CurrenciesDirect vs Wise: Fees and Rates Compared 2022

Torn between CurrenciesDirect and TransferWise for your next international payment? This CurrenciesDirect Vs TransferWise review is here to help. We’ll cover:

  • A full side by side feature comparison
  • Which provider is cheaper?
  • Which is faster?
  • Which is safer?
  • Which gets better customer reviews?

Summary: TransferWise (now known as Wise) supports more currencies than CurrenciesDirect, and has a multi-currency account and card. For international transfers, Wise also uses a better exchange rate. However, CurrenciesDirect has currency risk management solutions which aren’t available through Wise. Both providers are licensed by the FCA.

Go to Wise
Go to Currencies Direct

CurrenciesDirect Vs Wise: side by side

FeatureCurrenciesDirectWise
Send payments to 40 currencies

80+ countries, 50+ currencies

Personal multi-currency accounts N Available for 54 currencies
Debit card available N Y
Currency risk management solutions Y[1] N
Fully licensed and regulated Y Y
Business multi-currency accounts Y[2] Y

So, to summarise:

  • Wise supports more currencies than CurrenciesDirect
  • Wise has a personal and business multi-currency account to support 50+ currencies, while CurrenciesDirect only offers multi-currency accounts for business customers
  • Wise has a debit card on offer for customers - CurrenciesDirect does not have that option
  • CurrenciesDirect offers currency risk management services - Wise does not
  • Both providers are fully regulated, and offer both personal and business services

CurrenciesDirect is a specialist broker service which has a range of currency risk management products like forward contracts and limit orders. They also offer services in person and by phone, as well as online and in their app. Wise on the other hand is a specialist in fast, secure international payments made online and in-app only. Wise international transfers use the mid-market exchange rate, which can mean they work out cheaper than using CurrenciesDirect.

Go to Wise
Go to Currencies Direct

The important bits

CurrenciesDirectWise
RatesExchange rates include a markup Mid-market exchange rate with no markup
Fees90% of services do not include a fee[5] Low fees, varies by destination
Speed

24 - 48 hours

40% of payments are instant, 80% arrive in 24 hours
ServiceIn person, online, in app and by phone Online, in app and by phone
SafetyFully regulated and licensed Fully regulated and licensed
Reviews (TrustPilot)

4.9 star, Excellent, 6,000+ reviews[6]

4.6 star, Excellent, 134,000+ reviews[7]

Rates: Wise uses the mid-market rate, whereas CurrenciesDirect adds a margin to the rate offered to customers

Fees: Wise has variable fees which are based on the destination country, Currencies Direct doesn’t usually charge a transfer fee

Speed: CurrenciesDirect payments may take 24 - 48 hours, Wise payments can be instant

Service: Both providers offer service, online, in-app and by phone. CurrenciesDirect also has 23 branches around the world, where you can get in person service.

Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated

Reviews: Both providers score Excellent review ratings on Trustpilot - but Wise has significantly more listed customer reviews showing

Pros and cons

CurrenciesDirectWise
Pros
  • Personal service available - in branch and by phone

  • Currency risk management solutions for individuals and businesses

  • No additional transfer fee on most payments

  • Very highly rated on TrustPilot
  • Mid-market exchange rates + low fees

  • Transparent pricing

  • Send to 80+ countries

  • International accounts for personal and business customers

  • Hold and manage 54 currencies
Cons
  • Exchange rates include a markup

  • No cash payments
  • No international accounts for personal customers
  • Online and mobile payments only - no branches

  • No option for cash payments
  • Transfer fees vary by destination country
  • Multi-currency accounts are not interest bearing

CurrenciesDirect Vs Wise: The verdict

CurrenciesDirect and Wise both offer international payment services - but they’re very different businesses. Which suits you will depend on the specific services you need.

CurrenciesDirect operates through a broad range of channels, including phone and branch services - which means you can get a personal service when you need it. As a specialist broker, CurrenciesDirect can also offer currency risk management services like forward contracts and limit orders to manage the risks of holding and spending in foreign currencies.

Wise on the other hand is a specialist in online and in-app transfers direct to bank accounts, and offers the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees. Wise also offers a multi-currency account with a linked international debit card for both personal and business customers.

If you need currency risk management tools, CurrenciesDirect will probably suit you better. However, often Wise international transfers come with better rates and lower overall costs compared to CurrenciesDirect - making them the better option if you want to send a one-off or recurring transfer.

Go to Wise
Go to Currencies Direct

About CurrenciesDirect and Wise

CurrenciesDirect was founded in 1996, and has 23 branches around the world, with over 325,000 customers[8]. You can send payments in 40 currencies with CurrenciesDirect. CurrenciesDirect also offers an impressive selection of currency risk management solutions like forward contracts and limit orders for personal and business customers.

CurrenciesDirect has multi-currency business accounts which help cut the currency costs of online sellers making money from marketplace sites[9].

Wise was launched as TransferWise back in 2011 as a low-cost international payment provider[10]. 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?

To use CurrenciesDirect you’ll need to register for an account in person, by phone, online or in the app. Once you’re set up you can make transfers 24/7:

  1. Log into Currencies Direct on the desktop site, or open the app
  2. Enter the country you’re sending money to, and the payment value
  3. Get a quote for the exchange rate available
  4. Confirm once you’re happy with the details
  5. Make your payment by debit card or bank transfer
  6. Your transfer will be processed once Currencies Direct receive your funds

To use Wise you’ll need to create an account, and depending on the type of payment you want to make you might need to provide some ID for verification.

Once your account is up and running make payments online and in the Wise app[11]:

  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 transfers are made through Wise’s network of local bank accounts, so they arrive faster and don’t incur intermediary fees. When you want to pay for your transfer in pounds you’ll send the money to Wise’s local UK account. Then Wise will make a payment of the equivalent amount in your preferred currency, from their account in the destination country. No money actually moves across borders, so it’s faster and cheaper than traditional international payments.

CurrenciesDirect Vs Wise Fees

90% of CurrenciesDirect transactions don’t have any extra fees apart from the currency exchange costs added to the exchange rate you’ll be quoted.

CurrenciesDirect exchange rates beat the banks, but they do include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. As a large provider, they buy currencies at the wholesale mid-market rate and then add a small margin to the rate they offer customers. This covers their costs, but it does make it harder for you to work out what your payment is really costing you.

Wise doesn’t hide any fees in the exchange rates used, but instead has a couple of different transparent costs:

  • Fixed fee: covering the fixed costs associated with the transaction. For major currencies this can be in the region of £0.20 - £0.40
  • Variable fee: covering the cost of the currency exchange. For major currencies this can be in the region of 0.35% to 0.45% of the transfer value

CurrenciesDirect Vs Wise: which is cheaper?

Choosing an international payment specialist is almost certainly cheaper than sending money using your bank. However, as CurrenciesDirect doesn’t publish exchange rates publicly, it’s not possible to check their overall costs without first creating and verifying a customer account.

If you want to check how much your international transfer would cost with Wise you can get an instant quote on the Wise website or app. You’ll see the rate and fees right away, as well as the costs of your payment from a few other major providers. If a competitor within the comparison is cheaper than Wise you’ll always be informed to help you get the best deal.

Compare the costs of sending international payments through a range of major providers, using our comparison engine.

CurrenciesDirect Vs Wise: which is faster?

CurrenciesDirect payment delivery times depend on how quickly your funds arrive and are cleared, and the recipient bank’s own processes. However, most payments arrive within 24-48 hours. You can always ask about estimated wait time when you set up your payment - and you’ll get an email confirming when the payment has been dispatched, too.

40% of Wise payments get to their destination instantly, and 80% arrive in 24 hours. However, the exact delivery time will depend on where you’re sending money to, and how you want to pay. You’ll see an estimated arrival time when you set up your payment.

Send money with Wise
Send money with Currencies Direct

Safety

Both CurrenciesDirect and Wise are fully licensed and regulated, and use both smart technology and dedicated service teams to keep customer money safe.

CurrenciesDirect is regulated by the FCA in the UK, and also covered by regulatory bodies in the US, EU, South Africa and elsewhere[12].

Wise is regulated by the FCA in the UK, FinCEN in the US, and other global regulatory bodies around the world.

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: Create your account online or in app with both CurrenciesDirect and Wise. CurrenciesDirect also offers the option to set up an account by phone, or by visiting one of their 23 branch offices around the world.
  • Making a transfer: CurrenciesDirect allows payments to be funded by debit card and bank transfer. Wise typically allows bank transfers, card payments and Apple Pay payments.
  • Ways to send money: Send payments to your recipient’s bank account directly with both CurrenciesDirect and Wise
  • Languages: CurrenciesDirect services are available in 11 different languages, with multilingual customer support. Wise offers 15 languages, plus multi-lingual support services.
  • Minimum & maximum amounts: Sending limits can vary by destination country, and based on your account type.

Supported currencies

CurrenciesDirect supports 40 currencies on major payment routes. Wise supports 50+ currencies, and lets you send payments to over 80 countries.

Conclusion

CurrenciesDirect and Wise offer different features which will suit different customer needs.

CurrenciesDirect is a specialist currency broker with a range of currency risk management solutions on offer. You can also arrange transactions in person and by phone if you want to talk your options through with someone.

Wise was built to allow fast, low cost international payments online and using the Wise app. Transfers use the mid-market exchange rate with no markups, and transparent fees - which can mean they’re cheaper than transfer options available from CurrenciesDirect. Wise can also handle more currencies, which broadens its appeal.

If you need to set up a complex currency management strategy, or just want the reassurance of taking your payments through with a broker, CurrenciesDirect could be a good choice. However, if you’re looking for a fast digital transfer with transparent fees, Wise probably wins overall.

Send money with Wise
Send money with Currencies Direct

Is CurrenciesDirect or Wise cheaper?

👉 Wise often wins on cost because it offers the real exchange rate with no markup, and low transfer fees.

Is CurrenciesDirect or Wise faster?

👉 Wise payments are often instant, and 80% arrive within 24 hours. CurrenciesDirect transfers can take 24 - 48 hours.

How many currencies do CurrenciesDirect and Wise support?

👉 CurrenciesDirect supports 40 currencies and Wise supports 54 currencies.

By Ileana Ionescu
Updated 4 May 2022