Head to Head: Wise vs Revolut (Updated 2022)

Leona Mondsee
Chief Financial Officer, rebank
4
minutes

TL;DR Being an international company is now the norm for startups, from remote working to international customers or suppliers, most startups need to send and receive money internationally, and manage any currency exchange.

Wise and Revolut both serve the same basic need of sending money internationally and exchanging currencies at the same time. Which one is right for your business?

Overall verdict:

Revolut - Helpful added features like subscription management, and good value if you regularly send £10k.

Wise - Great for one offs and low frequency, especially if you have simple business needs.

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Wise (formerly Transferwise) overview

Wise is the slightly older of the pair, starting in 2010, and firmly establishing itself as a low-cost transfer service. In 2021 it rebranded to Wise, with the intention of moving away from just transfers.

Wise has very transparent pricing, with no monthly commitment, which makes it perfect for bootstrapped startups with intermittent needs. That being said, later-stage companies are still finding Wise to be suitable for them, as the known costs and virtual payment cards make setting up online payments straightforward.

Revolut overview

Revolut started in 2015 but has gained popularity with individuals, which slowly trickles into business life. Unlike its consumer product though, the business plan gives very little for free.

It has worked to go beyond just international transfers, with a rewards area, dedicated app, and both virtual and physical payment cards. The ability to manage employees' virtual cards as well as canceling redundant subscriptions within the app make it an attractive option for start-ups who want a slick UX.

Revolut is known for giving the live rate, although at weekends, on the free plan or using more than your plan allows, means you get charged extra fees of between 0.4% and 2% plus any transaction fees (usually around £3 per transaction). On the positive side, because it offers tiered plans, with an FX allowance, if your monthly spend is around the top end of that allowance, it can prove to be the cheapest route for you.

How does rebank fit in?

🌈 Allowing to manage multiple bank accounts in one place

🌎 Saving money on foreign transfer fees

🍄 Providing real-time metrics to help you forecast finances

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Feature comparison

Revolut

Pros

  • free account offered, although its PAYG, but this is poor value, and the paid tier accounts really only makes sense if you are spending around £10k or £50k per month specifically. If you are in one of those two sweet spots, this is the account for you. Typical charges are a transaction fee ~£/$/€3 + 0.4% of FX amount
  • hold funds in 28 currencies and pay out to 150 countries
  • local account details (for cheaper pay in) in GBP and EUR
  • approval flows on the more expensive tiers
  • payment cards, both virtual and physical
  • benefits like discounts on other services, and the ability to cancel subscriptions from the revolut app, make it easier for startups to grow

Cons

  • sign up can be slow caused by document uploads for onboarding. Expect to need more paperwork here like company registration documents, proof of address etc.
  • no live support contact route, bots can take weeks to get replies from.
  • general use can be clunky as you need to constantly authenticate on multiple devices and methods.
  • more expensive if used at weekends as they add an additional charge.

Wise

Pros

  • quicker account opening and set up
  • easy to use
  • easy to check charges in advance. Typical charges are a transaction fee ~£/$/€ 10 + 0.35% of the FX amount. If no FX involved, the transaction fee reduces
  • payment cards available
  • hold funds in 50 currencies
  • local account details (for cheaper pay in) in GBP, EUR, USD +5 more

Cons

  • set up fee of £16 just to open
  • no approvals possible
  • can be charged to receive money

Final points

One thing to remember is holding funds with either, comes with some points to be aware of. Holding over €70,000 incurs a daily charge (specifically EUR, not other currencies). Neither holds full banking licenses, so your funds are covered in segregated accounts. This means in the event of a default, you still have access to your funds.

As to which is right for you, the needs of your company will dictate which is better, or you may want to consider alternatives (yes, there may be a cheaper, slicker and faster route depending on what you need). Both offer lower costs for international transfers than you can expect to get from your bank, which is at least a starting point!

We have found from talking to hundreds of founders and their teams, that comparing these kind of costs falls down the to-do list pretty fast. Switching banks is usually met with a look of pain and horror. If you are switching, because it makes financial sense to do so, remember to consider the time and effort to do so, the 2 we compared have much faster onboarding than a bank, but it's still not a pain-free processes.

The key here is not to just optimise for cost, but also for time saved in your day, and the freedom to get back to doing what you do best, running your business!

Leona Mondsee
Chief Financial Officer, rebank

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