Wise GBP Account Review - 2023
Wise customers can open a fully digital Wise account with a linked debit card which offers easy ways to hold, send, receive and spend pounds. Plus, as Wise accounts have great international features, you’ll also be able to hold a balance in 50+ other currencies, get paid from others in around 9 currencies, and send money to 70+ countries.
Read on for more about how the Wise GBP account works, whether you want to hold pounds or another supported currency, including the fees, set up process, safety and more.
Wise GBP account key points
Wise accounts can be opened and managed with just a phone or laptop
Hold and spend pounds alongside 50+ other currencies
Add money in pounds or any of around 20 supported currencies
Switch your pounds to foreign currencies for spending, with the mid-market exchange rate and low conversion fees from 0.43%
Get a linked Wise debit card to spend globally, with low cost currency conversion
Send money to 70+ countries, often instantly
Get local bank details to receive payments to Wise in pounds or up to 8 other currencies
No foreign transaction fees when spending overseas
Pros and cons of Wise GBP account
What is a Wise GBP account?
If you’re in the UK and looking for a digital account you can use to hold, receive, send and spend pounds, the Wise GBP account can help. Wise GBP accounts can also be opened by customers based in other countries, although some of the fees and features you get may vary slightly. This guide focuses on opening a GBP Wise account in the UK, but you’ll be able to get all the local details for Wise GBP accounts wherever you are, over on the Wise desktop site.
Wise GBP accounts can be used to hold and exchange pounds as well as 50+ other currencies, and come with a debit card for international payments. You can either add money to Wise yourself from your regular bank account or card, or give your local Wise GBP bank details to anyone else who’s sending you money. Once you’ve got money in your account you can make fast - or even instant - payments to others in 70+ countries, and spend with your Wise card with no foreign transaction fees.
Wise isn’t a bank, it’s a financial technology company with a focus on making it cheaper, easier and faster to manage your money across different currencies. That means that while Wise doesn’t offer all the same services as a bank might, you will find some powerful international features such as currency exchange which uses the mid-market rate, and low conversion fees from 0.43%.
Can I open a Wise GBP account in the UK?
Yes. Wise operates in the UK and in almost all other countries globally. You’ll be able to open a Wise GBP account in the UK with a local proof of address and ID document, or you can check out the details for opening a Wise GBP account locally wherever you are, on the Wise desktop site.
How can I activate a GBP account in Wise?
Open your Wise account online or by downloading the Wise app. All you’ll need is your normal ID document and a proof of address for verification purposes.
Here’s how to activate your Wise GBP account:
Download the Wise app, or open the Wise desktop site
Register with your email address, or an Apple, Google or FaceBook account
Follow the prompts to enter your personal details
Upload your ID documents for verification
Once your account is verified, tap Open in the app homepage
Select Currency Balance and tap GBP to open your GBP account
Top up your balance, complete any required security step, and start transacting
When is a Wise GBP account needed?
Wise GBP accounts are especially helpful for anyone who needs to hold, send, receive, spend and exchange both pounds and foreign currencies. You can use your Wise GBP account to receive money in pounds, or top up your account yourself from your regular bank account, and then spend with no foreign transaction fee when you travel or shop online in foreign currencies.
If you’re planning a holiday you can use Wise to set your spending budget in advance, by topping up in pounds and converting over to the currency or currencies you need before you travel. Or just let the Wise card automatically convert for you at the point of spending. In either case, you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate with no markup added, plus low fees from 0.43%, which can cut the costs compared to spending with your normal bank card overseas.
Business customers can also open a Wise account to send and receive payments in pounds alongside other currencies, making it easier to connect with contractors, customers and suppliers based overseas. You can use local Wise bank account details to get paid through PSPs and marketplaces in up to 9 currencies, or simply add the details to your invoices to make it convenient for customers to pay in their preferred currency.
How does the Wise GBP account compare?
Naturally, if you’re in the UK you’ve got plenty of choice for GBP accounts. You could use a high street bank, or try a digital provider. While UK banks offer comprehensive products and services, they can come with relatively high fees for international spending and overseas payments. That can mean choosing a digital provider is cheaper if you need to transact in foreign currencies.
Let’s take a look at how the Wise GBP account compares vs a couple of top digital picks: financial app Revolut and UK digital bank Starling.
|Wise GBP account||Revolut GBP account||Starling GBP account|
|Availability in the UK||Available to personal and business customers||Available to personal and business customers||Available to personal and business customers|
Hold 30+ currencies
Spend globally with linked debit card
|Spend globally with linked debit card|
|Conversion fees when exchanging pounds to foreign currencies||From 0.43%||Applicable fees when sending overseas payments are shown in the Starling app|
|Exchange rate fees||No fees; mid-market exchange rate||Out of hours and exotic currency fees may apply|
Applicable fees when sending overseas payments are shown in the Starling app
When spending with your Starling debit card, Mastercard rate applies
7 GBP fee to get a card
|Monthly fees may apply depending on the account you pick||Fees apply for some transactions and for optional subscription services|
|Linked Debit Card||Y||Y||Y|
Which provider and account is best for you will depend on your personal preferences and how you’ll want to transact. Picking a digital provider or neobank can be a good option as you’ll be able to manage all your transactions online or in an app, with no need to visit a branch in person.
Fintech providers like Wise and Revolut are helpful if you’d like to hold multiple currencies in one account, and spend globally with a linked debit card. Other UK digital banks with full banking licences - like Starling - can also be a good pick if you’re looking for a range of services including overdrafts and loans which may not be available from fintech options.
Wise GBP account fees
Here’s a look at the costs involved in opening and using a Wise GBP account.
|Wise GBP account|
|Create account||No fee for personal customers, business customers pay a one time charge of 45 GBP for full account features|
|Account monthly fee||No fee|
|Fee to receive payments in GBP||No fee to receive payments with local GBP bank details|
|Fee to spend a currency you hold||No fee|
|Exchange rate||Mid market rate, low conversion fees from 0.43%|
|Send payments||Transparent fees from 0.43%|
|Fee to receive card||7 GBP for personal customers, 3 GBP for business customers|
|ATM fees||2 withdrawals to the value of 200 GBP/month free, then 1.75% + 0.5 GBP per withdrawal|
|Virtual cards||No fee|
Information correct at time of writing, 5th June 2023
Wise GBP exchange rate
One of the most helpful features of the Wise account is that you can use it to hold not only pounds, but a broad selection of 50+ other currencies, too. Whenever you switch from one currency to another - to send a payment or spend on your card for example - you get the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, and a low conversion fee from 0.43%.
There’s no foreign transaction fee to pay when spending overseas - whereas with banks you’ll often find an extra charge of around 3% added for spending in a foreign currency when you travel or shop online with an international retailer.
Overall, this can mean using Wise for your foreign currency transactions can work out cheaper compared to sticking with your bank.
How does the Wise GBP account work?
Here’s how to create and use a Wise GBP account with just your phone or a laptop:
Account Creation: Download the Wise app or visit the Wise desktop site, register with a few personal details and add an image of your ID and proof of address documents - once your account has been verified you can start to transact
Fund Transfers: Add pounds or any of around 20 supported currencies to your Wise account online or in the Wise app. You can pay by bank transfer, with a card, or with a mobile wallet like Apple Pay
Sending and Receiving Payments: Send transfers to 70+ countries, in 50+ currencies. You can also receive payments to your Wise account in 9 currencies, including GBP. There’s no fee to receive GBP transfers to your account
How to use the GBP account abroad
Because you’ll be able to view and manage your Wise account with just your phone, you can easily keep an eye on your finances when you’re abroad. Use your linked Wise card to spend and make withdrawals, and get an account overview and instant transaction notifications in the Wise app. You’ll also be able to add money to your account, switch between currencies, and send easy, fast, local and international payments.
What is the eligibility for a Wise GBP account?
This guide focuses on getting a Wise GBP account in the UK - but you can also open a Wise account to hold, send, spend and receive pounds from a broad selection of other countries too. To open a Wise account in the UK or overseas you’ll need a proof of ID and address, and you’ll also need to be over 18. Check all the details for your location on the Wise desktop site.
Who is it good for?
You might want to open a Wise GBP account for local and international spending. Wise GBP accounts are good for:
UK customers who travel and want to spend with no foreign transaction fees overseas
International customers looking for a way to receive and hold pounds
Anyone who shops online with international retailers
People who need to pay bills overseas, such as a mortgage on a holiday home
Freelancers and contractors getting paid in pounds or foreign currencies
Business owners who want to manage their money across currencies digitally
Is a Wise GBP account safe to use?
Yes. Wise isn’t a bank, but it’s overseen by the FCA in the UK, much like banks are. Plus, as a global company, Wise is also overseen and regulated by a range of other bodies overseas, which means it’s safe to use in the UK and when you’re away.
Wise GBP accounts are available to customers in the UK and most other countries globally, for customers with a valid proof of address and ID. If you’re not in the UK, check out the Wise desktop site for details of account features and fees wherever you are, as they can vary slightly.
The Wise international debit card is issued on either the Visa or Mastercard network, and can be used in 170+ countries, wherever you see your card’s network logo.
Other available currencies
Wise accounts can hold, send, spend and exchange pounds alongside 50+ other currencies. You’ll also get local bank details to get paid in pounds and 8 other currencies.
Wise GBP account limits
If you’re based in the UK there’s no holding limit on your Wise GBP accounts. However, limits do apply on a per transaction, daily and monthly level on card spending. These limits are for account security, and can be viewed and adjusted in the Wise app.
Wise GBP account alternatives
If you’re in the UK you’ve got plenty of choice for GBP accounts, including high street banks and digital services like Wise and Revolut. There’s a lot of variation in the sorts of services and features you can get from different providers, and the fees you pay can vary a lot as well. That means it’s well worth comparing a few options, including normal banks, digital banks, and fintech options, to see which suits you best.
Wise GBP accounts are available to customers in the UK and a broad selection of other countries globally. You’ll be able to hold and receive pounds, with 50+ other currencies also supported. That can make a Wise GBP account particularly suited to anyone who travels a lot, or people who shop online and pay in foreign currencies. You can add money to your account in pounds, and manually or automatically convert to the currencies you need for spending, with the mid-market exchange rate, no foreign transaction fee, and low conversion costs from 0.43%.
FAQ - Wise GBP account
Register for a Wise GBP account online or through the Wise app using a local UK proof of address and ID. Then all you need to do is tap to open a GBP balance within the Wise app, to start spending, sending and receiving pounds easily.
There’s no limit for Wise GBP account balances for UK customers. However, adjustable spending limits apply when you use your Wise card.
Open a Wise GBP account, and simply log in and tap Add to top up in pounds from your bank account or with a card or mobile wallet. You can also get local GBP account details, and give them to anyone who needs to send you money in pounds.