How To Transfer USD to GEL (and many other currencies) Using TransferWise

Updated: 27 March, 2020 seen 425

In March 2020, GEL/USD exchange rates dropped to 1 USD = GEL 3.4 (I still remember days, when rates were 1 USD, equaled 1.74 GEL).

Most of the banks (if not all) act as market makers or they buy low and sell high. A normal business practice. If GEL/USD value drops to 3.4 GEL for 1 USD, there is no guarantee you are going to keep 340 GEL when exchanging 100 USD.

Today I decided to test - is it possible to use Transfer Wise to transfer funds inside Georgia and is it possible to transfer from USD to GEL. Spoiler alert: yes it is possible

Opening Bank Account in Georgia - Bank of Georgia

Currency exchange rates on Bank of Georgia March 27, 2020

Currency exchange rates on Bank of Georgia March 27, 2020

As you can see the buy/seel spread is 10 tetri here and bank will make money if you will decide to sell or buy USD.  

So I decided to test two things:

  • Is it possible to send USD to GEL inside Georgia using third party (Transfer Wise)
  • Is it convenient

Here are my key findings:

  • It's possible to move funds inside Georgia (from account to account) from USD account to GEL (or vice verse)
  • It's is pretty convenient
  • see bottom line for the drawbacks

How to send USD to GEL

1. Signup for the Transfer Wise account if you haven't yet. Log in and chose to Send Money

2. Chose Someone else

Send money using Transfer Wise

Send money using Transfer Wise

3. Enter recipient details

Send money using Transfer Wise

4. Chose Payment purpose

Send money using Transfer Wise

5. Review details of your transfer

Send money using Transfer Wise

6. How would you like to pay?

Send money using Transfer Wise

You can choose from Bank debit (ACH), Debit card, Credit card, Wire transfer or International wire. Each option has it's own commission, chose what suits you best

7. Paying with a debit card

Send money using Transfer Wise

I chose to pay with a debit card

8. Sit back and relax

Send money using Transfer Wise

For the test above I transferred 10 USD, but the recipient received GEL 28.04. If I would instead exchange the funds directly on my bank account and then transferred in GEL, I would get GEL 33.35. Most probably for a bank transfer then I would pay an additional 1 GEL and the recipient would get GEL 32.35, which is a difference of GEL 4.31

Exchanging USD to GEL via Bank of Georgia

Exchanging USD to GEL via Bank of Georgia

The Bottom Line

For now, I don't see reasoning using Transfer Wise for internal bank transfers inside Georgia, and if, then most probably the sum should be at least USD 100 to make it break even.

In case you need to send GEL from abroad - it's no brainer. Transfer Wise will do the job