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Need to send money abroad from the US? There are a few different ways you can do it, including using online money transfer services.
Online money transfer specialists such as Wise and TorFX have become popular choices these days, being both cheaper and faster than wiring money with a bank.
But which is cheaper in the US? Find out here in this guide, where we’ll compare Wise and TorFX on fees, exchange rates and more.
So, let’s get started.
Before looking at which provider is cheaper in the US, let’s do a little background on each company.
Wise is a money service business, based in the UK but operating in the US and worldwide. It offers a multi-currency account, international money transfer services and a debit card.
Features for personal customers include:
- Local account details in 9 currencies
- The option to hold, send, spend and convert 40+ currencies
- Low, transparent fees for all international transfers
- The Wise card, available for a one time fee of just $9 - for use in 150+ countries
- Mid-market exchange rates on all transactions.
There are also dedicated Wise Business services for startups, small and medium sized companies.
TorFX is another money transfer specialist based in the UK, which has offices all over the world. This includes the US, Europe, Australia and South Africa. It employs over 550 people worldwide.¹
Originally launched in 2004, TorFX now processes over $10 billion a year in international payments and foreign exchanges.¹ Read more about TorFX in our recent review.
When choosing a money transfer service, cost will always be at the top of your priority list. So let’s take a look at the fees charged by both Wise and TorFX, to see how much it costs to use each service.
Wise is known for transparency on pricing, so you always know what you’re paying before you hit ‘send’ on your transfer.
Wise fees are also on the low side, so it could cost you as little as a few dollars to make a transfer.
The fee you’ll pay will depend on the amount, currency and payment method. The fee will usually be made up of a variable fee (starting from just 0.43%) and a small fixed fee. You see both of these upfront, along with the exchange rate.
Sending to another Wise user? In this case, there are no transfer fees to pay. But just be aware that there will still be a small conversion fee when sending to another currency. Find out more about Wise-to-Wise transfers here.
See how much you may save with Wise:
TorFX doesn’t charge any transfer fees², so there’s no upfront cost to worry about.
However, it is possible that receiving or correspondent banks may charge their own fees.
Correspondent banks are any that are involved in the transfer along the way, while the receiving bank is where the money eventually ends up (where your recipient holds a bank account). These fees aren’t charged by TorFX, but they could still leave you out of pocket.
Here’s how it works. In transfers done using the SWIFT network of banks, multiple banks can be involved along the route - until the money eventually arrives at the receiving bank. And they may all charge their own fee, so it can become expensive quite quickly.
While it’s great that TorFX doesn’t charge transfer fees, this doesn’t mean it’s completely free to use the service. Just as important as fees are the exchange rates on offer, which can make an enormous difference to the overall cost of the transfer.
We’ll look at TorFX exchange rates next, compared to the rates Wise uses.
As well as comparing fees, you should also take a look at exchange rates for comparing currency.
The exchange rate is important as it affects how much of your money actually reaches your recipient. The better the rate, the less the transfer costs you overall.
Some transfer providers add their own margin or mark-up to what is known as the mid-market or interbank rate. This is considered to be one of the fairest rates you can get.
By adding in a mark-up, the provider can make a profit on the transfer - although it does make it more expensive for you.
So, what exchange rates do Wise and TorFX use? Here’s what you need to know, in a nutshell:
- Wise only ever sticks to the mid-market rate, with no margins or markups added on top
- TorFX is likely to add its own small margin to the mid-market rate.
Another important difference between Wise and TorFX is the availability of live exchange rates. With Wise, you can see the live rate at any time of the day or night - just check the Wise website or on the Wise mobile app.
But with TorFX, you can see illustrative exchange rates online at the provider’s website. But for accurate live rates for your particular transfer, you’ll need to get a quote. This involves calling TorFX, or creating and logging into an online account.³
This is quite an annoying obstacle, as you can’t compare TorFX’s exchange rates to other providers without first signing up - or having to make a phone call.
While cost is always going to be important, you should also be looking for a transfer provider that takes security seriously. This is particularly crucial if you plan to send large sums, or make regular payments to other countries.
So, how safe are Wise and TorFX? Let’s start with Wise first.
Wise is strictly regulated in all the countries in which it operates. In the US, the company is registered as a money services business (MSB) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and renews its registration annually.
It is licensed as a money transmitter in a number of US states, and supervised by regulatory authorities in each of those states. Elsewhere, Wise works with partner financial institution Community Federal Savings Bank to offer its services.
Wise has the following security features:
- 2-factor authentication to protect access to your account
- HTTPS encryption for extra-secure transactions
- Commitment to keeping your personal data safe.
Now, for TorFX. The company is licenced as an electronic money institution in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It doesn’t disclose on its website details of licensing and regulation in other countries.
TorFX uses a system known as safeguarding⁴ to keep your money separated and protected from all the other funds the business holds. This should help to protect you in the event that TorFX becomes insolvent, or if one of the banks it works with goes under.
TorFX also uses TLS encryption to protect your data on its website, along with two-factor authentication when logging into your account.
After reading this, you should have a better idea of what fees and exchange rates to expect with Wise and TorFX.
But which provider is cheaper will all come down to your particular transfer. Rates and fees are often determined by factors such as the amount, currency, destination and payment method.
So when you’re ready to make your transfer, you’ll need to compare the fee and rate for both Wise and TorFX, to see which is the best value. It’s just a shame that you can’t check TorFX exchange rates upfront, without having to sign up for an account.
Remember just because TorFX doesn’t charge any upfront fees, this doesn’t automatically mean it’s the cheapest. The exchange rate can make all the difference. If there’s a margin added on top of the mid-market exchange rate, this can potentially eclipse any upfront transfer fee.
Sources last checked on date: 24-Aug-2023
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 Wise Payments 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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