I’ve used TransferWise for money transfer and receiving international freelance payments in my borderless account. This is my honest TransferWise review and why I think it is a much better alternative to Payoneer, Paypal, traditional bank wires or exchange kiosks.
If you are here for the reward offer, sign up using this link and you’ll get free international transfer of up to £500.
My Personal TransferWise Review
As a freelancer based outside of US, it is always a headache to receive payments from the websites I work for. So far I had been using Payoneer and Paypal to make do. But those methods would cost me almost 15% in transaction and withdrawl fees alone. If I made $100, when that payment was deposited into my Payoneer account it would become $98 ($2 deposit fee). Then each time I used the Payoneer Mastercard debit card, I lost around $3 to Payoneer and another $5 to the local ATM machine as transaction and withdrawl fees. Also just to keep the Payoneer account active, they charged $29/year. All in all of that $100, I would end up only getting about $85. Paypal was no better. I didn’t have other options until last month when I heard about TransferWise.
I signed up immediately and went through their verification process. When I received $133.16 from my freelance work, I was glad that there was no fee! I received the amount in full. (Payoneer would have deducted $2.7) Then as a test, I transferred $100 to my local bank account in my country. I received $98 out of that $100. In total I only paid $2.7 total fees, compared to $15 fees on Payoneer. I am going to stick with TransferWise for sure.
Pro tip: When you activate the 2 step authorization, choose the mobile app verification and not the SMS verification. This is because when you are traveling abroad you might not receive the verification SMS texts. But the mobile app login will work anywhere anytime.
So what is TransferWise?
It is a fairly new finance-tech company similar to Paypal (in that it’s an online bank) but TransferWise is much more than that. The best part is the borderless account that lets us receive money from different countries without fees. It also lets us convert currencies and keep them in our account. Essentially TransferWise is a bank in your pocket that can receive multiple currencies and transfer them to local banks all over the world at cheapest or no fees.
TransferWise vs Regular Banks
Banks and old-school money companies can hide the cost of sending our money. They do it by converting money at unfair exchange rates. TransferWise converts our money using the real exchange rate. And they keep our fees as low as possible.
For instance, let me show you what happened when I tried to transfer 1000 USD to a local bank. I did not have that much money in my account of course but the app lets us check all the price and cost beforehand. Attached below is a direct screenshot for you to see for yourself. I was saving $34.68 on that transfer alone.
The pricing policy of TransferWise is very simple. There is no charge for opening an account with TransferWise just like there is no monthly or annual maintenance fee. Again there is no charge when payments are received into the account (called Borderless account). The only transaction fees arise when
1. You convert from one currency to another – which is capped at 1% by the way. For instance, there is 0.85% fee for conversion from USD to NPR. TransferWise is very transparent about it on the website. Look at the chart on their website to find out these rates. In addition, when you are about to convert money, the fee shows up before the final button click. There are no hidden fees.
2. You transfer money from your borderless account to your local bank account. This one is a flat fee, for example: it costs NPR 200 to transfer any amount of NPR from the borderless account to a local bank in Nepal. Again not all countries have this fee. Check the chart. Many countries enjoy fee free transfers.
3. You withdraw more than £200/month using your TransferWise debit card. No ATM fees when you withdraw less than 200/mo.
TransferWise Borderless Account
TransferWise is a “borderless account”, built for international people. Like a digital wallet, it gives you international bank details — like a British sort code and account number, or American account and routing numbers — so you can receive money internationally, for less. Plus send, hold, and convert your money in dozens of currencies, always with the lowest possible fees. In my case, I have activated USD in my borderless account. It doesn’t cost any money to activate or deactivate currencies. Once we activate USD, we receive bank details so that’s where the sender will send the payments.
Receiving Money on TransferWise
In case of USD, I used the bank’s name as Community Federal Savings Bank. Account type is checking account. The ACH routing number and Account number is provided by TransferWise at the time of currency activation. If the sender is doing a wire transfer, we have to use the Wire Routing Number instead. Either way, we receive 100% of the amount that was sent. No fees there. 🙂
TransferWise Debit Card
When you are approved for a TransferWise account, they will mail a Mastercard debit card to the address on file. Once activated, you can use the debit card from TransferWise as a regular debit card. You can make online transaction with it. You can withdraw cash at ATMs worldwide. Here is the unique part, TransferWise debit card is much more than just a ATM card. It has the ability to store multiple currencies independently, at the same time. For instance, when you have 50 USD and 90 CAD in your TransferWise borderless account, the debit card “carries them” offline wherever you go. When you make a transaction in Japan, the card will try to deduct the local currency (Japanese YEN) from your account. If local money is depleted from your account or it was never there, the card will deduct the currency that has the lowest conversion fee to YEN. How cool!
There are many ways to move money into your TransferWise account. You can load money via your bank anywhere in the world. You can receive payments from someone or some company – both ACH direct deposit and Swift transfers are accepted. Once you have money in TransferWise, you can use the Mastercard debit card that TransferWise sent you to withdraw cash from any ATM machine in the world. The best part? No ATM fee charged if you withdraw less than $200 per month.
Right now, many countries are on waiting list to get the debit card. European countries already have it. Rest of us will have to wait some more. But I like where this is going! TransferWise is trying to beat the banks at their game by using the digital tech. The end goal is to save international travelers and expats and freelancers their money, which until a while ago the banks greedily took in the name of fees.
TransferWise Referral Bonus
Being a young startup company, I found out that there is a referral program at TransferWise. For full disclosure, when I refer 3 friends, when all those 3 friends complete their first transfer, I get £50. This is a 2-way benefit because when I refer somebody and they sign up using my TransferWise referral link, they get a free international transfer of up to £500!
Transferwise vs Xoom vs Payoneer
I have used Xoom to send money and Payoneer to receive payments from foreign freelance websites. TransferWise does the job of Xoom and Payoneer (and Paypal) singlehandedly and it is much cheaper as well. Check out my screen shots above. I have already saved a lot of money through TransferWise. If I had continued using Payoneer, I would have lost so much in their transaction fees. I love TransferWise and I can guarantee you will too.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions regarding the money transfer app in the comments section below.