​TransferWise Money Transfer Review

Spencer TierneyNovember 5, 2020

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The money transfer service TransferWise offers a cheap way to send money from the U.S. to about 80 countries. The exchange rates are some of the best you’ll find. You can fund a transfer in various ways, such as with a bank account or credit card, but recipients need to have a bank account.

TransferWise Money Transfer

at TransferWise

The TransferWise website is straightforward. The homepage has a cost calculator that makes it easy to see fees and rates, and FAQs are well-organized and helpful. Rates for transfers from U.S. dollars are guaranteed once you finish setting up a transfer, and you can cancel transfers that haven’t been converted or paid yet.

Users rate TransferWise’s iOS and Android mobile apps above 4 out of 5 stars.

Setup and login are easy; you can register for TransferWise by using an email address, or syncing up your Apple, Google or Facebook account, which isn’t typical for a transfer provider.

This overview of TransferWise is for U.S.-based audiences sending money from the U.S. to other countries abroad only.

» Want more options for sending money abroad? Check out the best ways to send money online internationally

Best for:

  • People who want low costs and a solid web experience when sending money internationally.

Pros

  • Delivery within minutes. Quick delivery is possible for transfers using a debit or credit card.

  • Low fees. The fixed cost to many countries is a combination of a flat amount around $1 and a percentage slightly less than 1% of the transfer amount. Credit card fees are higher. Using an ACH transfer from your bank account or a debit card tends to be cheaper. If you pay with a wire transfer to TransferWise, your fee will be similar to transferring via ACH, but your bank will likely charge you (for more details, see wire transfer fees at over 40 banks).

  • No rate markups. Unlike banks and other providers, TransferWise doesn’t charge an exchange-rate markup on its transfers. It targets the midmarket rate, which fluctuates minute-to-minute.

The midmarket rate, also called the interbank rate, is the exchange rate that big banks use to swap currencies among one another. Most providers give customers an exchange rate that’s the midmarket rate plus an additional percentage, or markup, to make a profit on the transfer.

Example: If the midmarket rate for U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos is 20 pesos per dollar, then a 2% markup means the provider is giving you 19.6 pesos per dollar. For a $500 transfer, that’s the difference between 10,000 pesos from the first rate and 9,800 pesos from the second. And the higher the markup, the less your recipient gets in their currency.

Cons

  • Slower bank transfer delivery times than other providers. Transfers funded with bank accounts can take over a week, since each step can take days: TransferWise receiving, converting and delivering your money abroad. But for the four countries we analyzed (India, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom), the average total time is up to three business days.

  • U.S. phone support is limited to regular business hours. You can reach customer service by phone only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on weekdays.

» Want a better place to stash your savings in the U.S.?  Check out NerdWallet's best high-yield savings accounts

TransferWise transfer methods and options

TransferWise offers a few ways to transfer money. Here's a breakdown of the options:

  • Sending channels: TransferWise’s website and mobile app.

  • Payment options: Bank account (ACH, SWIFT or wire transfer), debit card, credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

  • Delivery options: Bank account only. Some providers have cash pickup locations abroad that make it easier for recipients who don’t have bank accounts.

  • Transfer limits: Minimums vary depending on destination but can be as little as $0.93; maximums for most Americans are $15,000 per day using ACH and $1 million per transfer when funded with a bank wire transfer.

» Ready to take the next step? TransferWise's online and mobile services generally make sending money abroad easy and cheap. Compare it with other ways to send money internationally, especially if speed for bank transfers is important.

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