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WISE Multi-Currency Account - Should All Travellers Have One?

Updated: Mar 6

If you're familiar with Wise (previously TransferWise) you will know that it's possibly the cheapest way to transfer money between countries. Wise can help you to avoid bank fees and gives you the REAL exchange rate for the day.

TransferWise change their name to Wise the first quarter of 2021 as they feel they have progressed beyond their original scope of merely offering cheap transfers across currencies. Their updated mission is to offer "the world’s most international account". Wise wants to make your money borderless — with instant, super-cheap money transfers, a debit card to spend in any currency, account details to get paid in 30+ countries, balances to hold your money safely in 50+ different currencies, multi-currency direct debits, and other revolutionary features.

Exploring the world is an incredible, life-changing experience that will open your mind and create amazing memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life. However, overseas banking can be a very frustrating experience, especially when it comes to working out currency conversion rates and the real value of transaction fees.

Accessing your money when abroad is far more complicated than just putting your card into an ATM machine and withdrawing the cash. You need to think about foreign bank fees and charges on top of currency exchange rates. Put simply, travelling around can be an expensive enough business so it's important to avoid wasting money on unnecessary costs.



CARDS vs CASH for Travel

The good news is that there are now a number of options available to meet the needs of frequent travellers and digital nomads. Choosing the right account means that it’s possible to save a considerable amount of money and avoid getting those unpleasant surprises in your monthly statement.

The Wise Multi-Currency Account is a prime example.

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Wise products and associated fees is dependent on your country of residence. The values used in this article is for illustrative purposes only and you should check the Wise website for the latest.

What is the Wise Multi-Currency Account?

If you travel regularly or earn money in other currencies, there’s a feature of Wise that’s particularly useful: the “borderless” account. This multi-currency account is free and easy to set up once you’ve created your Wise account.

A borderless account is a bit like having local bank accounts all over the world. It's a multi-currency account that lets you keep money in 40+ currencies, and you are able to convert between them at the real exchange rate whenever you need.

The borderless account gives you ACTUAL bank account details in a number of currencies (including USD, GBP, EUR and AUD). So even if you don't live in the US or UK, Australia or Europe, you will effectively have a bank account there.

Receive payments like a local in 9 currencies. Get your own UK account number, Euro IBAN, US routing number, and more.

You can hold dozens of other currencies in your borderless account as well, and it’s easy to switch money between them. You can also see the current balance in each account, all on one page. Wise uses its usual mid-market rate when moving money around, and charges a percentage on the conversion.

How Does the Wise Multi-Currency Account Work?

We all know the struggle of withdrawing and exchanging foreign currency, trying to make sure you’re not getting screwed over by your bank on the one hand, or the bureau de change on the other.

Wise states that instead of one international transfer taking place when doing the conversion, two local transfers are made instead. In doing so, it simply bypasses most international fees.

For example, if you want to switch Pounds to Euros, Wise will send your Pounds to their sterling account in the UK, and your Euros from their Euro account in Germany. This saves the company money as the converted cash hasn’t travelled internationally, and it passes those savings on to you.

Even better, Wise uses the real, mid-market exchange rate — the same rate that banks use to trade between themselves.

If you’ve never used Wise before, you can see how it all works before needing to set up an account. Just go to the website and plugin how much money you want to transfer, and into which currency. You’ll then see how exactly what the converted amount will be, along with the transparent fee.

The Wise Multi-Currency Debit Card

The majority of people can get a borderless account right now, but Wise is still rolling out the debit card to a number of countries.

Along with the debit card the borderless account truly comes into its own for travel. With your Wise debit card, you can spend in the local currency — wherever you are. It's accepted anywhere that takes Mastercard or Visa. You can spend on your Wise debit card in any currency, and they will auto-convert it with the lowest possible fee. You'll always get the real exchange rate.

When paying with a currency you don’t currently hold in your borderless account, Wise will automatically do the conversion at the standard exchange rate, typically charging a fee of between 0.35%. However, when spending in certain “rare” currencies, you’ll pay the MasterCard rate instead (more on that here.)

You can also withdraw cash to the equivalent of up to £200 twice a month from international ATMs at no charge.

Can you use a Wise Multi-Currency Account without the Debit Card?

The reality is that most of us are on the road perpetually and may not even have a home base! Receiving the debit card might not be possible or you may not even qualify for it due to your country of residence. Does the account still make sense?

Having access to multiple actual bank accounts in different currencies makes it incredibly easy and cheap to receive money from anyone and make payments to others. You can provide a local account number for payments and move currency between your own Wise accounts. As long as you have another bank account in any of the supported currencies you can simply transfer funds there from your Wise account.

Yes, to be able to spend in foreign currency at any point of sale you would need a card to do so and to take full advantage of the account it should be a priority. However, you could effectively hedge fluctuation between currencies by transferring funds between different currency accounts if you are planning a trip.

Wise Multi-Currency Account Benefits - When Using the Debit Card

  • Lets you spend anywhere in the world at the midmarket (real) exchange rate. You will on average pay lower conversion fees than by using a traditional debit card, and as bonus zero transaction fees.

  • Free to pay with any currencies in your account: convert money into your required currency and it will be free to spend or pay in your chosen local currency.

  • Free ATM withdrawals up to £200 twice a month.

  • Be able to pay in any currency regardless whether you have the currency available in your account as it will automatically convert the currency in your account with the lowest conversion fee.

  • Free withdrawals in the same currency for personal account users (there are a couple of exceptions).

How Do I Set up a Wise Multi-Currency Account?

Visit Wise to create your free account.

After verification, you can select a currency and set up each currency with just a couple of clicks.

Add funds to your account. You can top up via debit card or bank transfers.

As soon as your account is set up, you are able to do the following:

  • Convert funds between currencies in seconds at the real exchange rate with low conversion fees;

  • Send money from any currency in your account to pay your bills or send money to friends and family;

  • Spend money with your Wise debit Mastercard (if your home country is eligible for the card);

  • Receive money with account numbers and IBANs. Get paid in AUD, EUR, GBP or USD in your account (with zero fees).

What Fees Are There for the Wise Multi-Currency Account?

It's free to set up your Wise account.

It's free to get your international bank details for the different currencies and it's free to receive funds using those bank details.

It’s free to pay with currencies you hold in your account and to withdraw cash up to £200 per month (thereafter there's a 1.75% charge).

The only cost you’ll be charged is a fee to convert between currencies – either in your account or if you spend by using your Wise debit card in any currency you don't already have in your account.

When you convert money in your account it's always with the real exchange rate, and you always see the fee before you make the exchange.

If you spend your funds by using your debit Mastercard at a point of sale in a currency you don't already have, Wise will convert the balance with the lowest fee, so you never have to worry about getting the best rate.