Unlock the full potential of Suncoast Credit Union international wire transfers with our comprehensive guide.
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.
|📝 Table of contents
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
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.
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.
|Wise uses a fixed transfer fee set by currency - for example³:
The CurrencyFair transfer fee is based on 2.50 GBP (≈3.16 USD) or the currency equivalent⁴.
Third party fees may also apply
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.
|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:
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
Let’s see an example! Say you’d like to send 1000 USD to your friend in Germany:
|3 EUR (≈ 3.16 USD)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
|4.6 out of 5 stars ⁸
|4.6 out of 5 stars⁹
|156,000+ reviews posted
|5,000+ reviews posted
No matter which service you choose to use, it’s good to know that help is on hand if you need it.
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.
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.
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.
- Wise pricing
- CurrencyFair pricing
- CurrencyFair FAQ - account currencies
- CurrencyFair - exchange processing times
- Wise FAQ - regulation
- Trustpilot - Wise
- Trustpilot - CurrencyFair
- CurrencyFair Contact us
All sources checked on 23 June 2022
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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