Banking and Finance

Transferwise Borderless Account: How to Create a Wise Account

July 27, 2021

When traveling and paying abroad with a US bank card, you’ll often rack up foreign transaction fees. This means that you’ll pay about $3 for every $100 you spend. While that might not sound like a lot, it’s feasible to imagine that on any given vacation, you’ll be spending at least $1,000 while abroad on hotels, food, and transportation. That equals $30 wasted (which could equal a train ticket or the cost of an Airbnb for a night!).

How can you get around this? You can look for the best credit cards without foreign transaction fees (or get a Cheese Debit Card, which also doesn’t have foreign transaction fees). Or, you could look into setting up a borderless account. As the name suggests, this is a type of account with, well, no borders when it comes to currency exchange.

With most borderless accounts, you can upload money to the account in your local currency and then choose to pay in the local currency wherever possible. One of the most well-known borderless accounts and money transfer platforms is Wise (formerly known as Transferwise). Here’s what to know about setting up a Transferwise borderless account.

What is a Borderless Account?

A borderless account gives you a borderless, single, or multi-currency account and card (in most cases; we’ll go over the card option below). This means that there is no need to hold several currencies in different accounts. Instead, you can load your account with cash in your local currency and then transfer the money to currencies such as Pounds Sterling, Euros, or Chinese Yuan depending on where you’re traveling to.

A borderless account is also called "borderless" because you typically don't need a fixed address to open it. You can even travel with your borderless account without hassle, which is obviously one of the main perks. This makes these types of solutions and accounts particularly popular with expats, foreign teachers abroad, and international students.

However, borderless accounts aren’t for everyone. They come with their own set of borderless account fees and account limitations. Continue reading as we help you determine whether borderless accounts are right for you based on borderless account features and fees.

How to Create a Wise Borderless Account

If you’d like to create a borderless account just to try it out, we suggest starting with Wise. It’s free and super easy to create a Wise account.

First, creating a Wise account is the same as setting up any other financial account. You’ll need to have some personal information on hand about you and your existing bank account that you plan to link to Wise. Yes, you need a bank account or credit card account for this. Wise acts as a third-party platform between you and the recipient, even when using a Wise bank card.

Don’t have a debit card you can link to Wise? Get a Cheese Debit Card.

The information you’ll need to set up your Wise account is:

  • Personal information (your name, address, etc.)
  • Your bank account number
  • Your bank account routing number
  • Other sensitive personal information to confirm your identity like a passport, ID, or social security number

Once you’ve got that information on hand, head over to the Wise homepage here. Simply enter your email or create an account using Google or Facebook. You’ll then be prompted to link your account or card. As soon as that connection goes through, you’ll be done! It’s that simple.

Now, what exactly does that mean? What can you do with your new Wise account? You can:

  • Send money at the real exchange rate to and from international bank accounts
  • Receive payments like a local in various currencies (the exact number of currencies depends on where your account is located)
  • Convert and hold up to 50+ currencies in your Wise account (again, the exact number depends on the country where your account is located)
  • Spend abroad with the Wise debit card that you can connect to both Apple Pay and Google Pay (this feature is one that’s not as common in the majority of countries)

Getting a Wise Borderless Card

Remember how we mentioned the Wise card option above? We didn’t forget about that! In some countries, Wise allows you to also request and use a physical card to make purchases. 

While this isn’t a regular debit card, it’s a great option for frequent travelers who often want to pay with a card while abroad and want to do so through their Wise account. To pay with the card, you’ll need to add money to it. In this sense, it acts like a prepaid debit card, really, because that’s what it is at its core. 

What you’d do with your Wise borderless card is request the card, which costs anywhere between about $5-10 depending on where you’re located. Once you have it, you’ll simply add money to your account via their app or website. To do this, you’ll choose how much in your local currency you’re paying in and which currency you’d like to upload it to (from USD to Euros, for example).

Do note that for this upload there is a small fee. However, it truly is minimal. When trying to add $100 USD to an account in Euros, the fee is currently 35 cents.

With the card, you can pay in-person as well as via Apple Pay and Google Pay. Currently, however, the Wise multi-currency account card is only available to Wise account-holder residents in Australia, the EEA, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

Click here to learn more about getting started with a Wise multi currency card.

The Best Debit Card Without International Transaction Fees

While a Transferwise borderless account, or any other type of borderless account for that matter, is a great option for those who travel frequently, pay in foreign currencies, and often transfer money, you might not need all of those functions.

If you’d simply like a debit card that doesn’t come with lots of fees, try the Cheese Debit Card.  No banking fees equals an average of $329 in savings a year. This means no monthly fees, no international incoming wire transfer fees, and no fee on MoneyPass ATMs worldwide. It’s not a travel credit or debit card, but it works just as well as most of them do!

While you’ll still need to use Wise to transfer money abroad, you can link your Cheese Debit Card to your Wise account and enjoy cashback offers while you spend.

Download the Cheese mobile banking app for either iOS or Android to get started.