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Wise Money Transfer Review 2024 (8 benefits, useful tips)

This Wise money transfer review is based on my experience using Wise (previously known as TransferWise) for sending and receiving money abroad.

In this review, I’ll share Wise’s features and benefits that you must know before start using the platform. You’ll also learn how to use a Wise money transfer to send money abroad in a few steps and my experience using Wise money transfer in Malaysia.

Towards the end, you’ll find a list of FAQs and my personal tips to optimize your Wise money transfer experience.

Table of Contents

[Disclosure: This post contains references to our partners who compensate us. But, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.]

Why are money transfers expensive and slow?

Let’s start this Wise money transfer review by understanding a little bit more about money transfers.

The term money transfers (aka cross-border money transfer, remittance, international money transfer) refers to financial transactions where the sender and recipient are based in separate countries.

Typical money transfers that mostly performed through financial institutions such as banks are expensive and slow.

For example, a total of USD 8 and MYR 5 fees were deducted for the USD 112.21 AdSense advertising earnings I received from Google through a wire transfer to my local bank account.

That is about 8% deducted!

And it took about 2 working days to receive the payment in my local bank account. Also, there’s no way for me to check the status of my money transfer and I won’t know the details of the fees imposed.

This is something that I really don’t like.

Why wire transfers are expensive?

After I started using Wise in 2022, I learned that a typical wire transfer is expensive because the transfer involves a network of global financial institutions before the money reaches its recipient.

Generally, most international money transfers are through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) network.

SWIFT system ensures that money is accurately and securely processed. But, there are fees involved.

Here is an example of the breakdown of wire transfer fees:

  • sender’s bank commission and cable charges
  • sender’s bank exchange rate markup
  • intermediary bank charges
  • recipient’s bank service charge

Although the SWIFT network is secure, it involves higher costs due to multiple parties involved throughout the money transfer.

Why are wire transfers slow?

Similarly, a typical wire transfer such as the one sent through SWIFT is slow because it involves a network of international financial institutions to transfer the money from one point to the other before reaching the recipients.

Verification at each point increases the wire transfer delivery time. On top of that, more time is needed if the transfers fall on a weekend or public holiday.

One of the ways to have a cheaper and faster money transfer is to transfer the money through its own payment network, such as the money transfer offered by Wise.

Who is Wise?

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a UK-based foreign exchange financial technology company founded by two good friends in 2011.

Their idea for TransferWise started when both of them wanted to avoid expensive bank fees when sending money back to their home countries.

Then, that simple idea turns into a solution much needed by many of us who need to transfer money abroad.

Since then, other than money transfers for personal use, Wise added other financial services related to foreign exchange such as:

As of the time of writing, Wise claimed they are serving over 16 million people globally. Wise services allow you to:

  • send money to more than 70 countries
  • hold more than 40 currencies in one account
  • get local account details in 9 currencies

Currently, Wise has local sites in 27 countries including Malaysia.

Is Wise a bank?

No, Wise is not a bank but a Money Service Provider.

Although Wise is not a bank, some of the Wise features are similar to those offered by regular bank accounts, such as:

  • send and receive payments
  • holding a balance in the account
  • linked to a card

And Wise specialized in matters related to international bank transfers and foreign currencies.

Is Wise regulated?

Yes, Wise is regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and other regulatory bodies in each country where Wise services are available.

In Malaysia, Wise is regulated by Bank Negara Malaysia.

What is a Wise money transfer?

Wise international money transfer is one of Wise’s products that aim to bring transparency to finance with low fees, reasonable exchange rates, and fast and reliable money transfer.

How does a Wise money transfer work?

Wise built its own payment network and manages the fund transfer within its own facility.

This means fewer parties involve and thus less fee incurred. Thus, you save on fees when sending money abroad through Wise.

8 Wise money transfer features and benefits

Here are 8 Wise money transfer features and benefits that you must know before using the electronic money institution.

1. Significant money saving

Wise money transfer helps you to save money in the following ways:

Free to sign up

Wise does not charge registration fee.
Free to register for Wise

There are no signup fees or subscription fees such as the annual fee for using a Wise money transfer.

So, you don’t have to worry about recurrent charges.

Low fees

Wise built and use its own payment network. This means less third-party involvement and it also cuts out on intermediary fees.

As a Wise user, you get to enjoy lower fees.

Real exchange rate (no markup)

Wise uses the real exchange rate or mid-market rate (just like the exchange rate you found on Google or XE.com online currency converter) for sending money.

So, you get to avoid markup charges.

With the three above added up, no wonder Wise claimed they are up to 4x cheaper than traditional banks.

And from my own research, I found out that Wise international money transfers offer better savings compared to the PayPal. This is due to PayPal’s fees and currency conversation rates.

Personally, I like the term used by Wise: Only Pay for What You Use.

2. Transparent transaction

With Wise, you get to see the details as shown in the Wise calculator below, before you make the transfer.

Wise transparent transaction showing the money transfer details upfront for sending GBP 1000 to EUR.
The Wise calculator shows transparent GBP to EUR transaction

Based on the screenshot of sending GBP 1,000 to EUR above, you have a clear view of the below before you make the transfer:

  • transaction fees
  • amount converted
  • exchange rate
  • final amount received by the recipient
  • transfer timeline

This feature is helpful as you get to know the fees and charges upfront.

If you are happy, you can proceed with the transaction. Else, you may use other money transfer alternatives. By the way, please leave a comment below if you found a better way to transfer money abroad.

I am eager to know better money management tools and add them to my smart spending list.

3. Fast transaction

For popular currencies, Wise claimed they can send between seconds to one day. But sometimes, payment methods or security checks and the time of transfer can affect the delivery time.

Personally, I received my Ezoic advertising USD payment transferred from Ezoic’s Wise to my Wise USD account instantly.

Received Ezoic USD payment into Wise USD account instantly.
Received the Ezoic USD payment into my Wise USD account instantly

I would say Wise money transfer is a great solution for those looking for a speedy international money transfer.

4. Trackable money transfer

Wondering if your money has been successfully transferred to your recipient?

You can always refer to your Wise app to track your money transfer. I am sure that gives you peace of mind especially if you are sending money to your loved ones abroad.

5. Simple and easy to use

You can easily use Wise to send money abroad. All you need is a device connected to internet access such as

  • smartphone
  • laptop or computer
  • tab

Then, you can create a Wise account using your email address or even log in from your Google, Facebook, or Apple account.

After verification, you can start sending money abroad.

6. Convenient

Wise makes it convenient to send money abroad. You don’t have to deal with the following:

  • waste time visiting the financial institution during office hour
  • waiting for your turn
  • fill in hardcopy forms and remember all the important banking details

With Wise, can initiate a money transfer anytime and anywhere.

This not only saves you time but also saves you money (no need to drive, park, or use an e-hailing service to the bank).

On top of that, if you don’t have the recipient’s bank details, you can send an email to the recipient so the recipient can enter his or her bank details to complete the transaction.

All these shall make your money transfer much easier.

The Wise money transfer is also linked to Wise Multi-Currency Account (MCA) and and Wise card.

Both services come with other great and helpful features.

Wise debit card
Wise debit card

You may discover more about the game changer global debit card in my Wise card review and also Wise Multi-Currency Account review which helped me to enjoy receiving money from abroad with minimal fees.

All these make it becomes even easier to manage international money transfers and foreign currencies.

8. Earn money through the Wise referral program

Another feature worth mentioning is the Wise referral program.

Wise referral program for users in Malaysia - Invite others and get MYR 150.
Earn money through the Wise referral program

When you refer others to Wise, you have the opportunity to earn a referral fee when they signup and start using Wise.

For example, for the Wise Malaysia referral program, you earn MYR 150 when 3 friends send MYR 1,000 in one go.

As a Wise affiliate, I am not allowed to participate in the Wise referral program. But, do take note, Wise reserves the full right to amend its referral program such as the referral rewards.

So, take the opportunity to signup for Wise today. Be among the earliest and start referring to your friends and family.

Wise money transfer fees

As of the time of writing, for international money transfer, here are things you need to know about Wise money transfer fees:

  • Free to open an account
  • No subscriptions fees
  • No monthly or yearly fees
  • Sending money from 0.41% varies by currency

Below is a screenshot for sending MYR1,000 to USD.

Wise money transfer fees for sending MYR 1000 to USD.
Wise fees for sending MYR 1000 to USD

Based on the screenshot above, you get to see the fees upfront and the real, mid-market conversion rate (without markup) before you make the transfer.

Feel free to try out the Wise money transfer calculator.

Note: Always refer to Wise’s pricing page for the latest fees and charges.

Wise money transfer requirements

Here is the requirements to use Wise money transfer:

  • Individuals must be 18 years or older
  • An email address or Google, Facebook, or Apple ID
  • Online bank account
  • Mobile phone for Wise verification and online banking transfer
  • Personal identification documents, passport (or other official documents) for verification

Do take note, the requirements to signup Wise might vary by country.

How to use a Wise money transfer to send money abroad?

You can start sending money abroad in a few steps. Below is the procedure.

1. Sign up for Wise

Register for Wise using your email, Facebook, Apple, or Google ID.

2. Get your account verified

Next, get your account verified by submitting the required personal identification documents (ID).

Wise FAQ mentioned they might need between two to three working days for account verification.

For your information, I got my account verified within 3 hours of registration.

Do take note of the following when setting up your Wise account:

  • Enter your name to match your national ID and bank account.
  • Get ready with your ID or other identification documents.
  • A phone or laptop for a live selfie with an ID.

3. Sending money through Wise

Next, you are ready to make the money transfer through Wise. Start with the ‘Send money‘ button.

Wise money transfer offers to send money from bank or Wise balance.
Wise money transfer options

As shown in the screenshot above, you can choose to send money from:

  • an account outside of Wise (send from your bank account)
  • your Wise balance

For sending money from an account outside of Wise, you’ll need to make a payment at the last step to complete the transaction.

You may refer to the screenshot below.

Making a Wise money transfer from bank account.
Making a Wise money transfer from a bank account

Here is the step-by-step:

  1. Choose ‘Send from your bank‘.
  2. Enter the amount you wish to transfer.
  3. Choose who you wish to send to – yourself, someone else, or a business/charity.
  4. Enter the recipient details.
  5. Review the transfer details. Once you are satisfied with the details, click on confirm.
  6. Make the payment to complete the transfer.

If you send money from your Wise balance, the money shall be deducted from your Wise balance. The process is shorter as shown in the screenshot below.

Making a Wise money transfer from Wise balance.
Making a Wise money transfer from the Wise balance

Here is the step-by-step for sending money from your Wise balance:

  1. Choose the Wise balance you wish to transfer.
  2. Enter the amount you wish to transfer.
  3. Choose who you wish to send to – yourself, someone else, or a business/charity.
  4. Enter the recipient details.
  5. Review the transfer details. Once you are satisfied with the details, click on confirm. The amount shall be deducted from your Wise balance.

For both methods above, if you don’t have the recipient’s bank details, you can enter the recipient’s email address so that the recipient can fill in the bank details accordingly.

That’s it. And you can track your transfer in the Wise app.

Wise money transfer limitations

Below are some limitations with money transfers that you mind helpful.

1. Not all currencies and countries are available

As of the time of writing, there are some currencies and countries not supported.

But, do take note that Wise is expanding and growing rapidly. Before you make initiate a money transfer, it is best to refer to the latest list of currencies and countries supported by Wise.

2. Wise transfer limit

Wise has transfer limits for different currencies.

For example, the transfer limit below is applied to sending to and from Malaysian Ringgit (MYR):

  • a recipient with a non-resident local bank account in Malaysia can only receive a maximum of MYR 10,000 per day.
  • Sending MYR from a business account is not allowed.
  • MYR transfers or balance top-ups using credit or debit card is not allowed.
  • Foreign workers can only send up to MYR 5,000 to 5 recipients in their home country per month.
  • Malaysians and Expatriates are allowed to send MYR 30,000 per day.

You can learn more about Wise transfer limits in the Wise help article.

Using Wise money transfer from Malaysia

As I am based in Malaysia, I’ll share my thought about using Wise money transfer from Malaysia.

Malaysian Currency (MYR) is available on Wise

Firstly, Malaysian currency (MYR or RM locally) is among those that are made available in Wise.

That’s probably because huge money transfer is made from Malaysia to other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Indonesia, the Philippines, and India.

I am not surprised as the majority of Malaysian have families and friends:

  • studying or working abroad
  • making cross-border business transactions
  • making overseas trip arrangements
  • sending money back to foreign worker’s home countries

I am also glad to share that Wise MCA also offers local account details in MYR.

Wise is approved by Bank Negara Malaysia

Wise is registered with Bank Negara (the Central Bank of Malaysia) under the name Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd and regulated under the laws of Malaysia as a remittance, money-changing, and e-money issuance business.

Personally, I prefer financial services approved by Bank Negara. I feel safer and protected as a consumer in Malaysia.

Wise personal and Wise business available in Malaysia

Both Wise for personal or Wise business is available in Malaysia.

When signing up for Wise, make sure your name on Wise matches the name on your Malaysia New Registration Identification Card (NRIC) or business registration form and your bank accounts.

Wise Malaysia fees for sending money abroad

Among the first few things I checked before signing up for Wise is whether there are any recursive fees.

Since I only need to send or receive money once in a while, I prefer services without a subscription fee.

Glad that I found it in Wise.

Here is the information on fees for sending money abroad from Malaysia:

  • No account opening fee
  • No monthly or annual fee
  • The minimum send amount is RM 10
  • Fixed fee – ranging from RM 1.80 – RM 2.40 for major currencies
  • Variable fee – ranging from 0.5% to 0.6% of the transfer value for major currencies

Do take note the fees depend on the amount, the currency you are sending money to, and your payment method.

As for the exchange rate, Wise is using the real rate or mid-market rate, without markup charges.

You will get to see details upfront before sending the money. Something like a quotation as shown below.

Wise Malaysia fees for sending MYR 3000 to GBP.
Wise Malaysia fees for sending RM3,000 to GBP

Once you are happy, you can proceed with the money transfer.

It is fair to say that when you use Wise to send money abroad, you pay only for what you use.

Wise Malaysia fees for receiving money from abroad

As for receiving money from abroad to your Wise account, there could be zero or a minimal charge, depending on the currencies and type of transfer.

There could be a deposit applied for certain currencies when you wish to have a local bank account such as a local USD account to receive USD in Malaysia. But you can use this deposit once it is in your MCA wallet.

For example, to have USD account details to receive my Ezoic commission (in USD), Wise required me to deposit RM101 to my MCA wallet.

Once the RM101 is in my MCA wallet, I can:

  • use it to pay for a Wise debit card one-time-fee of RM13.70
  • transfer back to my local bank account
  • withdraw the MYR from the ATM
  • spend the MYR at local merchants
  • spend it online

As for my Ezoic commission, I received it in my Wise USD Wallet without any fees deducted because the payment is sent from Ezoic Wise to my Wise account.

You can read more in my Wise Multi-Currency Account review.

Free MYR FPX deposit

No fee is applied when you make a deposit to Wise from your local bank account through FPX.

Debit/Credit card payment is not supported

At the moment, payment from a debit card or credit card is not supported.

The only payment method is through bank transfer.

Wise money transfer FAQs

Below are some Wise money transfer FAQs which you might find helpful.

Do take note, these FAQs are based on my experience of using Wise in Malaysia.

Do you need a bank account to use Wise in Malaysia?

Yes, you will need a bank account to send money abroad because you need to fund your Wise account or pay using an online bank transfer.

Does the recipient need to use Wise as well?

Not necessary. You can send the payment through your Wise account to the recipient’s bank account.

It is best to get the recipient to sign up for Wise and then send the payment from your Wise to the recipient’s Wise account. A Wise to Wise transactions save on fees.

Do you need to sign up and deposit money into your Wise account before making a money transfer?

You need to sign up to be able to send money through Wise. But, it is not necessary to fund or deposit your money into a Wise account before making a money transfer.

You can transfer money to the recipient by making the payment through online banking (bank transfer/FTX for users in Malaysia).

Do you have other questions about the Wise money transfer either in Malaysia or other participating countries? Please leave it in the comment section below.

I’ll share based on what I know and update them in this Wise money transfer review.

Personal tips

I’ll include some of my personal tips in this Wise money transfer review.

1. Signup Wise and complete the registration early

Since it is free to register for a Wise account, do signup now so that you can complete the registration and account verification early.

This is important because account verification can take up to three working days. Once verified, you can start sending money to your loved ones immediately.

2. Pay through a bank transfer

Compared to other payment options such as debit or credit card, it is often cheapest to pay your international Wise money transfer using a bank transfer.

But, it’s best to check the all fees upfront using the Wise calculator before performing your money transfer.

3. Choose Wise to Wise transaction

It is free to transfer the same currency from a Wise account to another Wise account.

Wise to Wise transfer is free for same currency.
Free Wise to Wise transfer for the same currency

For Wise to Wise transaction that involves currency conversion, Wise stated that there is a small conversion fee.

So, choose Wise to Wise transaction whenever possible.

Final thoughts

With the Wise money transfer review above, I hope you know the main features and benefits of the e-money institution and how you can include Wise as part of your personal finance tools.

As a Wise user, I find that Wise is a good financial tool because:

  • low fee and fair charges with no markup on the exchange rate
  • fast yet secure
  • transparent and trackable transaction
  • link to Wise Multi-Currency Account (MCA) and a global debit card

All these made managing my money smoother.

If you are not a Wise user, register for Wise today and start saving money while learning how Wise can make your international money-handling matters cheaper and easier.

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