I had never heard of a multi-currency account like a Wise Account when I moved to Australia. I really wish I’d known about it sooner!
Formerly known as a Trasnferwise account, a Wise Account offers a flexible online bank account that is great for the transition to Australia and beyond.
This post contains affiliate links as Wise is one of my valued website partners. My full disclosure is available in the footer. The information in this post was correct at the time of publishing but Wise may make changes so please be sure to check out the details on their site for the most up to date information about your Wise multi currency account. Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions about investing or financial products. You should always seek your own professional advice that takes into account your own personal circumstances before making any financial decisions. There are no doubt other multi-currency accounts on the market and I always encourage my readers to compare the options.
What is a Wise Account?
There are so many features to a Wise account. Let me take you through them…
A Wise Account is an online, multi-currency bank account with a multi-currency card that can be used like a debit card to access your money. It’s free (and really easy) to open a Wise account and you receive an account number and sort code for the UK, an account number and routing number for the US, a European IBAN and local bank account details for many other countries.
Having bank account numbers in all of these countries means people in those countries can pay you online in the local currency. i.e. if you move to Australia from the UK and your UK family want to send you money at Christmas they can put UK £ in your Wise UK account just like they’d transfer money to another UK bank account. You’ll receive it and be able to spend it in AUD or transfer it out to your local Australian bank account!
If like me you work internationally, it also means you can easily receive international payments without it costing a small fortune every time (I have both a personal Wise account and a multi-currency business account and it’s so easy to toggle between the two).
If you choose to apply for the Wise debit card to go with your international bank account, you can spend money held in your Wise multi-currency account using your debit card in 200 countries and withdraw money from ATMs (cash machines) regardless of which currency your money is held in. The Wise card is accepted anywhere that takes Mastercard or Visa, and their smart tech auto converts it for the lowest possible fee with the real exchange rate (so no more hefty load fees from using your regular bank card internationally).
There is a small cost to order the debit card with your account (£5 or equivalent depending on which country you’re based in), and your first two withdrawals of up to £200 at ATMs per month are free (there is a charge for over £200 of 1.75%)
Your Wise account (formerly known as a Transferwise Borderless Account before their rebrand) is also a simple way to send money between countries, too by doing a Wisetransfer. It’s all done online and you get great rates. I regularly use it to send money to family in the UK for birthday gifts or to bring money back to Australia from our UK Santander bank account. It’s really easy to do and you can clearly see the rates and how much is going to be received up front. It’s also really fast – the money is usually in the account the next day when I send money abroad.
The money transfer portal is straightforward and very easy to use. And you can decide whether you just want to move the money into your Wise account and leave it there or if you want it to hit that account and then transfer straight out into your main Australian bank account which is what I tend to do most of the time. Plus you get access to the Wise App so you can do your banking on the go which makes it all really easy and you can see how your money transfer is going.
When it comes to moving large amounts of money over (like the funds of your house sale), I prefer using a company that will hold your hand through the process (you can read more about that in this post about OFX, another of my website partners) but for easy and quick online payments of a few hundred pounds, this is personally my go-to solution to move money between the UK and Australia.
To summarise, a Wise account is:
– An international bank account that lets you receive payments in many different currencies.
– An account you can use to draw out cash at ATMs and spend money internationally with ease with the multi currency bank card (and without paying a fortune for the privilege).
– A money transfer service online to send and receive money internationally (you don’t need to hold money in your Wise account if you prefer not to – you can just use it for the currency transfer process between say your UK and Australian bank accounts).
– A multi-currency wallet that means you can shop online internationally and pay in local currencies to avoid fees.
Where is a Wise multi-currency debit card available?
The Wise account debit card is available in the following countries:
USA (personal customers only)
How might you use a Wise account when emigrating?
The crazy world situation we’re in has brought with it lots of banking changes. There are various banking rule changes in place now to protect people from transferring their money over to Australia before moving and then not being able to get into the country to validate their accounts to be able to access it. Only a small handful of banks used to let you open your Australian bank account before you arrived in the country, but some of these Australian banks have now stopped offering the option to open your bank account from overseas too.
A big bonus with a Wise account is that regardless of what options you have with opening a bank account in Australia or around moving your money over in advance, you can have an active bank account with a bank card and accessible cash as you transit to Australia and arrive in the country.
I still encourage you to set up a bank account in Australia before you travel (at the time of writing you can still open your bank account from overseas with my banking partner, Commonwealth but you aren’t able to move your money into the account until you’ve arrived in the country and validated your account in person). I think it’s always helpful to have a real life branch to visit for your banking when you’re here but if you have a Wise account it means you’ll have access to money even if it takes you a few days to go into the branch to validate your account, move your money over and collect a debit card.
The real-life benefits of a multi-currency account like a Wise account when travelling internationally
When we moved to Australia, we brought some Australian currency with us, and we had our UK Santander debit card. It meant travelling with more cash than I like to have on me, and there were lots of times we ended up using our UK debit card for things and paying the expensive fee every time, even for tiny purchases like car parking. If we’d had a Wise account would could have avoided all of this and saved money too (if only I’d heard about it back then!)!
When we do eventually get to take our trip back to the UK (which was supposed to happen last year!), I’ll be putting money into our Wise multiple currency bank account for spending and withdrawing cash when we’re there plus we’ll use the debit card to make payments for things. Having a foreign currency account is going to make international travel so much easier!
Back in the old days, we used to take traveller’s cheques (yes, I’m THAT old!) or we’d search for the best multi-currency card that you’d load money onto and then throw away after your trip, but now I love how convenient it’s going to be to have a bank account for international use. It’s going to give us the ability to spend how we want, when we want when we’re abroad.
A Wise (formerly Transferwise) multi currency account is one of the best finds I’ve made over the last few years! My only regret is that I wish I’d discovered the Wise account sooner so I could have benefitted from it during our move to Australia!
Wise is one of my website affiliate partners. All opinions are my own. I’ve been a customer with Wise for a lot longer than I’ve been promoting them for and I can confidently share the benefits of a Wise account as I use my own Wise account every month. This is not intended as financial advice. There are no doubt other multi-currency accounts on the market and I always encourage my readers to compare the options.