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TransferWise Money Transfer Review

Written by Caroline Thompson | Published on 3/28/2019

What is TransferWise?

Founded in 2011 by Estonian natives, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, TransferWise gives users a fast and secure way to send money internationally without the high fees of traditional international currency transfers.

TransferWise began as a financial arrangement between the two friends. After moving from Estonia to the United Kingdom in 2006, Hinrikus became frustrated by how expensive it was to move money from his Estonian savings account into his new checking account. At the same time, Käärmann was also living in the U.K., but had a home mortgage back in Estonia. Every month when it came time to pay, Käärmann was subjected to steep currency exchange fees.

Hinrikus used his Estonian account to pay Käärmann’s mortgage in euros, and Käärmann paid him back in pounds. By paying international expenses for one another, Hinrikus and Käärmann were able to save thousands of dollars in exchange rates over the years. Eventually, they realized they could use their method to help others with similar issues, and TransferWise was born.

TransferWise currently has 11 offices across 4 continents and more than 4 million active users.

TransferWise highlights

TransferWise works with a network of international bank accounts. If a user wants to send money from the U.K. to the United States, for example, their money, in pounds, is deposited in the company’s U.K. account; and dollars from the U.S. account is then used to pay the recipient. Because the money never actually crosses any borders, the user is not subject to any international currency exchange fees.

TransferWise features

  • Low, transparent fees: Users pay a percentage of the amount they’re sending, plus a small flat fee that varies based on where they’re sending money to and from.
  • A referral program: Users who invite three friends to use TransferWise will receive a $75 bonus when all three of their referrals use the service to transfer more than $300 each.
  • A free and easy-to-use app and web interface: Creating an account costs nothing, and transfers can be made instantly on mobile or desktop devices.

TransferWise Money Transfer Details
Sending money Fees and penalties
  • Where can you send money? View the full list of supported countries.
  • How long does a transfer take? Depending on where you are, where you’re sending money and what method you’re using, transfers can take as little as a few hours, or as long as a few days. Get an estimate here.
  • How much can you send? U.S. users must send a minimum of $1 per transfer. For personal transfers, the maximum transfer amount from the U.S. is $50,000 per day, and $250,000 per year. For business transfers, the maximum transfer amount from the U.S. is $250,000 per day, and $1,000,000 per year. Amounts may vary by state.
  • What kinds of transfers can you initiate? U.S. TransferWise users can send and receive money through a debit or credit card, Apple Pay, a bank wire transfer, an automated clearing house (ACH) bank debit transfer or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment. More information here.
  • Fee to send money: TransferWise fees are made up of a percentage fee and a flat transaction fee. These fees vary by country and type of transfer, and the total fee amount is shown to the user before they initiate the transaction. More information here.
  • Calculator: To calculate exactly how much it will cost you to send money to and from various countries, TransferWise offers users a free and easy-to-use pricing calculator. Simply type in the amount you want to send, then select the country you are sending money from and the country you are sending money to, and you will be able to see exactly how much you will be charged in fees for that transaction.

Sending money with TransferWise

Sending money abroad using TransferWise is fairly simple. New users can sign up for an account on either the TransferWise app or website using their email address, Facebook or Google account. Once you have created an account, you will be prompted to provide your full name, birthday and mailing address. After inputting your personal information, you will be asked to select how much you would like to transfer, and the cost of your transaction will be shown upfront.

Next, you must provide information about who you are sending the money to: yourself, someone else, a business or a charity.

For transfers to yourself, you will be asked to input your foreign bank account number. For transfers to someone else, you must provide that person’s name, email address, mailing address and account number. For transfers to a business or charity, you must provide the name of the organization, a contact email address, a mailing address and the organization’s account number. Before being allowed to send money using TransferWise, first-time users must verify their identity by uploading a photo of their driver’s license or passport. This process can take between a few hours to a few days.

The amount of time your transfer will take to process will vary depending on which method you are using to send the money, which country you are sending money from, and which country you are sending money to. Some transactions are instant, some take a few hours and some take a few days. You will be given an estimate of delivery time before you initiate the transfer.

Pros and cons of TransferWise

Depending on where you’re sending money to and from, and how much you want to send, there are various pros and cons of using TransferWise.

Pros Cons
  • Cheap and transparent: There are no hidden fees, and you will be shown exactly how much you will pay upfront. TransferWise is significantly cheaper than a traditional bank or PayPal transfer.
  • Secure: TransferWise adheres to the financial regulations of every country in which it operates. More information here.
  • Intuitive interface: The ability to log in with your Google or Facebook account and the easy-to-use site and app make sending money abroad a snap.
  • Takes time: Although transfers from the U.K. to certain European countries are quick, transfers from other countries (including the U.S.) can take much longer. TransferWise may not be your best option for sending money if you need it to get there as fast as possible.
  • No option for local cash pickup: Unlike other international wire services, there is no way for a recipient to receive a transfer in cash. Transfers must be made to a local bank account.
  • Many perks limited to certain countries: The option to open a TransferWise debit MasterCard or borderless account is limited depending on where you live.

What people are saying about TransferWise

TransferWise prides itself on having a five-out-of-five star customer satisfaction rating on TrustPilot,with more than 55,000 reviews. In fact, 87% of customers who rated TransferWise on TrustPilot gave the company an “excellent” rating, 8% gave it a “great” rating, 2% and 2% gave it a “bad” rating.

Many of the TrustPilot reviews laud TransferWise’s ease of use and reliability.

In addition, TransferWise received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but not an accreditation.

There are only eight customer reviews on the BBB site, and most of them are negative. Common customer complaints include long transfer times and accounts being erroneously deactivated.

Alternative money transfer options

Xoom by PayPal

Xoom is an international transfer service powered by PayPal. It’s easy to use and can be faster than TransferWise, depending on where you’re sending money to and from.

  • Where can you send money? Xoom currently operates in 127 countries.
  • How long does a transfer take? Most transfers will be available in minutes, but others can take up to a few days to go through. The amount of time your transfer takes to clear depends on the country you’re sending money to, how you choose to pay (bank account, credit card or debit card) and how you choose to have the money delivered (bank deposit, cash pickup or home delivery).
  • How much can you send? The amount of money you can send with Xoom depends on the amount of personal information that you are willing to provide. U.S. residents can send money at the three levels cited below.
Level 24-Hour Limit 30-Day Limit 180-Day Limit Required Information and Documents
1 $2,999 $6,000 $9,999 Sender profile information
2 $10,000 $20,000 $30,000 Social Security number or passport
3 $25,000 $50,000 $100,000
  1. Driver’s license, passport, or green card
  2. Either a bank statement or a pay stub
  3. Answer the security questions Xoom sends by emails
  • How much does it cost? Xoom transfer fees vary depending on how you’re paying, how much you’re sending, where you’re sending the money and the currency you want the money delivered in. Use Xoom’s Fee and Exchange Rate Calculator to see how much a transfer will cost.


OFX is an international transfer service designed for larger amounts of money. With no maximum send limit, it’s a good option for business transactions.

  • Where can you send money? OFX operates in 190 countries.
  • Where can you send money? Depending on the country of origin and the country of delivery, OFX transfers typically take between one and four days to process.
  • How much can you send? $1,000 minimum; no maximum.
  • How much does it cost? Although OFX no longer charges a transfer fee, the banks involved may charge their own fees. So, it’s important to be aware of those.
Previous Comments
  |     |   Comment #1
I'm pretty sure the "Pros and cons of TransferWise" isn't supposed to include info about Western Union.
what the ?
  |     |   Comment #4
who is your audience ?

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