TransferWise BORDERLESS - Should All Travellers Have One?

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

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

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 TransferWise Borderless Account is a prime example.

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What is the TransferWise Borderless Account?

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

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. TransferWise uses its usual mid-market rate when moving money around, and charges a percentage on the conversion.

How Does the TransferWise Borderless 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.

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

If you’ve never used TransferWise 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 TransferWise Borderless Debit Card

The majority of people can get a borderless account right now, but TransferWise 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. Using this card is as simple as using any other debit card but TransferWise lets you use the card and draw from the different currency balances in your account for free. You can also withdraw cash to the equivalent of up to £200 a month from international ATMs at no charge.

When paying with a currency you don’t currently hold in your borderless account, TransferWise will automatically do the conversion at the standard exchange rate, typically charging a fee of between 0.35-1%. However, when spending in certain “rare” currencies, you’ll pay the MasterCard rate instead (more on that here.)

Can you use a TransferWise Borderless 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 TransferWise accounts. As long as you have another bank account in any of the supported currencies you can simply transfer funds there from your TransferWise 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.

Borderless 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 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 withdrawals for personal account users (there are a couple of exceptions).

How Do I Set up a TransferWise Borderless Account?

Visit TransferWise 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 TransferWise 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 (zero fees)

What Fees Are There for the TransferWise Borderless Account?

It's free to set up your TransferWise 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 2% 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 TransferWise 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, TransferWise will convert the balance with the lowest fee, so you never have to worry about getting the best rate.

The best aspect of TransferWise is that everything is shown upfront, without hidden costs. Instead, you get charged a fixed fee plus a percentage of the amount you’re sending, based on your payment method and chosen currencies.

It’s worth checking out the pricing page to find out more. While a bank transfer is the most common (and cheapest) way to send money, it can also be done by debit card, credit card, or SWIFT payment for certain currencies.

In Summary

The Transferwise borderless account is the first platform offering true multi-country banking to anyone who needs it, no matter where your country of origin or residence.

You can receive (and send to) money from all around the globe, and hold funds in over 40 global currencies, plus get a contactless MasterCard debit card for spending abroad at any point of sale.

If you are paid for a service or product in a different currency than that of your home country, or possibly even receive income in multiple currencies, the TransferWise borderless account will save you money without a doubt.

If you have been using PayPal up till now as to receive foreign currencies and then afterwards transferred them to your own bank account, you can now get those same companies or individuals to rather make payments directly into your TransferWise borderless account and avoid unnecessary fees.

This is a modern-day banking revolution and it will save you money.

Save even more by signing up for you TransferWise Borderless Account here

Bonus Travel Money Tips

It's important to stay clued up about your finances when you're travelling; learn how to travel safely and make your hard-earned money go further.

Always have backups. Before you set off, take photos of all your important documents, such as your passport, driving licences, debit and credit cards, and save them in a cloud server. If you're going somewhere with unreliable online access, take paper copies and store them in a safe place away from the actual items. Personally we use Google One which for a mere $2 per month provide us with 100Gb shared storage space. This allows us to have complete access to all shared backups and documents.

Take two of everything. Never rely on a single card. Always have at least one backup, and again keep them in a separate place. Preferably take a VISA and a MASTERCARD to give more redundancy.

Where possible use a credit card and not a debit card for online payments and even point of sale as you might enjoy greater protection from potential abuse.

When out and about, keep some cash and a card in a separate pocket from your main handbag/rucksack. Only use an ATM in a well-populated area.

It's always a good idea to have either some local currency in cash with you or a currency that you can easily exchange at a good rate (like USD). Order it in plenty of time if your destination is off the beaten track. However, never carry large amounts of cash.

Take the time to compare costs on various current accounts and cards before your holiday. Making sure you understand all the technical terms and conditions for charges is essential if you want to avoid charges.

This post was written to the best of our knowledge and understanding but unintended mistakes or changes to product and availability thereof are inevitable. Please use the information herein at your own risk and discretion as it is not intended as financial or professional advice and provided for editorial purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics in under discussion.



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