In a nutshell
Super low cost money transfers, easy to use, and over 40 currencies available. What’s not to love? It’s perfect for pretty much everything to do with international payments, such as sending money to family abroad, and even your holiday spending. You can even use it as a UK bank account. It’s also very good for businesses trading internationally.
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Wise (formerly TransferWise), is the go-to account for everyone looking to send and receive money across the world. But it’s a bit more than that these days, you can also spend your money too – it’s just like a bank account, and you can even get a debit card.
In fact, it’s so popular, there’s over 16 million customers, and over £9 billion transferred every month. Wow.
You can send, receive and hold 40 different currencies, from over 150 countries – that's virtually every country in the world.
And, all for a very low cost. It’s far cheaper than your bank (around 6x cheaper), and other money transfer services (such as Western Union and PayPal). We’ll cover the fees in detail below.
It’s also great for travel money, with a contactless debit card that you can use worldwide. So, you benefit from the low fees and not worry about changing your money in the airport or beforehand.
You can also use it like a bank account in the UK (or abroad) – great for foreign nationals and expats (who struggle to open UK bank accounts). Or, even workers who want a different account to receive payments.
And, you can even use it for your business (called Wise Business) to send and receive international payments – we’ll cover that in detail below too.
It all works on their website and via a mobile app – and it’s very highly rated. A massive 4.7 stars out of 5 on Apple, and 4.9 on Google Play.
All sounds pretty great right? If you’ve heard enough already, head over to the Wise website¹ to learn more and get started. If not, let’s dive into the details.
Once you've signed up, sending money on the Wise's app or website is super easy. It’s pretty cool. All you need to know is the bank details of where you want to send the money (and it can be anywhere in the world).
You can also send money instantly, the same day, or within one day. There can sometimes be higher fees for quicker options.
You can fund your account (to send the money) from your own bank account, a debit card or even a credit card. You can also use Apple Pay and Google Pay.
This is pretty great. You can get a contactless debit card to spend in shops and online, wherever you are, for instance, in the UK, but also abroad. Perfect for holiday spending, or even if you live abroad (or a foreign national in the UK) and want a low cost account to manage your money.
It’s much cheaper to use a Wise card for travel money than using your bank card, or exchanging money at the airport. And, you only need to convert as much as you spend. In fact, we found it the best prepaid travel card.
You can use pretty much any ATM across the world to get cash out, and there’s no fees until you withdraw over £200 per month. It’s then 1.75% of the amount you withdraw, plus 50p, which is not unreasonable, and very similar to other options.
You can also create ‘virtual’ cards, which give you a card number so you can buy things online and in-store (with Apple Pay and Google Pay), but aren’t actually physically delivered to your home. These can be a safe way to buy things as you can remove the card after you buy something (meaning companies don’t have access to your card details).
If you don’t have the right currency in your account (for instance, US dollars to buy something from America), it will be automatically converted from a different currency in your account (e.g. Pounds) – so you don’t even have to worry about converting money beforehand – it will only convert what you spend (saving money on fees).
You can also freeze your cards within the app (if you lose them or they are stolen). A pretty cool feature.
Note: it costs £7 to order a debit card, or £12 if you want super quick delivery. Virtual cards are free.
If you’ve got lots of money just sitting in your Wise account, you might want to think about doing something with it, so it can earn you more money. This is what ‘Assets’ is with Wise.
You can earn interest on your money, just like a savings account with a bank, and the rate is currently very good, one of the best out there. This regularly changes so please check the Wise website¹ for the latest rates.
Or, you could invest your money in investments, such as stocks and shares, as part of an investment fund – that’s where experts handle things, and they’ll group lots of people’s money together and grow it over time using sensible investment strategies. With this option, growth isn’t guaranteed, and only recommended if you plan to invest over the long term (5+ years).
You can switch back to cash whenever you like. And, you can start with as little as £1.
Now here is where things get very interesting for businesses.
Wise offers a business account that can act just like a bank account in the country or currency you are doing business in. There’s over 40 currencies available to use, and 150 countries.
It’s very cool and opens up a huge range of opportunities for businesses, and solves a lot of problems with receiving payments from international customers (or sending money to suppliers).
For instance, if you are based in the UK, but sell products or services to Europe, or the USA, you can set up a Euros account, or a US Dollars account, which have local bank details for receiving money from a typical bank account in that country (e.g. your customer).
So, you can add, say, your US Dollars account to your invoices, and it will show all the right details for your customers to pay (looks like a US bank account), and when they pay, the money will appear in your Wise account (US account).
Sounds simple right, but creating foreign bank accounts and receiving foreign currencies into a typical business bank account in the UK can be incredibly hard, if not impossible, and very expensive in fees for every payment.
You’ll still benefit from all the low costs for money transfers that Wise has (more on fees below). However, there will also be a set up fee of £45, which we think is pretty reasonable.
It also integrates with accounting software such as Xero and Quickbooks.
And, if you’ve got lots of spare business cash lying around you can also invest it in the ‘Assets’ we’ve described above (earn interest or invest it) – which doesn’t typically exist as an option for other business bank accounts.
If you want to make lots of payments in one go, you can make batch payments of up to 1,000 people at a time.
There’s also different access levels you set on individual user accounts (e.g. only certain people/employees can do things, or view accounts).
We like this account a lot, and even have one here at Nuts About Money, and we’re not alone, it’s also used by over 300,000 businesses worldwide. Learn more or get started on the Wise website¹.
Wise are very good with the transparency of their fees – which is very uncommon when it comes to money transfers! There’s normally lots of hidden fees, and confusing exchange rates – you’re never quite sure how much it has actually cost you.
Well, with Wise, they don’t profit from the exchange rate at all. They use the actual exchange rate (called the ‘mid-market’ rate). Banks and other money transfer services tend to set their own exchange rate higher, rather than using the ‘real’ rate, and hide their commission in the rate.
Fees to send money
For sending money, the fee varies by currency, but is typically around 0.41% (that’s the minimum you’ll pay).
That’s pretty low, in fact, you’ll likely not find anywhere cheaper when combined with the real exchange rate (so not extra hidden fees like banks) – check out the comparison table below to see how they compare with other popular money transfer services and banks.
Note: if you are sending lots of money per month (over £100,000), you’ll get a discount on the fees (which can be from 0.41% to 0.34%).
Wise fee comparison
If you were to send £1,000 to a friend who would like Euros, here’s how much they’d get with all the most popular money transfer services and banks:
Spoiler: Wise comes out on top by quite a distance!
There’s also other fees depending on what you’re looking to do. For instance, if you want to withdraw more than £200 from an ATM, there’s a 1.75% fee (plus 50p). Remember, a debit card costs £7 to buy.
And as mentioned above, converting currencies cost around 0.41% (depending on the currency).
You can see all the fees on the Wise website¹.
The customer support is very good.
There’s a big help centre, which covers pretty much everything you might want to ask, and you can get support on a single transaction, all within the app or on the website (for instance, cancelling or querying a transaction).
You can speak to support over live-chat, on the phone or via email too. You’ll get a response within 1 day for an email, and live-chat and phone runs from 8am to 3pm Monday to Friday.
Is Wise safe?
Yep. It’s perfectly safe to use Wise.
Wise is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who are the people who make sure financial companies are looking after you and your money.
As Wise isn’t a bank, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) doesn’t apply. That’s where your money is protected up to £85,000 if anything happens to Wise, such as going out of business (very unlikely).
However, with Wise, your money is actually kept completely separate from Wise’s own money, and is kept with large banks (e.g. Barclays). This means that if Wise did go out of business, your money could only be returned to you.
Note: you do have FSCS protection (£85,000 is protected) with Wise if your money is invested under the ‘assets’ feature (invested).
There’s also a dedicated fraud team which runs 24/7 looking out for suspicious activity and helping people with transactions.
Wise customer reviews
Customers love Wise. On the popular reviews website, Trustpilot, it has a score of 4.4 out of 5. That’s pretty great, in fact, it’s excellent. And that’s from an incredible 190,000 reviews!
Lots of the reviews mention the low fees, and ease of use – and a great option to send money to friends and family across the world.
Wise pros and cons
Here’s a quick recap and the pros and cons of Wise:
- Very low cost money transfers
- Easy to use
- Over 40 currencies available
- Fast payments
- Debit card for spending (such as on holidays)
- Great for foreign nationals and expats
- Awesome business account for international payments
- Earn interest and invest cash (including businesses)
- Very safe and secure
- Only £200 fee-free cash withdrawals (fees after this)
- Not much else!
We’re big fans of Wise. We love it and use it regularly at Nuts About Money (both personal and business).
It’s pretty much perfect for anything and everything to do with international money transfers and payments. It’s super easy to use, and super low cost.
You can send and receive money in a different currency in seconds, all within their mobile app (or website) – it’s much easier, faster and cheaper, than using your bank account – and that’s if they even let you send and receive money that’s not in Pounds (a lot don't).
Their debit card is one of the best options for spending money abroad (such as on holiday), you can also use it at ATMs to withdraw cash.
And if you’re a foreign national, or expat, who is struggling to open a UK bank account, Wise probably solves all of your problems – and all with low fees. It can simply be your bank account.
For businesses trading internationally, it’s pretty epic. You can send and receive payments from countries across the world, in all the different currencies, all in one place, and for the same low fees. You can’t really beat it.
Overall, it’s amazing (we've reviewed many companies and this has to be up there with the best of them). It’s a big 5 stars from us. To learn more and get started, head over to the Wise website¹.