Is TransferWise the Best way to Send Money to Thailand?

When transferring money most of us have the different wants. Some of us want the fastest transfer. Some of use want the most straightforward transfer. And some of us want the best exchange rates. For me, I like when I can find a money transfer service that gives me all three.

I used to use MoneyCorp to transfer money. But I always had to bargain with them to get the best possible rates. And even after I got decent rates, I still had to pay bank fees. So last year, when I had to buy a car, I decided to weigh my options and compared using MoneyCorp to using a bank and TransferWise.

In the end, TransferWise gave me the best rates and quickest transfer times.

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How TransferWise Works

TransferWise is a simple and quick way to send money to over fifty countries, including the US, the UK, Germany, and Thailand, with no hidden fees. You pay your money to TransferWise, they convert it, and then pay it out to you or your recipient.

The big plus is that there are no bank charges and TransferWise carries out the exchange at mid-market rate, which means TransferWise averages out the exchange rate between the buying and selling prices. This make TransferWise becomes the cheapest yet fastest way to send money in many occasions.

Pros and Cons

Here’s a quick look into their pros and cons I found when using their service.

Pros

no bank charges
two-day transfers
guaranteed exchange rate

Cons

× online chat was unavailable
× restrictive business transfers
× maximum transfers limits

Transfer Fees

TransferWise’s borderless transfer fees are among the cheapest because money does not move from one country to another. Instead, TransferWise has banks in every country they work in. Your money goes into their bank in your home country. Then they transfer your money from that bank to the their bank in the recipient’s country.

Actual transfer fees depend on the number of transfers between countries. So the more popular the route, the lower your transfer fee might be.

For comparison purposes, here’s the transfer fees on transferring £1000 to Thailand through TransferWise, my UK Bank, and other money transfer services.

Transfer MethodFeesExchange RateExchange AmountSpeed
MoneyCorp£5£43.8743,674 baht2-4 days
My UK Bank£15.00£44.2943,835 baht4-5 days
XendPay£9.90£44.4844,040 baht2-3 days
TransferWise£7.46£44.7444,446 baht2 days

Credit Card, Debit Card, and Mastercard

In addition to wire transfers, you have the option of making transfers with your credit card, debit card, or Mastercard with a TransferWise Borderless Account.

Once you choose to make a transfer with your card, you can enter the 16 digit card number, expiry date, and CVV/CVC directly on the TransferWise website.

Depending on your bank, you might be redirected to a 3D Secure (3DS) authentication screen in order to make the payment.

The amount of money that you can transfer is based on your card’s withdrawal limit.

And for security reasons, you can only use a credit card having the same name as the name on your TransferWise account.

TransferWise charges a card fees of 0.3% to 3.1%, depending on your card issuer, the country you are transferring money from, and the destination country.

Although the card fees can be high, the amount can still be much lower than a traditional wire transfer.

The most expensive part of making an international transfer is the hidden exchange rate. And TransferWise doesn’t charge extra for that – they just use the mid-market rate.

Transfer Speed

Since I joined TransferWise last year and have been using them regularly, my recent transfers from UK to Thailand only take two days. The transfer times were longer in the beginning, but I suspect this was because my bank was slow to put money into my account.

On one occasion when TransferWise was at fault, they gave me a £4.50 credit because it took them three days to transfer my money instead of two.

And recently, my son, who is in Australia, sent money to me in Thailand. (Yes, a very rare thing as it’s normally the other way around). The money went to TransferWise at 9pm Australian time. I got the money in my Thai bank at exactly 1:03pm Thai time the next day—less than twenty-four hours.

Set Up and Verification

Once you enter your e-mail address and create a password you’ll be able to finish a transfer.

TransferWise Signup
Setting up your TransferWise account is easy

I thought it was strange that I could process a transfer when all TransferWise had was my e-mail address. But things became clear later on during the validation process.

TransferWise Transfer
Transfer money with TransferWise

I needed to transfer £1000 from my UK bank to my Thai bank. TransferWise gave me a guaranteed exchange rate of 42.82426 baht per GBP. And they tacked on a transfer fee of £2.96. It would’ve been more expensive, but they also gave me a £4.50 credit—more about this in the promo section. In the end, though, I’d be getting 42,697.50 baht.

Before you finish your transfer, TransferWise shows you their transfer rates compared to bank transfers. I thought it would be unfair to compare rates after TransferWise gave me the £4.50 credit. So I checked on another day, and TransferWise’s transfer fees were still cheaper than banks.

TransferWise Comparison
TransferWise offers competitive rates

TransferWise then asks you if the transfer money is coming from a Personal Account or a Business Account. Choose the account type and then add the recipient’s info.

Since I was sending money to my Thai bank, I chose Myself. On the popup screen I entered Bangkok Bank and the swift code was automatically itself. I then added my bank account number.

TransferWise Recipient
Select your TransferWise recipient

I finished my set up and transfer. Now TransferWise had to verify that I was actually who I said I was.

TransferWise Verification
TransferWise Verification Process

To verify your ID, you can use your passport, driver’s license, or national ID card. You can use your webcam to scan the documents or you can upload a file from your computer. The file must be less than 8MB and must be in color. They won’t accept black and white copies. TransferWise uses Net Verify to confirm your ID.

The verification process takes a few minutes. I got an e-mail asking me to first confirm my e-mail address. Then I got another email saying TransferWise verified my ID.

At this stage they didn’t ask me to verify my address. The trigger for this info varies from country to country. In the UK, TransferWise will ask for it before they transfer over £15,000.

I was now ready to finish my first transfer. I used an electronic Bank to Bank transfer and the money went into TransferWise’s account within a few minutes.

Important! If you use the Bank to Bank method after banking hours on a Friday, or over the weekend, TransferWise will not get your money until Monday. And the guaranteed rate will have expired. In this case, for instant payments I’d recommend using a debit or credit card.

If you need any more help, the TransferWise Support Section has a video showing how to sign up and make your first transfer as seen below.

Safety and Security

TransferWise is regulated under different authorities depending on which country they work in. In the UK and the European Economic Area, the UK Financial Conduct Authority authorized TransferWise as an Electronic Money Institution, or EMI, and gave them pass-porting rights across the EEA.

Their Security and Regulatory Section details the authorization they work under in each country.

And all transactions are protected by industry standard HTTPS encryption.

Business Account

You can create a business account with a TransferWise Borderless Account for doing your own business.

To set up a business account, you only need a few business-related documents to verify your business.

It comes with additional features including:

Batch Payments

You can now send and receive batch payments by uploading a .csv file with all of the necessary recipient details, including their bank details, the amount of money you want to transfer, along with the currency.

Once the file is uploaded, you can choose to pay through a wire transfer, card, or even with your balance at TransferWise.

Borderless Account

Once set up, you can use your TransferWise account to send and receive money in various currencies including USD, AUD, GBP, EUR, and NZD. But you don’t need to set up a local back account in these countries.

For example, if you run a business in the USA and need to regularly receive or send money to your customers in the UK, you can use your GBP balance to send money to your UK customers without having to pay a transfer fee.

On the other hand, you can receive money in GBP directly on your borderless account.

It significantly decreases international transfer fees. Instead of having to pay a transfer fee every time you send or receive money from abroad, you need to only pay it once when you need it.

In addition, the transfer fee from TransferWise is 19 times lower than PayPal.

However, currently the borderless account is currently NOT available to 21 countries including India, Hong Kong, and Japan, and 2 states in the United States including Hawaii (HI) and Nevada (NV).

Borderless accounts are also available on personal accounts.

Business Mastercard

You get access to a digital business Mastercard. It works similar to a physical credit card. It comes with 16 digit number, expiry date, and CVV number.

You can pay your business expenses, online transactions, and services with it.

Intregration with Accounting Software

You can intergrate your TransferWise business account with accounting software like Xero. Once intergrated, your transaction will be tracked and updated automatically once you receive or send payment through TransferWise.

You can intregrate TransferWise seamlessly with Xero

Negative Points

After having been using TransferWise for a few years, the only negative point I found so far is additional steps when making a transfer.

You need to complete the payment at the TransferWise website, then go to your bank account and make a transfer to the TransferWise bank account. Then, you need to go back to the TransferWise website again to confirm the payment.

Compared to PayPal where you can make a transfer in a few clicks, TransferWise is more complicated.

However, for the amount of money you save, it’s worth doing. Once you get used to it, you can complete all of those steps within a few minutes.

Alternatives to TransferWise

TransferWise isn’t the only option you have when transferring money to Thailand. Although it’s my go-to money transfer website, you can check out WorldRemit, XendPay, or find others using the Moneytis comparison portal.

Final Thoughts

TransferWise gives competitive exchange rates. And once set up, the transfer process takes a very short time, with most transfers from the UK taking two days at most during the week. I’ve been happy with their service and will continue using them over banks and other money transfer services.

2 comments
  1. My research also points to Transferwise as being one of the best options for transferring money from the US to Thailand.

    I want to transfer 800,000 baht, or the USD equivalent, to a Bangkok Bank account as part of the process of getting a Thai retirement visa.

    The tricky part is that I need Bangkok Bank to provide me with documentation about the transfer so that I can give it to Thai immigration as part of my visa application process:

    * Payment advice – a letter that shows that my funds came from the US
    * Bank statement – a letter that shows that I have 800k in my Bangkok Bank account
    * Bank verification letter

    I’ve e-mailed back and forth with Transferwise. They’ve had a number of customers successfully get these letters from Bangkok Bank after using Transferwise to make the transfer.

    However, they cannot guarantee that Bangkok Bank will provide the letters because Transferwise’s service is a peer-to-peer money transfer service. The transfer does not go directly from my account in the US to my Bangkok Bank account in Thailand.

    I’m wondering if you, or anyone else here, has a suggestion about how to make a direct money transfer without getting ripped off by the banks.

    Also, I’m considering opening a USD account with Bangkok Bank, or another Thai bank, so that I can make a USD to USD transfer. (My visa agent confirmed that, for retirement visa purposes, my Thai bank account doesn’t need to be in baht.)

    I’m wondering about the best way to transfer USD from the US to a USD account in Thailand. Bangkok Bank charges a 200-500 baht fee to receive a USD transfer plus 0.25% of the amount. I’m quite surprised that Bangkok Bank charges a percentage rate for a transfer that doesn’t involve a currency exchange.

    Thanks John for your article!

    1. I think the documentation from funds from abroad is one of the biggest reasons to go with a normal bank transfer. Usually the transfer itself will for obvious reasons not come from a foreign bank account when using TransferWise or a similar service. If I were in that situation, I’d just go with a standard transfer with Bangkok Bank to be on the safe side.

      As for foreign currency accounts: Short of using it as a currency-hedged escrow thing, I never found them to be a good deal. As you noticed, the percentage based fees that apply make them a bit of a deal killer. However, the fact that they even charge that for USD to USD is a tad odd. There might be other banks that don’t do that, so I would shop that one around, especially if you prefer to hold all funds in USD and don’t ever plan to withdraw them in Thailand.

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