Wise card: The Ultimate Review Guide

Being a digital nomad, location-independent business owner, or frequent traveler allows you to explore the world and go to places you’ve dreamed of. 

However, spending money and receiving international payments across different countries from friends, family, customers, and business suppliers can be a complicated story.

People who travel frequently often have challenges converting their money to the local currency of the country they’re traveling to. And, it’s not just one country, but several countries. 

Wise (formerly Transferwise) was introduced by ambitious entrepreneurs from Estonia to build a solution to this problem.

Wise not only came up with a system that benefits freelancers and expatriates but also charges much lower and transparent fees than traditional ways of converting currencies, which usually have a lot of hidden fees. 

This article gives you everything you need to know about the wise card and my views on the pros and cons. 

What is the wise card?

The wise card is a debit card that functions like the traditional bank debit card but is linked to the Wise borderless account

Wise users enjoy the benefit of lower charges while converting currencies in the account.

Wise is also unique as it holds several currencies in one account, making it easy for users to convert currencies without going to the bank. 

Users can also transact online via the Wise multi-currency account worldwide. You can also use it as an ATM card in a different country.  

How the wise debit card works

The wise card works just like the traditional bank debit card. The wise card is a borderless card that allows transactions in over 55 currencies.

Where the wise card works

The wise card is only limited to selected countries, of which some include:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America (USA)
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • Most European countries

You can view the complete list of eligible countries here.

What is the wise card used for? 

You can use the wise card to pay your bills and receive your pension and tax benefits, and salary.

You can also make online purchases, withdraw cash using an ATM worldwide, and spend your money using any available currencies on your wise account.

How to get the wise card

  1. Sign up for the online Wise multi-currency account

The first step to getting a wise debit card is opening an account with Wise. Follow the instructions as you register your details and set up your account. 

You may be required to have some funds to deposit into your account before verifying your details.

  1. Order the wise card

After setting up your online account, go to the card option and click on the tab. You’ll be asked to provide your personal details and address. 

Once verified, you’ll be required to deposit some funds into your account. Once the verification process goes through, the card will be issued to you in a few days. 

  1. Activate your new wise card

Once you receive your wise card, the final step is activating it for use. If you have a Mastercard, enter the 6-digit code just beneath your name, and you’re good to go.

If you’re using a Visa card, the better. Simply walk to your nearest physical store or ATM, use your PIN to make your first transaction, and your card gets activated. 

How to withdraw your money using the wise card

Like any other local bank debit card, you can withdraw cash from an ATM or bank using the wise card from anywhere worldwide. The best part is Wise gives you two free withdrawals per month as long as you don’t exceed the required limits as listed below:

  • 200 Euros or Euro pounds in the UK or European countries.
  • 350 AUD, NZD, and SGD for Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
  • 30,000 Japanese Yen for cards issued in Japan.
  • $100 for wise card owners in the United States.

Wise charges an additional 1.75 percent of the cash you withdraw for transactions made above these limits. After the two free withdrawals, wise will charge a fixed transaction fee depending on the country you ordered your card. 

How to make payments using the wise card

As long as you have some cash in your wise account, you can pay using any currency via bank transfers or by card. 

Process the payment as you normally would. At some point, you’ll be asked to add your card details. Enter your wise card details, and proceed with the payment. 

Wise card payment transfer limitations 

If you want to transfer some money to pay for something, you’ll be required to have a Visa card, Mastercard, or Maestro Card. However, wise accept some maestro cards and not all of them. 

Moreover, wise restrict money transfers from debit cards in the following countries: 

  • China, Argentina, and Nigeria.
  • Russian and Belarus Business.
  • United Arab Emirates or AED (Emirati Dirham) currencies.

International payments

Payment methods and charges vary in different countries. For example, users across the EEA countries will only be charged the normal currency exchange rates. Users who ordered their cards in Canada may be charged additional fees from the banks for converting the currency. Wise also charges more for processing the more costly payments.  

Business transfers

Business transfers using wise cards are only possible for owners with registered business accounts. You cannot make business payments using a personal wise account. 

How safe is the wise debit card?

You can trust the safety of your funds while using the wise debit card. Wise has features that ensure the security of the users’ money, whether stored in their accounts or transferred. 

The following are features integrated into their systems to enhance user security:

  • Encryption and a two-step verification process when logging into the online account
  • Inquiring passwords before the user transfers money.
  • Use of 3-D Secure protocol while users are transacting using the Wise card. 
  • In the United States, money transactions through the platform are regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
  • By law, Wise must keep the users’ money in separate first-class bank accounts from the Wise business accounts. These banks include Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, and Deutsche Bank. If Wise accounts fail for some reason, the users’ funds remain safe in these bank accounts.
  • An in-house security system that constantly monitors transactions for potential fraud.

Wise card vs. the traditional bank debit card

An outstanding difference between the wise card and the traditional bank debit card is the flexibility in the number of currencies you can transact with using the wise card. Traditional banks’ debit cards are only limited to the local currency of the country in which they are issued. 

Most of the time, traditional bank debit cards charge more if you want to convert the currency of the money you intend to transfer. For Wise, you only get charged per the standard currency exchange rates. 

Wise is also more transparent about additional fees when making money transfers using the card, Wise app, or online account. These additional fees are much lower than traditional bank account charges for international money transfers. 

However, traditional bank debit cards have the benefit of links to physical banks in a country. For example, users can walk into the bank for one-on-one customer support services if problems arise while transferring money using the bank card. This is not the case for Wise card users who can only rely on online support.  

Wise card: The good and the bad

Even though many people have enjoyed using Wise services worldwide, many have also had difficult experiences as the company has overcome growing pains.  

The following is my list of pros and cons of using the Wise card, based on years of personal experience using the service.

Pros of Wise card

  • Transaction fees are incredibly cheap and, most importantly, transparent for making international money transfers.
  • You can spend your money in the Wise account free of charge.
  • The wise card offers two free ATM cash withdrawals every month.
  • It isn’t a credit card, meaning you don’t have to worry about buying stuff on credit and paying back with added interest.

Cons of Wise card

  • Poor customer service.
  • Many users complain about how frustrating it is when reporting hitches encountered while making international money transfers, especially large amounts of money.
  • Sometimes it takes too long for users to receive money into their accounts.

Final verdict: Is it worth getting the wise card?

Wise cards are worth getting if you’re in a country eligible for one.

Not only do you have the flexibility to use it for payment across several countries, but you also get to do money transfers at incredibly low rates. 

If you’re a frequent traveler or a digital nomad, you understand how hectic it can be trying to convert currencies when moving to a different country. However, Wise has made things easier. 

You can shop at the nearest grocery store, withdraw money from an ATM, or transfer money to accounts in different countries using the Wise card. 

Get Started with Wise

See if Wise can make money transfers cheaper and easier for you.

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FAQs about wise card

Is the wise debit card a prepaid card?

The wise debit card is a prepaid card as you can load money directly into your card without going to a physical bank.

Where does the wise card work?

The wise card can work in any country where debit cards are accepted. However, there are countries where the wise card won’t work

Can I cancel my card payment?

You can cancel an incomplete payment made via your wise card. This depends on the stage at which you’re trying to cancel the transaction. If your transfer is pending, click the cancel transfer option on the website or the cancel transfer tab on the Wise app on your Android smartphone. Your debit card should be refunded within 2 – 5 working days. 

Can I use Wise without a card?

It’s possible to use Wise without a card. You can make payments, withdraw, and transfer funds using the online Wise borderless account or the Wise app. 

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