TransferWise versus Afex fees

click to go to AFEX web site
click to go to TransferWise web site

How do the fees and currency conversion rate compare as between TransferWise and Afex?  Just now we filed a PCT patent application at the International Bureau of WIPO, and we needed to send 2350 Swiss Francs to WIPO.  How many US dollars would it take to do this with TransferWise?  How many US dollars would it take to do this with Afex?  I chose the service provider that saved the most money for our client.  Which service provider did I pick? Using Afex, I would have had to spend $2557.20 to get this money to WIPO.  In contrast, using TransferWise, I only had to spend $2543.27 to get this money to WIPO.  Afex was more expensive, by about half a percentage point.

In contrast, the last time I compared Western Union with Afex, the Western Union cost would have been about seven percenthigher than with Afex.  In other words, switching from Western Union to Afex saves quite lot of money.  TransferWise saves a little more money.

There are other things to compare about this.  If you were thinking about opening an account with Western Union or Afex, you would need to be prepared to spend many hours filling out 18 or so pages of paperwork.  And it would take well over a week to get the account opened.  In contrast, opening my firm’s TransferWise account took only about ten mouse clicks, required uploading only one document, and took an elapsed time of only about 36 hours.

Here is a breakdown of the exchange rates and costs:

  Afex TransferWise XE
exchange rate 0.9913 0.9989 0.999152
wire fee 5 0.86  

The exchange rate is the number of Swiss Francs you get for a dollar.  XE reports the so-called “mid-market rate” which no ordinary consumer ever actually gets.  It is in the middle, half way between the rate that consumers pay if they buy Swiss Francs and the rate that they pay if they sell Swiss Francs.  XE reported 0.999152.

TransferWise gives you almost that many Swiss Francs for a dollar — 0.9989, lower by only 0.03%.  I find that remarkable that the difference is that small.  In contrast, Afex gives you only 0.9913, lower than the XE rate by 0.79%.  (Again recall that Western Union, the last time I did a comparison, charged an exchange rate that was worse than the XE rate by about seven percent.)

As for the wire fee, Afex proposed to charge $5 to get the money to the destination in Switzerland.  By comparison, Transferwise charged only 86¢ to do the transfer.

I suppose I will do a few more comparisons to see if things work out differently, but my best guess is that going forward I will use TransferWise almost exclusively.


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