Wise vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits

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Wise vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits

If you run an online business selling to international customers, you'll need a way to easily collect payments in multiple currencies and transfer funds across borders to pay suppliers, advertising spend or staff. Wise and Airwallex both aim to facilitate seamless global money transfers, but how do they compare on price and key features? Read on to find out.

What is Wise?

Previously known as Transferwise, Wise launched in 2011 as a consumer-focused international money transfer service. Over the past 13 years, it has expanded into business accounts and other financial services while maintaining a reputation for low-cost currency exchange and transfers.   

Wise offers multi-currency accounts to hold and convert funds at competitive rates. It can accept payments in nine currencies with local bank details. Wise also facilitates bank transfers to over 70 countries, with additional payment options for vital markets. 

For businesses, key features include:

  • Multi-currency accounts  

  • Virtual debit cards

  • Batch international transfers   

  • Accounting software integrations 

  • Payment requests (UK/EU only)

What is Airwallex?  

Founded in 2015, Airwallex aims to enable seamless global business payments and money management. It offers an all-in-one platform for businesses to easily manage finances across borders. Unlike Wise, Airwallex only provides its platform to businesses.  

With Airwallex, domestic and international customer payments flow into a multi-currency wallet. Businesses can then pay suppliers and contractors abroad via borderless cards and rapid transfers – no costly transfer fees required if local payment rails are used around the world. For currency trades, Airwallex provides access to institutional-level foreign exchange (FX) rates, minimising cross-border friction. This unified financial flow saves time and money, freeing modern companies to focus on global growth.

Furthermore, Airwallex acts as a payment gateway which lets businesses accept card and 160 local payment methods in 180+ countries via no-code payment links, through eCommerce integrations, or a customisable checkout via API. Airwallex seamlessly connects to major eCommerce platforms – like Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento – allowing online companies to accept transactions worldwide while avoiding unnecessary currency exchange fees.

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.  

For businesses, key elements of Airwallex’s offering include:  

  • Multi-currency accounts held in 23 currencies

  • Fast, low-cost international transfers   

  • Borderless debit cards to spend in multiple currencies

  • Global payment acceptance capabilities   

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

  • Accounting platform integrations

Compare Wise with Airwallex

Wise fees explained

For Wise business account holders, fees consist of:

Account opening

One-time fee to open an account (£45 in UK). Differs by country.(1)

International transfers & FX conversions

A fixed fee plus variable fees starting from ~0.4% per transfer. Differs by currency and rails used – e.g. local, SWIFT(2). 

Card Transactions

  • One time £3 fee for each additional card for team members(3)

  • If auto-conversion is needed, a small % FX fee charged  

Cash withdrawals from ATMs also incur a fee. 

Airwallex fees explained  

Airwallex helps centralise global financial workflows. Main fees include:  

Account opening

Free business account, no monthly fees

International transfers & FX conversions

  • No transfer fees for the majority of currencies on local rails in 110+ countries

  • Flat fees apply for SWIFT transfers to 150+ countries

  • FX Rate: Interbank rate + 0.5% for USD, HKD, CNY, AUD, EUR, GBP, CAD, SGD, CHF, NZD, JPY, And 1.0% for all other currencies

Card transactions

  • Spend directly in 10+ currencies from your multi-currency wallet

  • For all other currencies, auto-converts from your domestic or designated currency for a small fee

  • All other currencies supported by Visa

  • First five employee cards free  

  • Additional cards £5/mo 

Wise vs Airwallex additional features compared

Beyond international payment capabilities, what else can these two platforms do?  

Online payments

Wise offers limited ability for businesses to accept payments via cards(4). On the other hand, Airwallex is a fully functioning payment gateway which allows businesses to collect customer online payments. This includes card payments, 160+ local payment methods in 180+ countries, and collected via no-code payment links, through integrations with Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento, or a customisable checkout via API.

Borderless cards

Wise offers teams (£3 for each additional card) to make online and in-store payments either physically or via a digital wallet, and offers cashback depending on location(3). Airwallex borderless cards can be spent directly in 10 currencies drawing from held balances, or any currency supported by Visa. The first five employee cards are free and additional cards are £5 p/m and come with an in-built expense management tool to help businesses track, control, and approve employee spend. Airwallex borderless cards come with card controls to limit spend, are both physical and virtual, and support digital wallets like ApplePay and GooglePay. 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

While Wise has basic card control features, 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(10).  

Customer support

Both platforms offer 24/7 customer support. As a dedicated business solution, Airwallex also provides account management and onboarding assistance for eligible businesses. 

Final thoughts

Which global financial platform is right for your business? While Wise offers solid rates for peer-to-peer consumers and micro businesses, Airwallex provides a complete solution for growing, mid-market and enterprise-scale companies managing complexity across borders.  

With extensive capabilities for collections and payouts worldwide, zero hidden fees, top-tier FX rates, and integrated financial management tools, Airwallex is purposely built to be a growth engine for international business in the modern digital economy.

Sources: 

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

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

  2. https://wise.com/gb/pricing/business/send-money

  3. https://wise.com/gb/pricing/business/card-fees

  4. https://wise.com/gb/pricing/business/receive

  5. https://wise.com/gb/pricing/business/hold-fees

  6. https://wise.com/gb/business/

  7. https://wise.com/gb/business/app-marketplace

  8. https://wise.com/help/articles/2899986/what-are-my-spending-limits

  9. https://wise.com/gb/business/manage-team

  10. https://wise.com/gb/business/api

  11. https://wise.com/gb/business/interest

Disclaimer: We wrote this article in Q1 2024. The information was based on our own online research and we were not able to manually test each tool or provider. The information is provided for educational purposes only and a reader should consider the specific requirements of their business when evaluating providers. This research is reviewed every six months. If you would like to request an update, feel free to contact us at [email protected].

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