As an expat myself in Germany since 2016, I have used Wise, formerly known as Transferwise, to send money home. Now that there are a handful of online money transfer services available, is Wise still up to par?
In the past, I have used the international money transfer service offered by my bank in India to send money home and to my non-resident Indian (NRI) bank account when I moved to Germany to work. However, the service was miserable and sometimes took up to more than a week to get the transferred amount credited in the bank account in India. This usually happened during the holiday seasons.
Wise, formally TransferWise was suggested to me by one of my cousins who lived in the UK back then and ever since I started using it, I never had to look for another money transfer service.
What is Wise?
Wise was founded in 2011 with the aim of making international money transfers cheap, fair and easy. Today, their multi-currency account is helping millions of people and businesses manage their money around the world.
If you are interested, you can read a more detailed story about how, why and who built Wise on their website.
Who needs a Wise account?
Anybody who needs to transfer money to an international bank account can open an account on Wise.
Your German bank may provide international money transfer service as an ad-on to your account. However, Wise claims to provide the cheapest and the fastest money transfer service. They are brave enough to list the live comparison on Wise money transfer rates with other major services on the homepage of their website.
What services does Wise offer?
While Wise focuses on international money transfer, they are also a registered payment institution in Europe. Which basically means that you can use a Wise account as your salary account, and use it the same way you use your German bank account.
With Wise, you can hold and convert money in 50+ currencies. It only takes a few seconds to open a new account in the currency you need. Additionally, You can use the money in your multi-currency account to send to around 80 countries; all with just one account!
The most attractive feature about wise is, it’s completely free! No subscription required.
How fast is Wise?
Wise’s money transfer speeds depend on several factors, such as the amount, currency pair, payment method, and bank processing times. However, Wise claims that most transfers are completed within one or two working days, and some can be even faster or instant.
The following table shows some examples of how long it takes to send money from Germany to different countries using Wise, based on the information from their website.
Witin 1 hour
Within 1 hour
Within 1 day
Within 2 days
Within 2 days
**As of drafting this article.
As you can see, the transfer time varies depending on the destination country and the payment method. Generally, paying with a bank transfer is cheaper but slower than paying with a debit card, credit card, or Apple Pay. Also, some countries have faster or slower banking systems than others, which can affect the delivery time.
You can always check the estimated transfer time before you confirm your transfer on Wise’s website or app. You can also track the progress of your transfer online or through the app and receive email notifications when your money is sent and received.
How much does Wise charge?
Wise charges a low and transparent fee that depends on the amount, currency pair, and payment method you use. The fee consists of a fixed fee and a variable fee that are calculated based on the mid-market exchange rate, which is the fairest and most accurate rate you can find.
The following table shows some examples of how much it costs to send money from Germany to different countries using Wise, based on the information from their website.
**Rates as of drafting this article.
As you can see, the fee varies depending on the destination country and the payment method. Generally, sending money to countries with more popular or stable currencies is cheaper than sending money to countries with less popular or volatile currencies. Also, paying with a bank transfer is cheaper but slower than paying with a debit card, credit card, or Apple Pay.
You can always see the exact fee and exchange rate before you confirm your transfer on Wise’s website or app. You can also compare Wise’s fees and rates with other providers using online tools like Finder.
Our experience with Wise
As mentioned above, I have been using Wise since 2016 and my wife uses it since 2018. We both never had any issues with wise until today.
Every month, I transfer money to home using Wise and with most banks in India, it only takes just a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes to get the amount credited in the recipient bank account in India.
In the last six years, I only had one issue with Wise. I transferred some money on 23rd of December and the amount was credited after the New year. As I recall, this incident happened back in 2017.
Their transaction fees are also cheaper. In one instance, I sent a 12000€ payment to my sister in Dubai for a fee less than 80€, and it arrived the next day!
What are the benefits of using Wise for expats in Germany?
If you are an expat living in Germany or planning to move there, you might need to send money abroad for various reasons: to pay bills, rent, or mortgage in your home country; to support your family or friends; to save or invest; or to travel or shop online. Whatever your reason, using Wise can save you time and money compared to other options.
Here are some of the benefits of using Wise for expats in Germany:
You can send money from Germany to over 100 countries in more than 50 currencies, including euros, US dollars, British pounds, Swiss francs, Indian rupees, Turkish lira, and many more.
You can get the best exchange rate possible without any hidden fees or markups. Wise uses the mid-market rate that you can see on Google or Reuters, which is usually much better than what banks or other money transfer services offer.
You can pay low and transparent fees that depend on the amount and currency pair you are sending. For example, sending 1000 euros from Germany to the UK costs only 4.98 euros in fees (0.5%), while sending the same amount from Germany to India costs 9.90 euros in fees (0.99%).
You can enjoy fast and secure transfers that usually take one or two working days, but sometimes even less than an hour. You can also track your transfer online or through the app and receive email notifications along the way.
You can access your account online or through the app anytime and anywhere. You can also use biometric authentication (face ID or fingerprint) to log in securely.
You can sign up for a Wise debit card that lets you spend in over 170 countries without any foreign transaction fees. The card automatically converts your balance into the local currency at the mid-market rate when you pay with it. The card has a one-time fee of 9 USD (7.62 EUR) and some other fees for ATM withdrawals and currency conversions.
You can open a free multi-currency account that lets you hold over 50 currencies and switch between them whenever you want at the mid-market rate. You can also receive money from abroad for free in euros, US dollars, British pounds, Australian dollars, New Zealand dollars, Polish zloty, Singapore dollars, Romanian leu, Hungarian forint, Bulgarian lev, Czech koruna, Danish krone, Norwegian krone, Swedish krona, Turkish lira, UAE dirham, Ukrainian hryvnia.
Disadvantages of Wise
Honestly, my wife and I took a minute to think about the disadvantages of Wise and we couldn’t really find any.
However, some people mention that the transfer to the US is slower than other providers. Nevertheless, we never had to transfer money to the US. Therefore, we do not know whether it was just the matter of a couple of transactions at a specific time period or all transactions have the same problem.
Anyway, we think that there are a couple of more features which Wise could provide such as cashback for each transaction, point collection on each penny spent, investment options such as the ones services like Revolut provides, etc.
If you already use Wise and identified any disadvantages of it, please comment below to help other expats.
Wise referral program
If you already have a Wise account, you can create a referral link from your Wise app and share with your friends. If 3 of your friends join Wise with the link you shared and transfer over 250€, you can get 90€ as a referral bonus instantly in your Wise account.
Additionally, every friend that you invite to Wise will get a discount on their first transfer. Wise will also reward you for inviting a bunch of friends
Finally, in our experience, Wise is one of the best money transfer services that we rely on in our daily life. With its transparent, cheaper and comparatively faster service, Wise keeps their users loyal to the company.
We ask, however, that you understand how exchange rates work and how to find the best rate that works for your specific needs. Before making a transfer, check the rates on other providers as well and choose the best one in terms of fees as well as transfer time.
Wise is a great option for expats living in Germany or planning to move there who want to send money abroad at a low cost and a fair exchange rate. It offers fast and secure transfers to over 100 countries in more than 50 currencies. It also provides a debit card and a multi-currency account that let you spend and hold multiple currencies without any foreign transaction fees.
However, Wise also has some limitations that might make it unsuitable for some expats. It does not offer cash delivery options, it requires you to have a bank account or card in Germany, it does not operate on weekends or public holidays, and it does not have phone support.
Some FAQ we often get
Can I use Wise money transfer as an expat to send money to my home country?
Yes, Wise money transfer is an excellent option for expats who want to send money to their home country or other international destinations. It offers competitive exchange rates and low fees compared to traditional banks and other money transfer services.
Is Wise money transfer available in my country as an expat?
Wise money transfer is available in over 80 countries worldwide, including popular expat destinations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and many countries in Europe and Asia. Check the Wise website to see if it is available in your country.
How long does it take for Wise money transfer to process international transactions as an expat?
The processing time for Wise money transfer transactions varies depending on the currency and the country of origin and destination. However, most transfers are completed within one to two business days.
What are the fees and exchange rates for Wise money transfer for expats?
The fees and exchange rates for Wise money transfer for expats vary depending on the currency and the amount being transferred. However, Wise charges a transparent, upfront fee that is often lower than traditional bank transfer fees, and it offers real-time exchange rates that are updated every few seconds.
Can I use Wise money transfer to receive money as an expat?
Yes, Wise money transfer can be used to receive money as an expat, and it offers various features and tools for receiving payments, including invoicing and integration with accounting software.
Can I use Wise money transfer for business transactions as an expat?
Yes, Wise money transfer can be used for business transactions as an expat, and it offers various features and tools for businesses, including batch payments, integration with accounting software, and multi-user accounts.
Does Wise money transfer offer a debit card for expats?
Yes, Wise offers a debit card that allows expats to spend money directly from their Wise account balance. The card can be used at millions of merchants worldwide and offers competitive exchange rates and low fees.
How does Wise money transfer compare to other money transfer services for expats?
Wise money transfer is often considered one of the most cost-effective and user-friendly money transfer services for expats, with competitive exchange rates and low fees compared to traditional banks and other money transfer services.
How long Wise take to transfer money to India?
Usually the money arrives in the Indian bank account in seconds. However, there were times we observed it taking one to three business days. Especially, in our experience, when it comes to the holiday seasons, the transfer time could go even higher.