Wise Review: Pros and Cons Discussed

Wise Review: Pros and Cons Discussed

Wise provides a simple, inexpensive and fast way to transfer money all around the world and has a huge following of loyal customers.

Good for

  • Lower cost international money transfers
  • Simple and transparent fees
  • Very fast transfers (often same-day)
  • FX rates guaranteed (24 or 48 hrs)
  • Having multi-currency balances, with a debit card

Bad for

  • Those looking for human contact (limited to troubleshooting)
  • Those looking for other banking services

Editor's Rating


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

Wise’s brilliance is its simplicity—not only are transfers easy to make and quick to arrive but costs are often the cheapest in the market. This is largely why it has attracted so many users and why, at a recent market cap of $6.2 billion, it is one of the most valuable FinTechs in Europe.

It’s difficult to find negative things to say about Wise (formerly TransferWise), but if you want to transfer larger amounts or if you like the comfort of speaking to a human when doing transfers, you may want to check out some alternatives such as Revolut or a traditional bank.

Wise Review: Our Thoughts

Wise started life as a dedicated money transfer service, specialising in sending money overseas. These days it’s one of the biggest and the best in its field, so we’re going to take a closer look at what it can do, where it comes into its own, and also at where it may not be the best option.

The company was founded in 2011 by two Estonians who thought there must be a way to save on the huge fees charged by UK banks for sending money overseas. They were right—within eight years it has become a multi-billion dollar business, and reportedly now transfers more than £4 billion on its platform every month.

Why did the name change? They realised that people needed more than just money transfers. so they added a multi-currency account, a debit card, and a business account—and changed their name from TransferWise to Wise.

Cheap and fast overseas transfers: Focused on making international transfers bank to bank, Wise is generally much cheaper and faster than sending an international transfer from your bank. The platform is easy to use, and everything is very transparent so there are no hidden fees or surprises. It’s possible to send and receive money in 25 currencies, and send money in a further 27 currencies.

Debit card with 'multi-currency' accounts: Wise is not, strictly speaking, a bank, it's an e-money institution, although its multi-currency account does enable you to send and receive funds in multiple currencies and have a debit card. This makes it not so different from some of the newer app-based challenger banks such as Monese, Monzo or Revolut.

As always when considering whether to use a service, it’s important to know what you’re looking to do, and then decide what options you have. Clearly, everyone’s situation is different. Wise is a great option for those wanting to make international transfers from the UK, US or Europe (via its Estonia office). Assuming that applies to you, then you can sign up to the service here.

In addition to its core money transfer service, you can also sign up for Wise’s very useful 'multi-currency' account (previously called the 'Borderless' account) and card, which means you can hold and covert money in up to 53 different currencies. Think of it as having a multi-currency online bank account. And you can send money to 80 countries.

Wise’s Fees and Hidden Costs

Withdrawing money from an ATM: There's no charge to make up to 2 withdrawals of up to 200 GBP every month. After that, Wise charges 50p per withdrawal and there’s a 1.75% fee on any amount you withdraw above £200. (For those needing more cash, you can make larger withdrawals to save money to avoid the 50p charge each time.)

Fees often less than 0.5%: the good news is that you can easily enter the currency and amount you’re sending, and you’ll see exactly how much you’ll pay in fees before you commit to a transaction. For example, if you’re sending the equivalent of £1,000 to another country in that country’s local currency, then the fee you’ll pay is generally well below 1%; in many cases it’s less than 0.5%.

Costs are fully transparent: one of the stand-out benefits of Wise is that it’s totally transparent about costs. At every step, you’ll always see exactly what you will pay. The only caveat is that the exact amount of fees will depend on which currency you’re sending money in, how much you’re sending, and which country you’re sending to.

No exchange rate rip-off: And the beauty is, the exchange rate applied is the mid-market exchange rate (also called the interbank rate or spot rate) that you’ll find online at Google or anywhere else. This is completely different to the banks, which charge an off-market rate to generate further profits for themselves, on top of the flat fee they charge for an international transfer.

Exchange rate is guaranteed: the other important advantage with Wise is that the exchange rate they indicate is guaranteed for either 24 or 48 hours, depending on the currency you choose. This means there is no risk that the rate will move against you during the transaction. So long as Wise receives your funds within a fixed period of time, the exchange rate is fixed, and will not change. This is quite different to many other services (including the banks), who generally don’t guarantee the rate they offer you. This means you’re at the mercy of exchange rate fluctuations until the transfer is made, which can easily move by 1% or more from day to day.

Much cheaper than the alternatives: as the figures below show, the fees charged by Wise are much lower than typical money transfer costs of most of the alternatives (which also include the ‘hidden’ exchange rate cost):

  • Banks: 3%-7%
  • PayPal: 6%-8%
  • Western Union: up to 10%

It’s clear that Wise wins hands-down on fees. The exact fee (and the percentage it represents) will change according to the currency and the amount of the transfer, but whatever it is, it’ll almost certainly be far lower than the traditional alternatives. See below for sample fees on money transfers for a 'low cost transfer' through Wise from October 2022 for some popular currency conversions (they also offer other alternatives like a faster transfer but these cost a bit more):

Wise Transfer Fee Examples
Fee calculation£1,000 transfer£5,000 transfer
GBP to EUR (euro)0.43% + 21p£4.51£21.71
GBP to AUD (Australian dollar)0.41% + 27p£4.35£20.69
GBP to USD (United States dollar)0.44% + 26p£4.64£22.16
GBP to INR (Indian rupee)0.63% + 28p£6.54£31.58
GBP to PHP0.54% + 63p£6£27.48
GBP to KES (Kenyan shilling - highly variable)1.11% + £1.09£12.19£56.59
GBP to BDT (Bangladashi taka)0.64% + £1.29£7.69£33.29
GBP to CNY (Chinese yuan - subject to sricter limits)0.59% + 44p£6.34£29.94
GBP to PKR (Pakistani rupee - subject to sricter limits)0.62% + 45p£6.65n/a

Signing Up to Wise

Registering with Wise is quite straightforward, and you can do it by clicking below.

Once you've signed up, Wise will send you a security code via email and text message—verify your account by clicking the email link and entering the security code. Before you make your first transfer, you’ll need to upload an ID document to confirm your identity. Wise says this can take 2-3 days to process, but in our experience it happened almost immediately. Then you’re ready to make your first transfer!

Making The Transfer

This is where you confirm the currency you wish to send funds in, and the amount you want to send. You will also see immediately an estimate of when the payment will arrive at its destination (which will often be the same day, depending on the time of day and the relevant time zones involved).

You will also see confirmation of the exchange rate, and whether that rate is guaranteed for 24 or 48 hours. Next you’ll need to enter the bank details of who you’re sending the payment to.

Finally, once you’ve double checked all the details, you will be given various options as to how to send the money to Wise. If you plan to send the funds from your UK bank account, then you’ll need to go into your online bank account (which, depending on who you bank with, you may be able to do from within Wise itself) and make the payment.

Tracking the Progress of Your Payment

Once you’ve sent the funds to Wise, you’ll be able to track the payment online. Wise will also send an email to you at each step to confirm when they have received your funds, and then when the funds have been sent to their ultimate destination.

Is Wise Safe?

It’s not ‘true’ P2P: don’t be concerned by the fact that Wise is a peer to peer (P2P) service. You’re not literally depending on someone in another country wanting to do the opposite transaction to you.

Wise itself has large amounts of all the currencies it deals in, and it is the company itself that transfers the money, regardless of whether it has a ‘matching’ transaction on the other side.

Regulated: importantly, like all financial companies performing similar operations, Wise is regulated. Each country it operates in has its own regulatory requirements that Wise must abide by, such as the Financial Conduct Authority (for the UK), the Securities and Investments Commission (Australia), the Customs and Excise Department (Hong Kong), and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (USA).

Of course, nothing is ever guaranteed, but to our knowledge there aren't big risks with sending money when using this service.

How Does Wise Actually Work?

The big irony with Wise is that they transfer money overseas, but without actually transferring any money overseas at all!

Wise is essentially a peer to peer (P2P) service. What that means is that they try match people who want to transfer one currency into another, with people who want to do the opposite swap (at least, as much as they’re able to). And where that isn’t possible, then they will send the foreign currency payment from their own local bank account in the relevant country.

Wise International Money Transfer Example

Let’s suppose you want to send £1,000 to someone in the Philippines, in Philippine Pesos (PHP). You will send the £1,000 from your UK bank account to Wise in the UK. Then, once Wise has received your £1,000, it will instruct its office in the Philippines to make a bank transfer from its local bank account to your desired destination bank account in the Philippines.

What does this mean? Speed…

Since there are no overseas transfers involved, the only time it takes is the time it takes for your £1,000 to reach Wise’s UK bank account (which should happen almost immediately), and then the time it takes Wise in the destination country to transfer the funds from its local bank to your destination bank account.

In practice, we’ve tried this a few times and the funds have always reached the destination bank account (in our case in the Philippines) either the same day or the following day (bearing in mind that the Philippines is either 7 or 8 hours ahead of the UK, depending on the time of year).

When Might Wise Not Be The Best Option?

As we have seen, Wise is easy to sign up for, simple and transparent to use, has very low fees, and is fast. What’s not to love?

There is one situation, however, in which Wise may not be the best option: large transfers in some currencies. These can be quite difficult, especially given Wise’s P2P model. It can make the transfer both slower, and also more expensive in terms of fees.

So if you’re likely to need to make larger transfers (e.g. over £4,000) in currencies like Chinese yuan or Pakistani rupee you might be better off using an alternative money transfer service.

Does Wise Have Good Reviews?

Reviews for Wise seem to be universally excellent. Based on over 190,000 Trustpilot reviews, customers have rated them with 4.4 out of 5 stars and 84% of customers give them a top-ranked “Excellent” rating.

Certainly, based on our own experience of a few transactions, we would echo that. We have been thoroughly impressed with the service, with no problems. But, of course, there are always some issues.

Here are some customer reviews to give you a feel of different customer experiences:

"Wise app does not work for verification. Wise app does not work for verification: No matter how I try the app will not approve the passport picture. I have re-installed the app and tried more than 10 times in total. The phone I use is Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with Android 13. I have written several mails, sent my photo and passport by email, and even endured the 45min to get through on phone - only to learn there is NO backup solution to the useless app. This has been an ongoing problem for more than a month. Apart from this, Wise is the best thing ever - except when they keep blocking my account due to the above issue they seem unable/unwilling to solve."

"I’ve searched high and low for other international transfer services. I spent weeks researching, testing, etc. Nothing comes close to using Wise for international transfers. I’m not sure how they do it, but it is by far the least expensive way to send money abroad. I’ve also tested their Wise for banks integrations. Most recently I used Wise through Stanford FCU’s integration. It was quick and easy, and also reasonably priced. I highly recommend Wise!"

"Fast and cheap. I've been using Wise for a long time. It has helped me in several travels outside EU withdrawing money from ATM at a cheap rate. Since I'm not currently living in the EU, nowadays I mainly use it to send EUR to my country. I also save some EUR in my Wise account (no fees are being charged for keeping money). I can recommend it to use money outside your country and to send and receive money!"

"I'm very satisfied with the rapid transfers, any time to any bank so far for me. Plus, the fees are very low compared to my other local banks' fees. Also, customer service works really fast and well, I had my questions and minor troubles sorted without any frustration. Very polite service, too. I have nothing negative to say. Thank you, and keep up the good work!"

"GOOD, but still room for enhancements. 1) With a given IBAN it would be good to display more data, like name for better validation. 2) After the IBAN is entered the currencies accepted would be a great value: I send USD, which was then converted to EUROS, then back to USD... with very high fees. 3) When a transaction is canceled, please send an email to notify, and/or a SMS, ideally with the reasons."

"Wise does what it proposes without a question. I've been using Wise since the beginning of this year. It's very concise and clear. You enter your money, choose what to convert. It displays all fee and what is the exchange rate as clear as possible. It has one job, and it's doing it perfectly. The only complaint that I can make is the fee increases proportionally if you're going to send more money. After a certain point, it might be logical to use SWIFT because Wise's fee might surpass it."

"Total confidence. I have total confidence in this financial service provider. Although a committed user of PayPal for the majority of my transactions there are still businesses and individuals who prefer bank transfers. The quick, almost instant, transfer of money is reassuring to both parties and the fees are particularly competitive."

Having said that, 6% of the Trustpilot ratings are “Bad”, and most of these seem to relate to either funds being delayed, or because Wise sometimes asks for additional ID verification after transaction volumes reach a certain threshold. We can understand why Wise might do so.

In the case of funds being delayed, this is probably most likely due to the banks at either end of the transfer, rather than a problem with Wise itself, but it nevertheless makes customers unhappy. As does the requirement to provide more ID verification. It’s almost certainly a regulatory requirement on the part of Wise, but again, even if they funds are returned, it can still make for unhappy clients, especially if their accounts are closed if they do not provide the requested verification.

How Does Wise Compare Against Other Options?

Wise vs. Revolut

Revolut has a lot of similarities with Wise. Revolut has greater coverage in the number of currencies you can send money in and also hold in your account. However, one potential drawback with Revolut is that it cannot receive payments in USD. Revolut also allows higher transfer limits, so that may be important if you’re looking to transfer large amounts. The other key difference is that Revolut services are only available through a mobile app (not a website).

Quick takeaway: If you receive payments in USD or want the option to use a website instead of an app, Wise might be the better option for you.

Wise vs. Monese

Monese is a challenger bank offering app-based bank accounts with a wide range of bank services such as direct debits and money transfers. Money transfers are free between Monese accounts but may be charged if you're sending to someone not in the Monese network. Depending on the Monese account you have, transfers will either be free or charged at 0.5% or 2%. Monese lets you transfer up to £40,000 per day.

Quick Takeaway: If you’re looking for an account that offers banking services, Monese could be the way to go. Otherwise, if you're simply after service to facilitate transfers then Wise might be more economical.


Our team of writers has expertise in business, car, travel, home and pet insurance as well as personal finance issues.


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.