© TransferWise

TransferWise LogoRecognised as a "technology pioneer" by the World Economic Forum and ranking No. 8 on CNBC's 2015 Disruptor 50 list, TransferWise has managed to establish itself as a trusted and highly innovative company in the money transfer business.

The service is specially developed for people who transfer a lot of money overseas and are tired of banks charging high (and often hidden) fees for these transactions.

Using a peer-to-peer concept, TransferWise has developed a new way to move money between countries; promising to save their customers up to 90% in transaction fees.

In the last couple of months, I have assessed and tested all aspects of this service and have come to the conclusion that TransferWise is indeed a very clever and safe alternative to transfer money abroad. I now use TransferWise on a regular basis and highly recommend it to everyone.

Key facts about TransferWise

  • Launched in January 2011
  • Headquartered in London
  • Processes More Than £500 Million Every Month
  • Supports More Than 350 Currency Routes
  • Has Been Invested Upon by Sir Richard Branson
  • Received Positive Reviews from Wired, Financial Times and The Economist

Who is TransferWise?

TransferWise is a UK-based peer-to-peer money transfer service that advertises itself as being "the clever new way to beat bank fees”.

It was launched in January 2011 by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus and is headquartered in London. The service lets people transfer money internationally at a much lower rate compared to regular bank transfers.

TransferWise received an approval from the UK Finance Regulator in February 2012. Thus, it went really fast from being an alternate money transferring service to a global monetary institution, supporting over 350 currency routes and processing more than £500 million every month as of 2015.

Big names, such as Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, and Sir Richard Branson have invested in TransferWise and the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) has approved TransferWise as a fully authorised payment institution.

TransferWise Homepage
Screenshot of TransferWise's homepage.

How does TransferWise work?

The difference which really allows TransferWise to offer their service at such reduced rates is the way they process the money.

TransferWise uses a peer-to-peer technology.

Let’s say, user A lives in the UK and wants to transfer 1,000 British Pounds to user B in India. Simultaneously, user C lives in India and needs to pay 1,000 GBP to user D in the UK.

Instead of transferring money from A to B and C to D, TransferWise lets the 1,000 GBP flow from A to D, while transferring the respective Indian Rupee amount from C to B. Thus, the money never travels borders. This helps cut through currency conversion, allowing TransferWise to deliver a much cheaper money transfer service.

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My experience with TransferWise

By this time, I regularly use TransferWise to send money abroad. But I still remember the first time I used this service.

I needed to transfer £780 to a recipient in the UK and decided to test TransferWise. They had been bombarding the city with ads and I knew Richard Branson had invested in the company; so why not give it a try.

I had also just transferred  £120 a week earlier using the regular bank transfer and had to pay nearly £16 in transaction fees; more than 13% of the initial amount. That's ridiculous!

So I tested TransferWise.

At one point, TransferWise asks you how you would like to pay. You can select between debit card/credit card, bank transfer, and SOFORT Banking. I selected bank transfer and was then asked to transfer the money first to TransferWise’s European account (which counts as a domestic transfer) before continuing with the process.

This was kind of unusual for me at the beginning since I was used to transferring money in just one step. Now, I had to complete the TransferWise process as well as execute a separate transfer to their European account. But that is just the way TransferWise works and probably the only way you can save that amount of fees. So I guess it’s worth the extra step.

In the end, transferring £780 with TransferWise cost me a little less than £4 in fees and it took two days until the recipient in the UK received his money.

That's why I'm still using TransferWise today.

How do you register at TransferWise?

Registering for the site is easy. You simply click on the "Sign Up" button at the top right-hand corner of the screen. A pop-up window will appear asking you for your email as well as a password that you determine. Alternatively, you can also connect with Google or Facebook.

TransferWise Registration
Screenshot of TransferWise's sign up form.

After entering your email address and creating a password, you can immediately start with the money transfer. At this point, you don’t have to add any additional information. That comes later.

How do you transfer money abroad with TransferWise?

If you just signed up, the money transfer process starts right away. If you're already registered, you can log in and start the transfer process by clicking "Send Money" at the top right-hand corner of the screen.

You start the process by selecting the relevant currencies and entering the amount you want to send. You can also enter the amount the recipient is supposed to get from you. For example, in the case mentioned above, I entered £780 as the amount I wanted the recipient in the UK to receive.

TransferWise Money Transfer
Screenshot of TransferWise's payment process.

You are then led through a series of 4 further steps where you have to add your details as well as those of the recipient. The steps are well explained and the process is quite intuitive.

  • Step 1, Frame Your Transaction: Select the currencies and enter the amount you want to transfer.
  • Step 2, Enter Sender Details: This is the part where you enter your name, address, date of birth and phone number.
  • Step 3, Add Recipient Details: Add the name and the account details of your recipient.
  • Step 4, Confirm Details of Your Transfer: Verify and confirm the transaction details, then click "Confirm".
  • Step 5, Upload Your Money: Deposit funds to TransferWise's account through your debit card/credit card or regular bank transfer and confirm that you have sent the money.

After that, TransferWise takes care of the rest and notifies you when the money has been transferred to the recipient. You can also check the current status of the transaction online.

How much does it cost to use TransferWise?

TransferWise charges a fixed fee of £1 for amounts up to £200. After that, TransferWise charges 0.5% of the amount sent. Other than this, no registration fees or monthly fees are applied. It's fast, cheap and effective.

TransferWise clearly tries to differentiate itself from the conventional money transfer services by dismissing any hidden fees. Thus, they use the live mid-market rate for conversion and are very transparent when it comes to listing the costs involved.

While presenting you with the details of your transfer, TransferWise also includes a field indicating how much you are saving, as opposed to using regular bank transfers. For a transfer of £1,000, you may expect to save around £45.

How long does it take to transfer money with TransferWise?

Officially, TransferWise states that an international transfer takes 1-4 working days, depending on what currencies are involved and which payment method is used.

When I transfer money with TransferWise, it usually takes 2 working days until the recipient receives the money. Which is good. And I know TransferWise is continuously trying to speed up that process even more.

Once I needed to transfer money very quickly. So I called the customer service to ask if there is any way to speed up the process. They told me that I could send them my payment confirmation, as well as a screenshot of my name and account number, and they would try to manually process and speed up the transfer. And it worked. The money was transferred a few hours later. If you do this, make sure to insert the reference number. By doing so, they can easily match your money transfer.

I also heard that it goes faster if you use debit card/credit card as the payment method, but I usually use bank transfer.

Is TransferWise safe and reliable?

I'm usually very sceptical when it comes to using new systems to process my money online. I'm afraid of scam and I need a high degree of security before I use any kind of online banking service.

I was aware of TransferWise for some time, but I waited a few years to see if the service will establish itself as a serious alternative to the traditional banking services.

What gave me confidence it the service was that…

  • Richard Branson trusted and invested in this company.
  • TransferWise got positive reviews in leading newspapers.
  • The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) registered it as a fully authorized payments institution.
  • Friends of mine were using it and highly recommended it to me.

Today, I'm using TransferWise on a regular basis. I don't expect this to change anytime soon.

TransferWise customer support

I've called the customer support twice. Both times, I was immediately put through to a service assistant. I didn't have to wait long.

The assistants were very friendly and explained everything in detail. In both cases, they managed to solve the problem I was having.

TransferWise Tube-Ads. © TransferWise
TransferWise Tube-Ads. © TransferWise

Which currencies does TransferWise support?

Here is the complete list of currencies that TransferWise supports.

Send and Receive

  • EUR – Euro
  • GBP – Pounds Sterling
  • USD – US Dollar
  • AUD – Australian Dollar
  • CHF – Swiss Franc
  • CAD – Canadian Dollar
  • PLN – Polish Złoty
  • SEK – Swedish Krona
  • NOK – Norwegian Krone
  • DKK – Danish Krone
  • HUF – Hungarian Forint
  • CZK – Czech Koruna
  • BGN – Bulgarian Lev
  • GEL – Georgian Lari
  • RON – Romanian Leu
  • JPY – Japanese Yen (only via SWIFT)

Send Only

  • INR – Indian Rupee
  • TRY – Turkish Lira
  • SGD – Singapore Dollar
  • NZD – New Zealand Dollar
  • HKD – Hong Kong Dollar
  • MYR – Malaysian Ringgit
  • PHP – Philippine Peso
  • BRL – Brazilian Real
  • NGN – Nigerian Naira
  • PKR – Pakistani Rupee
  • MAD – Moroccan Dirham
  • CLP – Chilean Peso
  • THB – Thai Baht
  • AED – Emirati Dirham
  • UAH – Ukranian Hryvna
  • IDR – Indonesian Rupiah

What are others saying about TransferWise?

TransferWise gets a lot of good reviews in the press. It also has a five-star rating on Trustpilot with over 20,000 reviews. Many of my friends use TransferWise and they are very happy with the service.

Some people like the money to be transferred even quicker. I guess they would like to see their money transferred instantly. I know TransferWise is working on speeding up the money transfer process, so let's wait and see how this will evolve.

To see what other money transfer services have to offer and how TransferWise compares to them, check out the following reviews below:

TransferWise Facebook and Twitter page

TransferWise has nearly 163 thousand likes on Facebook and more than 21 thousand followers on Twitter.

Screenshot of TransferWise's Facebook page.
Screenshot of TransferWise's Facebook page.
Screenshot of TransferWise's Twitter page.
Screenshot of TransferWise's Twitter page.

My rating of TransferWise

I've now used TransferWise many times and I really have nothing to complain about. My money is usually transferred within 2 days. It costs way less than what I would have to pay with a regular bank transfer.

It's secure, reliable and fairly simple to use. So go ahead, try it yourselves, and let us know what you think.

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