Wave money transfer: Fees, rates and transfer times


Do you need to send money abroad? It’s something that sounds easy enough to do, but - traditionally, at least - can end up getting pretty complicated… and expensive, too. Banks and traditional money transfer services used to be the only way to go, and the fees they charge are often quite high. That’s why a lot of new companies have emerged offering cheaper, more efficient ways to transfer money abroad - often using new technology.

As if it wasn’t already complicated enough, sending money to Africa can sometimes be particularly challenging: not all money transfer providers are set up for transfers into many African countries. You might find that you need to shop around a bit, to get a decent deal.

That’s where Wave comes in - it’s a company that specialises in sending money to five African countries, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda¹, using mobile phone technology. This article will explain how it works: read on to find out how to make a transfer with Wave, some details about their fee system, and information on alternative ways to send money abroad.

Making international money transfers? Wise could save you up to 8x versus your bank

Before you get started, a word.

Banks and money transfer providers often give you a bad exchange rate to make extra profits.

Wise is different. Its smart new technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world. Which means you can save up to 8x by using Wise rather than your bank when you send your money abroad.

Check out how to make your first transfer with Wise. And give it a try.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out Wise’s borderless multi-currency account. Where you can manage and send dozens of currencies all from the same account.

Now, back to what you came here to read.

How does an international transfer with Wave work?

Wave is all about mobile technology. So first of all you’ll need to get the mobile app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store - otherwise you can’t make the transfer at all.

Once you’re set up, all you have to do is enter your recipient’s details, and say how much you want to send. You do also have to pay Wave, obviously - and you need to use a debit card for that¹.

With transfers to Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the money goes to the recipient’s phone, so the recipient details that you need are simply their name and phone number. To Nigeria, on the other hand, Wave transfers into banks - so you’ll need your recipient’s bank details¹.

If you need to send money to a different country, or to send money to a bank account in Ghana or Kenya, it might be best to consider an alternative provider like Wise - which is usually cheaper than using a bank. Wise also offers a borderless multi-currency account. That can come in very useful if you want to keep money in international currencies or send money around the world: you can keep money in over 40 currencies.

What are the fees when you want to transfer money overseas with Wave?

Wave is quite open about how it does fees. “Wave charges no fees”, it says on the website - but it goes on: “We just make a small percentage on the exchange rate that you see on the main page of the app.”¹

So you might think that you’re not paying a fee, but really you are: it’s just a fee that’s folded into the exchange rates they offer. How does that work? There’s more on this in a moment.

What are the currencies that Wave supports?

Wave supports transfers into five African countries and their currencies. They are¹:

  • Ghana (Ghanaian cedi)
  • Kenya (Kenyan shilling)
  • Nigeria (Nigerian naira)
  • Tanzania (Tanzanian shilling)
  • Uganda (Ugandan shilling)

And you can send money with a debit card from the UK, the US or Canada.

The other way round isn’t supported, so if you might ever need to send money back from an African country to the UK, you’ll need to try a different provider.

What is the exchange rate you get with Wave?

As already noted above, Wave is open about the fact that they make money out of the exchange rate that they charge their customers. They’re not at all unusual in offering a worse exchange rate than they need - banks, and most other money transfer providers, do exactly the same thing.

What that means for you is that, when you transfer money internationally, you’re not usually offered the mid-market rate. That’s the rate you’ll see on online currency converters, on websites like XE, or when you Google your currency pair - it’s an average of all the buy and sell rates currently in use between two currencies, and banks use it between themselves but do not tend to pass it on to customers.

Wave, like most providers, takes that mid-market rate and marks it up: so they make that “small percentage” extra on each transaction. Even though it’s not listed as a fee, then, you do still end up giving Wave a bit of extra money when you transfer money with them - every time you make a transfer you make with them. You just won’t know exactly how much they’re taking from you, unless you do a careful comparison to the mid-market rate.

It’s rare, but not impossible, for international money transfers to go at the real mid-market rate. Wise is unusual: it offers the mid-market rate on all its transfers, so you can always be assured that you’re getting the best rate around, and that the fee you’re charged is 100% out in the open and you always see how much you’re being charged upfront. No unpleasant surprises.

How long does an international transfer with Wave take?

Sending to mobile means that Wave transfers can be pretty quick - they should receive the money straight away. Sending into a Nigerian bank should be very fast as well, although Wave says that occasionally there can be a wait of up to 48 business hours¹.

How can you contact Wave?

  • You can give Wave a call from the UK on +44 113 320 7935
  • Or email them at help@wave.com

Wave offers a really valuable service, providing a handy way to get money to some of the countries that are generally less well served by international money transfer providers. The emphasis on mobile is useful for these countries, too.

Make sure you’re confident that you’re getting a good deal, though - whether you’re using Wave or anyone else. And if you see something that says “no fees” or “0% commission”, take a close look at the exchange rate and compare it to the only real exchange rate out there - the mid-market exchange rate - because it might not be as great a deal as it sounds.

Source used for this article:
*Source checked on January 18, 2019

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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