WorldFirst Review: Exchange Rates, Transfer Fees & Alternatives
WorldFirst is a London-based international money transfer and payments business that allows both personal and business clients to transact in more than 180 currencies. Its pricing is transparent, with exchange rates tiered based on the amount transacted. Compared across 27 currencies, WorldFirst is 85% cheaper than banks.
While the desirable exchange rates and global coverage are attractive, WorldFirst offers a minimum transfer limit of $1000 for personal accounts, ostracising customers looking to make smaller, regular transfers.
Based on a shareholder decision, WorldFirst US operations were discontinued and the firm rebranded to Omega as from February 20, 2019.
WorldFirst's exchange rates and fees
WorldFirst has a tiered and transparent exchange rate system with comparatively lower or non-existent transaction fees. This combination gives its customers fairly priced and competitive transfer deals.
Transfer Fees- WorldFirst does not charge any fees for personal wire transfers and payments. However, businesses pay anything between $10 and $30 depending on the amount being transferred. Private clients transacting $100,000 and above do not pay any transfer fees.
Exchange Rate- Exchange rates are real-time and priced about 2% above the mid-market rate. The pricing comprises 3 simple and transparent bands of 0.50%, 0.25%, and 0.15%. This pricing structure makes it easier to compare WorldFirst with other providers.
Other Fees-You may incur sending and receiving fees on either end of the transaction depending on the banks you use. To minimise these costs, transact using local banks within the WorldFirst network in the sending and receiving countries.
Top WorldFirst transfer destinations
Apart from its London, U.K. offices, WorldFirst has 5 other global offices in the Netherlands, China - Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. WorldFirst has expanded rapidly and now supports 180 currencies. The major transfer corridors for the company are Australia, Canada, France, Europe, Spain, New Zealand, and the UK.
In addition, WorldFirst has made life easier for its customers by entering into contractual agreements with banks in many of the sending and receiving countries. These agreements lower the transfer fees and speed up transactions.
Unlike other providers, WorldFirst offers uniform services across all countries. Depending on your region, you can access WorldFirst websites in English, French, Chinese, Dutch, and Japanese.
If you're just getting started with online money transfers, we've prepared a simple guide to help you find the fastest ways to send money internationally.
Pros and Cons of using WorldFirst
WorldFirst is structured to serve individuals, online sellers, and businesses. The attractive fees, transparent, and tiered foreign exchange rates and global support for different currencies make it a preferred money transfer provider. On the other end, transfer speeds and high minimum transfer amounts lock out many would-be customers.
What type of transfers can you make?
WorldFirst has differentiated itself with respect to its clientele, transfer methods, and payment options. You can only make bank transfers to the recipient that are delivered as bank deposits into the beneficiaries account. The type of transfers you can make are:
Same-day Transfers- You can book and make same-day transfers for a large number of currencies. However, your payment for the transfer needs to have cleared before the cutoff time (15:00 GMT for GBP & USD and 14:00 GMT for EUR).
Limit Orders- When your ideal exchange rate is reached, the limit order transfers automatically.
Forward Exchange Contract Transfers-This type of transfer allows you to lock in an exchange rate for future transfers. It can last up to three years.
How long will it take to receive money?
On the minimum, transfers using WorldFirst take a day to complete. Depending on the country, size of the transaction, and currency, you can enjoy same-day transfers. To be prudent, WorldFirst gives a window of up to 4 days to complete the transfer.
The delays are often caused by bureaucracies and added security measures from the sending and receiving banks. The other source of delay is the payment method used. Also, transferring in major currencies such as AUD, NZD, GBP, USD or EUR gives you same-day transfer speeds.
When compared with online transfer providers such asWorldRemit, TranferWise, and OFX, WorldFirst falls within the normal range for bank transfer speeds. When it comes to banks, WorldFirst is faster for transfers made through branches or subsidiaries of the same bank.
What payment methods can I use?
When sending money using WorldFirst, your payment options are limited to bank transfers. In fact, if you do not have a bank account, it becomes almost impossible to transfer money through WorldFirst. The following are the payment methods you can use:
Debit Card - If you are a private client, you can use a debit card to pay for your transfer. Debit card payments are the fastest.
Online/Telephone Banking - Just like the debit card payment, this also arrives the same day
BACS- Funds paid through BACS take two days to get to WorldFirst meaning they will be cleared on the third day and that is when your transfer can be executed. Learn more about BACS in our guide: what is BACS?
Direct Debit - This option is for corporate clients and you have to call to set it up. It takes the same time as BACS.
CHAPS -This payment method is faster. It arrives on the same day.
Generally, the payment options available on WorldFirst differ based on the region. Australia, for instance, has 2 payment options while France and the UK have 5 payment options each.
What to use WorldFirst for?
WorldFirst has a variety of products and offerings that make it attractive to individuals, businesses, and online sellers. There are lots of use cases for WorldFirst as a payment and transfer platform.
Business -If you are into international trade or deal with freelancers and suppliers from different countries, WorldFirst can help you to:
Pay international suppliers
Pay freelancers and contractors in different countries
Get paid in different currencies
When making international supplies and payments, WorldFirst gives you forward contracts where you can lock in an exchange rate to avoid currency fluctuation losses.
Personal Transfers- WorldFirst gives you more value for your money when transacting or sending money abroad.
Sending recurring payments for school fees or loan repayments
Repatriating earnings back home
Making purchases abroad
With a $0 transfer fee on personal accounts, you can plan your transfers and target a rate which if reached, your transfer gets sent to the recipient.
Marketplace Sellers- You can maintain overseas accounts in different currencies to suit your online activities. You can hold and send funds on the World account to help you:
Manage payments and receipts for an import and export business
Accelerate fund movements for service businesses
Achieve better exchange rates when trading on platforms such as Shopify, eBay, or Amazon
However, if WorldFirst doesn't fit your needs, we've created a list of the top 10 money transfer companies to help you find the right money transfer provider.
Can I trust WorldFirst?
WorldFirst is a global company that was established in 2004 in South London by Jonathan Quin. Since then, the company has grown in size and expanded to other markets including China-Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. In terms of employee size, WorldFirst has a team of 600 employees who serve 400,000+ global customers and about 150 businesses. To date, the company has transferred more than £70 billion at a rate of 1 million transfers per year.
Due to the global nature of its operation, WorldFirst is licensed and regulated by different financial authorities in the different regions it operates as follows:
Australia- WorldFirst operates as World First Pty Ltd. It is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). It also holds an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) and has an active Australian Financial Complaints membership.
UK- Here, WorldFirst is registered as WorldFirst UK Ltd and authorized as an Electronic Money Institution by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Canada- WorldFirst UK Ltd is separately registered here and licensed as a money service business under the Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC).
China Hong Kong- The company operates as World First Asia Ltd and is regulated under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. It is also licensed as a Money Service Operator.
Singapore- In this Asian country, WorldFirst operates as World First Asia Pte Ltd. It's regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a remittance business.
The regulations ensure the safety and confidentiality of customer funds and information. There is a minimum capital threshold WorldFirst is required to maintain as part of its compliance with these regulations. On Feb 14, 2019, WorldFirst was acquired by Ant Financial at a valuation of $700M. This shows how strong it is in its capital base.
When you sign up for a WorldFirst account, your details will be verified before you are allowed to transact. WorldFirst also has two-factor authentication (2FA) which they use to verify your identity when performing certain activities on your account.
All the information you may need about WorldFirst is available on its website and on request. The company is transparent in its pricing, has an active Monday to Friday-phone and live chat customer support, and a detailed FAQ section.Compare Providers Now
What do users have to say?
Customers who have interacted with WorldFirst have acknowledged the comparatively lower transfer fees, favourable exchange rates, and customer support. So far the company has 560 reviews on Trustpilot, 70% of which are rated as excellent and 9% as good.
Affordability- With a $0 transfer fee and between $10 and $30 for business accounts, WorldFirst is highly rated as one of the most affordable money transfer service providers.
Professional Customer Support- The phone and live chat support have helped customers get real-time assistance in sorting out their transfers and related issues.
Exchange Rate-Supporting 180+ currencies, customers highlighted the transparent and tiered exchange rate pricing as the most attractive.
The 4% who rated the company as poor and 15% who rated it as bad, complained of occasional delays where transfers took 4 to 5 days to reach their recipients. Some of them had issues with blocked accounts following unsuccessful verifications.
How to Get Started with WorldFirst to Send and Receive Money
This section provides a step-by-step process of how to send and receive money with WorldFirst. You will see that the money transfer process is fast and simple – especially once you have sent a couple of transfers and are familiar with the steps. This guide is a good starting point for beginners looking to initiate their first transaction with WorldFirst.
How to Send Money Using WorldFirst?
Step 1 – Open account: The money transfer process starts by opening a WorldFirst account, which can be completed in just a few minutes. You can open the account on the official website, or the mobile app, which is called World Account. Once the account is set up, then you can proceed to the next step.
Step 2 – Get a rate: Now it is time to get a rate for your money transfer. You can do this using a desktop device or smartphone app. The rate is provided once you enter the amount and the currencies involved in the transfer.
Step 3 – Fund transfer: Next, you will need to fund the transfer to ensure you can pay for the transaction. However, only a bank transfer can be used to fund the account, which is one of WorldFirst’s limitations. Also, the minimum amount that you must transfer is 1,000 units of the currency you are sending.
Step 4 – Complete transfer: Once you have funded your account with the amount you wish to send, then the team at WorldFirst will complete the transfer. In most cases, the recipient will get the funds on the same day that you send the money.Compare Providers Now
How to Receive Money Using WorldFirst?
Step 1 – Set up an account: Start the quick and easy process of getting a WorldFirst account. This will give you the details required to receive money straight into the account. The WorldFirst account can be opened using the official website on a desktop device or smartphone. The type of details you need to provide for account creation include; full name, address, occupation, email address, and verification documents like proof of address or photo ID.
Step 2 – Banking details: If you would like to receive funds via bank transfer, then you will need to retrieve the banking details linked to your WorldFirst account. This can be done from within your account. Note that the banking details will be different for various currencies. Therefore, provide the details to the sender that match the currency you want to receive.
Step 3 – Share banking details: Now you need to share the correct banking details with the sender. To reduce the chances of data entry error, you should copy and paste the details.
Step 4 – Receive money: Once WorldFirst has received money from the sender, the recipient will be notified and the exchange rate for the transaction will be shared. Also, the money will be sent to the recipient’s account.
Does WorldFirst have a mobile app?
Yes, WorldFirst has an app available as a free download for personal customers only on Google Play and App Store. Through the App you can do the following:
Track transfers in progress
View live rates
Initiate card payments
Get market updates on various developments
The WordFirst App can also synchronize with your Android smartwatch to enable wearable money transfers in seconds.
On Google Play, the app has 10,000 downloads and a rating of 2.8 with 168 reviews. The app is available in select countries.
Can I cancel my transfer?
If you have made an erroneous payment and you want it cancelled, you can get in touch with your account manager or customer support. They will recall the payment and notify the recipient bank.
The currency, bank, and destination will determine the cancellation possibilities and how soon the money is returned.Compare Providers Now