How to use Wise, formerly TransferWise, and start saving money

If you live abroad or travel frequently you probably know that sending money back home or overseas can be problematic. It’s not only time you spend to go to a money transfers office (like Western Union) but high fees and a currency exchange rate that is usually not great. You can try asking your bank to make an international transfer for you, but in most cases, this will be the slowest and the most expensive option. Fortunately, there are more options available at a cheaper price, faster and still absolutely safe to use. I leave abroad and deal with international transfers every time I send my salary for my British pounds account in NatWest to my Spanish bank account in euros. If you are seeking for cheap and reliable way to send money abroad you may already heard something about Transferwise. The started as a international money transfer company and grew to a full featured online banking solution. This is the reason the rebranded to Wise recently as transfers are no longer their limit. Wise works great for me for many years and it is definitely worth checking what they can offer in international money transfers market.

Key benefits

I have a post that explains how does Wise work in details and here I will just highlight the key features of services they provide:

  1. Cheap and from fast to instant international money transfers
  2. Real mid-market currency exchange rates without added margin
  3. Warranted exchange rate for your transaction (for some currencies)
  4. Online bank account in different currencies, no waiting, no paperwork
  5. Free debit card attached to your account

Sign up in minutes

Our days we deal with various online services daily: social networks, online stores, online banking and many more. Adding another one to your list may sound inconvenient, but guys at Wise made the registration process simple and quick. You can even signup with your existing Google or Facebook account so that you don’t have another password to remember. Once you get an account you can start sending money immediately. Or you can start simply by making your first transfer and the process will include all steps required to register your account. The key takeaway – you get your account ready for sending money immediately.

Step by step guide

Step 1: Enter the amount you want to send and the currency you are sending from and to. The exchange rate and total fees will be displayed instantly. You will also see:

  • How much you will save comparing to a regular bank transfer
  • The estimated delivery date and time
  • If the exchange rate guaranteed for 24 or 48 hours. More on that a bit later.
  • Option to compare Wise fees with other similar payment providers

To whom send money

Step 2: Provide personal details and the name of the person you’re sending money to. Enter the recipient’s IBAN and his bank’s BIC/SWIFT code. Later you can also provide a payment reference if necessary.

How would you like to pay

Step 3: The last step is to upload money to Wise. You can choose to pay with a local bank transfer that is free or with the card.

Pay with HSBC

Wise will provide bank account details and payment reference if you choose to pay with the bank transfer. I highly recommend copy-pasting the reference as it will be used by Wise to identify your payment. Now you have all details to log in to your internet bank and make a regular bank transfer. Wise should receive your money within few hours.

Pay with a card

You can also pay with the card if it’s more convenient for you. It’s the fastest way to upload money. You will be presented a typical card payment form that is self-explanatory. Keep in mind that there will be an extra fee applied when paying by debit or credit card. I would recommend using a debit card if you have both types of cards as the fee will be lower.

All done

All done, your payment should be arranged now. Wise will provide you with the estimated date and time by when money should arrive. Normally it’s a day or two depending on where you send the money and how much.

You can save recipient’s details for future use if you make regular payments to a particular person or business. That saves a lot of time.

What is BIC/SWIFT code?

SWIFT logoBusiness Identifier Code (BIC) is used to identify banks and financial institutions around the world. Sometimes it’s called SWIFT. These codes are also required for European SEPA transfers. Normally you can find this code in your internet bank. But remember you need to provide the recipient’s bank code, not your.

What is mid-market exchange rate?

The mid-market exchange rate is the midpoint between sell and buy prices in the global currency exchange market. It is also known as the inter-bank exchange rate. Simply saying this is the real currency exchange rate that banks and financial institutions use to make transfers between each other. However, when it comes to private persons they offer another exchange rate that contains an added margin. This margin is also known as a hidden fee. This is something that Wise doesn’t do offering real exchange rate for all transactions.

What if exchange rate changes?

Exchange rates are changing dynamically and can go up and down anytime. Wise is probably the only P2P provider that freezes the exchange rate for your transfer for 24-48 hours for some currencies. If offered, you should see “Guaranteed rate” next to the exchange rate filed. It means that in the majority of cases you will get your money converted using the same rate that you saw when ordered the transfer.

There is a built-in mechanism in place to protect your money from the unfavourable fluctuation of the exchange rate. Your order will be cancelled and you will get the full refund if the rate will go down by at least 3%. Optionally you can tell Wise to set different limit.

How long does it take to complete a transfer?

Typically it takes 1-2 days to complete the transfer. In most of the cases, Wise manages to transfer money within a day. There are multiple factors that may influence delivery time:

  • Initiating the transfer in the morning will increase chances of completing it the same day.
  • Card payments are instant comparing to bank transfers. However, Wise asks which bank you are using to make a transfer and will try to match the best option. In most of the cases, it won’t take more than 2 hours.
  • Currency pair and destination also matters. Least popular routes may require more time to convert and send your money.
  • And the last variable is the amount you send. Relatively small amounts are transferred within 2 days, but the delivery could be slower when comes to several (more than 5-10k) thousands. There is also a chance that Wise may need to confirm this transfer for security reasons.

How to send money to an email?

When you are setting up a transfer you will be offered an option to send money to an email. It’s an interesting feature that allows sending money without knowing the recipient’s bank account. Also, it’s an option for the recipient to not disclosure his or her account details. If you send money to an existing Wise customer they may have specified the account they wish to be paid by default.

How to make your first transfer free of charge

There is a special promotion for readers of my blog who like to try Wise. Just register with the link you see below and you will get your first transfer completely free of charge. I think this is a nice risk-free opportunity to give a try and see if Wise works well for you.

Wise logo

Try Wise and make your first transfer FOR FREE

Additionally, I’d like to share a nice video made by Wise to show how to use their website for making your first transfer.

4 thoughts on “How to use Wise, formerly TransferWise, and start saving money

  1. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE – could we have a comprehensive user guide in PDF format that we can download and refer to when we need help outside your normal office hours? Your UK office is closed Saturday and Sunday when many of us find the time to make payments and do transfers. A PDF user guide would complement your excellent videos.

    1. I’m really surprised how many people think I’m a service provider 🙂 I’m a blogger who write about payment system not a TransferWise representative. However, I liked your idea about PDF guide. I will try to find time and prepare an introduction PDF into cost effective international money transfers.

  2. Hello, I want to place an order in the morning and simply use a Visa Credit card. I am ok with the fee but need a simple, easy way to set up my Visa payment. Can you please help me with this plus show me where to fill out the Visa info on your order form in your website.

    Thanks so much! William Crosby, Hot Springs, AR

    1. Hi William. Please note I’m an independent blogger and don’t represent TransferWise. All you need is to register an account and follow simple steps to make your first transfer. You will be asked to enter the debit card number, expiry date and security code that is on the other side of the card.

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