TransferWise Borderless Account: The Complete Review

Originally published at: TransferWise Borderless Account: The Complete Review

May 2021 Update: The Transferwise Borderless account is now called the Wise Multi-Currency account.

TransferWise, now renamed Wise, is one of the most used platforms for sending money abroad. Its multi-currency and borderless account is ideal for expats, digital nomads, frequent travelers, and freelancers.

The account allows you to send and receive money in many currencies without having to open bank accounts in those countries. If you open a TransferWise account and upgrade it to a Borderless account, you get a virtual credit card with which to spend your money.

Below is a comprehensive guide on Transferwise’s Borderless Account; how it works, where it can be used, and who can open one.

What Is TransferWise?

If you are in this article, chances are, you know a thing or two about TransferWise already.  So, feel free to skip this section if that’s the case.  For everyone else:

TransferWise is a UK-based company that was founded in 2010.  The fintech firm is a revolutionary platform to send money overseas with very low fees and super fast transfer times.  It does so by eliminating SWIFT as the middlemen.  Instead, TransferWise has bank accounts in each country it operates in.

Simulation:

  • You are based in the US and you want to send money to Germany,
  • Through the Wise website, you transfer the funds in USD to the US bank account that is controlled by the firm,
  • Wise receives the funds and sends instructions to their bank in Germany,
  • The German bank goes ahead with the local transfer to the receiver’s bank account in Germany
  • This way, the transfer of funds is very cost-effective, instant, and efficient, almost as if it is a local transfer

Mind you, as we’ll later cover in the FAQs, Wise is not a bank.  It is, however, authorized as an Electronic Money Institution by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  The company has 2,200 employees in offices across 15 different locations, serving over eight million users globally.

You can find out more about all Wise services here.

What Is Wise Borderless Account?

The borderless account is a virtual multi-currency account.  It allows you to keep and exchange more than 50 currencies and switch between them in merely seconds.  Most importantly, it allows you to convert them at the real mid-market exchange rate to whatever currency you need, whenever you need it, and wherever you need it.

This means you pay little to no fees and the whole process is completely transparent.

The borderless account can be linked to your Wise debit card. You can then get personal account numbers in GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, and NZD, PLN, SGD, HUF, and RON.  With your account number and bank details, you can receive transfers from other accounts all around the world.


Some of the benefits of having a Wise Debit MasterCard are:

  • Free ATM withdrawals for up to £ 200 or $ 250 every month
  • No fees for payments made within your account currencies
  • Competitive conversion fees between 0.35% to 3%
  • Wide usage in all the locations where MasterCard is accepted

Wise Borderless Account Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Clear sign-up process and easy to navigate site and app
  • No account maintenance fees
  • Multi-currency account covering more than 50 currencies
  • Very low and transparent exchange rates: roughly eight times lower than banks
  • Easy and fast online transfer process with no bureaucracy
  • Perform direct debit in EUR and GBP
  • Make very fast international transfers
  • Receive international transfers without paying a dime in fees
  • Manage your account easily through the Wise app
  • Track transfers in real-time
  • Perform safe transactions
  • Get service in 12 languages: English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Russian, and Turkish
  • You can be almost anywhere in the world and have a virtual local bank account number in five currencies
  • Either a Personal or a Business account

Cons

  • Does not accept cash or cheque payments
  • No interest payment
  • No access to a broad range of services, as you would in a traditional bank; no savings accounts,
    no credit facilities: overdraft, loan, nor mortgages
  • Not possible to pay bills
  • Debit card only available in a limited number of countries, including the UK, the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand
  • No credit card available
  • 2% withdrawal fee if you exceed £200 or $250 in a month
  • No instant transaction notifications
  • No budget and savings goals, unlike its competitors Monzo or Revolut

Limits and Restrictions

You may be asking if these very low to no fees come with a string attached.  Interestingly, TransferWise applies no fees to hold and receive payments in your borderless account. The only exception is if your account is in USD.  There are certain limitations.

Even then, the USD money that you add to your account or convert from another currency is exempt from the restrictions and limitations.  They only apply to payments you receive from third parties.  So, what are these limitations on USD:

  • Personal USD accounts have a:
    • Daily transaction limit of $ 250,000, and
    • Annual transaction limit of $ 1,000,000.
  • Business USD accounts have a:
    • Daily transaction limit of $ 3,000,000, and
    • Annual transaction limit of $5,000,000.

Transfer Fees

TransferWise charges you two fees for sending money from your borderless account to a bank account in another currency.

  • A fixed fee for sending money:
    • GBP: 0.32 GBP (dropped from 0.60 GBP)
    • EUR: 0.35 EUR (dropped from 0.63 EUR)
    • USD: 1.05 USD (dropped from 1.40 USD)
    • AUD: 0.57 AUD (dropped from 1.05 AUD)
    • CAD: 1.05 CAD
    • INR: 55 INR
  • Currency exchange fee depending on what currency you convert


Click here to get started

Currency Exchange Fees

TransferWise charges a currency exchange fee that ranges between 0.35-3.00% for international transfers.

Deposit & Top-Up Fees

If you want to add money to your account through direct debit, TransferWise charges a top-up fee of 0.2%.

2020 and 2021 TransferWise Fee Update

As of October 19th, 2020, sending money from your balance to any currency will cost you less, with same-currency transfers dropping up to 45%. Converting money between balances will be cheaper for 85% of their currency routes.

However as of December 19th, 2020, it will cost $ 7.50 to receive USD wires to your USD bank details. TransferWise is also adding a 0.4% fee to hold more than € 15,000 in EUR as a personal customer, or € 70,000 as a business customer.

Available Currencies

TransferWise allows you to use more than 50 currencies at once and have them converted in seconds.  For a complete list of currencies that are available, check out the ‘What Currencies does TransferWise Support?’ question in the Frequently Asked Questions section below.

TransferWise Safety And Security

TransferWise is relatively a new financial service with a disruptive approach to the traditional finance sector. Particularly for this reason, many people are suspicious about their low fees and “too good to be true” value proposition. It is natural to be on the safe side when assessing a non-traditional institution to hold your money.

TransferWise is not a bank, so it cannot provide you with the same deposit protection schemes that traditional banks do.

It is important to point out that TransferWise is regulated by the FCA in the UK and ASIC in Australia. The fintech company uses reputable local banks in order to store the client funds.

This regulation means that the company does not hold your money and you have certain assurances to get your money back in case of insolvency. Mind you, this is not a certainty, but a partial assurance.

How To Open a TransferWise Borderless Account

If you’ve survived until this point in the review, then you have probably made up your mind on whether or not the TransferWise borderless account is right for you.  If you’re interested in opening an account, below you can find a step-by-step process.

Step #1

Open a TransferWise Account

You simply need to enter your details:

  • .Name
  • .Home Address
  • .Nationality
  • .Date of Birth
  • .Contact Details
  • .A password

Step #2

Verify your identity

TransferWise complies with AML (anti-money laundering).  Accordingly, once you open your account, you will be asked to verify your identity.  You will need to:

-Upload a scan of your government-issued ID (ie: passport)

-Proof of address (ie: utility bill)

-Photo of you holding your government-issued ID next to your face

It may then take TransferWise up to two days to verify what you send.

Step #3

Log into your TransferWise Account

Once you are a verified TransferWise user, log into your account. Click the Balances Tab in the Left-hand Menu and then click ‘Add a Balance’. Then select the Currency and click ‘Open Your (currency) Balance’

Step #4

You will get a local account number and bank details in your currency of choice

You can now deposit funds to your TransferWise borderless account through a bank transfer. The easiest way to do so is through a local transfer.

This is a personal account and it is available to users from almost all countries around the world.

Step #5

Optional Step- Order & Activate your MasterCard Debit Card

If you would like to receive a debit card from TransferWise, you will need to request it manually. It can typically take a few days to arrive, however, there is no charge to order the card. You may be asked to deposit some funds from your balance onto your debit card.

Once your debit card arrives in the mail, you will then need to activate it. The letter will contain the instructions on how to do that.

How To Use Your TransferWise Borderless Account

Once you activate your borderless account and receive your account and bank details, you can start to receive and send local and international money transfers in the designated currencies.

It is important to understand that a TransferWise borderless account is not an actual bank account. It is a virtual account that has some of the features that a bank account has.

You can send and receive money in different currencies in a cheap and easy way. You cannot accept cash or checks, receive interest, get insurance coverage, or get covered by federal deposit assurance programs.

Debit MasterCard

Every TransferWise borderless account holder will have the option to apply for a prepaid debit card. You need to apply for it manually, however, it only takes a couple of minutes to do so. You can then link the debit card to your borderless account.

You will have a four-digit pin code to be able to use the card in person.

The debit card is a MasterCard and allows you to:

  • Withdraw cash from most of the ATMs internationally
  • Make online purchases everywhere that accepts a MasterCard
  • Make in-person purchases everywhere that accepts a MasterCard

You can find more details on the Transferwise Debit Card here.

Top-Up Methods

In order to add money to your TransferWise borderless account, you need to:

  1. Go to the currency balance you want to add funds to
  2. Click Add
  3. Choose the amount you want to add and the currency you’d like to pay with
  4. Click Continue
  5. Depending on how you want to pay, you will be guided for the next steps

 

You can top-up through:

  • Bank transfer
  • Credit or debit cards
  • Apple Pay

Customer Support at TransferWise

In our experience, one area where digital banks and fintech institutions excel in comparison to traditional banks is customer service.

If you need to get in contact with the TransferWise customer support team, you have a number of channels available to you.  These include:

  • Telephone support
  • Live Chat
  • Email

The support is not available 24/7, however, we generally had a positive experience with the customer service.

Alternatives to TransferWise Borderless Account

There are many services that have overlapping features to TransferWise.  Though the fintech startup is quite ahead of the game in terms of sending money from one bank account owner to another bank account owner in another country, potentially in another currency.  TransferWise is always the fastest, cheapest, and most straightforward to use.

Nevertheless, below are some of its main alternatives:

Monese

monese
Editor’s Rating
5/10
Monese is a UK-based fintech company that offers checking accounts and money transfer services. The mobile-only service provides accounts in GBP, EUR, and Romanian leu. It is available in 31 countries across Europe. It has over two million users.

N26

n26
Editor’s Rating
5/10
N26 is a neobank based in Germany. Unlike TransferWise, it is legally a bank and offers deposit protection to users. It currently services 23 countries, including most countries in Europe and the United States. N26 recently partnered up with TransferWise for currency exchange and multi-currency transfers. Check out our in-depth N26 Bank Review.
N26 Review

Revolut

Revolut
Editor’s Rating
5/10
Revolut is a British fintech company based in the UK. It offers banking services to its clients digitally through a website and an app.

The Verdict: Is TransferWise Borderless Account Worth It?

The Transferwise Borderless Account provides a convenient solution to most of the multi-currency account issues.  It is:

  • Easy to use,
  • Few fees overall: no maintenance fees and no hidden costs
  • Provides its users with almost an unbeatable exchange rate
  • Can be used across many currencies
  • Will provide an IBAN and SWIFT code

If you are an expat, a frequent traveler, a digital nomad, an international student, or a seller on a marketplace, then this account is ideal for you.

On the other hand, it is not a real bank and it does not provide the users with the fancier services that a traditional bank does.

You can use TransferWise for currency transfers, even if you do not have a Borderless Account.  Just sign up and start enjoying the services offered by this disruptive fintech startup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main benefits of using a TransferWise Borderless Account?

Its main benefits are:

  • 50+ currencies
  • Local bank account numbers with more than seven currencies
  • Provides an IBAN and a SWIFT, making it easy to send and receive payments
  • Transparent fees, no maintenance fee, and no hidden fees

Who is TransferWise Borderless Account made for?

The account is particularly useful for travelers, nomads, expatriates, and international students. It can also come in handy for the merchants in e-commerce marketplaces, serving internationally.

How to Direct Debit My TransferWise Borderless Account?

In order to set a Direct Debit, provide the sender with your TransferWise bank details. It will then take a day or two to set it up.

How to Send Money to TransferWise Borderless Account?

Create a balance in whichever currency you want to receive funds in.  Click on ‘get bank details’; complete the requirements that are being asked for. You will be given your bank details including an IBAN and a SWIFT or a BIC. You can then provide these details to whoever will send you the money.

How to Withdraw Money fromTransferWise Borderless Account?

Use your TransferWise card to withdraw money at ATMs all around the world. Just like you would with any bank card, really. Depending on where your card was issued, up to a certain amount of withdrawal is free every month: £200 or $250.

Who Can Open a TransferWise Borderless Account?

The borderless account is primarily for travelers, expats, and freelancers. You may, however, open the account, as long as you are from one of the many countries TransferWise provides service in.

How to Pay Rent from a TransferWise Borderless Account?

By setting up a direct debit.

How Fast is TransferWise Borderless Account Transfer Speed?

It is very fast. Well, converting your money can take a maximum of 2 working days. But, in our experience, that is extremely rare. The speed of your transfer depends on how quickly your recipient’s bank can process your money.

Is TransferWise a Bank?

No, TransferWise is not a bank.

What Are the TransferWise Account Types?

TransferWise only offers one account type to its users. So, you don’t need to choose between different plan types and prices.  The same pricing structure is applied to your account, based on your primary currency.

What Currencies does TransferWise Support?

(1)You can send money to and receive money from these currencies:

  • AED Emirati Dirham within the UAE
  • AUD Australian Dollar within Australia
  • BGN Bulgarian Lev within Bulgaria
  • BRL Brazilian Real within Brazil (only personal accounts, no business accounts)
  • CAD Canadian Dollar within Canada
  • CHF Swiss Franc within Switzerland and Liechtenstein
  • CZK Czech Koruna within the Czech Republic
  • DKK Danish Krone within Denmark
  • EUR Euro
  • GBP British Pounds
  • HKD Hong Kong Dollar within Hong Kong
  • HRK Croatian Kuna within Croatia
  • HUF Hungarian Forint within Hungary
  • INR Indian Rupee
  • JPY Japanese Yen within Japan
  • MYR Malaysian Ringgit within Malaysia
  • NOK Norwegian Krone within Norway
  • NZD New Zealand Dollar within New Zealand
  • PLN Polish Złoty within Poland
  • RON Romanian Leu within Romania
  • TRY Turkish Lira
  • SEK Swedish Krona within Sweden
  • SGD Singapore Dollar within Singapore
  • USD US Dollar

(2) You can only send money via local transfer to these currencies:

  • ARS Argentine Peso within Argentina
  • BDT Bangladeshi Taka within Bangladesh
  • BWP Botswana Pula within Botswana
  • CLP Chilean Peso within Chile
  • CNY Chinese Yuan within China, from a limited list of countries.
  • COP Colombian Peso within Colombia
  • CRC Costa Rica Colón within Costa Rica
  • EGP Egyptian Pound within Egypt
  • GEL Georgian Lari within Georgia
  • GHS Ghana Cedi within Ghana
  • IDR Indonesian Rupiah within Indonesia
  • ILS Israeli Shekels within Israel
  • KES Kenyan Shillings within Kenya
  • KRW South Korean Won within South Korea
  • LKR Sri Lankan Rupee within Sri Lanka
  • MAD Moroccan Dirham within Morocco
  • MXN Mexican Peso within Mexico
  • NGN Nigerian Naira within Nigeria
  • NPR Nepalese Rupee within Nepal
  • PEN Peruvian Sol within Peru
  • PHP Philippine Peso within the Philippines
  • PKR Pakistani Rupee
  • RUB Russian Ruble within Russia (except Sevastopol and Crimea due to EU sanctions)
  • THB Thai Baht within Thailand
  • UAH Ukrainian Hryvna within Ukraine
  • UYU Uruguayan Pesos within Uruguay
  • VND Vietnamese Dong within Vietnam (only personal accounts, no business accounts)
  • XOF West African CFA Franc within Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo
  • ZAR South African Rand within South Africa
  • ZMW Zambian Kwacha within Zambia

Can I use the debit card internationally?

Yes. It is possible to pay with the TransferWise debit card, called a borderless card, anywhere that accepts a Mastercard.

The card does not work in the following countries: Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea, Cuba, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Central African Republic, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, Syria, Palestinian Territories, and Venezuela.

Do I get access to European bank details?

Yes. When you register for TransferWise’s Borderless account, you will have access to European bank details.

This means that you can already send money to this account, through a bank transfer or by debit/credit card payment. You can also enjoy your purchases with a debit card almost internationally.

Are there any fees for using the TransferWise Borderless Account?

Yes, you can find a list of these fees in our above ‘Fees’ section. Although there are some fees, all of them are transparent.  So, there are no hidden fees or abusive prices.