TransferWise vs GoRemit – The $500 Money Transfer Test

By Donald Ash | Product Comparison

Money Transfer Test - TransferWise vs. GoRemit

How do you send money home from Japan?

There are several ways to go about it.  Some services are a bit more cumbersome than others, but  the two services I’m most familiar with, here in Japan, are GoRemit and TransferWise.  Personally, I’ve found both services to be reliable and fast.

But what if speed and reliability aren’t enough? 

Let’s dig deeper.  We’re going to pit TransferWise vs GoRemit and see which one performs better in terms of fees.  We’re not going to focus on exchange rates, even though I’ll mention a bit about that at the end, just the fees.

Fairly recently, I FINALLY managed to get myself completely out of debt.  After years of disciplined, financial slog, I have an entirely new take on my finances and how to manage them better.  After seeing how much money we lose to bank fees and charges (in the U.S.), I decided to be more diligent about my transfers, too - hence the reason for this TransferWise vs GoRemit post.

The $500 Money Transfer Test - TransferWise vs GoRemit

The rules of this test are simple.  I will send ¥50,000 yen, the U.S. equivalent of about $500,  from Japan to the U.S via TransferWise.
I will also send the same amount using GoRemit.  We will then break down how much I paid in fees for each one.  Next, we will compare the two, and the one with the lowest fees is the winner.

This test is a great way for you to sit back and let me use my money while you learn the lesson.
Wouldn't it be great if college education worked that way? (Stupid loans)

Before we start, let’s take a brief look at how both the GoRemit and TransferWise services work.

How GoRemit Works

GoRemit is a service offered by Shinsei Bank, a Japanese bank headquartered here in Tokyo, founded in 1952.  Essentially, you set up an Shinsei GoRemit account which allows you to then transfer your funds to a collection account which then send the money to your bank, for a fee. 

How TransferWise Works

TransferWise has been around since  2010 and they classify themselves as an electronic money institution, not a bank.  When you want to send money abroad you make a transfer to your TransferWise account/TransferWise Borderless account and the money is delivered electronically (using TransferWise agents/peers) without going the traditional bank route.

Sending $500 Using TransferWise

I scheduled this ¥50,000 transfer on April 4th 2019.  TransferWise charged me 531 yen to send that money.  

TransferWise vs. GoRemit - Fees

Initiated on April 4th, 2019

The fee you don't see once you log into your TransferWise dashboard is the small bank fee you have to pay here in Japan.
It cost me 108 to transfer money from my Japanese bank account to my TransferWise account.

TransferWise handling fee - TransferWise vs GoRemit

手数料 - Tesuuryou means "handling fee." My Japanese bank charged me 108 yen to send money to TransferWise.

Because there this was send electronically via TransferWise’s peer-based/agent-based system. We even avoided the international wire fee that would normally have if this were done via a traditional bank.

Now let’s see how GoRemit performed.


Sending $500 Using GoRemit

I scheduled the ¥50,000 transfer with GoRemit on February 20th, 2019.  In this photo, you can see that the fee for sending this money from Japan to the United States is ¥2000, the equivalent of about $20.  

TransferWise vs GoRemit | Fees

Initiated on February 20th, 2019

In addition to the ¥2000 seen here, I had to pay ¥540 to transfer the 50,000 yen from my Japanese account to my GoRemit account. 

TransferWise vs GoRemit Fees

In this case, this is the bank fee that my Japanese bank charged me to transfer money to my GoRemit account.


Considering that these funds were transferred via the traditional bank route, I paid an additional $15.00 for the international wire transfer fee. 

US Wire Fee with go Remit

TransferWise vs GoRemit - Which One Performed Better?

The total fees TransferWise were 639 yen.
The total fees for GoRemit were 4129 yen.

TranferWise vs GoRemit - GoRemit fee breakdown
TransferWise fee breakdown - TransferWise vs GoRemit

WINNER!

Yes, these are real-life transfers, and the results of this test are that I would end up paying more than SIX TIMES more in fees using GoRemit.

TRANSFERWISE is the definitive winner of the $500 money transfer test from Japan to the United States.

GoRemit vs TransferWise - Wrap Up  

TransferWise was the clear winner in this $500 test, but I don’t know if these results hold with larger amounts.  There’s even a tab on the TransferWise website that asks you to click if you’re sending larger amounts of money. 

Problems With This Test

Since the two transactions happened on different months, I couldn’t give you a clear picture of how different the exchange rates were between the to companies, but in every quote I’ve ever gotten from the two services, TransferWise gives me the better rate. 

Another issue is that I sent the GoRemit & TransferWise remittances via two separate Japanese banks. So I can't tell if  A) the two banks charge different amounts for transfers (which is why JOYO charged me ¥540, while Mitsubishi UFJ only charged me ¥108). Or, B) since TransferWise isn't a traditional bank you end up paying less fees in Japan, too.

Nevertheless, the results still hold.  Even if we had used the same bank to get the same transfer fees, even if we did the transfers on the exact same month, TransferWise would still come out on top by a significant margin - at least for this $500 Test.

Whether it's TransferWise, GoRemit, or some other money remittance service. Always be sure to test it to be certain that it's the best choice for YOU!  I literally could've been saving myself hundreds of dollars each year in fees.  Why didn't I? Habit. I got stuck with one service and out of laziness, didn't look for any others. Please don't make that mistake. 

Check These Out Before You Go...

I hope you found TransferWise vs GoRemit test useful.  Here are a couple of other resources you might like.

Ultimate TransferWise Review

TransferWise Review

Need to see the full, in-depth review of TransferWise?
Click the button below to go straight to it!

Watch Ultimate TransferWise Video Review

TransferWise Video Review

Want to see the TransferWise video review?
Click the blue button below to watch it.

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About the Author

Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last eleven years. While in that time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator of thejapanguy.com blog. Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.

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