Wise Review: Pros & Cons

OUR RATING
4.5/5

Our take: Wise Personal is one of the most competitive money exchange and transfer services. It also offers a couple of features available with banks such us debit and virtual cards. If you have to exchange larger amounts, the fees are more attractive than most competitors. The customer service support is decent but could be improved. We would recommend Wise for current spending, especially abroad while keeping a relatively reasonable balances, but since it doesn’t have a banking license we do not view it as safe as traditional banks. Finally, you can park your money with BlackRock Money Market and Equity Funds with typical EU/UK protection.

Key Features

Key Limitations

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Global Reach: Wise is offering personal and business accounts. In 2024 they are serving over 10 million active customers, support 40+ currencies, and operate in 170+ countries.
  • Main Appeal: Wise’s main appeal is a multi-currency account, reasonably priced international transfers and competitive exchange rates, though they may be less favorable for low amounts. It offers the possibility to park your cash in money market and equity funds in some countries.
  • Mobile Friendly Platform: Wise’s app is highly rated for its quick transfers and favorable currency conversions. However, common complaints include delays, frozen transactions, and subpar customer service.
  • Regulatory Oversight: Wise is regulated by major financial authorities (e.g., FCA, ASIC) across various countries. The company is listed on the LSE which increases transparency compared to come of its competitors. It has seen a strong increase in profitability in the last few years.

Pros & Cons and suitability

Pros

CONS

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WISE Snapshot

What Is Wise ?

Wise is a leading global currency exchange and transfer platform. They offer three main products. Two are for retail clients –  personal account (Wise Account) and a business account (Wise Business). One is for institutional client – payment system integration platform (Wise Platform). In this review, we will focus on Wise Account.

Reaching Profitability, with a good service offering

Wise was established in 2011 and it is headquartered in London. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £8.26 billion as May 2024. According to their 2023 annual report, the company is profitable and had £846 million in revenue (up 51% YoY) with £239 million in EBITDA (up 97% YoY).

Company Info

CharacteristicWise Personal
Inception Date🛈 2011
Headquarters🛈 London, UK
Key Owner🛈 Kristo Käärmann - founder (18%), AH Capital Management LLC (8%), Taavet Hinrikus (7%)
Company EvaluationLSE £8.26 billion (May 2024)
Revenue✅ £846 million (2023)

Features

FeatureWise Personal
Key Base Currencies🛈 All Major Currencies
Transfer Speed✅ Instant
Multicurrency✅ Yes
Cash Interest✅ High Rate
Mobile App✅ Yes
Debit Cards✅ Yes

I. Company

Business Profile

Since its founding in 2011, Wise has enjoyed fast growth in both user base and revenue. With time, they have added new services such as a debit card, business accounts, a payment system integration platform (for companies), and savings accounts. Nevertheless, their primary focus remained on currency exchange and international transfers. In 2024 they are serving over 10 million active customers, support 40+ currencies, and operate in 170+ countries.

Safety Considerations

The company’s headquarters are located in London, UK, but Wise has other group entities registered in EEA (Belgium), the US, Brazil, Japan, Australia, and others. For instance, it is regulated by the FCA in the UK and the National Bank of Belgium in EEA countries. Other regulators include ASIC in Australia, FINTRAC in Canada and MAS in Singapore. However, they are regulated as an electronic money company, not a bank which has safety implications, as per below.

Cash Custodians & Protection Schemes

Since Wise is not a bank, they are not part of a deposit protection scheme. The way that they are protecting customers’ deposits is through safeguarding (keeping your funds separate from the company’s fund). This practice could look different depending on your residency. Generally, customer funds are mostly kept in cash at one of the major depositary banks. Part of the funds could be held in the form of short-term government bonds of developed countries. The funds you invest through either Wise Interest or Wise Stocks are generally eligible for investor protection depending on your residency. For example, this amounts to up to €20,000 in EEA or £85,000 in the UK.

Security

Some of the security features include a dedicated fraud team, real-time notifications when spending money, two-factor authentication, logging in with your fingerprint, etc. The company also claims to run regular vulnerability scans, use independent finance and IT auditors, and be transparent in its data collection, processing, and storage policies. They are also running a bug bounty BugCrowd program which rewards users for finding security vulnerabilities. Wise is also monitoring any suspicious financial activities and employing standard “Know Your Customer” (KYC) practices when opening an account with them.

II. Fee structure

Exchange Rates and Fees

The total fees vary by currency, but start at 0.35%. 

Spreads are very tight, as compared to competitors. The company claims that you can get the mid-market rate (which banks use to trade between themselves). You can find the latest exchange rates on the app’s home screen. 

Savings account cash interest comparison with Revolut

Interest-bearing accounts in GBP, USD, and EUR are also available. Below is an interest rate comparison without Revolut free allowances. 

Cash Interest as May 2024

CurrencyRevolut Flexible Accounts (Standard)Wise Interest account
GBP4.04%
4.66%
EUR3.97% 3.67%
USD3.09%
5.05%

WISE VS REVOLUT: Simulation for different amounts

The table below compares currency conversions for Revolut (Standard Account) and Wise across different transaction amounts including fees, allowances and spreads.

 It shows the converted amount for 100, 1,000, and 5,000 units of the base currency for various currency pairs, including a specific comparison for 5,000 units with Wise. The data are as May 2024. 

This comparison highlights the differences in conversion amounts between Revolut and Wise, with Wise generally offering more favorable rates across various currency pairs and amounts. Revolut tends to offer slightly better rates for smaller amounts across several currency pairs due to the free allowances.

For example, USD to EUR, USD to GBP, and EUR to GBP conversions show marginally higher converted amounts for Revolut at the 100-unit level. However, for larger amounts (5,000 units), Wise generally provides better rates, as seen in the comparisons for USD to EUR, USD to GBP, and other currency pairs. 

Thus, Revolut might be more advantageous for smaller transactions, while Wise appears to offer more favorable rates for higher amounts.

Standard Account Simulation as June 2024

From/ToFor 100 (Revolut)
For 1,000 (Revolut)For 5,000 units (Revolut)For 100 (Wise)For 1,000 (Wise)For 5,000 (Wise)
USD to EUR91.4
915.64,560.290.6913.24,569.6
USD to GBP77.9780.23,88577.1777.83,891.7
USD to CHF88.7
888.44,424.387.1885.64,434.4
EUR to GBP84.8848.54,208.383.9846.84,237.5
EUR to NOK1,140.611,447.356,778.11,125.611,414.957,144.8
EUR to
SEK
1,130.611,346.256,279.11,115.811,315.356,649.9
EUR to
PLN
426.34,276.221,209.9422.34,270.321,372.5
GBP to
PLN
500.65,021.424,905.4498.25,020.125,116.8

Additional Charges

There are no deposit or withdrawal fees for bank transfers for your home account in your home country. There are however fees when depositing funds by bank transfers outside your home country, by debit/credit cards, Trustly, Google Pay, or Apple Pay.

III. Platform & Features

SAVING PRODUCTS

You can hold your money in three different ways on Wise:

  • Interest Jars
  • Stock Jars
  • In Cash

THREE WAYS TO PARK CASH WITH WISE

Interest Jars

Interest Jars are the main savings product offered by Wise. It is offered in partnership with Blackrock and through Wise Assets. Wise Assets is a subsidiary of Wise and is authorized as an investment firm and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. The funds are invested in low-risk Blackrock’s short-term money market funds and the interest is paid out daily. The interest is variable and tracks the associated central bank rates. You can find the Wise Interest account in Jars when opening a new account on the homepage. Wise and BlackRock charge separate fees.

Stock Jars

There is also the ability to invest your money through Stock Jars in a single global stock fund managed by Blackrock – the iShares World Equity Index Fund. It is a passive index fund that is investing in large and mid-caps from developed countries tracking the MSCI World Index.  Regarding the fees, there is both a fund fee and a Wise fee which are slightly different depending on your residency (see table). It is only available in the UK, EEA, and Singapore.

Stocks Jar - Features as May 2024

Your CountryFund & fund managerAnnual Wise feeAnnual fund feeTotal fee
UKiShares World Equity Index Fund by BlackRock
0.45%0.15%0.60%
EEAiShares World Equity Index Fund by BlackRock0.45%0.15%0.60%
SingaporeInfinity Global Stock Index Fund by Lion Global
0.425%0.475%0.90%

Wise Account Currencies

Accounts Currency: GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, NZD, SGD, RON, CAD, HUF, TRY.

Hold and convert money: All of the above plus AED, BDT, BGN, CHF, CLP, CNY, CRC, CZK, DKK, EGP, GEL, IDR, ILS, INR, JPY, KES, KRW, LKR, MAD, MXN, MYR, NGN, NOK, NPR, PHP, PKR, PLN, SEK, THB, TZS, UAH, UGX, UYU, VND, XOF, ZAR.

Others Features

  • Transfer Speed: Depends on the type of transfer, time of transfer, and whether currency conversion is involved. Transfers between Wise accounts are instantaneous and free of charge. Bank wire transfers can take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days. There is a time estimate shown when making a transfer through the app.
  • Mobile App: Available for Android and Apple (free of charge).
  • Debit Card: Available (a one-time fee). International ATM withdrawals are free for 2 or fewer withdrawals of a total of £/€ 200 or less per month. Otherwise, there is a £/€0.5 + 1.75% fee. There are no deposit or withdrawal fees, but there is a fee for topping up e-wallets in certain currencies. Free digital cards can be created in the app and used with Google/Apple Pay.
  • Other Services: scheduled transfers, recurring transfers, direct debits, auto-convert

IV. WISE Reviews

Reputation

Wise’s app has a strong 4.7 rating on both the Apple Store and Play Store, with nearly 1 million total ratings. Common complaints include delayed/canceled transfers and subpar customer service.

  • Sign-Up Process: Wise’s sign-up process is quick and easy, usually completed in minutes with a valid ID. Verification can take from minutes to several days; proof of address is needed for physical debit cards.
  • Platform Interface/Ease of Use: Wise is primarily a mobile app with a clean and intuitive interface. The home screen shows your balance, transaction options, and recent transactions; customer support is not easy to find.
  • Transaction Process: Transactions can be accessed directly from the home screen. You can find recipients by various details and save them for future use. There are no extra charges for these services.
  • Customer Support: Customer support is accessible via email, phone, or chat after navigating multiple steps. Common complaints include slow response times and inadequate help.
  • Positive Feedback: Users praise quick and cheap transfers, favorable currency conversions, interest-bearing savings accounts, and the simple user interface. Integration with Google/Apple Pay is a plus.
  • Areas for Improvement: Major areas for improvement are delayed/frozen transactions and subpar customer service. Competitors may offer a wider range of financial services.
Thank you for reading.
Good Luck and Keep’em* Rolling!

(* Wheels & Dividends)

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