Pay safely and affordably while traveling with a Wise account. I first used Wise while in Mexico, and I’m still impressed with how smoothly and simply the app works. This account is for travelers who frequently make international transfers. And also freelancers who get paid from other countries. I have been using the Wise account since 2019. Formerly, the service bore the name Transferwise. After three years of use, I can write what functionalities of this service are the most important. I started using Wise extensively while traveling in South and Central America. Let me share with you my experience with Wise.
However, a considerable advantage of Wise is the multi-currency account. Especially for individuals and businesses, and is an economical international money transfer service. A global version with Wise is six times cheaper than a traditional bank. For example, making a transfer from a bank in Europe to the USA can cost up to 45 Euros. An identical transfer from Wise costs about 5 Euro.
Currency conversion is high-speed, affordable, friendly, and uncomplicated. For a traveler, it makes life very easy. I saved a lot of time. However, I can pay at all points without currency conversion. You don’t have to visit an exchange office to exchange money. Wise’s fees are lower than at banks or exchange offices. The money conversion process takes place in the Wise app on your smartphone.
- 1 How to open a Wise account?
- 2 What is Wise (formerly Transferwise)?
- 3 A borderless account in several currencies
How to open a Wise account?
The question of how to open a Wise account is a crucial one. Creating an account is easy and takes only a few minutes. Below is how to open an account and send money using Wise.
The following section will explain the step-by-step process of opening a Wise account. But before I do, you should know that you must already have an open bank account to use Transferwise.
The process is simple.
Access the Wise website:
Enter your email address, create a password and select your country of residence.
Fill in the required personal information, and voilà!
The system will email you a security code or link to verify your details.
Congratulations, you’re part of the Wise family. What’s next?
What is Wise (formerly Transferwise)?
Wise is not a bank but an electronic money institution based in London, UK. Regulated and supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England. The company has attracted over 3.9 million users worldwide. Wise owes much of its success to its lower-than-bank rates for foreign currency transfers. The company started in 2011. The inventors of Wise are Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus (Skype’s first employee!). They wanted to save money on international transfers between their countries and Britain.
Wise uses an annual holding fee of 0.40% above €15,000 deposit on a euro balance. Simply converting excess euros into foreign currency will avoid this charge.
Wise clients’ funds are deposited with central banks. Such as JP Morgan and Barclays in the UK Adyen in the Netherlands. Also converted into UK or US treasury bills.
Wise does not issue credits. But be aware that you will not be able to benefit directly from the European hedge fund in case of bankruptcy.
A borderless account in several currencies
The Wise account is multi-currency. It allows you to receive money in foreign currencies or convert euros. You have to open a new “balance” on your Wise account. For each of the 54 coins, you want to use.
You will automatically benefit from the following elements by opening a Wise account.
- Belgian IBAN to make incoming and outgoing transfers
- Free virtual Mastercard
- Physical card for a fee (only the manufacturing and shipping costs)
- Transfer authorization up to 1.2 million euros
- Multi-currency TransferWise account on a smartphone
- Send, receive and store up to 54 currencies in your Wise account.
Wise account limits
You can receive and make payments in euros and more than 50 currencies. Wise is beneficial for customers abroad who shop online or frequently travel as they will not have to deal with exchange rates or additional fees. The borderless account is available in both. Individual and pro versions for businesses and professionals. Either way, it’s an excellent solution for avoiding high bank fees and conversion charges. There is no (or almost no) limit to the money you can send. You can send up to 1.2 million euros per transfer if your account is funded.
Remember: there is no subscription fee. Wise gets paid by charging specific costs, including exchange fees and card reloading fees.
Transfers between your account balances may incur a foreign exchange fee. Wise uses the interbank exchange rate plus a variable part usually between 0.35% and 1% of the amount. Before each conversion, Wise displays the exchange fee, so there are no surprises. You can create an unlimited number of balances and reserves in the currency of your choice. The amounts deposited on the credits can be spent with the bank card or sent by transfer. In contrast, the pieces placed in reserves are safe.
It is not advisable to fund your account by credit card because of the 0.41% fee. I prefer incoming transfers which are free of charge within the SEPA zone.
Wise’s local accounts details: for ex-pats and entrepreneurs
For most currencies, opening a balance does not create a new account. If you add yens, they will remain attached to your main account located in Belgium.
Adding some currencies creates an account with local bank details, i.e., in the country where the money is issued.
There is no risk of error when adding a balance indicated in the Wise website application.
Let’s see the interest of using local accounts:
For expatriates or nomadic workers, it allows them to open an account quickly. Receive a salary, and pay their bills without transfer fees.
It allows entrepreneurs to pay their suppliers without fees since all transfers are made locally.
Wise account card
The Wise account card, Mastercard, works like a regular debit card. But has the added benefit of being linked to a multi-currency account.
When you travel abroad, you can withdraw money and pay in stores in the local currency. Wise uses the local currency if it is present in a balance. This way, you will avoid the conversion fees usually charged when you pay with your bank card abroad.
Wise will automatically convert the currency and apply the usual exchange fees if the bank card does not support the cash you want to use or if the balance is insufficient.
The virtual MasterCard is available from the opening of the account. To obtain a wise debit card, you will have to pay a one-time fee of €7 for issuing and shipping. Wise MasterCard cards are compatible with Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Wise’s customer service is available 24/7, mainly by chat or email.
You can log in to your Wise account on the web or send a request for help from the application. The processing time is fast, and the files are well followed.
Wise user reviews
The app is available on Apple and Android systems. On the App Store, the Wise app gets a rating of 4.7/5 for just over 23,000 votes. On Google Play, the rating drops to 4.3/5 for over 155,000 votes. Finally, on Trustpilot, the service gets a rating of 4.6/10.
Positives: Wise users appreciate the speed and reliability of the service and the low fees. Most of them use the application and find it quite simple despite the variety of ways to send transfers.
Negative points: Wise is very particular about who you send your money to. It is impossible to make transfers to buy cryptocurrencies, even on recognized platforms. Some accounts may even be disabled.
Some consumers have complained about customer service taking too long to process some cases. Wise should be more educational about SWIFT fees as some customers have complained that the fees are too high. With some currencies, and around weekends, the transaction can take up to four days. Incidents with Wise’s servers stalled transactions last fall.
The experience may vary depending on your country, currency, and method. Sent directly from a Wise balance or bank-to-bank transfer through Wise. Whenever possible, favor balance-to-balance transfers.
The weight of the regulations imposed on financial organizations in the Eurozone seems to harm the quality of the service in the last few months. Still, overall, customer opinions remain very positive.
Pay safely and affordably while traveling with a Wise account.