivalent of 10 USD to get your card - the money’s yours to spend as soon as you want to
|Spend with your Wise card||Free|
|ATM withdrawals||First 2 withdrawals/month, the the value of 350 CAD are free|
|Convert currencies within your account||Low fees and the mid-market exchange rate|
|Send payments to other currencies from your account||Low fees and the mid-market exchange rate|
|Receive payments to your account|
CAD, EUR, GBP, AUD, NZD, RON, HUF, TRY & SGD payments are free
USD bank transfer and ACH payments are free
USD wire payments - 7.50 USD
Sending large amounts with Wise
Wise can be used safely for high value payments, too.
The variable fee applied to international payments with Wise gets cheaper for higher value transfers. Discounts are automatically applied to qualifying accounts - there’s no need to get in touch with Wise to make arrangements. That means you could instantly get even better value when sending high value transfers - over $171,658/month
You can send up to 1.5 million CAD by online bill payment or wire transfer. You may need to provide more information about the payment to comply with financial service rules - but the Wise team can guide you through that if it’s needed.
For example, if you’re making a transfer to move the funds from a property sale or inheritance you may be asked to show a bank account statement to show the money being deposited to your account and documents to verify the source of the funds.
Learn more about high value transfers with wise here.
How long does Wise take
The good news is that 40% of Wise's international transfers are instant (delivered in less than 20 seconds), while 80% are delivered within 24 hours.
The exact length of time it’ll take for your Wise payment to land can vary based on the destination country and currency, and how you’re paying. But you’ll always see an estimated delivery time when you set up your payment so you know what to expect, and you’ll be able to track your transfer in the app if you need to.
Mid-market exchange rate currency conversion
Low, transparent fees for transfers and account services
Online and in-app services for ease
Multi-currency account and card services
Fast and secure transfers to 80 countries
Business and enterprise level services available
No cash or cheque transfer options
Fees and limits apply, and can vary based on the destination country
Account verification requirements are in place
No branch network
How to use Wise
Using Wise is easy. All you need is your smartphone or computer. Here’s what to do:
Log into your account
Type in how much you want to transfer, or how much you need the recipient to get
Confirm the type of payment and add the details required using the onscreen prompts
Enter the recipient’s details - bank account number or email
Check over the details
Add a reference or message for your recipient
Fund your payment using a card or bank transfer
Confirm and your money will be on the move
Get a full guide to sending money with Wise here.
There’s also a full guide to sending money to or from CAD here.
You’ll be shown the available funding methods for your specific transfer when you set up the payment. Usually these are:
Online bill payment
Credit or debit card
Funding your Wise international payment by bank transfer is the most popular method and usually least expensive.
Wise payments usually arrive directly in the recipient’s bank account. However, Wise does support other payout methods on some payment routes. You’ll see your options when you set up your payment.
If you’re expecting to receive a Wise payment in CAD, your recipient may be able to send it with just your registered email address if your bank supports Interac.
How to create an account
Creating a Wise account is easy, and can be done entirely online.
Register with your email address, or an Apple, Google or FaceBook account
Follow the prompts to enter your personal details
Upload your ID documents for verification
Once your account is verified you can start sending payments
There’s a full guide to getting verified with Wise here.
What documents you'll need
The exact documents you need will depend on the type of account you want, and the type of payments you’re making. You’ll be guided through the process, and can always get in touch with Wise customer support if you need help. If you need to stop while verifying your account you can simply save and exit the process and come back to it later.
Usually for a personal account you’ll need:
A valid ID document like a passport or driving licence
A proof of address like a utility bill or bank statement in your name
For a business account you’ll need:
ID and address documents for the account owner
Information about the business including address, industry and registration number
Names, date of birth, and country of residence for directors and shareholders who own 25% or more of the business
There’s a full guide to getting your business account verified with Wise here.
How long does verification take
Verification may be done instantly - this is often the case if you’re sending a relatively low value payment from a bank account in your own name. If you need to upload additional documents verification can still be done on the same day in some cases - or certainly within a couple of working days.
Wise (TransferWise) limits
Wise payment limits are set by currency. Usually you’ll be able to send high value payments as an individual of up to 1.5 million CAD or the currency equivalent.
Check the details for Wise limits for your currency here.
Wise supports 54 different currencies and lets you send to over 80 different countries.
Wise regularly updates the countries and currencies available for payments - for the latest info check here.
Wise (TransferWise) reviews
Trustpilot is a great resource for checking out reviews of businesses you may want to deal with. See what previous customers have said before you get started, so you’ll know you’re going to get a good service.
At the time of writing, Wise has an Excellent score on Trustpilot, of 4.6 stars out of 5. Happy customers touch on the great rates offered:
“I have used Wise many times and they have never disappointed, fast transfers and great rates, I would highly recommend.”
And the peace of mind which comes from a fast and reliable service:
“peace of mind, fast, efficient , reliable. Very pleased with WISE services.”
Of course, not all Wise reviews were as glowing. At the time of writing, 1% of respondents gave Wise a Poor review, and 5% gave a Bad review.
Is TransferWise a bank?
Wise is a financial technology service, not a bank. Wise is registered with FINCEN and the AMF in Canada, and uses similar fraud detection tools and security technologies to banks. Customer funds are safeguarded - that means they’re held securely in Wise’s partner banks, separate from Wise’s own company funds.
You can use Wise from your desktop, or get the app with an Apple or Android device. Wise has customer support in a range of languages, and a handy FAQ section online where you can get answers and troubleshooting support for common problems.
Wise (TransferWise) customer service
Generally, Wise is easy to use and offers a simple self service customer experience, meaning you can easily transact without needing to speak to someone. However, help is on hand if things go wrong.
The easiest way to get personal support from Wise is to log into your account and use the in-app and online chat feature. You can also use email and social media channels.
|Personal chat support||Log into your account online or in-app|
|Phone support||Log in and visit the Wise help page to get the best phone number for your account type and query|
You can also log into your account to message Wise support about specific payments more easily - just click on the payment you’d like to query to get support options
Wise (TransferWise) alternatives
It makes sense to check out some alternative providers before you start making payments or open an account. The alternative which suits you could vary depending on the type of transactions you want to make. Here are a couple to consider.
Western Union - domestic and international payments arranged online or in person via an agent, payouts to bank accounts or for cash collection. Western Union does support more countries compared to Wise, but the overall costs for online payments tend to be higher.
PayPal or Xoom - send instant payments at home and abroad. Overall costs tend to be higher compared to using Wise, and if you choose PayPal your recipient will also need to set up a PayPal account to get their money.
Wise is great for people looking for low cost, fast international payments, and smart ways to manage their money across currencies. Because Wise currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate without hidden fees - and a low, transparent charging structure - services tend to be cheaper compared to competitors, with no nasty lurking surprises.
Wise transfers have low transparent fees and use the real exchange rate with no markup.
Many Wise payments are instant, 80% arrive within 24 hours.
Wise is regulated by FINCEN and the AMF in Canada, FinCEN in the US, and other appropriate regulatory bodies elsewhere in the world.
Wise used the mid-market exchange rate with no markups or extra fees added.
Yes. Get the Wise app for both Android and Apple phones.
Wise international transfers are arranged online and in-app, and deposited directly into recipient bank accounts. Because transfers are processed through Wise’s own payment network, the fees can be lower than with other providers.
Hold 54 currencies in a Wise account and send payments to 80 countries.
General advice: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions. We compare currency exchange and money transfer services in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. We only display reputable companies which we have researched and approved.