Ever tried sending money across borders?
I can tell you from experience that it’s (a) expensive and (b) a pain in the butt.
You can either use a service such as Western Union or complete a wire transfer through your bank — the latter of which costs an average of nearly $50, according to ValuePenguin.
Rightfully frustrated with the experience, two friends founded TransferWise in 2010. Its mission is to make international transfers faster, easier, and cheaper.
This TransferWise review will go over everything you need to know and see if it lives up to its promise.
What is TransferWise?
Once you sign up, you can send or receive more than 40 currencies to and from bank accounts across the globe. Transfers take between a few business hours and a few business days.
In addition to its speed, TransferWise sets itself apart with its transparency; it promises you won’t pay any hidden fees when you transfer money through the platform.
Whereas many banks profit off the exchange rates they offer, TransferWise uses the real-time “mid-market rate” — the rate at which banks trade among themselves. And as you can see from the chart below, it could lead to big savings for you.
So, instead of touting “free transfers” at a worse exchange rate, TransferWise charges a fee that’s equal to a percentage of what you send.
Although the site doesn’t reveal the exact percentage (it varies), a $1,000 test transfer quoted a fee of $8.43, which equals .843 percent.
Is TransferWise safe?
TransferWise claims it maintains “bank-level security, which is continually tested and audited.”
It also offers a two-step login, which means you need more than a password to access your account, as well as “dedicated teams” that monitor accounts for unusual activity.
In an advertorial for The Telegraph, TransferWise said it’s “fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and just like large banks and financial institutions, verifies its users to protect against fraud and money laundering.”
To see what the TransferWise experience is like, I decided to send money to one of my besties, who lives in London. Here’s what the five-step process entails.
Step 1: Determine how much you want to send.
Step 2: Provide some basic information about yourself, the sender.
Steps 3 and 4: Fill out the recipient’s address, bank code, and account number. (In the screenshots below, I changed my friend’s details to protect her privacy.)
Step 5: Choose a funding source.
With my debit card, the transfer would arrive in an hour; with a bank transfer, it would arrive the next day. I chose the debit card since it was fast and easy.
From start to finish, the process took less than five minutes. After completing the transfer, I could see its status on my online dashboard.
My friend in London received the transfer quickly — and without lifting a finger. The money appeared directly in her bank account.
TransferWise customer reviews
Other TransferWise customer reviews seem equally positive. It has a rating of 9.4 out of 10 on Trustpilot, with 89 percent of its more than 40,000 reviews coming in as “excellent.”
Positive reviews said things such as “very good rate provided at reasonable fee,” “unimaginably fast and hassle-free,” and “I paid $5.90 in fees to transfer; when I used my bank I paid about $30.”
Negative reviews said things such as “the transfers page is light on detail,” “too costly,” “took me three working days to transfer money from Europe to India,” and “absolute chaos and ineptitude.” They’re worth reading before you sign up.
More TransferWise features
In addition to allowing you to transfer money quickly, TransferWise has a few other attractive features.
Its free borderless account is for people who do business internationally. You’ll get a bank account number for the UK, Eurozone, U.S., and Australia, and you can store and send money in 28 currencies, making transfers seamless.
TransferWise also offers a bonus for inviting your friends. For every three people who sign up and transfer at least $300, you’ll receive $75 — and they’ll get their first transfer free of charge.
Overall, TransferWise seems like a solid tool for people who want to send money internationally.
If you’re interested in learning more after reading this TransferWise review, check it out for yourself. It lives up to its mission of being faster, cheaper, and easier than traditional wire transfers — and I’ll probably use it when I need to send money in the future.
All screenshots above were taken from TransferWise during the payment process unless otherwise noted.
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