Wise Review by AirLapse (2023)

Wise Review: The Multi-currency Account That Pays Interest (2023)

Time for an updated Wise review, 2023 edition. Wise is stepping up the game this year with a completely new branding, offering more sustainable eco debit cards, faster transfer rates, and paying you interest on your multi-currency account. The result is a convenient and maintenance-free account perfect for sending money internationally and traveling.

Wise Logo 2023
Wise Eco Card (2023)
Wise Eco Card

No hidden fees or subscriptions
Real exchange rates
Low fees
Multi-currency account
Biodegradable card
Great Business package
Send money abroad easily
Get €75 referring friends

Best for: International transactions

Revolut Standard Card

Cryptocurrency support
Cashback rewards
Budgeting tools
Discounts and deals
Multi-currency account
Paid plans with insurance and lounges
Metal card (optional)
Get €70 referring friends

Best for: Everyday banking

Curve X 2022

All-in-one card
Cashback rewards
Time-travel feature
Budgeting tools
Smart rules
Paid plans with insurance and lounges
Metal card
Get €5 referring friends

Best for: Addition to any wallet

Wise Review (2023)

The global digital remittance industry is worth USD 400 billion, and it is expected to grow annually by 15.6% from 2023 to 2030, reaching USD 60.05 billion by 2030. Transferwise was one of the very early adopters trying to compete with big banks. After all its growth, it is no surprise that they are dialing down in the efforts to innovate and bring new, better, faster, and more reliable products for everyday users.

As of 2023, Wise had 7 million active personal customers and 410.000 active business customers. Both segments are growing rapidly, with personal customers growing at 24% and business customers growing at 34% over the previous year. This year (2023) marks the first year of Wise as a public company, and they have managed the largest volumes ever and brought the fastest transfer speeds yet.

Wise Volumes 2021-2023

What is Wise? (ex. Transferwise)

Wise is an online money transfer service founded in 2011 that aims to make international money transfers fast, convenient, and affordable. Wise is available in over 80 countries, and its key features include transparent fees, multi-currency accounts, debit cards, and incredibly fast transactions.

Wise Homepage (2023)

Why use Wise (Top 6 Reasons)

1. Transparent Fees

Wise facilitates international money transfers. As the old name hinted, TransferWise, it is a smarter way to transfer money.

Wise has always been proud of having “transparent fees” compared to other institutions, mainly because they are very upfront about how much it costs to make money transfers, compared to alternatives like Western Union, Remitly, or WorldRemit.

Wise always uses the mid-market rate in all currency exchanges. The mid-market rate is an actual market rate that you can see when you search for exchange rates on, for example, Google. It is, in some sense, more true to reality.

Depending on the market, currencies always have some price variation. Banks and money transfer services also charge commissions included in the exchange rates. It can be really confusing for the end-user.

With Wise, you always get accurate exchange rates without hidden costs. You will be charged a transparent fee for currency exchange and/or money transfer and can see this fee in advance.

As a result, the mid-market rate can be significantly better than the rates offered by various payment companies or banks. Have a look at the following example when sending 10.000 SEK to EUR.

Comparison of Wise and other money transfer services fees to send money (Wise Review 2023)

2. Multi-currency Account

Wise gives you access to a multi-currency account where you can have more than 50 currencies. A multi-currency account is great for anyone who wants to take advantage of the best possible exchange rate and pay for their purchases in local currencies whenever possible. Whether you’re shopping online or locally or want to transfer money to a friend on the other side of the Atlantic, it’s easier with a multi-currency account.

Some of the currencies offered are:

  • United States Dollars
  • Euro
  • Swedish Kronor
  • British Pounds
  • Chinese Yuan
  • Thai baht
  • Australian dollars
  • Swiss francs

Different currencies can be used together or separately. Any transaction you make in a foreign currency will try to use the exact same currency in your account. If you do not have enough funds, then your funds can also be automatically exchanged to the mid-market rate in real time. All at no extra costs or involving maintenance fees.

Receiving money is also easy!

The best part of WIse multi-currency accounts is that you get local account details for several different countries. YES, local account details. For example, if you are receiving Euros, you get bank account details in Euro. If you receive Swedish Kronor, you get Swedish bank account details, and so on. For example, Swedes can receive euros, dollars, pounds, or even lira as quickly as the locals.

By using local account details, it becomes easier and faster to receive foreign payments. Everything becomes much easier when you don’t have to send money like an international bank transfer through several intermediaries. Forget about IBAN, swift codes are more nasty details you usually needed to hand out for wire transfers.

3. Debit Card (Eco-friendly too!)

Wise offers a new eco debit card that can be used for transactions and ATM withdrawals worldwide, with low conversion fees and no transaction fees for most currencies. The Wise payment card gives you easy access to different balances in a multi-currency account when you pay in physical stores or online.

The card has no maintenance fees, you only pay a small fee when issuing it.

The Wise card in a nutshell:

  • Pay in local currencies from a multi-currency account.
  • Save money on the cost of currency exchange
  • Free ATM withdrawals up to SEK 2.000

4. No Fees

Wise costs zero to use and maintain. No subscription or monthly fees. Its pricing structure makes it an excellent addition to your main bank.

Opening an account with WiseFree
Sending money (fee varies with currency)From 0.41%
Withdrawing 200 EUR per month per accountFree
(up to 2)
ATM fees over 200 EUR per month per account1.75%
Account Funding transactions
Applies to transactions that include topping up e-wallets
Getting the Wise debit card
No subscription fees
Converting moneyFrom 0.41%
Holding money in your account
Hold 50+ currencies
Invest with Wise
Invest in the world’s largest companies
(annual fee)
Getting account details in 10 currenciesFree
Receiving money
Receive AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HUF, NZD, RON, SGD, TRY, and USD non-wire
Receiving USD wire payments
Fixed fee per payment
4.14 USD

5. Earn interest

If you are in the European Economic Area (EEA), Wise offers balance cashback! You’ll receive cashback for any funds and jars with a positive balance of EUR, GBP, and USD in your Wise account.

I’ve got this email (February 2023)

Wise Cashback (2023)
Wise Cashback (2023)

How the cashback is calculated

Wise is giving cashback for any EUR, GBP, or USD balances. The annualized cashback rate has been calculated as 1.12% for EUR, 2.65% for GBP, and 3.53% for USD you held.

Wise Europe operates within the tax jurisdiction of Belgium, where cashback is liable for a 30% withholding tax. Wise deducts this tax before cashback is paid into your account and pays the Belgian tax authorities.

Example: if you held a balance of 1.000 GBP and a jar of 2.000 EUR for a whole month, you would receive 1.42 GBP back to your balance and 1.20 EUR into your account. We would have already deducted 30% to pay the withholding tax for both transactions.

*The annualized cashback rate is variable and may change or come to an end depending on the amount of interest Wise earns and the costs of keeping your money safe.

You won’t receive cashback if:

  • Your Wise account is outside of the EEA.
  • You don’t hold EUR, GBP, or USD.
  • Your money is held as Assets (any days you have cash as Assets won’t be eligible for cashback).
  • Your account is suspended or deactivated.
  • The pre-tax cashback amount would be less than 0.10 in an eligible currency.
  • You’ve opted out of receiving balance cashback.

6. Fast transactions

Wise is known for its fast transfer speeds. Most transactions are completed within a few hours, although it may take longer for certain currency pairs or during weekends and holidays. In recent years, these speeds have been increasing like crazy.

According to the 2022 mission update, 49% of the transfers arrive instantly, 65% within 1 hour, and 88% within 24 hours.

Wise transfer speeds over the years (2023)

Example: A standard bank transfer to the United States usually takes several days. My experience with my HSBC US account is that if the money comes from someone else’s account, then it takes anywhere between 48hs and 96hs. If I send money internationally from my own account, then it takes 24hs to 48hs. There are various costs for both currency exchange and commissions charged from different banks.

With Wise, it only takes a few hours (even though they say 24h), as money can be sent locally via Wise’s international network. Within the SEPA (Eurozone) area, money can usually be sent in real-time in seconds.

United States (USA)24 hours
United KingdomSeconds
Brazil7 hours
Example Transfer Speeds Using Wise

Wise provides a tool to estimate the speed of different transfers in real time, and you can check how much the transfer costs.

Wise New Branding

Wise went through a major rebranding in 2023, going from a blue color palette to a green one with bolder fonts.

Wise New Branding (2023)

Wise vs. PayPal

PayPal is a beast that has been around since 1998, but how does it compare to Wise?

  1. Fees: While PayPal offers free domestic transfers, it is much more expensive than Wise. PayPal’s fees are a combination of a fixed fee, a percentage of the transaction amount, and a currency conversion fee, often marked up from the mid-market rate.
  2. Speed: Wise usually offers faster international money transfers than PayPal, which can take several hours to several days.
  3. Ease of use: Both platforms have intuitive user interfaces and are easy to use. However, Wise focuses more on money transfers, while PayPal offers a broader range of services, including online shopping and invoicing.
  4. Currencies: Wise supports more currencies for international money transfers than PayPal, making it more versatile for global transactions.

Wise vs. Revolut

Revolut is a digital banking alternative offering various financial services, including money transfers. We’ve covered Revolut many times in this blog. Here’s how it stacks up against Wise:

  1. Fees: Revolut offers free international money transfers for its standard account users up to a certain monthly limit, after which a fee is applied. Premium and Metal account users enjoy unlimited free transfers. However, the exchange rates for these transfers may not be as favorable as Wise’s mid-market rate, especially during weekends when Revolut applies a markup.
  2. Speed: Both Wise and Revolut offer fast money transfers, with most transactions completed within hours.
  3. Additional services: While Wise focuses primarily on money transfers, Revolut offers a broader array of financial services, including budgeting tools, crypto trading, and insurance products.
  4. Debit card: Both companies provide debit cards for spending and ATM withdrawals. Revolut’s card, on the other hand, offers additional perks such as cashback and travel insurance for premium users.

Wise: Conclusion

Wise has stood out in the past decade by challenging big banks and money transfer services with an all-digital, global, flexible, and efficient money solution for everyday banking, wire transfers, and cross-border payments. They made it simple, streamlined, and transparent for the end user.

As of today, you can get a complete package for free, without maintenance fees or subscriptions: a multi-currency account that supports sending and receiving money in over 50 currencies, an eco debit card made from sustainable sources, cheap international transfers, mid-market exchange rates, and interest on your savings. A nice touch, you can get €75 for referring friends and family members, too.

Overall, Wise can be a cool substitute for conventional banks and a great complement to traditional bank accounts. This is how I have used it for the past seven years, as an addition to my main bank in Sweden. The eco card is a big plus, and I love it.

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