There are a few services that have revolutionised the financial industry. Credit cards, many years ago, were one. Online banking was another. Paypal, back when it first came out, again another transformative service.
And Transferwise is yet another.
It comes down to this: Transferwise is the best currency conversion service right now and without a doubt, the best money transfer service in the world.
I’ve used Transferwise extensively over the past year, transferring thousands of dollars. It works like a charm and saves a serious amount of money. For example, I recently transferred over $20,000 USD into Thai Baht and saved, through transfer-wise, nearly $1000 dollars of conversion fees that my bank would have leveled on.
Not only is TransferWise one of the cheapest methods of converting currency, it’s also one of the best methods of transferring money internationally, provided BOTH parties have a bank.
Transferwise was established in 2011 and is internationally accepted in a great many countries. It offers 38 currencies, and has a minimum transfer amount of $1. You may transfer online, via mobile application, chat or email. Transferwise has offices in the UK, Estonia, the Ukraine, Hungary, Japan and the US. It is so popular because its fees are tiny compared to its competition. The most common charge is for transfers that are lower than $5000.
What is Transferwise
Here’s the deal: Transferwise is changing the money transfer game. It’s *nearly the cheapest method of converting from one currency to the next and if it’s not the cheapest, it’s certainly the easiest service to deal with. Even better, Transferwise covers most of the major currencies in the world.
Pros And Cons
Many of the pros and cons exist simply because the competition is so poor by comparison. For example, the pro “It works as expected without any glitches” wouldn’t have been mentioned if the competition didn’t have GUIs, apps and websites with glitches.
- It works as expected without any glitches
- Easy to learn and use
- Timely and accurate
- Responsive support staff
- A non-pushy and polite approach
- Better rates than then *most of the competition (and much better than your bank)
- Better rates than most banks
- Relatively tight security compared to the competition
- Most mainstream credit and debit cards are usable
- The pricing system is very transparent
- Ability to create a business account attached to your business so you can transfer/pay funds from your business account
- More currencies would make the platform more valuable (some major currencies are still missing)
- The tight security means extra documents required to sign up
- Some credit and debit cards are not approved
- Transfer delays may occur without an explanation as to why
- Some of the customer support staff are rude
- There are no discounts for higher volumes
- Wire transfer fee of $25-30 for most US / Can banks to send the amount to Transferwise from your bank branch
By far, the biggest negative point here is that of you are in the US or Canada, you may have to send the money to Transferwise UK bank, which will incur a $25 to $30 fee from your bank. Bank of America, however, will let you use BillPay which is free. For all other banks, you will need to pay.
This means if you send say $1000 dollars via Transferwise, you may not be saving as much as you think when you count the wire transfer fee. For larger sums, however, the saving are significant.
Pricing List As Of 2016
Transferwise will charge you a transaction fee. This is an amount of money you pay for them to convert your money. Your fee is taken from the money you send. For example, if you send $100, and the fee is $3, then the amount you actually send is 97 because 3 was taken as a fee.
The prices are going to change as time goes on, but at the moment, it will only cost you 1% up to 5000 USD. After that, it costs $50, plus 0.7% on anything over 5000USD. The minimum fee amount is $3.
Here is an example. You want to send $18,000 and turn it into GBP. The cost per transaction is 1% for the first 5000, which is $50. It is then 0.7% for the remaining $13,000, which is $91. So, $50 + $91 = $141. That is the transaction cost, it doesn’t account for conversion rates and such.
The prices change depending upon the currencies you choose. For example, turning GBP to US dollars is 0.5% for amounts above 400GBP and £2GBP for anything below 400GBP. For example, if you were sending £18,000GBP, it would only cost you £90.
Again, the costs you see above are for the transaction itself. The company makes money on the conversion itself, but they use a figure that is so close to the mid-market range that they are not making much money on it.
For example, if you use PayPal to convert and transfer money, they will charge you or the recipient a fee, and they will make money by giving you a very poor conversion rate (usually 3 cents worse that the mid-market range). That way, PayPal makes money twice. Transferwise is up to a similar trick, but they do not take as much as PayPal. Transferwise gives you the INTERBANK rate, which is the rate that banks give each other. Comparatively, banks give customers 2-3 percent currency conversion. Transferwise gives you a .005 percent (half a percent) conversion rate.
Again, transferwise does charge you a percentage for the conversion, but even with the fee, you still pay a lot less than you would if you went to your bank or a currency exchange.
There are additional fees for card processing. They may change over time (like all their prices). Here are their current card processing fees.
Conversion Rate Alerts
Transferwise has a very handy tool that they offer for free. It is a conversion rate checker and alert tool. They also have a conversion tool that tells you exactly how much you will get for your money. The conversion tool is here, and the rate-checking tool is here, and it is pictured below.
Start by choosing the currency you have and the currency you want to convert to. In the image above, you can see that USD is going to be turned into GBP.
It starts by telling you the rate, which is £0.77 for every $1 you transfer. Next is the graph showing the recent currency trend. The Transferwise historic currency conversion rate graph is brilliant because it is very difficult to find a trend graph without having to pay. British people have been scouring Google for a historic conversion graph because the GBP weakened a little after the referendum to leave the European Union, and Transferwise shows a 30-day graph for free.
You may tick the box to have them send you an email every day with the exchange rate, so that you do not have to check manually every day.
You may tick the box that will generate an email if your first currency rises above whatever you set the second currency to (see the picture above to help you understand).
You may tick the box that will generate an email every time your current rate reaches a two-week high.
Near the bottom, there is a space in which you may enter your email address. After you have entered your email address, click the “Get Rate Alerts” button, and they will send you the emails you chose as per your selection(s).
What Currencies Does Transferwise Support?
They support 38 in total, but it gets a little tricky with regards to what account you can transfer from and into, and where you may make your transfers. For example, many of the countries only allow you to transfer/convert if you are in the country yourself. Check their Supported Currencies page for full details.
Make It Easier On Yourself With This Advice
The card and/or bank account name you send from must match the one on your Transferwise account. If you have a joint account, then you need to send from an account that is in your name only. It will raise a lot of red flags if you try to send money from a bank account or card that doesn’t have your name on it.
You are going to need to verify your account and it is best to do it ahead of time (as soon as possible) because they will start to freeze your account after a while. You will need to upload your photo ID and other documents and get them to Transferwise as soon as possible.
Don’t test out the website by using a fake address and/or any fake details. When you sign up for the company, you are making a binding agreement, which means any misinformation is against the law. If you want to test out the service, then find other people that use it and get a guided tour from them.
Transferwise is a fully online business, which means you cannot use cash or checks. You will have to send money from a card (usually a credit card), from a bank account, from an online account, or from a building society account.
Make sure you input your own details 100% correct, and especially make sure you input the recipient’s information correct because it may still show the transaction as complete even if the recipient’s information is incorrect, and getting your fee back when you inputted the data wrong is almost impossible.
How Long Do Transfers Take?
If you are a regular user, you will notice a consistent transfer time. For example, if you frequently convert Euros to Dollars, you may notice that it takes two days every time. In general, it takes between one day and four days to complete your transfer.
It may take more than four calendar days sometimes because they only transfer money during banking hours and on banking days. Security checks may also hinder your transfer speed from time to time. Confirm and verify your identity as soon as possible to help lower the number of transfer delays you experience.
My last conversion from Canada to Thailand took about 4-5 days. In actuality, it took about 10 days because once the money was sent to transferwise from my bank, I left it there for an extra 5 or 6 days while I was working on getting the details of the bank to transfer it in.
Transferwise cannot process your money until they receive it, which means external factors may affect your transfer. For example, your bank account may be slow in sending the money, or they may be having a bank holiday in your country.[+] Bank transfers may take as many as three days to reach Transferwise [+] SWIFT transfers take four working days to reach Transferwise [+] Wire transfers arrive within one working day [+] Bank debit (ACH) takes between 1 to 4 working days
The actual conversion process usually happens within just a few hours, but it may take a maximum of two days.
The type of currency you send may affect how long it takes Transferwise to send it back and/or to another account. Transferwise send out converted money via local bank transfer.
Check the “Transfers” page on your account to see how far along your transfer is, and you will receive an email alert when your transfer is complete.
What People are Saying
Some online forum members go as far as to call complainers liars, but that is unfair. For example, one person on a forum complained that the Transferwise customer support staff were rude, and others on the forum attacked him and they said he was contradicting hundreds of other reviewers.
The truth is that the complaining person may have had a very rude staff member. The Transferwise customer support staff are only minimum wage workers, and the company has a high staff turnover in the customer service department, so there is a chance you will get a rude customer support staff member from time to time. If you are not happy with your customer support staff member, disconnect and try again until you find a friendly and professional customer support staff member.
As mentioned earlier, many of the pros are there because Transferwise does a good job in areas where other companies drop the ball. The reason why many Transferwise customers are polarized to the point where they attack people who complain about Transferwise is because of the rates that Transferwise offers. There are few other companies and banks that allow people to transfer money abroad for such a small fee. People appreciate how little transfers cost with Transferwise, and so they attack people that appear to be a threat to the company (however small that threat may be).
Having said this, I have used Transferwise myself many times and have had NONE of these issues. The staff have always been helpful and the emails polite. So far, I don’t share these views but I thought I would point these out.
People Do Not Like The Waiting Times
Many of the negative reviews you find online are related to the waiting times in some way or another. As you can see by the “How Long Do Transfers Take?” section above, there are many reasons why your transfer may take longer than a day, or why it may take longer than four days. People are often upset when their transfer takes longer than expected, so they go online and vent.
Another thing that slows down transactions is security checks, which happen randomly, but also tend to happen when you do something different with your account, such as the first time you send a lot of money. So, you can imagine some people’s frustrations when they send a large amount for the first time and it doesn’t transfer as quickly as usual.
Finally, another reason why people may complain about transfer times is because some people test Transferwise first. They send a few dollars just after opening their and, and the hardest security checks often occur just after you open your account, ergo the transfer takes longer and the new user becomes frustrated, so he or she goes online to rant a little.
People Love The Low Fees
Most of the positive comments online relate to the fees in some way. The reason for this is that many people transfer/convert money for the first time with their bank and/or PayPal, which means they are used to large fees. When they finally discover Transferwise, they are often thrilled about the cost of each transaction, so they hop online to rave about it with a positive review or two.
Since there is no conclusion to this article, it is only fair to end with a word about their transfer fees. They do not stiff you with the market rate, and they do not charge high transfer/conversion fees, which is why they are one of the most highly rated conversion/transfer companies on the Internet. They may not be perfect, but their low rates make their customers very forgiving.
The Final Word
If you want to convert your currency to another currency and / or you need to transfer money abroad (into another currency), Transferwise is the best solution so far. It’s easy, it’s cheap (I saved nearly $1000 dollars of conversion fees on transferring 23,000 USD into Thailand, for example), and it’s fairly quick to do.
The only negatives are it does take a few days (which it would anyways even if you did a wire transfer) and getting the money into the Transferwise account may involve a wire transfer IF you do not live in the UK or the US. If you are in the UK or EU, you might be able to deposit the money directly into the transferwise bank account without paying a wire transfer fee. But if you are say in the US or Canada, you may have to pay $30 to $50 to wire the money to Transferwise’s UK bank. This adds to your cost and, frankly, reduces the benefit of the service for smaller amounts.
There are also some cheaper alternatives like Currency Fair to Transferwise, which may, if you wait, give you a slightly better currency conversion rate while ONLY charging a flat 3 euros while giving anywhere from a 0% to .005% rate.
So Currency Fair is cheaper (see our Currency Fair vs Transferwise comparison), but it can take longer and it does not support as many currencies as Transferwise. As such, while Currency Fair may be cheaper, it’s not necessary ‘better’.
All in all, give a serious consideration to Transferwise, especially if you intend to transfer larger amounts in one go as the savings will really add up. For smaller amounts, Transferwise may not be the best choice due to the wire transfer fee you pay to send money to transferwise.
Sign up with Transferwise to try it out