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Transferring money with Wise (formerly Transferwise) March 18, 2022

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.

There is a great alternative out there for translators and agencies to pay each other in foreign currencies without huge bank transaction fees – and no need for Paypal! I recently had almost $100 in fees deducted when one of my agencies switched to Paypal. I fired them. They had paid me up until then by check and it didn’t cost either of us anything. I’m sorry, but agencies who pay by Paypal are pushing the fees onto us – and we are the ones who are making the least amount of money in the transaction between them and their clients. Most agencies charge their clients double (if not triple) the “best rate” that they pay us, and we are performing the actual tangible work. The least they can do is pay any fees. Any money transfers aren’t that much better. Any time money moves into another currency, it’s still a maze of hidden exchange rate markups, high fees, delays, and small print. Well, with Wise, foreign payments are easy and affordable. Note: I do not work for Wise, nor am I being paid anything for this post. I just really like the service.

TransferWise was established years ago when Taavet and the Wise team set out to fix the inherent problems of international money transfers for all of us who’d been overcharged and underserved by banks. They chose the name ‘TransferWise’ because they knew their early customers were ‘wise’ to know their banks were charging hidden fees in exchange rate markups. Their business idea was to make money work without borders — to make money move instantly, transparently, conveniently, and — eventually — for free. They did this by establishing bank accounts in many different countries and utilizing them to move money for the customers in those countries.

In other words, I transfer money between Germany and the U.S. by setting up a transfer on the website. They calculate what I will be receiving, while stating what fees are involved. It is up to me to then accept or decline the transaction. They also use a very decent exchange rate. I compared the costs with several different transfer sites and Wise always gave me the most bang for my buck (or euro). I then transfer the money from my German bank account to Wise’s bank account in Frankfurt and have the money in my U.S. account on the date they quote in the offer.

It took a little bit of effort to sign up and get verified, but setting up a foreign bank account is almost impossible these days so this is a welcome option. I signed up using an email account, but you can also sign up with your Facebook or Google accounts. I prefer to keep my business out of the monoliths’ reaches, so I prefer using email. I had to prove I was who I was, which took a couple of days, and had to verify a couple small deposits in my bank account, but once the account was set up it runs smoothly every time.

Receive payments like a local in 10 currencies.

Get your own UK account number, Euro IBAN, US routing number, and more.

Convert and hold 54 currencies.

Holding multiple currencies is completely free

Wise is improving every day. They developed an app so you can access your account from anywhere using your smartphone. Get instant notifications for transactions. Freeze and unfreeze your card with a click. If you misplace it, you can use a virtual card instantly.

They have recently launched multi-currency accounts and an associated debit card that can be used in any currency. I first talked about their debit card during my ‘Contingency Planning and Crisis Management 101’ presentation at ATA58. They’ve improved on it since then. These new offerings could easily replace international banking for many of us. You can use the account as a normal bank account when you bill your clients. They pay you in their currency and you can withdraw it in your currency. Order a contactless debit card, and connect to Apple Pay or Google Pay right away. Or pay securely with your Wise digital card online. They are regulated in each country. For example, Wise US Inc. is registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and renews its registration annually. It is licensed as a money transmitter in the states listed here, and supervised by regulatory authorities in each of those states.

By building this infrastructure, they have created a platform that more than a dozen banks use today. Wise bills itself as “a community of 10 million like-minded people and businesses managing money all over the world, saving billions and fighting as hard as ever against hidden fees.”

I have been a happy customer of Wise/TransferWise since 2017. What are you waiting for?



1. Jen Guernsey - March 18, 2022

Thanks, this is really useful. From the client end, does it just look like they are transferring to a local bank account (e.g., an ACH transaction in the US), or do they have to sign up with Transferwise as well?

Currently I use a combo of PayPal and bank transfer. Because PayPal charges fees as a percentage, it’s the cheaper option for smaller invoices ($1000. In between, it depends on the wire transfer fees, which are so hard to deduce. My agencies always pay their sending fee, but I have a receiving fee at my own bank ($15) and often mystery banks along the way will pull out $25 or so. The most annoying thing about bank wires is it’s impossible to nail down the total cost in advance.

2. Jill (@bonnjill) - March 19, 2022

I’m pretty sure they can just pay into the local bank account and don’t have to sign up. I have a BIC and IBAN for my euro account based in Belgium; an institution number, account number and transit number for my Canadian dollar account based in Ottawa; and an ACH routing number, wire routing number and account number for a checking account based in New York.

3. Craig Morris (@PPchef) - March 22, 2022

Jill, long time no see! I was wondering how PayPal makes its money. I never seem to get charged anything. Why do they charge you?

Jill (@bonnjill) - March 27, 2022

They take out a sizeable percentage (3%) if someone pays by credit card, clicks on Payment Protection or indicates it is a business payment. If you get paid by “Friends and family” or “someone you trust” they just forward the money.

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