Wise Vs Currencies Direct: A Full Comparison

If you can’t decide between Wise and Currencies Direct for your next international payment you need this Wise Vs Currencies Direct review. We’ll cover all you need to know, including:

  • A full feature comparison
  • Which option is cheaper?
  • Which gets your money there faster?
  • Which is safer?
  • Which gets better customer ratings?

Summary:

Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) is a specialist in international payments to bank accounts, with multi-currency account products for individuals and businesses. 

Currencies Direct offers international payments, and a range of currency risk management solutions for businesses and individuals. If you want a simple online or in-app transfer, Wise may be cheaper and has more transparent pricing. If you need risk management products or want to talk to a broker directly, check out Currencies Direct.

Wise holds an Australian Financial Services licence (AFSL) and is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Currencies Direct is licensed in the UK, EU, South Africa and Canada.

 

Wise Vs Currencies Direct: side by side

Wise

Send payments to: 80+ countries, 50+ currencies

Multi-currency accounts: Available for 54 currencies

Business currency services: Yes

Risk management services: No

Fully licensed and regulated: Yes

Currencies Direct

Send payments to: 40+ countries

Multi-currency accounts: No

Business currency services: Yes

Risk management services: Yes

Fully licensed and regulated: Yes

So, to summarise: 

  • Wise supports more currencies compared to Currencies Direct 
  • Wise has a multi-currency account and card to support 50+ currencies - Currencies Direct does not have that option for personal customers, but does have business account services for online sellers
  • Currencies Direct offers a range of currency risk management services for personal and business customers - Wise does not
  • Both Wise and Currencies Direct offer business services
  • Both providers are fully licensed and regulated

While you can send an international payment with both Wise and Currencies Direct, they’re quite different companies. Wise offers simple online and in-app payments to 80+ countries in 54 currencies. Currencies Direct covers 40 currencies, but also offers a range of currency risk management solutions which aren’t available from Wise. Which provider is best for you will depend largely on the services you’re looking for.

The important bits

Wise

Currencies Direct 

Rates Mid-market exchange rate with no markup Exchange rates include a markup
Fees Low fees, varies by destination Most transactions don’t include an upfront fee
Speed 40% of payments are instant, 80% arrive in 24 hours Up to 24 - 48 hours
Service Online, in app and by phone Online, by phone or in person in offices in Europe, the US, South Africa or India
Safety Fully regulated and licensed Fully regulated and licensed
Reviews (TrustPilot) Trustpilot score: 4.6/5, Excellent rating, from 140,000+ reviews   Trustpilot score: 4.9/5, Excellent rating, from 6,000+ reviews

 

Rates: Wise uses the mid-market rate, whereas Currencies Direct adds a markup to the exchange rates used.

Fees: Wise uses a variable fee based on the payment amount and destination country. Currencies Direct doesn’t charge a fee for most payments.

Speed: Currencies Direct payments may take 24 - 48 hours to arrive. Wise payments can be instant, with 80% arriving in 24 hours.

Service: Both providers offer multilingual service in a range of languages, online and by phone. Wise also has an in-app  service, while Currencies Direct has an in person option if you’re in Europe, the US, South Africa or India.

Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated. 

Reviews: Both Currencies Direct and Wise score an Excellent review rating on Trustpilot, although Currencies Direct has fewer posted reviews.

Pros and cons

Wise

Currencies Direct

Pros 
  • 50+ currencies and 80+ countries covered
  • Mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees every time
  • Personal multi-currency accounts available
  • Online and in-app service for ease
  • International payments and currency risk management solutions available
  • Business services including accounts for online sellers
  • No fee for most transactions
  • Office service is available - although no office locations in Australia
Cons 
  • No branch network
  • No cash payments
  • Accounts are not interest bearing
  • Currency risk management unavailable 
  • Exchange rates include a markup
  • No personal multi-currency accounts available
  • Payments by bank transfer or GBP/EUR debit card only

Wise Vs Currencies Direct: The verdict

Currencies Direct and Wise offer slightly different services and take different approaches to the way they work. That probably means they’ll appeal to different customer needs.

Currencies Direct offers international payments and more complex currency risk management products. You can get a personal service by talking to a broker if you want to. Most services don’t have an upfront fee - but there is a charge added to the exchange rate offered.

Wise doesn't provide currency risk management services. Instead, you’ll get fast and convenient online and in-app transfers direct to bank accounts. You can also open a multi-currency account with a linked international debit card. Wise always offers the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees, making it easy to see how much your payment is costing overall.

To see which is cheapest for your transfer you can model your payment with Wise online or in the app, and call Currencies Direct to get a quote for their service.

About Wise and Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct was founded in Europe in 1996 and now has over 20 offices around the world. Last year, Currencies Direct helped arrange payments worth 7.5 billion GBP. As well as international transfers, Currencies Direct specialises in currency risk management products for individuals and businesses, and offers a personal broker service over the phone.

Send payments and trade in 40 currencies with Currencies Direct.

Wise was launched as TransferWise back in 2011 as a low-cost international payment provider. These days, Wise has upwards of 10 million customers, and also offers personal and business accounts to hold and manage currencies, accept payments and spend using a linked debit card. 

With Wise you can send payments to 80+ countries, in 50+ currencies. 

How do they work?

Send a Wise payment online or in the Wise app. Here’s what to do:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Type in how much you want to transfer, or how much you need the recipient to get
  3. Enter the recipient’s details - bank account number or email
  4. Check over the details
  5. Fund your payment using a card or bank transfer
  6. Confirm and your money will be on the move

Wise uses a different approach to move money around the world - in fact payments never have to cross borders, which means they arrive faster and don’t incur intermediary fees. Instead, when you pay for your transfer in AUD you’ll send the money to Wise’s local Australian account. Then Wise uses its network of local bank accounts to make a payment of the equivalent amount in your preferred currency, from their account in the destination country.  That results in transfers which are  faster and cheaper than traditional international payments.

You can set up some Currencies Direct payments online and in the app, or you can phone a broker to talk through your options. When you set up your payment you’ll see a quote which covers any transfer fee and the exchange rate available for your payment. You’ll then be guided through the process to confirm the recipient’s details and bank account information.

Wise vs Currencies Direct Fees

The amount you pay for a Wise international transfer will depend on the value of your payment and the way you pay for it. However, there’s no exchange rate markup to worry about as Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate with no hidden costs.

Wise transfer fees include a variable fee which depends on the value of your transfer, and which is clearly shown when you calculate your payment. You may also pay a small fee based on the way you fund your transfer.

Often there’s no upfront transfer fee from Currencies Direct, but there is a fee added to the exchange rate in the form of a markup. To see this you’ll need to compare the rate you’re offered against the mid-market rate for your currency.

Wise vs Currencies Direct: which is cheaper?

With Wise you can model your payment online or in the app without needing to create an account, to see how much it’ll cost. To see how much a Currencies Direct transfer will cost you’ll have to get a quote. 

That means that to compare the Wise and Currencies Direct costs for your payment you’ll have to create a Currencies Direct account online, in the app or over the phone. 

Currencies Direct often doesn’t use an upfront transfer fee but does add a fee into the exchange rate being offered. This makes the pricing less transparent compared to Wise as you’ll need to compare the Currencies Direct rate against the live mid-market rate for your currency to find the true cost.

Wise Vs Currencies Direct: which is faster?

Wise payments can arrive in seconds on some currency routes, and most transfers arrive within a day. You’ll see the estimated delivery time when you set up your transfer, and can always track it online or in the Wise app.

Currencies Direct payments may arrive on the same day if you’re making a transfer to Europe, but can take 24 - 48 hours in some cases.

Safety

Both Wise and Currencies Direct are safe companies to use.

Currencies Direct was founded in Europe, and is licensed by the UK’s Financial Conduct authority. Further to this, Currencies Direct is regulated by the authorities in Canada, South Africa, the EU and the US.

Wise is fully regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and also holds the required licenses in other countries it operates in. In Australia, Wise holds an Australian Financial Services licence and is authorised by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: Wise accounts are opened and operated online or using the Wise app.  Currencies Direct accounts can be opened online, by phone or in person if you happen to be close to one of their offices
  • Making a transfer:  Wise international payments can be made online or in the Wise app.  Currencies Direct payments can be made online in app, by phone or in person 
  • Ways to send money:  Wise transfers can be funded by bank transfer, credit or debit card.  Currencies Direct accepts payments by GBP/EUR debit card or bank transfer if you’re sending a different currency
  • Languages:  Wise offers global support in a range of languages, online, using the app, and by phone.  Currencies Direct offers a comprehensive phone support service from offices in Europe, the US, South Africa and India
  • Minimum & maximum amounts:  Wise limits depend on which currencies you send to and from, and how you pay. However, you can make several smaller transfers if your ideal transfer amount exceeds the limit for the specific payment.  Currencies Direct doesn’t list maximum payment amounts, although restrictions may apply based on the destination country

Supported currencies

With Wise you can send money to 80 countries and hold and convert 54 currencies in your Wise account. Currencies Direct offers payments and trading in 40+ currencies.

Conclusion

Wise offers convenient, fast and cheap international transfers you can arrange online and using your mobile device. It’s all about speed, safety and a transparent, fair price. Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate, and charges a low transfer fee to make it simple to see the overall cost of your international payment.

Currencies Direct also facilitates international payments but their specialist options include currency risk management and a broker service which is provided by phone. Currencies Direct doesn’t charge a fee for most transfers, but does markup exchange rates. That can make it harder to see the real cost of your transfer.

If you want currency risk management solutions or need to talk to a broker directly, Currencies Direct may suit you. However, if you want a simple transfer which costs less and arrives faster, Wise may offer a better deal.

Frequently asked questions - Wise vs Currencies Direct

Is Wise or Currencies Direct cheaper?

Currencies Direct doesn’t usually charge a fee but does add an exchange rate markup. However, Wise offers transfers with no exchange rate makeup and an easy way to model your payment without commitment, so you can easily see the cost of your payment.

Is Wise or Currencies Direct faster?

Wise payments can arrive instantly, with most being delivered within 24 hours. Currencies Direct payments may take 24 - 48 hours.

How many currencies do Wise and Currencies Direct support?

Wise customers can send payments to 80+ countries, and hold and manage 50+ in their Wise accounts. Currencies Direct allows customers to trade in 40+ currencies.

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By Ileana Ionescu Updated January 28th, 2022