Those of you familiar with TransferWise will know that it is the cheapest way to transfer money between countries. It helps you avoid bank fees and gives you the real exchange rate.
I have written about this service in another post and it's been hugely helpful to other expats over the last 2 years.
And now I am pleased to report on the global rollout of the TransferWise borderless account. With a TransferWise borderless account you can now send, receive and spend money around the world with the real exchange rate.
I was lucky enough to be one of the people selected to trial the borderless account last year. Based on the feedback of people involved in the trial, this service has gradually been rolled out to a wider audience in different countries over a number of months.
In this post, I'll walk you through exactly how the borderless account works, help you identify whether or not you need a borderless account, and reveal all the details on set-up, fees and how much you can save in comparison with traditional banking methods.
What is the Borderless Account?
The borderless account gives you bank account details for USD, GBP, EUR and AUD. You also have the option to add your local currency to hold in your balance. So even if you don't live in the US or UK, Australia or Europe, you will effectively have a bank account there
A borderless account is a bit like having local accounts all over the world. It’s a multi-currency account that lets you keep money in 40+ currencies, and convert between them at the real exchange rate whenever you need.
Who is the Borderless Account For?
The account is for anyone really, but I'll explain how it has been useful for me.
I receive regular payments in US Dollars, and occasionally Euros too.
Historically payments were made to my PayPal account or my UK bank account. With PayPal, I would have to pay a receiving fee, and then pay another fee to transfer this money to my UK bank account; in doing so I am subject to PayPal's horrible exchange rate.
If the money is paid into my UK bank account, then I'm usually subject to a wire fee, and if not a wire fee, I always have to suffer the poor exchange rate given on transfer.
But now, with TW, I just give my borderless US account number to the person or company paying me and have the US Dollars paid into my account. I can then spend in US Dollars using my TransferWise MasterCard, or I can transfer the US Dollars to my UK bank account at the market exchange rate.
I incur a small fee from TransferWise for withdrawing to my bank account and converting the currency, but I save so much money compared with having the money paid into PayPal.
Moreover, if I receive Euros or Australian Dollars, I can also keep a balance of these currencies in my TransferWise account. I can then spend the balances of these currencies in any country I choose, even here in Thailand.
The borderless account will benefit people who work in professions where they receive money from a source based in America, in Australia, in the UK or in Europe. Think people like freelancers, expats, second home-owners, international students, overseas contractors, etc.
You can receive the money into your borderless account and then spend the money using the borderless debit card, either through withdrawal or electronically. Or you can send the money onto another bank account linked to your borderless account.
The Borderless Debit Card
The debit card is super cool, not least because it is a fluorescent green colour: When you whip it out in the supermarket, the cashier is always like, ” Oh, what bank is that?”
I don't actually use the debit card that much. My main use is having money paid into the borderless account and then transferring money to my bank account in the UK.
I do use it in Thailand when I'm short on funds in my Bangkok bank account, which incidentally I often top up by using TransferWise to send money from my UK bank account to my Thai bank account.
*On another note, I recently found out that Bangkok Bank are no longer issuing Visa debit cards, and those who do have Visa cards won't be able to get a replacement if they lose the card or it expires.
Instead they are issuing Union debit cards, which are pretty much useless because you can't really use them anywhere, though you can use them to withdraw money. So this is another good reason to have the borderless account debit card.
For the record: there is no real difference between MasterCard and Visa. The two are both widely accepted in over two hundred countries and it is very rare to find a location that will accept one but not the other.
There are also those who regularly visit Thailand but struggle to get a bank account, or just can't be bothered to go through the process. The TransferWise borderless account is very well suited to visitors who would like to have a debit card that provides them with favourable exchange and withdrawal rates.
It is really useful when visiting other countries, too.
I was recently on holiday in Switzerland. When I ran out of Swiss Francs it made sense to use the TransferWise debit card because it gave me a favourable exchange rate. As I spent, it transferred the US Dollars in my borderless account to Swiss Francs.
The large majority of people can get a borderless account right now, but they are still rolling out the debit card to a number of countries. Currently it's only for personal use, too, but they have a plan to roll out the card to business users soon.
Borderless Account Benefits Summary:
- Lets you spend anywhere in the world at the real exchange rate. You'll pay low conversion fees, and zero transaction fees.
- Free to pay with 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.
- Only pay a small conversion fee when you convert your money — typically between 0.35% and 1%.
- Pay in any currency, anywhere and it will automatically convert the currency in your account with the lowest conversion fee.
- Free same currency withdrawals for personal account users ( there are a couple of exceptions).
A list of countries where the card is available can be found here.
So those based in the US can't get the debit card right now but can open a borderless account. I'm pretty sure the card will be rolled out in the US soon.
How Do I Set up an Account?
To get set up, you'll need to:
- Create a free account ( you might need to wait a day or so to have your account verified)
- Select a currency. You can set up each currency with just a couple clicks. You can have more than one currency.
- Add money to your account. You can top up via debit card or bank transfer
Once your account is set up and you have access to it, you can do the following:
- Convert money between your currencies in seconds at the real exchange rate with low conversion fees
- Send money from any currency in your account to pay bills, send money to friends and family
- Spend money with your TransferWise debit Mastercard (if your 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)
It's free to set up your account.
It's free to get your international bank details and free to receive money using those bank details.
The only cost you’ll be charged is a fee to convert between currencies – either in your account or if you spend on your TransferWise debit Mastercard in a currency you don't 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 on your debit Mastercard in a currency you don't have, Transferwise chooses to convert the balance with the lowest fee, so you never have to worry about getting the best rate.
I have pictured the fee tables for the US and UK accounts below.
Here's an example of some of the currency conversion fees:
- from GBP to EUR 0.35%
- from GBP to INR 0.55%
- from EUR to GBP 0.5%
- from EUR to USD 0.5%
- from USD to GBP 0.85%
- from USD to EUR 1%
- from AUD to GBP 0.7%
- from AUD to USD 0.7%
Is TransferWise Really Cheaper Than My Bank?
In a nutshell, yes, much cheaper – at least for this type of banking where you're dealing with foreign currencies and spending abroad.
Consumer Intelligence conducted research in January 2018 comparing the TransferWise borderless account to 21 current accounts offerings from banks in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. Additional data research was conducted in March 2018 and on an ongoing basis since then to ensure accurate and up to date information.
The research concluded that in comparison to the 21 current accounts included in the study, the TransferWise borderless account is cheaper, quicker and easier for consumers across all categories.
In the UK, the research found it’s up to 9x cheaper to use TransferWise instead of a bank to send money from GBP to AUD, EUR or USD for £200 and £1,000. And it's up to 7x cheaper to spend the same amounts abroad with the TransferWise debit Mastercard.
In Australia, the research found it’s up to 12x cheaper to use TransferWise instead of a bank to send money from AUD to EUR or USD for $250 and $1,000. The TransferWise card isn't available in Australia yet.
In Germany, the research found it’s up to 4x cheaper to use TransferWise instead of a bank to send money from EUR to AUD, USD for €250 and €1,000. And it's up to 2x cheaper to spend the same amounts abroad using the TransferWise card.
The borderless account is the first platform offering true multi-country banking to anyone who needs it, no matter where you live.
You can receive and send money all over the world, and hold and convert money in over 40 global currencies, and get a contactless Mastercard debit card for spending abroad.
If you are paid in a different currency than that of your home country, or perhaps even receive income in multiple currencies, the TransferWise borderless account will save you money.
If you have been using PayPal to receive foreign currencies and then transfer them to your bank account, you can get those same companies or individuals to pay you into your TransferWise borderless account and avoid those evil PayPal fees.
Do note that you can't transfer money from a PayPal account to your TransferWise borderless account. PayPal would never allow that to happen! Trust me, I phoned them to see if I could get my TW account added to my PP and they were brutally honest about why they wouldn't let this happen.
You can also do favourable currency conversions within your TransferWise account, but that's optional. With the TransferWise debit card, you can spend the money from any currency inside your TransferWise bank account in any country around the world.
This is modern a modern day banking revolution. It will save you money. I have saved thousands in fees already. Enjoy!
Last Updated on