Transferwise: Banking Services Abroad without Traveling
Note: Transferwise changed its name to Wise. It's exactly the same thing, just a re-brand.
What is Transferwise?
Transferwise is an online banking service. It has no physical branches, but it can do most of the things a bank can. It's headquarters are in the EU. It's subject to the EU's laws.
Can Lebanese passport holders use Transferwise?
Unlike most of other services, Transferwise verifies Lebanese passport holders, so you can still use it! Transferwise allows people with Lebanese passport to sign up and open an account and use it, you can open an account with your passport information (name, date of birth..etc) and use your address in Lebanon and phone number in Lebanon, and it would work, BUT they will limit some of functionalities because you live outside the EU. For example, you can't request a debit card or use a USD account.
You can bypass this by using a business account (more on this later).
What happens when you sign up?
When you open a Transferwise account, activate it and start using it (ie, put at least 20$ in it) you get a USD account, just like when you open a bank account in USA. and a EURO account, just like when you open an account in a European country.
When you want to accept payment from someone, you give him these details that Transferwise gives you, and the client has to do a bank transfer into your account.
When the money arrives, it will be in your Transferwise account.
If you have a debit card, you can use the money that way (for example pay for things online or use the debit card anywhere in the world)
If you want the money inside Lebanon, you have to open a fresh money account in Lebanon, and do a bank transfer from your Transferwise account to your fresh money account in Lebanon.
Why use Transferwise and not the bank in Lebanon directly?
Because you can save your money in Transferwise and send to Lebanon just whatever you need now.
If you saved 2000 USD from working in Transferwise and you only want 200 USD to spend in Lebanon, you don't need to send it all to the bank in Lebanon, just send the 200 and keep the rest safe with Transferwise until you need it again.
Can I send USD from Lebanon to Transferwise?
It is important to know that you can't send USD money from Lebanon into your Transferwise account through international bank transfer. Transferwise allows incoming USD money from certain countries only. To add money to your account from Lebanon, you can send Euro international bank transfers to your Transferwise account.
More reading about this: LINK
Can I use my fresh USD debit/credit card from Lebanon to top-up my Transferwise account?
Most of the time, no. But it's not Transferwise's fault! Transferwise accepts all debit/credit cards even in USD but most banks in Lebanon block any transaction to money exchange services such as Paypal, Banq and Transferwise.
If your bank allows paying to Transferwise, then you can use this method. You can always try.
The only way to add money to your account is using a foreign credit card, or international transfer from outside Lebanon or Euro transfer from Lebanon
How to Sign up as a Personal Account?
- Go to Transferwise
- Sign up
- Use your real information (just like your passport)
- Use your real phone number (you will need to verify it)
- Use your location
Well this one is a bit tricky. Basically we're going to register a company in the UK and assign a virtual office for it. This process is 100% legit and safe but require small recurrent payments. After you register a company and have a legit address for it, you can use this information to open a Transferwise Business Account (not personal). The Transferwise account will be in your company's name and since it's a company based in the UK, all features on Transferwise will be available, including a debit card. Once you order a debit card, it will arrive to your company's address and automatically forwarded to your address in Lebanon.
- Go to Icon Offices
- Choose the package the suits you the most.
- You can choose the Silver package but remember you'll need to register a company after that, so it will cost an additional one time payment
- You can chose the Gold package which will provide the company registration and phone number forwarding option
- Do not choose the Bronze package if you want a debit card, Bronze package do not forward mail, so you can't get your debit card.
- One you rented a virtual office and got your address and registered the company, make sure to assign mail forwarding to your real address
- Remember Transferwise is a free service to sign up with but Icon Offices has a recurring payments.
- You can move forward and sign up to Transferwise
- Go to Transferwise (this will directly take you to the business sign up)
- Choose Business Sign up
- Use your company information in UK
- Use your company address in UK
- Once that's done you can request your Transferwise debit card and open accounts in Transferwise in all currencies.