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Bank Accounts Last update: Mar 03, 2024

Wise Analysis: Unveiling the Perks, Pitfalls, and Price Tag

Top-Affordable Platform to Send and Receive Different Currencies

Best for

  • For Multy-Currency Account
  • Ease-of-Use
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Written by

Josep Garcia

Josep Garcia

Upcashwise Advisor

I'm Josep Garcia, originally from Barcelona. I launched my own website in 2016, focusing on personal finance, which has been live since 2018. Since then, I've continuously produced online content related to personal finances, covering topics like banking and investment products, and also creating videos on these subjects. In 2023, I decided to deepen my expertise in finance and obtained my EFPA (#37363) certification in financial advisement.

Photo of Josep Garcia

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Picture this: It’s 2011 in London, and two young Estonians are grappling with a pesky problem – constantly swapping euros for pounds and vice versa. That’s how Wise was born!

Fast-forward to now, they’ve attracted 16+ million users and grown their team to more than 5,000+ employees, spreading across 17 countries. What a journey!

Josep Garcia, financial expert at Upcashwise.com

As a seasoned Wise user, I’ve got the inside scoop on this banking platform’s pros and cons. After deep-diving into their services, scrutinizing their fees, and sifting through heaps of user feedback, I’m all set to give you a clear and hones Wise review. Plus, with my banking background and a passion for dissecting financial products, I’m bringing you a review that’s as thorough as it gets!

Josep GarciaEFPA Financial Advisor

Wise Review Verdict

Time for the Wise verdict! If you’re looking to send money in different currencies without breaking the bank, Wise is your go-to solution. Imagine having the power to handle multiple currencies from a single account, all without a monthly fee – perfect for those moments when you’re travelling and need to pay in another currency.

Personally, every time I use their interface, it’s a very pleasant experience, and I love its simplicity. However, dealing with cash can be a bit of a hassle, and definitely contacting support can be a hit-and-miss.

Wise Pros & Cons

Pros

Low Fees & Rates

Wise offers some of the lowest fees in the market for multiple currencies. It also offers rates close to the real ones, making operations even cheaper.

Ease of Use

Wise’s platform is intuitive and simple. Users can make their first transfer in under 5 minutes.

Transparency

Wise easily provides access to their terms, conditions, and service costs. They’re transparent and don’t hide info.

Reliability

Operating since 2011, Wise is trusted by millions and regulated by the UK’s FCA and other international bodies (e.g., EEA, USA, Canada, Australia, etc.).

Speed

Transfers are usually fast, typically completed within a couple of days. They also offer a faster option at a higher fee.

Interest Income

Earn interest on your balance with Wise’s investment fund option, which offers variable returns based on central bank rates.

Cons

Limited Banking Services

Unfortunately, Wise does not offer basic banking services, such as overdrafts or credit cards.

Deposits

Can only add money to your account for free with a bank transfer, it may take up to 2 days. Instant card deposits always come with a fee.

ATMs & Cash

Wise is less ideal for regular cash transactions due to its low free ATM withdrawal limit and no cash deposit option. It doesn’t have its own ATMs.

No Premium Plans

Unlike Revolut, Wise doesn’t offer premium plans with added services like travel insurance or better terms.

Support

I have had very frustrating experiences with their support, ignoring my emails and taking ages to answer.

What Do Wise Users Say Online?

Certainly, it’s quite surprising to see that Wise has garnered many positive customer reviews online. However, as is often the case, there are also negative reviews to consider.

To give you a better understanding of the complaints Wise receives, I’ve taken the time to analyse and categorize them in this study. I’ll also provide you with a graph to highlight the key issues.

Upcashwise study on Wise negative reviews
Upcashwise study on Wise negative reviews

When it comes to Wise, user complaints primarily fall into three main categories. Firstly, “Account Deactivation and Locking” takes the lead with 30.22% of the complaints. It appears that many users have their account access revoked for various reasons. Secondly, “Money Transfer Issues” account for 28.02% of the complaints, which is quite understandable given that Wise is primarily designed for currency fund transfers.

Lastly, “Customer Service” is also a significant concern, with 10.99% of the complaints – I must agree with all these users disappointed by their support.

This study of online reviews and user feedback on Wise has been conducted by us. After gathering more than 350 online reviews, we’ve categorized them into positive, neutral, and negative ratings and further classified the complaints using natural language processing (NLP) techniques. Source: Upcashwise.com

My (Real) Experience with Wise

I’ve used Wise for years, especially when travelling to the UK and on holidays. I find it cost-effective, and intuitive. Let me share what I learned from using Wise in my daily routine. See a screenshot of my real account with Wise.

Josep Garcia's Wise Real Account at Upcashwise.com
Josep Garcia’s Wise Real Account at Upcashwise.com

Of course, I’d also like to give you a summary of what I, personally, love and what frustrates me about Wise. Let’s start with the positives:

  • The fees and exchange rates for payments and transfers in multiple currencies (e.g., from EUR to GBP) are among the best ones in my experience.
  • Not having a monthly fee for the account is also something you must love.
  • Wise’s mobile app and web site work seamlessly, and it’s a very fast service. Also, they have an extremely easy-to-use app.
  • Having accounts in multiple currencies, dozens of them in fact, is a unique feature of Wise. Also, with local bank accounts details for many countries.
  • Wise also excels in card configuration – it’s incredibly easy to activate or deactivate the card and choose which services to allow or restrict. And creating new virtual cards is very useful.
  • Wise offers interest-earning accounts, with rates varying by currency and market conditions. It’s a pretty neat bonus!

However, there are also aspects that can be frustrating in day-to-day usage of this bank:

  • As it lacks certain banking services prevents it from being my go-to primary account, it’s an excellent choice for a secondary one.
  • Wise lacks certain services (such as cash or cheque handling) and complementary products (such as loans, insurance, etc.). It’s not normally an issue, but it has been frustrating at times.
  • Keep in mind that Wise doesn’t have physical branches, so you should be comfortable with entirely online operations. It’s not a major issue for me, but I understand it may not suit everyone.
  • Although you can make a certain amount of fee-free ATM withdrawals each month, if you exceed this limit and need cash, Wise can be a bit of a hassle.
  • At present, Wise isn’t a full-fledged bank; it’s an electronic money institution, which comes with some limitations (e.g., no deposit guarantee fund).
  • I’ve had my share of issues with Wise support. Brace yourself for a bit of a struggle if you need anything beyond the usual from their team.

Wise in Detail

Criteria

Comment

Available Countries

5

Wise operates in 160+ countries and is primarily regulated as an e-money institution. They don’t have a banking licence, which means they can’t lend your money, they do securely hold it.

Regulation

5

Regulated by several entities like the FCA.

Available Currencies

4.5

Wise shines in handling multiple currencies, dealing with 40+ different ones with ease.

Account Fundings

4

Bank transfers to add money to your Wise account are free, unless you convert currencies. Adding funds with a card or similar instant methods has fees.

Account Management Fees

Manage your account without any fees. Unlike Revolut, Wise skips the paid plan options altogether.

Currency Exchange Fees

Sure, Wise primarily earns through exchange fees (starting at 0.42%), which differ per currency. In my experience, these fees and exchange fees are quite reasonable.

Transfer Fees

Wise will charge you a fee when sending money to others in a different currencies than yours.

Deposit Fees ?

Adding money via bank transfer is free, adding it by card or similar methods comes with a fee.

Card Fees

Get a virtual debit card from Wise at no cost! For physical cards, there’s just a one-time shipping fee of $9.

Withdrawal Fees

Each user enjoys free withdrawals up to $200 monthly. Beyond that, a 1.75 fee (+$0.50) kicks in.

Mobile Payments

5

Linking your Wise cards with Apple & Google Pay takes just a couple of seconds. Plus, transferring money to fellow Wise users is easy when using the app.

Direct Debits

Direct debits are absolutely doable with Wise! However, availability hinges on your country. Currently, it’s an option only for EUR, GBP, CAD, AUS, and USD accounts.

Budgetings

3.5

The Wise app does its best to categorize spending, but its budgeting features are limited. For more robust budgeting tools, Revolut has the upper hand.

Overdraft

Wise, as an e-money institution and not a bank, can’t lend money. So, forget about overdrafts with them.

Savings

4

Create ‘Jars’ to easily set money aside – a straightforward, efficient feature. Earn interest on USD, GBP, and EUR funds. Note: It’s not a bank savings account, but a fund investing in government bonds.

Investments

1.5

While direct investment isn’t an option with Wise, they do offer the choice to park your ‘pocket’ money in a selected fund composed of company shares. A fee is charged for this service.

Support ?

3

Wise’s support, promising calls for complex issues, often disappoints with slow email-only responses, causing many frustrations to users.

Overall Rating ?

4.4

Setting up a Wise account is a breeze and a completely online process. Ideal for people who do some travel and those dealing in multiple currencies. Sadly, not a great choice if you need extra banking services or deal with cash frequently.

Sending Money with Wise

Wise gained popularity for allowing money transfers to other countries without being gouged with crazy-high fees and manipulated exchange rates. The concept they used was simple yet revolutionary. Let me explain it with an example for better understanding.

Fees when sending money with Wise
Fees when sending money with Wise

Imagine you want to send money to a family member living in Spain. If you go to a traditional bank, they’ll charge a hefty fee for this transfer, and they’ll also apply a significant spread when converting GBP to EUR.

Think of the spread as the difference between the real exchange rate (the one you find on Google or Yahoo Finance) and the rate the bank offers you. Be assured that this spread with the bank is always a bad deal for you.

Let’s continue with the example…

You want to send your cousin, who lives in Marbella, €1.170 (about £1,000) for an emergency, or that’s what he said. Now imagine that I am living in Barcelona and have to pay a bill in the UK of about £1.000 (around €1.170). Both of us will send our transfer orders to Wise, and then they’ll cross our operations; my bill will be paid with your money, and your cousin will receive my money in Spain.

Since the money never ‘travels’, Wise is able to offer us the real exchange rate, and in return, they charge a fee (tiny compared to what some banks charge).

How Long Does it Take for Money to Arrive?

That’s a great question! Let’s explore the answer together.

Sending money with Wise
Sending money with Wise

The time it takes for money to arrive depends on the transfer type and involved currencies. Generally, there are a few options:

  • Express Transfer: Higher fees apply, yet the funds are typically available in the recipient’s account within seconds. This requires using a credit or debit card for payment.
  • Advanced Transfer: Ideal for sending funds from GBP accounts outside the UK or EUR accounts outside Europe. Uses the Swift network, often incurring additional bank fees, resulting in higher transfer costs.
  • Low Cost Transfer: An affordable choice, typically delivering funds within 48 hours.

An excellent feature of Wise is its upfront notification of the estimated transfer completion time. Based on my observations, transfers are often completed within or even before this timeframe, smoothly and without issues.

A key benefit is Wise’s 48-hour exchange rate guarantee, safeguarding against fluctuations such as a potential drop in the exchange rates due to market changes.

Wise's Fees and Exchange Rates

When sending money, Wise charges fees based on three factors:

  • Your chosen payment method
  • The amount you send (the larger the amount, the lower the cost)
  • Exchange rate of the currencies

Wise prides itself on transparency, always letting you know the fees you’ll incur, the charge, and the amount the recipient will receive. In every comparison I’ve made with other services, they systematically turn out to be more affordable than average.

Wise compared rates for sending BGP to USE, 30th Jan 24
Wise compared rates for sending BGP to USE, 30th Jan 24

With Wise, you’re guaranteed the mid-market rate, the same rate banks use for interbank trading. Wise doesn’t add any markup to this rate. Wise stands out by not adding markups, unlike others that sneak in fees, saving you money.

What Other Fees Has Wise?

Truth be told, Wise doesn’t have many additional fees for their services. The key fees include:

  • for exceeding the cash withdrawal allowance
  • receiving USD and CAD via SWIFT or wire transfer
  • One-time card shipping fee of $9.

It is noteworthy that Wise doesn’t impose any charges for card usage, monthly account subscriptions, holding funds in any accepted currency, and a multitude of other related activities.

Criteria Wise Fee
Convert £1.000 in EUR ≈ £4.28 (0.43%)
Convert £1.000 a USD ≈ £4.64 (0.44%)
Card one-time shipping fee $9
Yearly card subscription fee $0
Receive CAD payments via SWIFT 10 CAD
Receive CAD payments via SWIFT 4.14 USD
Receive no-wire transfer $0
Withdraw more than $200 per month 1.75 + $0.50
Wise stock (via fund) investment 0.60% a year

Price examples taken on January 28th, 2024

Countries & Currencies Available with Wise

Wise operates in about 160+ international countries. This includes every nation in Europe’s SEPA (like Spain, France, Germany), as well as the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, and more. Wise allows users to deal with different 40+ currencies.

Wise list of currencies you can send money in.
Wise list of currencies you can send money in.
Let me tell you which currencies you can handle when using Wise.

  • Fund your account in: USD, EUR, CNY*, JPY, GBP, CAD, AUD, CHF, BRL, SEK, NOK, DKK, SGD, TRY, PLN, NZD, RON, HUF, CZK, BGN, MYR, IDR.
  • Receive money in: USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, SGD, PLN, MYR, NZD, RON, HUF, TRY.
  • Hold these currencies: USD, EUR, JPY, GBP, CNY, CAD, AUD, CHF, HKD, SEK, NOK, DKK, SGD, MXN, PLN, ZAR, HUF, CZK, ILS, THB, MYR, RON, BGN, IDR, KRW, PHP, INR, EGP, TRY, NGN, UAH, PKR, VND, AED, NZD, MAD, KES, TZS, UGX, LKR, BDT, GEL, NPR, CRC, UYU, CLP, XOF, ARS

Wise Multi-Currency Account

Wise offers a Borderless Account, allowing you to hold and manage multiple currencies, like euros, pounds, dollars, or Argentine pesos. For many currencies, you’ll be able to have local banking details, enabling international transfers and payments without commissions.

A key feature is the Wise card, linked to your Borderless Account. It allows payments in any currency, using the most cost-effective balance available. If the needed currency is in your account (e.g. you hold GBP and try to pay in GBP), transactions are free.

The card’s limitation is ATM withdrawals: you can only withdraw up to ​​$200 every 30 days without commission, limited to twice a month. Beyond this limit, a 1.75 fee applies.

Wise does charge a $9 (one-time-only) if you need them to send you a physical card, but if you are happy to use virtual cards only you won’t have a fee.

Is Wise Secure?

Wise is absolutely secure, being a duly established Authorized Electronic Money Institution under the supervision of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Furthermore, it holds similar licences to operate in countries like Australia, the United States, Belgium, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and others. You name it!

But beyond these formal aspects, there are several reasons why I consider Wise to be secure:

  • First and foremost, I’ve been using it for several years without any issues.
  • It’s a global company with 16+ million users and a workforce of more than 5,000+ employees.
  • Numerous prestigious investors, like Virgin, have placed their trust in Wise and provided financial backing.
  • Wise is a profitable entity, providing peace of mind as sudden disappearance is highly unlikely.
On top of that, Wise is legally bound to safeguard the funds held in its multi-currency accounts in low-risk bank accounts. Your money is held at the reputable Barclays Bank in the UK. In the event of any unforeseen circumstances with Wise, your money would be fully refunded.

Additionally, their platform is secured with SSL encryption, and you can enable two-factor authentication. To access Wise, you’ll need to confirm a code on your smartphone. For their iOS and Android app, you can even activate access through facial recognition and fingerprint scanning.

Final Thoughts on Wise

Thanks to Wise, I’ve not only pocketed extra cash but also simplified my life when handling overseas money transfers or shopping on international websites. I’m a huge fan of their system.

I mainly use their service for sending money abroad and on trips. What stands out to me is the user-friendly interface, quick transactions, and its affordability. Plus, their adherence to strict regulations is reassuring. For anyone needing to make international transfers or payments, Wise is a fantastic option.

Here’s the best part – getting a Wise debit card is a game-changer. It means saying goodbye to exorbitant fees and enjoying true exchange rates. You can manage all the currencies from one card.

However, there are downsides: the fee-free ATM withdrawal limit is only $200 every 30 days. It’s also important to note that Wise doesn’t offer some key banking features like overdrafts or credit cards. And in a head-to-head with Revolut, Wise is somewhat lacking, particularly in extra features like a budgeting app or investment options.

Visit Wise

If you have used Wise, tell us about your experience and what positive and negative aspects it has, please leave a comment.