TransferWise Review: The Best Way to Send Money to Japan using an International Money Transfer

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Updated: April 13, 2021

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Want to know how to use Transferwise in Japan?

Here's a step-by-step review of my experience recieving an international transfer sent from the U.S. to Japan.

I got married this year. Yay! And, a few weeks ago, my father who lives in the United States emailed me to say he wanted to send me a cash wedding gift. Given that I live in Japan, he figured he would send me a wire transfer, but asked me if I knew how he'd go about sending money to me from overseas. Being that I've used Transferwise (now Wise), in the past, I suggested he give them a shot, and that it was dead simple and safe to use. Of course, being in his 70's and more familiar with banking institutions in general, the conversation, decision-making, and actual money transfer took a while. If your interested to know exactly why you might want to be recommending Transferwise (Wise) to your friends and family who want to send you money from overseas, just check out what happens when they don't choose Transferwise. Ready? What follows is the exact conversation my father and I had via email. I've trimmed only super-personal things and account numbers, of course, for obvious reasons.

Also, it might be interesting to note that I originally wrote this page the second week of March 2021, for their affiliate contest, coincidentally the day my father sent me his first email. I had no idea of the drama that would play out, so the text below was completely unanticipated. It was too good not to include, though, so almost a month later, here we are. Enjoy, Doc

The Ask

MARRIAGE RELATED QUESTION
Inbox

Jack K
Mar 14, 2021, 4:17 AM
to me

Hi D,

We would like to send you guys a little “cash” gift for your new marriage. Most likely, I would probably prefer to “wire transfer” it from our Bank of America. I haven’t talked to anybody at BOA here yet…..and, thought?? maybe it would be best for you to check things out on your side first?

Couple of things I’m thinking of:

Not sure if “you” have to actually have to have an account in the same bank I would be transferring from?

Also, from quickly looking online at BOA, a decision also has to be made up front, as to whether to transfer in USA Dollars, or have it received in the currency of the receiving country etc.?

Let me know your thoughts on proceeding.

Thanks,
Dad

My first response

Doc Kane
Mar 15, 2021, 7:12 AM
to Jack

Hi, Dad…

That's very nice of you to consider us in this way… thank you. 😉 We did have a big wedding to pay for… 😉

Actually, the simplest and cheapest way to send money abroad these days is using an online service. I use Transferwise… (now just called Wise). They've been around since 2011, and are the biggest player in this space. I have used it in the past to send money to P. I'm also an affiliate, so not only will you save money, but I'll make money. Ha!

R just got a raise from kicking ass at work so much, so every little bit helps! Thanks again. 🙂

Here is my affiliate link: https://wise.xxxxxxx

You might need my bank info:

Account number: xxxxxxx
Routing number: xxxxxxx
Swift number (doubtful): SMBCJPJTxxx

P.S. Couldn't help but notice the email subject line was in all caps… I suppose you didn't want me to miss it. In that case you could have just typed I WANT TO SEND YOU MONEY. I probably would have opened that too.

Thanks, 
D

My Dad's first response to me

Jack K
Mar 15, 2021, 9:11 AM
to me

Thanks D,

Let me look into this a little further on my side now too. It might take me a little while. Do you know if I will have to provide Wise with my own “bank accounts” name and routing number, in order to make the transfer?

By the way when you refer to your “bank info” in your email….is that actually a routing number and an account number tied into a “bank” account… or is this account info relating to your Wise Account? If actual “bank” info…do I also need the name of your bank itself ?

Regarding the all CAPs heading….I can’t recall if that was intentional or not. I do know that I occasionally use that, or just capitalizing first letters, in order to make things stand out.

PS: What’s your suggestion for accomplishing emphasizing portions of a written document….(I don’t think italics is of much help, sometimes, I think italics are even easier to miss. Many times I find I have to emphasize things in the business world, as people on the other side of written corro like to “conveniently” miss important things they don’t really want to answer, but, I need answered to be sure I am going to get an expected result:-)

D

My second response to my Dad

Doc Kane
Mar 15, 2021, 9:52 AM
to Jack

Howdy… of course, no rush.

The information I included is for my bank here in Japan. The name is Mitsui Sumitomo Bank. I don't believe you'll need the name. I do believe you will need to input your account information to do the transfer.

Regarding the caps… I would just simply bold whatever you want to stress, or sometimes I simply use an asterisk on both sides of a word I want to stress. Bold works fine. I stay away from too much formatting, in general, though… it's better to simply write it in a way that the person understands it as being important. Like, saying it's important. Put pressure on people with phrasing… it works better, and is, believe it or not, noticeably less “loud.”

D

My Dad's second response to me

Jack K
Mar 15, 2021, 12:45 PM
to me

Thanks D. I’ll look into it a little further on my end, and see what I find out.

Good thought on the bolding. I also many times end up “listing” the important items “numerically”…so they aren’t easy to miss (or, intentionally skip over), as they would be if they are just part of a normal paragraph.

D

Third response to my Dad

My Dad's message to my brother and sister looping them in now

Jack K
Mar 16, 2021, 3:36 AM
to me

Guys,

See My email to D and his response below.
He also just sent me an email that if I was more comfortable going through my bank, that would be okay too.
If needed….he also gave me the actual name of his bank too if you need it.

I intend to see what my bank has to say…but feel free to do your own thing.

You can also test out the site he gave me, and it pretty much shows you what a certain dollar amount would end up being in YEN on his end.

Let me know what you decide.

At this point, I only mentioned that it was us, intending to send him a gift.

Dad

Third message from my Dad

Jack K
Mar 18, 2021, 11:11 AM
to me

D,

I just tried to obtain some info on this in a phone call to my bank today.
Obviously not as simple as WISE:-). Also, a little more challenging to try to do online, in trying to avoid going to the bank itself during this Covid stuff:-)

If I go the bank route though…..they were saying to me that I should have you, the receiver, determine from your bank……which will be more beneficial to you, I guess)….whether to wire it to you from the USA…. in “Dollars”, or to wire it to you in “Yen”?
(Evidently, I can choose one or the other up front.

Also, I would need to know the
Exact “Name” & Address on your account.
Can you give me your specific address again.

(and, for my own info…is it necessary to have that “dash” on the top of the word Chome, which I recall was part of your address?)

Thanks
Dad

My fourth response

Doc Kane
Mar 18, 2021, 11:57 AM
to Jack

Howdy… 😉 Yeah, I would encourage you to use WISE. It's so much easier, faster, and you get the real exchange rate, without the markup the bank puts on top of things. To answer your question about which currency: I need things in Yen. It looks like Bank of America does not charge a fee for outbound wires in a foreign currency. Also, things might be cheaper if you do it using their online banking system instead of going to the branch. I would not go to the branch to do any of this. There is absolutely no reason to do so when everything can be done online.

Bank of America –> https://www.bankofamerica.com/foreign-exchange/wire-transfer/

Watch this video from WISE… it only takes minutes to set up. The hardest part is getting verified (you will probably have to hold up an ID card to your computer to prove who you are). Then there is a day or two wait, I believe.

My exact name on the account is:
XXXXXXX
My address is different now, so… no Chome.

My address is:

XXXXXXX

Thanks so much,
D

Dad's Fifth Message

Jack K
Mar 18, 2021, 2:34 PM
to me

Thanks D.

WISE did look like it was going to be simple. I’m probably over thinking this, but, my thought is ….in this process, I will evidently end up providing WISE with all my Bank of America account info, account number, routing number etc…..so they, or anybody who could gain access to their computer systems (legally or hacked)….would also have access to entering my accounts. If I deal directly with BOA on my end…I would be eliminating any concern on my end, as they already have all that info…..wouldn’t that be a correct assumption?
I’m not real concerned with the actual money itself that would be part of the wire transfer, but, moreso with the access to my accounts themselves (along with all the headaches involved in any possible information breach.

Regarding the YEN aspect of things….I think? the BOA person not ignoring the fact fact that you personally will need to be given the cash on your end in yen……but, I think she was getting at at whether or not it’s more profitable (in Japan) to receive an actual dollar on your end, or Yen. I get the impression that BOA can actually wire the money from the US in either dollars or Yen??
Maybe I’m not thinking , or remembering this correctly….but, I think back to going to Canada. Let’s say at the time , the value of our dollar ($1.00) in Canada, was actually $1.25. I f I was walking around on the Canadian border with an American dollar bill in my pocket (and) a Canadian coin representing a Canadian dollar…..and, I needed to buy a dollars worth of gas……wouldn’t I end up with more gas if I purchased it on the Canadian side with an American dollar bill , since our dollar is actually worth $1.25 in Canada, in this example?

Regarding the BOA girl advising me to find out how your bank would like to receive the money (dollars or yen)…I think what the BOA girl was saying is that “your” bank would be the one to decide which currency they would “prefer” to receive on their end (either way, I guess I’m not sure if they end up passing along any favorable exchange gains along to their customer
(you):-)

Again, I could be misunderstanding the whole issue. But, I think I am correct in saying that if I wired you $10 in American Dollar bills Vs wiring you the equivalent of $10 American dollars in Yen……depending on the current exchange rate at the time……I would think your bank would know which currency they would like receive, when they evidently have a choice to receive it either way???? And, depending on the exchange rate situation….if my intent was to give you $10…..when you actually receive it, it might have a value of $8.00; or, if your lucky, it could have a value of $12.00?

D

My Fifth Response

Dad's Sixth Message

Jack K
Mar 24, 2021, 9:49 AM
to me

D,
Looks like I forwarded this email to myself, in error.
D

Dad's Seventh Message

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Jack K
Date: Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 7:13 PM
Subject: Fwd: MARRIAGE RELATED QUESTION
To:

Hi D,
Im trying to work my way through this Wire Transfer Process on my laptop, with Bank of America.
A couple of questions come up along the way:

….I'll attach a photo….but, when they ask for your address, they only allow enough space to type in your address (without indicating Hyogo). Is it necessary to have Hyogo in there somewhere? Note…(I will correct your (email) address when I input this stuff again)

….Also will attach another photo regarding the name of your bank. The only option for your bank is….Mitsui Sumitomo Primary Life Insurance Company Limited???
NOTE…..It also looks like I could choose the option of your SWIFT code, instead of inputting your bank address….HOWEVER, Im not sure what you meant when you indicated “Doubtful”, in your email with your SWIFT number…..Is the number you gave me in your email, a correct number to use??. (I'll provide another photo)
IN ADDITION….Do you have the address of your bank, if I need to input it somewhere down the line here?

…..Regarding your Zip Code Address…..I notice that when I input the entire zip code, the last number of the 0001 (the “1” is hidden to me, and, Im not sure if they will see it? Should i leave it that way, or leave out the dash between the first and second parts of your zip code, in order to get it all to fit?

Not sure what else is to come yet, so, I might have more questions.
They are also quick to time me out on the site, but, I pretty much have all the info to input organized and memorized so far…..so, it gets a little easier each time:-)

PS: I am assuming the currency you want is YEN…correct?

Thanks,
Dad.

My Sixth Message

Doc Kane
Mar 25, 2021, 9:31 PM
to Jack

Hi, Dad… a lot of questions here—I can answer some tonight and the other more detailed ones tomorrow.

On the security of WISE, they’re regulated in the same fashion as any financial institution, so the risks aren’t doubled, they’re the same. Plus, account numbers everywhere are encrypted, so this isn’t really a concern. Bad passwords, are a concern, though… everywhere.

On Yen. Your Canada scenario is basically true, but keep in mind, there is no U.S.A. off the coast of Japan, so U.S. money is worthless here. 😉 Just pick whatever dollar amount you want to send I’ll get what I get. Her concern is more if you need to send me a precise amp unit in ten ( in the case of paying a bill), but since this is a gift it doesn’t matter.

Hyogo is not important. Kobe is enough.

Sumitomo Life Insurance is NOT my bank. 😉 I would look under S for Sumitomo Mitusu Bank.

I will have to look into the SWIFT number thing tomorrow.

I will get you the bank’s address tomorrow.

The zip code will show up in their data end of things as long is it is types in there. Try without the dash to see if it accepts it.

That is all for now!

Cheers,
D

Dad's Eighth Message

Jack K
Mar 25, 2021, 10:31 PM
to me

Thanks D.

If I can find the bank by searching as you suggest, that should get me going, along with the banks address (if they ask for it).

By the way, in addition to the Swift Number, as an alternative to the bank……see attached photo for a third option…National ID?

I’ll await your response regarding Swift Number, and Bank address. I’ll also see if they accept the zip without the dash.
D

Dad's Ninth Message

Jack K
Mar 25, 2021, 10:38 PM
to me

Wrong picture…let me see if I get it right this time….hard to preview the correct picture before sending, can’t make it large enough:-)
This should be it.

My Outreach to Wise to change my address

Apr 3, 2021, 10:18 GMT+2

—-
Issue: Managing account.

Customer issue:
“Hi there, I have to change my address as I have moved and my father would like to send me a transfer. Can you help me with that?

My new address is: XXXXXXX

Thanks,
Doc”
—-

Response from Wise regarding Changing my Address

———- Forwarded message ——-

 

##- Please type your reply above this line -##

XXXXXXX. (TransferWise)

Apr 5, 2021, 16:58 GMT+2

Hi D.

Thanks for sending over that document.

Unfortunately, we couldn't accept your Japanese residence card to update your address information.

Please send us a different Japanese ID for example drivers license.

We can also accept the following documents as proof of address.
Juminhyo (Residence certificate) (住民票) *Manually cover 本籍地/domicile of origin manually if it is listed on the document.
Certificate of entry in the resident card (住民票の記載事項証明書) *Manually cover 本籍地/domicile of origin manually if it is listed on the document.
Seal registration certificate (印鑑登録証明書)
Receipt of utility bills (Landline phones, electricity, water, NHK, gas) (公共料金の領収書(固定電話(NTT・KDDI・ソフトバンクテレコム等の固定電話)、電気、水道、NHK、ガス(含むプロパンガス)いずれかの領収書))
Receipt of national/regional tax issued by a government (国税・地方税の領収書)
Receipt of social insurance – i.e. health insurance/pension (社会保険料の領収証書)*
Any other documents issued by a government with full name, DOB, and address (e.g. Juminhyo code notification letter) (官公庁が発行(発給)した氏名・住所・生年月日の記載があるもの)
National health insurance card (国民健康保険被保険者証)

Please note we do not accept Health insurance card (健康保険被保険者証) sponsored by Japan Health Insurance Association since address is hand written on this type of insurance card.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.

Kind regards,

XXXXXXX – Wise

My second message to Wise regarding the address change requirement

Doc Kane
Attachments
Tue, Apr 6, 4:32 PM (7 days ago)
to Wise

Hi XXXXXXX, thank you for your response. I have taken a photo of the front and back of my Health Insurance Card for you… hope this does the trick!

Thanks,
Doc

 

Apr 6, 2021, 14:05 GMT+2

Lovely. Thank you so much, XXXXXXX!

Cheers,
Doc

Wise last response

Apr 6, 2021, 14:03 GMT+2

Hello D,

Thanks for sending over that document.

I’ve sent it to our team for review — this should take about 2 working days. We’ll let you know when that’s done, or if we need anything else.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,
XXXXXXX – Wise

My Dad and I chat on the phone, he's finally given up on Bank of America

Wise sends confirmation of the transfer

Jack has sent you money
Inbox

Wise <noreply@wise.com>
Apr 9, 2021, 8:52 AM (4 days ago)
to me

Logo

Hello D,

Jack is sending you XXXXXXX JPY with Wise.

You should have the money in your account ending in ***XXXX by today, April 8. The reference is: XXXXXXX.

You can track this transfer on Wise. Just click the button below to see its progress.

Track your transfer
Need to send money too?
Then you’re in luck. Thanks to XXXXXXX your first transfer is free. Claim your free transfer here.

Thanks,

The Wise Team

We've changed our name to Wise.
Because we’re the international account used by over 10 million people to make it easier to live, work, travel and do business around the world. Read more on our blog.
Want to change what we get in touch about? Go to your Notification Settings. We can’t receive replies to this email address. But if you’d like some support, please visit our Help Centre.

This email was sent to you by TransferWise, trading as Wise. By using our services, you agree to our customer agreements.

© TransferWise, trading as Wise 2021. All rights reserved.

Not out of the woods yet

Dad's Tenth Message

Fwd: There’s a problem with your transfer (#XXXXXXX)
Inbox

Jack K
Fri, Apr 9, 10:13 AM (4 days ago)
to me

D,

See email below. I’ll also text you photos of the bank info I gave.
Wise evidently changed some of the bank info using “numbers”.
D

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Wise <noreply@wise.com>
Date: Thu, Apr 8, 2021 at 8:20 PM
Subject: There’s a problem with your transfer (#XXXXXXX)
To: Jack

Logo

Hello Jack,

Your transfer of XXXXXXX JPY to D was sent back to us.

There was a problem with the bank details we had for D. Because of that, your money was sent back to us.

To fix your transfer, you can either:

Change your recipient’s bank details and send your money to them again. Before you do, please check that you’ve got their details right. If your money gets sent back to us a second time, we’ll need to give you a refund.

Cancel your transfer and get a refund.

To choose what you’d like to do, click the button below.

Fix your transfer

Please choose one of these options in the next 2 days. If we don’t hear back from you, we’ll need to give you a refund.

Thanks,

The Wise Team

We've changed our name to Wise.
Because we’re the international account used by over 10 million people to make it easier to live, work, travel and do business around the world. Read more on our blog.

Want to change what we get in touch about? Go to your Notification Settings. You can find answers to most questions in our Help Centre. And if you need to get in touch, use our contact form — that way we can help you quicker.

This email was sent to you by TransferWise, trading as Wise. By using our services, you agree to our customer agreements.

© TransferWise, trading as Wise 2021. All rights reserved.

My Seventh Message to my Dad

Doc Kane
Fri, Apr 9, 10:32 AM (4 days ago)
to Jack

Dad,

This is my name in Katakana:

XX XX XXX

D

My Dad's Eleventh Message

Jack K
Fri, Apr 9, 10:14 PM (4 days ago)
to me

D,
When we talk, you’ll have to fill me in as to how this reads….XX XX XXX (in that order?), and then I just copy and paste each individual name, in the appropriate boxes where called for on their computer form…correct?
D

My eighth message

D
Sat, Apr 10, 5:51 AM (3 days ago)
to Jack

Pretty much! Stay tuned…

D

Dad's Twelvth Message

Fwd: Transfer sent (#XXXXXXX)
Inbox

Jack K
Sat, Apr 10, 8:34 AM (3 days ago)
to me

 

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Wise <noreply@wise.com>
Date: Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 7:26 PM
Subject: Transfer sent (#XXXXXXX)
To: Jack

Logo

Hello Jack,

XXXXXXX JPY is on its way to XX XX XXX. The money should be in the bank account by today, April 9.

Sorry that took a little longer than expected. We needed more time to pay out your money.

The USD to JPY rate was 109.325. The fee was XX.XX USD.

Track your transfer
You can download a receipt for your transfer here.

You can read more about how long the money should take to arrive here.

Thanks,

The Wise Team

We've changed our name to Wise.
Because we’re the international account used by over 10 million people to make it easier to live, work, travel and do business around the world. Read more on our blog.
Want to change what we get in touch about? Go to your Notification Settings. We can’t receive replies to this email address. But if you’d like some support, please visit our Help Centre.

This email was sent to you by TransferWise, trading as Wise. By using our services, you agree to our customer agreements.

© TransferWise, trading as Wise 2021. All rights reserved.

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