Wise vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits

Shermaine Tan5 minutes
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Wise vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits
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Choosing the right financial partner for international payments is critical to your business. You need a seamless and cost-effective way to collect multi-currency payments and transfer funds to overseas suppliers or staff. Wise and Airwallex are two leading services for global money transfers, but which one is right for you?

Let’s see how Wise and Airwallex stack up against each other in terms of pricing and features.

What is Wise?

Previously known as Transferwise, Wise launched in 2011 as a consumer-focused international money transfer service. In April 2017, they came to Singapore and opened their APAC hub in Kallang.

Over the past 13 years, Wise expanded into business accounts and other financial services while maintaining a reputation for affordable currency exchange and transfers.   

Wise offers multi-currency accounts to hold and convert funds at competitive mid-market rates. Businesses can accept payments in 9 currencies via local bank details. Wise also facilitates bank transfers to over 80 countries, with additional payment options for vital markets. 

Key features include:

  • Multi-currency accounts 

  • Fast, low-cost international transfers including batch payments

  • Multi-currency debit cards

  • Accounting software integrations  

What is Airwallex?  

Founded in 2015, Airwallex enables seamless global business payments and money management. It offers an all-in-one Business Account with everything you need to manage cross-border financial operations. Unlike Wise, Airwallex only provides its platform to businesses.  

With Airwallex, local and international payments flow into a multi-currency account that supports 20+ currencies. Businesses can then pay suppliers and contractors abroad using the currencies in their account, and skip costly fees when they use non-wire and non-SWIFT transfers.

Airwallex also has a partnership with local payment rails in 110+ countries. When you make non-wire or non-SWIFT payments to these countries, your transactions are treated like local transfers and you don’t pay costly cross-border fees. 

For exchanging currencies, Airwallex also offers a friendly interbank exchange rate. The interbank rate is calculated based on live exchange rates from banking partners and market data sources. All fees are displayed on the dashboard, so businesses can see how much each conversion really costs. 

Additionally, Airwallex provides end-to-end spend management software to help businesses and finance teams track, control, and approve global company and employee spend whether on cards, reimbursed to employees, or paid to suppliers.  

Key features of the Airwallex business account include:

  • Multi-currency accounts in 20+ currencies

  • Fast, low-cost international transfers including batch transfers 

  • Free-to-issue multi-currency Borderless Cards

  • Global payment acceptance capabilities   

  • Integrated domestic and cross-border expense management and accounts payable  

  • Accounting platform integrations

Airwallex vs Wise in Singapore

Sources: Wise, Airwallex as of 15 April 2024

Wise fees explained

Wise charges businesses for the services they use, with no subscription fees. When sending overseas payments, Wise’s charges a small percentage of the amount you’re sending. The fee varies according to the amount and currency, and the more you send, the higher the fees. Fees get lower when you send over GBP 100,000 (or its equivalent in other currencies) per calendar month.

Here are some other fees to take note of:

  • Account opening. There’s a one-time fee of SGD 54 to open an account, and no monthly fees.

  • International transfers & FX conversions.  A fixed fee plus variable fees starting from ~0.4% per transfer. There’s also a flat fee of USD 4.14 for receiving USD wire transfers and CAD 10 for receiving CAD wire transfers.

  • Card issuance. There’s a one-time fee of SGD 4 per card issued, and additional fees if you make more than 2 cash withdrawals from ATMs over SGD 350 per month.

Airwallex fees explained  

Airwallex has a similar pay-per-use pricing model as Wise. However, our partnership with local payment networks can help businesses save on hefty international transfer fees. Here are some other fees to take note of:  Main fees include:  

  • Account opening. Free business account. No account opening fees or monthly fees.

  • International transfers.  No transfer fees for most currencies if you use local rails to send payments in 110+ countries. Flat fees of SGD 20 - 35 apply for SWIFT transfers to 150+ countries.

  • Foreign exchange rates. 0.4% above the interbank rate for AUD, USD, HKD, CNY, JPY, EUR, GBP, CAD, CHF, NZD, and SGD. 0.6% above the interbank rate for other currencies. Rates vary according to the transaction, and are often lower for large transactions.

  • Card issuance. Free to issue (physical and virtual cards), with 1% unlimited cashback and no foreign transaction fees for 23+ currencies when you pay directly from held balances in your Airwallex multi-currency wallet

  • Expense management. SGD 5 per cardholder per month.

Wise vs Airwallex additional features compared

Beyond cross-border payments and friendly foreign exchange rates, what else can these two platforms do? 

Accept online payments

Wise offers limited ability for businesses to accept payments via cards. On the other hand, Airwallex is a fully functioning payment gateway which allows businesses to collect customer online payments from 160+ local payment methods in 180+ countries.  

Airwallex seamlessly connects to major eCommerce platforms – like Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento – allowing online companies to accept transactions from customers worldwide while avoiding unnecessary currency exchange fees.

Debit cards for teams and employees

Wise lets businesses issue physical debit cards so that team members can withdraw cash or make contactless payments globally wherever Mastercard is accepted. There’s an SGD 4 fee to issue each card. 

Employees can use the Wise card to withdraw cash at ATMs. However, there are fixed and variable fees when you make 3 or more withdrawals per month, or withdraw more than SGD 350 per month.

Airwallex also has a multi-currency Borderless Card that employees can use globally wherever Visa is accepted. You can spend directly in 20+ currencies and get 1% unlimited cashback on all local and international expenses.

The Borderless Card is available as physical and virtual cards, and both are free to issue. They also come with a built-in expense management tool to help businesses track, control, and approve employee spend. Expense management has a SGD 5 monthly charge per cardholder.

Both Wise and Airwallex enable auto-conversion for a small fee if there is not enough funds in the wallet in the specified transaction currency.  

Team expenses

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

Bills and accounts payable

Airwallex centralises accounts payable workflows so finance teams can consolidate domestic and global supplier payments. Staff can upload or email bills and invoices, extract all relevant data, send through multi-layer approvals, and execute domestic and international payments while reconciling data with accounting platforms. Batch payments of up to 1000 can be automated across currencies and countries through Airwallex

With Wise, businesses can import bills from Quickbooks and Xero to pay in Wise.  Batch payments of up to 1000 can be automated and multiple users can access with set permissions.

Developer platform and APIs  

For developers and technical teams, Airwallex opens access to APIs to scale, customise and automate payouts, FX, card issuing, and payment acceptance. Wise provides more limited developer options tailored to basic transfers and FX needs.  

Customer support

Both platforms offer 24/7 customer support through phone, chat, or email. However, all Airwallex Singapore customers also get a local support team based in Singapore that can offer market-specific guidance and help your business make the most out of your Airwallex account.

Final thoughts

Which global financial platform is right for your business? While Wise offers solid rates for consumers and micro businesses, Airwallex provides a complete solution for businesses of all sizes who want to expand their global operations.

With extensive capabilities for collections and payouts worldwide, zero hidden fees, friendly foreign exchange rates, and financial management tools, Airwallex is a growth engine for ambitious Singapore businesses like Dreamcore, Igloohome, and Saturday Club

See for yourself and open an Airwallex Business Account today.

Sources: 

For more information on Airwallex, visit Airwallex Business Account and Airwallex pricing.

  1. https://wise.com/sg/pricing/business

  2. https://wise.com/sg/pricing/business/card-fees

  3. https://wise.com/sg/pricing/business/receive

  4. https://wise.com/help/articles/2524078/how-long-does-a-transfer-take

  5. https://wise.com/sg/blog/how-to-use-wise-singapore

  6. https://wise.com/sg/pricing/send-money?sourceAmount=1000&sourceCcy=GBP&targetCcy=EUR&tab=0

  7. https://www.airwallex.com/sg/pricing

  8. https://www.airwallex.com/sg/terms/fee-schedule

***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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