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Are you frustrated with sending money home from Japan?
Morty: (crying hysterically)
Well, there is a fix for that. Today, let's take a look at it. A very useful money remittance service called TransferWise. In today's review, let's completely pick TransferWise apart. We'll talk about what it is, the basics on how it works, why it's amazing, why it's not so amazing, and I'm even going to put a little bit of my own money to the test to show you what some real world actual transfer fees look like. In other words, everything that you need to know to find out whether or not TransferWise is a good way for you to send money internationally.
I'll come clean. TransferWise isn't the first money transfer service I've ever used. Back in 2008 when I first got to Japan, I would have to make my monthly trek to my local Japan Post and fill out those annoying money remittance forms. Let's just say it wasn't the ideal way to send money home. Soon after that I started using a service called Gold Lloyd's, which is now called GoRemit. This service, now offered through Japan's Shinsei Bank, was really a godsend. It was convenient, it was easy, and I have used them for the better part of the last decade.
Then I got blindsided by TransferWise. I heard some of the buzz behind it and I decided to try it for myself, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the process was just as easy as GoRemit, but it was significantly cheaper. I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that I have lost hundreds, maybe in the low thousands, in fees using GoRemit.
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Let me start this off by saying that yes, I am an affiliate for TransferWise. So what does that mean? That means that if you decide to use TransferWise after watching this video and you decide to go through one of the links in the description box, I do earn a commission. But please keep in mind that I will not promote companies that suck balls. I'm only going to link up with companies that I've personally vetted and used, companies that I genuinely think will be of value to you. That being said, I am going to do this review honestly, the good and the bad, so that way you can make an honest decision for yourself.
Here's how the company describes themselves. A cheaper, faster way to send money abroad. Join over five million people who get the real exchange rate with TransferWise. We're up to eight times cheaper than banks. We're driven by three unorthodox principles. Be radically transparent. Charge as little as possible. Make premium the new normal. [inaudible 00:03:09] Excuse me. At least that's what it says on the website. Here's my simple definition of what TransferWise is. TransferWise is a currency transfer service that cuts through all the crap, aka the fees, markups, and all that stuff that's generally associated with that traditional brick and mortar banking.
Here's how a basic transfer works. So you register for a TransferWise account online for free, which is nice. Then you choose how much money you want to send home. And then from there you add your bank details. So in my case, that's my US bank details so I know where my money is going to. I'll verify my identity, and then I'll pay for my transfer.
So what that means is I go to my local bank here in Japan and I send my money to my TransferWise account, and then from there they take care of everything else. And this is worth noting if you want to send larger amounts of money home, they are going to have to do an address verification. So they're going to send you something in the mail, and you'll have to enter the details from it into your online account.
In theory, saving loads of money on fees and expenses sounds beautiful. However, it's all (beep) rolled in sweet breadcrumbs if TransferWise can't safely and reliably get you your money. Nobody wants to play with the money they work hard for. Can you trust the TransferWise service? Yes, and I've personally tested this out.
At the time of this recording, I have done six transfers with TransferWise. Some of them a little bit larger than others, but every single time I've had no issues with them whatsoever. Now this doesn't mean that things can't happen because I know they can, and I know six transfers may not seem like a lot to some of you, but it's a great start and I'm going to keep using them, keep trying them and I'll report back if I do end up having any issues. So my first and probably most important pro for TransferWise is reliability.
Pro number two. TransferWise is easy to use. We talked about how a transfer works and it's really straightforward, but keep in mind that once you have registered, added your bank details, and verified your identity, you only have to do that once. So from that point, all you have to do is choose how much you want to send, pay for your transfers, and that's it. It becomes insanely easy to log into your TransferWise dashboard and set up a transfer within minutes, and you can do that again and again and again.
Pro number three. TransferWise has been around for a minute. I didn't realize that TransferWise has been around since 2011. Now I don't know if that means that TransferWise has been available for use in Japan since 2011, but it is nice to know that TransferWise has been around for awhile. Plenty of time for people to put it through its paces.
Pro Number four, the game changer for me. Reduced fees. Now this is one pro that you'll want to take with a grain of salt because as you send larger amounts home, your fees will scale up a bit, too. However, if we're just talking about fees, TransferWise has been cheaper than any other remittance service I've used.
One really cool unexpected thing with TransferWise is that when I send money to my US account, my US account doesn't charge me the international wire fee. So in my bank, usually they charge $15 if you go the traditional bank route. You get a $15 international wire fee. I don't get that with TransferWise, and that will save you a ton over time because for many, many years I've just been doing the same thing and not thinking about it.
But getting that $15 wire fee every time, so just keep that in mind if you want to save yourself some money. Now I don't know if that works with all accounts, if that's the same with every country but me sending to the US I have not had that wire fee whatsoever with the last six transfers that I've done.
And now for the cons. They are just as important as the pros. Con number one. TransferWise isn't the fastest money remittance service that I've used. Now I'm going to compare TransferWise to GoRemit because that's the most similar service that I've used, but truth be told, GoRemit is faster. Often when I'd use go remit, if I made my remittance before 3:00 PM, my money would get there the same day, and I can't necessarily say the same with TransferWise.
But it is a trade off. Personally, I'll take a small hit in speed if it means that I can pay lower fees, but your situation may be different. Maybe you favor speed, but you just gotta play it by ear and see which situation works best for you. And when I say not the fastest, it's still pretty fast. I kind of liken it to like a Flash versus Superman situation. So if The Flash and Superman had a race, The Flash is probably gonna win. But who's the best superhero overall? Probably Superman. And that's kind of what TransferWise is in a way.
Con number two. Fees are not flat. Now, I did mention this in passing earlier, but as you send larger amounts of money home with TransferWise, the fee you pay scales up with it, whereas with some remittance services, you end up paying a flat fee. Now when is a flat fee good? A flat fee is really good when you're sending larger amounts of money home. So let's do a quick example. So let's say you just wanted to send 10,000 yen home, and that's the equivalent of about a hundred dollars, right?
So if I'm sending $100 home, we'll just change it to dollars. If I'm sending $100 home and I have a $20 flat fee, that kind of sucks. You're losing a large chunk of your money by sending home with a flat fee. But let's say you were saying something like $9,000 home, but that fee stayed flat, so you're only paying the $20 on on the 9,000 that you're sending home. So those are much better numbers for you.
Whereas with with TransferWise it kind of works better under a certain limit. Because if you were sending, if you were sending $9,000 home, I'm willing to bet that with TransferWise you'd probably get, your rate wouldn't be as good as something that has a flat fee. So that is something to to bear in mind if you're sending larger amounts home.
Now I know TransferWise has a section on their site where it says to contact them if you're sending larger amounts home, so I don't know if that means they'll be able to get you a better rate, but it's worth looking into. But I always say before you send, just check out what your numbers are going to be first. And the cool thing about the TransferWise site is that you can enter your numbers into this fee calculator and they'll tell you exactly how much you're going to be paying.
So the best advice I can give there is just make sure to check your fees first before you send anything so that way you can make sure you're getting the best rates and take all of your fees into account. What fees are you going to be paying here in Japan at your local bank? What fees are you going to be paying in the US? Just make sure you know that first and then check what the remittance services is also going to charge you, and whichever one gives you the better rate, that's kind of the one that I would end up going with. So just something to keep in mind.
I did end up putting my money where my mouth is and I sent 50,000 yen home using TransferWise, and 50,000 yen, give or take depending on the exchange rate, is about $500 US, and TransferWise charged me 531 Japanese yen, which is about $5, and then I also had to pay 108 yen to send the money from my Japanese bank to my TransferWise account. Like I mentioned before, there is no wire fee, no international wire fee. So if you add the 531 yen plus the 108 yen, I only had to pay 639 yen in fees, or about six bucks to send $500 home, and I think that's pretty impressive.
After really having a chance to use TransferWise, if I had to give it a grade A through F, like the grades we got in school, I'm going to have to give TransferWise a big fat A. I am so glad that there is a service like this for people living abroad.
Well, that'll wrap it up for today's review. We took a closer look at the ins and outs of the money remittance service TransferWise, and hopefully you have a better idea of whether or not it's the right service for you. This is a service that I highly recommend if you're sending money home from Japan.
Even if you're just living outside of your home country, if TransferWise has the service available to you, it is definitely worth setting up once so that way you can send money over and over again with no hassles. If you need to take a more detailed look at TransferWise, I have written a full review over at thejapanguy.com. You can also take a look at the $500 money tests that I did between GoRemit and the TransferWise remittance services, and I'll leave links to those in the description box below.
For those of you studying Japanese on your own, if you're looking for a community of other self-study learners just like you, don't forget to join us at Japanese Mavericks. We'd love to have you and I'll leave a link to that in the description box below, too.
Well, guys, thank you so much for watching. I hope you got something useful from today's review, and I look forward to seeing you in the next one. Peace.
Written TransferWise Review
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$500 Money Transfer Test
I did a $500 test to find out which service gave me better rates, TransferWise or GoRemit. Click the blue button below to take a look at this money transfer test..
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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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