Aspire vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits

Shermaine Tan5 minutes
E-commerceBusiness tipsStart-ups
Aspire vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits
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There are over 200 major payment institutions licensed by the Singapore Monetary Authority.1 Many of these are fintech firms that offer business accounts for SMEs. Like traditional banks, fintech business accounts help entrepreneurs send and collect payments worldwide. However, fintech firms also aim to solve the biggest pain points of cross-border payments: real-time cash management, foreign transaction fees, and efficiency. You’ll often encounter benefits like multi-currency accounts, favourable exchange rates, and lower transfer fees. Aspire and Airwallex are fintech payment specialists that help businesses manage their global finances.

What makes them different, and which one is right for you? In this article, we’ll explore how Aspire and Airwallex stack up against each other in terms of features, benefits, and pricing.

What is Aspire?

Aspire is a fintech firm based in Singapore. It was founded in 2018 with a mission to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) overcome the roadblocks of traditional business banking. Today, they’ve expanded to cater to businesses of all sizes.

Aspire aims to simplify B2B payments and operations by providing quick, user-friendly solutions that enhance their operational efficiency. They offer a range of financial services, including business accounts in 5 currencies, corporate cards, expense management, and local payroll payments. 

Businesses have 2 account types to choose from2:

  • Business Account Lite. Designed for new businesses with no formal finance function, this account gives you limited access to Aspire’s features. However, you can still access multi-currency accounts, international transfers, multi-currency debit cards, and cashback on card spend. This plan is free of charge.

  • Business Account Pro. For established businesses with a finance team, this account has all features of the Business Account Lite, plus more seats for Admin or Finance teams, unlimited payables and receivables, and unlimited budgets with enhanced controls. This plan is priced at SGD 29 per month.

What is Airwallex?

Founded in Australia in 2015, Airwallex is a financial platform for global businesses of all sizes. Airwallex and Aspire share many of the same features, including an all-in-one Business Account that lets you receive, hold, and send funds in multiple currencies. 

Unlike Aspire, which only supports 5 currency accounts, our multi-currency Global Accounts let you receive and hold funds in 20+ currencies. You can send money using your held currencies without converting them to SGD.  We also have partnerships with local payment rails in 110+ countries, which means you can send money to these countries like a local and pay zero transaction fees. 

On top of fast and cost-effective international transfers, Airwallex supports business operations through Borderless Cards, bulk payments, expense management, and an eCommerce payment gateway

Compare Aspire and Airwallex in Singapore

While both services look similar, Aspire and Airwallex are suited for different types of businesses. Aspire’s services are built for SMEs who want to explore a digital-first solution and rely heavily on GIRO payments in Singapore specifically.

Meanwhile, Airwallex could be a better choice for businesses that are looking to grow beyond Singapore and need a solution for complex cross-border payments. Our all-in-one global solution lets you open 23+ local currency accounts in 11+ countries, accept eCommerce payments from 180+ countries, and make low-cost money transfers to 150+ countries. 

Here’s a broad overview of the similarities and differences between Aspire and Airwallex.

Aspire vs Airwallex

Aspire in Singapore: Features and benefits

Creating an Aspire account gives you access to a Business Account with the following features:

  • Multi-currency accounts. Aspire offers 5 local currency accounts in SGD, USD, GBP, EUR, and IDR. You get local account details that make it easier to receive and send funds in these currencies.  However, users may note that each currency account has different transfer fees, currency and country coverage.

  • FX and international transfers. Businesses can convert currencies and make international payments by integrating their Aspire account with their partner Wise.14 However, your business needs to be registered in Singapore to send international funds from the SGD account.

  • Physical and virtual cards. Issue unlimited debit cards to team members, and get 1% cashback on SAAS subscriptions and digital marketing spend. 

  • Bulk payments. Process payroll and bills from your different currency accounts. You can also use the SGD account to process GIRO payroll transfers. 

  • Expense management and approval workflows. Have real-time visibility on employee expenses and set custom spend limits and merchant locks per card.

  • Accounting integrations. Aspire integrates with Xero and Quickbooks so you can automatically reconcile your accounting.

How does Aspire charge fees?

Aspire’s transaction fees may be a little tricky to understand, as they vary according to which currency account you send it from. Additionally, users will need to integrate with Wise when you make international transfers with Aspire.

Aspire’s domestic payments fees explained

Similar to Airwallex, domestic payments from Aspire in Singapore are free. SGD PayNow batch transfers and GIRO salary payments have a small fee, while IDR fees depend on the transfer method.

Aspire’s international payment fees from the SGD account

You can make international transfers from Aspire’s SGD Account by converting SGD into 40+ currencies to send to a range of countries.15 Instead of initiating a SWIFT transaction, Aspire works with Wise to initiate a local SGD transaction within Singapore. Then a local transaction in the foreign currency of your recipient’s country is sent to your recipient.  These fees are not publicly listed on Aspire’s page, but Wise’s fees16 are a good benchmark for how much each transfer will cost.

💰 Money-saving tip: Reduce unnecessary conversions and fees on transactions with the option to collect and settle in the same currency using Airwallex’s global account.

Aspire’s fees from the USD, EUR, and GBP accounts

There are 2 ways to send international transfers from the Aspire USD, EUR, and GBP accounts. The first is through local transfer methods via their partner CurrencyCloud.  This lets you send local transactions of foreign currency in their home country (i.e. USD to USD transactions in the USA).

Local transfer methods are free, however each currency account has different coverage. You need to double check if the currency account covers the currency and country you’re transferring to. For example, the Aspire GBP Account lets you send free local transfers to Mexico, while the Aspire USD Account does not.

The second transfer method is through SWIFT, with the following fees applied:

  • USD account: USD 15 SHA SWIFT fees and USD 30 OUR SWIFT fees

  • EUR account: EUR 10 SHA SWIFT fees and EUR 20 OUR SWIFT fees

  • GBP account: GBP 10 per transfer

Airwallex Business Account: Features and benefits

With Airwallex’s all-in-one Business Account, you can enjoy the following features and cost-savings: 

  • 23+ multi-currency Global Accounts. Instantly create 23+ local currency accounts, including GBP, USD, EUR, AUD, CAD, CNY, that you can use to hold, send, and receive payments. Each currency account is assigned unique account details so you can transact like a local business.

  • Fast international transfers with no transaction fees. Airwallex lets you make international transfers to 110+ countries as though it were a local payment. That’s because Airwallex works with local payment rails in these countries. 70% of Airwallex transfers arrive on the same day.

  • Market-leading exchange rates. Airwallex gives you access to interbank exchange rates - the real exchange rates banks use to trade currency, minus the hefty markup. We charge only 0.4% - 0.6% above the interbank rate, and have currency risk management that lets you lock in your preferred exchange rates.

  • Payment Gateway with like-for-like settlement. Airwallex lets you accept eCommerce payments from 180+ countries and 160+ local payment methods like Klarna, AliPay, and WeChat Pay.  We also offer like-for-like settlements in 11 currencies. Our payment gateway integrates easily with Shopify and other major eCommerce platforms.

  • Borderless cards. Issue physical and virtual Borderless Cards at no extra cost, and use it wherever VISA cards are accepted. Earn 1% unlimited cashback on domestic and international spend in all currencies. 

  • Expense Management. Airwallex provides end-to-end tools for teams to track expenses, whether on cards or reimbursed out-of-pocket expenses. Teams can capture receipts, submit expenses, and put through multi-layer approval flows to ensure company funds are spent appropriately. All data is seamlessly synced with accounting platforms like Xero, Quickbooks and Netsuite.

  • Bulk payments. Save time paying bills, employees, and suppliers with batch transfers for up to 1,000 recipients across countries, currencies, and transfer methods. Staff can upload or email invoices, extract all relevant data, send for approval within minutes.

How does Airwallex charge fees?

Airwallex has no monthly fees, and you’re only charged for the transactions you make. Fees vary depending on the type of transaction (domestic or international), the currencies involved, and the transfer method (local payment rails or SWIFT wire transfers). 

Airwallex domestic payments fees explained

We don’t charge for FAST local transactions in SGD.

Airwallex international payments fees explained

There are 2 main options for sending international payments via Airwallex: local transfer methods and SWIFT transfers.

Local transfer methods are available in 110+ countries and regions, and have 0 transaction fees. That’s because Airwallex uses local clearing systems in these countries that let you bypass the SWIFT network and avoid hefty SWIFT fees. Transfer times for international payments can be made as fast as local payments. 70% of Airwallex transfers arrive on the same day.

You can also make SWIFT transfers through Airwallex for a flat rate. SHA SWIFT fees are SGD 20 per payout, while OUR SWIFT fees are SGD 35 per payout.

Airwallex Global Accounts explained

Airwallex Global Accounts allow you to settle in multiple currencies without converting funds to SGD. For example, if your business has US customers, you can collect payment in USD, hold those USD in your account, then use the USD to pay for expenses (such as SaaS subscriptions and Google adverts) without being subject to foreign exchange fees. 

You can transfer funds from your account to 150+ countries, or make payments with the Borderless Visa debit card.

Airwallex payment method fees explained

 Our Payment Gateway supports 160+ local payment methods in APAC, Europe, the USA, and LATAM. Fees vary according to the payment method and are charged per transaction. Here’s a quick overview of our payment method fees:

  • Domestic card payments: 3.3% plus SGD 0.50 gateway fee

  • International card payments: 3.6% plus SGD 0.50 gateway fee

  • PayNow payments: 1%

  • GrabPay payments: 2.80% 

Our Payment Gateway has like-for-like settlement in AUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD. You can accept payments in these currencies without converting to SGD. 

You can also accept payments that aren’t supported by like-for-like settlement. However, a  2% currency conversion fee will apply.

Use Airwallex for transparent and cost-effective global payments

Aspire offers a reliable solution for new SMEs who want to try using digital-first payments.  They offer transfers via GIRO, local payroll features that support CPF and tax payments, and support the creation of PayNow QR codes so you can receive PayNow payments. While Aspire also supports cross-border payments, its coverage is limited. Airwallex is a better choice for businesses that need a payment solution for overseas customers, suppliers, and teams at an affordable rate. You can create 23+ local currency accounts that let you accept payments like a local business. Sending international payments to 110+ countries is free if you use local methods, and you only pay a flat rate for SWIFT payments. We also offer lower and more transparent foreign exchange rates compared to Aspire.  

Airwallex also has no monthly fees or subscription fees. Instead, you only pay for the services that you use. This makes it a cost-effective solution for SMEs who need simple finance services, or bigger businesses that only deal with major currencies. 

With extensive capabilities for global payments, zero hidden fees, transparent forex rates, and financial management tools, Airwallex is a growth engine for ambitious Singapore businesses like Little Blossom, EU Holidays, and Igloohome.

See for yourself and open an Airwallex Business Account today

Sources and references

















***Note: This publication does not constitute legal, tax, or professional advice from Airwallex nor substitute seeking such advice, and makes no express or implied representations / warranties / guarantees regarding content accuracy, completeness, or currency.

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Shermaine Tan
Manager, Growth Marketing

Shermaine leads the development and execution of content for businesses in Singapore and the SEA region.

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