Wise vs CurrencyFair: Which is better? Fees & features

Adam Rozsa
24.06.22
7 minute read

CurrencyFair offers peer to peer currency exchange and international payments in 20+ currencies, while Wise - formerly TransferWise - also offers international payments, but with 50+ currencies, and multi-currency account products for personal and business customers.

If you’re not sure which service is best for your specific needs, this Wise vs. CurrencyFair review is for you.

Read on for our full comparison - or check out Wise and the Wise account, which offers 6x cheaper payments compared to traditional banks.

choose-cheap-choose-wise


📝 Table of contents

Overview

Wise¹CurrencyFair²

Safety: Wise is licensed as a money transmitter in the majority of US states and territories. In the remaining locations, Wise offers services through its partner Community Federal Savings Bank

Rates: Currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup

Fees: Fixed fee based on the currency + a low, variable fee to cover the costs of exchange

Service: Online, in app, by phone

Safety: CurrencyFair services in the US are offered via Community Federal Savings Bank

Rates: On average, a markup of 0.45% is used on exchange rates - the exact fee you pay isn’t split out when you model your payment

Fees: Transfer fees are based on the currency equivalent of 2.50 GBP - about 3.15 USD

Service: Online, in app, by phone

Pros & Cons

Both Wise and CurrencyFair are great providers, and can help you save money compared to using your bank when you send international payments. Which is right for you will depend on the specific transfer you need to make. Let’s get an overview of some pros and cons to help you weigh up the options before we dive into the details.

WiseCurrencyFair
Pros
  • Low upfront transfer fee and relatively small exchange rate markup
  • Send to 150+ countries
Cons
  • No cash or check payments
  • You may need to figure out the exchange rate margin yourself
  • You can only pay for your transfer with a bank wire

Fees

When you’re sending international money transfers, it’s important to know that there are usually at least 2 or 3 different fees you might run into. These can include:

  • Upfront transfer fees paid to the bank or transfer service
  • An exchange rate fee added to the mid-market rate
  • Third party charges which aren’t paid to the provider, but which may be linked to the way the payment is funded, processed or received - SWIFT fees, credit card cash advance charges, and recipient bank fees are examples of these

The transfer fees are shown clearly in both cases - however, the variable fees related to currency exchange aren’t displayed in the same way by both CurrencyFair and Wise. More on that, next.

Here’s what you’ll want to know about the upfront transfer fees for both service.

WiseCurrencyFair
Wise uses a fixed transfer fee set by currency - for example³:
  • 4.78 USD for payments received in INR
  • 4.67 USD for payments received in EUR
  • 4.77 USD for payments received in GBP

The CurrencyFair transfer fee is based on 2.50 GBP (≈3.16 USD) or the currency equivalent⁴.

Third party fees may also apply

Exchange Rates

We mentioned above that the way CurrencyFair vs Wise manage exchange rates isn’t exactly the same.

The main difference here may be around transparency.

Wise always uses the mid-market exchange rate and splits out the costs you’ll pay for your transfer, so they’re really easy to see.

CurrencyFair shows the transfer fee upfront, but when you model your transfer you won’t be able to see the markup that’s been added to the exchange rate.

To spot this, you’ll have to compare the CurrencyFair exchange rate against the mid-market exchange rate yourself.

Here’s how CurrencyFair and Wise manage exchange rates.

WiseCurrencyFair³
All currency exchange uses the real mid-market exchange rate.

A small variable fee is used, which is transparently shown when you arrange your payment, to cover the transfer costs. As an example:

  • 0.43% to send a payment from USD to GBP
  • 0.43% to send a payment from USD to EUR

To calculate the margin, you have to compare your rate against the mid-market rate yourself.

CurrencyFair average exchange rate margins are 0.45%

You can also arrange a peer to peer exchange in which you post the rate you’re looking for, to be matched with someone looking to exchange at the same rate

Low, transparent fees and 50+ currencies. Meet the Wise account

Send payments 6x cheaper compared to your normal bank, with Wise and the Wise account.

Let’s see an example! Say you’d like to send 1000 USD to your friend in Germany:

WiseCurrencyFair
Exchange rate0.9494000.9451
Total fees6.40 USD3 EUR (≈ 3.16 USD)
Recipient gets943.32 EUR942.1 EUR


(06/23/2022)

It’s not just that your friend receives a bit more money with Wise, there is more to it.

Open a Wise account online for free, to hold and exchange 50+ currencies, send payments to 80+ countries, and you can also order a debit card to spend in 200+ countries.

You’ll also have your own bank details for 10 currencies to let you get paid by local transfer from all around the world, fee free. All Wise currency exchange uses the real mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees - and Wise international payments are often instant too.

Available Currencies

The deciding factor when it comes to picking between CurrencyFair vs Wise might be whether or not the currencies you need are supported.

In general, CurrencyFair supports payments to more countries compared to Wise, but has a more limited range of currencies available. Here’s the lowdown:

WiseCurrencyFair
  • Send payments to 80+ countries in 50+ currencies
  • Hold and exchange 50+ currencies in a Wise account
  • Get local bank details for 10 international currencies with your Wise account
  • Use 17 different currencies to top up your CurrencyFair account⁵
  • Send payments to 150+ countries in 20+ currencies

Transfer Speeds

CurrencyFair has estimated processing times available, based on the currencies involved. You’ll need to pay for your transfer using a bank wire before it’s converted and sent out to your recipient.

Usually, wires sent in USD take 1 - 2 business days to be received by CurrencyFair⁶.

CurrencyFair will then transfer the money out, which may take another day or two depending on the currencies involved.

With Wise, 45% payments arrive instantly. This is more likely if you pay for your transfer with a credit or debit card.

Also, 80%+ of Wise payments arrive within 24 hours. You’ll get a delivery estimate when you set up your payment, before you confirm the transfer.

Safety

Before you choose a money transfer service, you’ll want to know they're safe to use.

The good news is that because international payment providers are usually regulated in much the same way as banks and other financial services are, it’s as safe to send a payment with a reputable specialist as it is to send money direct from your bank account with your normal bank.

The biggest difference is usually the cost - specialist services like Wise and CurrencyFair are normally able to offer cheaper transfer fees and a better exchange rate than traditional banks.

In the US, Wise is registered with FinCEN, and licensed as a money transmitter in the majority of states and territories. In the states and territories where Wise does not have its own license, it works alongside its partner Community Federal Savings Bank to offer secure and fully regulated services⁷.

CurrencyFair isn’t licensed in its own right in the US, but instead offers services through its partnership with Community Federal Savings Bank². As global businesses, both Wise and CurrencyFair are also authorized and regulated in a broad range of other countries and regions.

Customer Reviews

Let’s take a look at how Wise and CurrencyFair measure up in terms of customer reviews and feedback. Data is taken from the Trustpilot website, which aggregates customer reviews across a broad range of companies to help you decide which provider to choose.

As you can see, both Wise and CurrencyFair have really strong ratings, with the key difference being the number of customers who reviewed Wise compared to CurrencyFair.

WiseCurrencyFair
4.6 out of 5 stars ⁸4.6 out of 5 stars⁹
Excellent ratingExcellent rating
156,000+ reviews posted5,000+ reviews posted

Customer Support

No matter which service you choose to use, it’s good to know that help is on hand if you need it.

WiseCurrencyFair
  • Multilingual customer support online, through in-app chat and by phone
  • Broad FAQ section online in 14 languages to help you find the answers to your questions
  • Online contact form - customer service staff will reply within 10 hours of receipt¹⁰
  • Phone support available
  • FAQ section online to help you find the answers to your questions

Bottom line: Which is better - CurrencyFair or Wise?

Wise and CurrencyFair both offer some great services, and by choosing a specialist provider you’ll almost certainly be able to get better fees and exchange rates for your international payment, compared to your bank.

Wise was built with a focus on low costs and full transparency, which means you’ll always see the full price you pay to exchange currency or make a payment, before you confirm.

CurrencyFair also has low transfer fees, and a low average exchange rate markup - but to see the exact markup being applied to your transfer you’ll have to line up the CurrencyFair rate with the mid-market rate to spot the difference.

Ultimately, whether CurrencyFair or Wise win for you may depend on exactly what transaction you want to make.

Compare the costs for your specific transfer with both providers to see which is best.

You might also want to check out the Wise account as a great way to hold, exchange, send, spend and receive payments all over the world.

Open your account for free online or in app for a more convenient way of sending international payments, which keeps the costs low, too.

Frequently asked questions

Is TransferWise or OFX better?

OFX is a currency specialist which offers international payments and currency risk management solutions to individuals and businesses.

While OFX and Wise (formerly TransferWise) have some similarities, their focus is a little different. OFX offers services via personal brokers, including sophisticated currency risk management solutions, whereas Wise has a focus on low-cost currency services delivered through an intuitive app on a self-service model.

💡 Learn more in this OFX vs Wise review.

Is Revolut the same as TransferWise?

Revolut describes itself as a financial app, offering accounts with a range of features including budgeting, saving and investing options.

Wise and Revolut do have some overlaps, but they’re quite different companies. Personal accounts with are always free, and Wise accounts can handle more currencies compared to Revolut.

Revolut accounts can be free or fee paid, and focus on general money management, including Junior Accounts for kids and linked perks like free travel insurance for some account tiers.

💡 Get a full Revolut review here, or learn more about Revolut vs Wise, here.

Learn more about Wise


  1. Wise
  2. CurrencyFair
  3. Wise pricing
  4. CurrencyFair pricing
  5. CurrencyFair FAQ - account currencies
  6. CurrencyFair - exchange processing times
  7. Wise FAQ - regulation
  8. Trustpilot - Wise
  9. Trustpilot - CurrencyFair
  10. CurrencyFair Contact us

All sources checked on 23 June 2022


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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