Some transfers are fast and free. But you'll find lower fees and stronger rates on international transactions elsewhere.
PayPal is a well-known, digital payments company. Owned by eBay Inc., PayPal offers a fast and safe way to send money online.
Having been established in 1998, PayPal processes some 9.3 million payments every day, and it has more than 150 million active account holders worldwide. Trading in 100 currencies and across more than 200 markets, PayPal currently holds around 200,000 million accounts worldwide.
PayPal international transfers work similar to regular PayPal transfers, in that it allows you to send, receive and store money digitally. But while a lot of domestic PayPal transfers are free, international PayPal transfers typically come with a fee.
Why should I consider PayPal?
Fast transfers to other PayPal users. Transfers direct from one PayPal account to another are almost always instant.
Security. PayPal monitors all transactions for fraud, uses industry-standard encryption and has many dispute resolution options. Additionally, AI systems add to PayPal’s resiliency against fraudulent transactions.
Worldwide network. PayPal is available in more than 200 countries around the world, but you’ll be limited to the 20+ currencies that PayPal supports.
Free local transfers. When sending locally from one PayPal balance to another, your transaction will be free if you send through the “Friends and Family” option.
What should I be aware of with PayPal?
Expensive international transfers. You face a layer of fees that vary by method, amount and country. Many transfers to recipients outside the US come with fees based on your transfer amount in addition to a flat fee in the currency you’re transferring to.
Weak exchange rates. When sending money to foreign currencies, you’ll be forced to accept an exchange rate below the mid-market rate.
Fees when using credit and debit cards. Expect yet more fees if you plan to fund your transaction with plastic, rather than your PayPal account or a linked bank account.
Extra steps when receiving money. When someone pays you on PayPal, you have to manually go into your account and request a bank payout — further increasing the time it takes for that money to hit your bank account.
Must read: Our experience transferring money with PayPal
Here’s what we found when we sent live transfers to Mexico and France through the digital wallet PayPal.
While PayPal offered accurate delivery estimates, it took three days for our recipient to transfer money from their PayPal account to a French bank.
PayPal offered exchange rates that were 2.7% above the mid-market rate on average, with rates updated multiple times a day.
PayPal’s easy-to-use website allowed us to sign up and initiate a transfer in under 4 minutes.
PayPal international exchange rates and fees explained
PayPal international transfer fees depend on where you’re sending money to, how you’re sending it and how you plan to fund it. For international deliveries, you face layers of fees that include flat rates and percentages of your transaction amount. PayPal does not have any hidden fees, but its fee structure is complex, to say the least. When using PayPal, pay close attention to fees and exchange rates to avoid feeling like hidden fees snuck up on you.
PayPal fees in HKD
The following fees apply when sending money to friends and family.
One of the most popular uses for PayPal is to send and receive money online. Whether you’re sending this money to businesses or friends, the process is similar. In general, you’ll have to create your account, add money to it and then choose who to send it money to. Here are the steps:
Making a PayPal account
Creating a PayPal account can be done for free and with little verification needed. To begin, follow these steps:
Visit PayPal’s website and click or tap Sign Up for Free.
Next, you’ll be prompted to choose between a Personal Account and a Business Account. Chances are you want a personal account — if you’re signing up your business account, head on over to our PayPal for Business page for more information.
Enter your name, email and a password then choose Next.
You’ll then be asked for your address and phone number — these help PayPal confirm you’re a real person.
Now you’re ready to add money to your PayPal account.
Once your account is created, you can start receiving money right away, but you’ll have to add a payment method and bank account if you want to withdraw funds.
Adding money to PayPal
There are a few different types of PayPal accounts for personal use, including PayPal Cash and PayPal Cash Plus in addition to the standard PayPal account. PayPal Cash and PayPal Cash Plus accounts allow you to manage a PayPal balance but aren’t required to use PayPal.
To add money to a PayPal account from your computer:
Visit PayPal’s website and log in.
Select Wallet at the top of the screen.
Choose Transfer Money, and then select Add money to your balance, which is under Money in.
Choose your preferred bank account, enter the amount to transfer and select Add.
Transfers into your PayPal balance typically take 3-5 business days and incur no PayPal fees. However, it is always worth double-checking with your bank account beforehand to make sure your bank won’t charge any fees.
How to send money through PayPal
Money can be sent both domestically and internationally with PayPal. Different fees may apply depending on who you are transferring to, the purpose of the transfer and what country they live in. In general, to send a domestic PayPal transfer:
Log in to your account and choose Send & Request.
Enter your recipient’s phone number or email address, the amount you want to send and a description of the transfer.
Review the total cost for your transaction, including transfer fees, your payment method and possible fees depending on transfer destination and speed.
Select Send Payment Now if you’re ready to transfer your funds.
How to receive money on PayPal
Money can be sent to your PayPal account through your connected email address or mobile number, so be sure you provide the person paying you with the correct information. Once they’ve paid you, PayPal will send you an email, a text message or both to let you know there is money in your account.
There are a few ways you can withdraw money from your PayPal account:
Leave the money in your balance. If you plan on spending money on PayPal soon, leaving some money in your PayPal balance is a way to cover future PayPal expenses.
Request a cheque. PayPal will send you a cheque by mail if you select this option, but fees may apply.
Transfer money from PayPal to bank account. To transfer to your bank account, choose the Transfer to your bank button after you accept the money.
Case study: Katia's experience
I mostly use PayPal for online shopping. My account is connected to my Australian bank account and debit card, so I rely on PayPal when I’m shopping on my favorite Australian sites so I don’t have to worry about currency conversion.
Thanks to its ironclad security, I also like using PayPal for eBay purchases or whenever I’m shopping on a site for the first time. I know that if I have any issues, PayPal’s team will step in to help me to recover my money — which they’ve done in the past.
However, PayPal’s fees and charges can seriously stack up, especially if I opt to pay with my card. For that reason, I still turn to trusty Wise whenever I need to send money to and from Australia and my adopted home in the US. I like Wise’s interface better, too.
Is PayPal safe?
PayPal takes many measures to keep your money and transactions safe and secure, but how you use PayPal still factors into whether or not it is safe for you to use. PayPal helps keep you and your money safe by:
Protecting your sensitive information. PayPal doesn’t share your full financial information with sellers, which may help protect you from identity theft.
Monitoring transactions 24/7. Both humans and algorithms monitor PayPal transactions to spot fraud.
Encrypting your data. PayPal uses bank-level encryption, including SSL 3.0 with an encryption key length of 168 bits.
Offering fraud prevention. PayPal will never contact you asking for sensitive information by email or telephone — always contact PayPal if anything about your account history seems suspicious.
Providing dispute resolution. PayPal will help resolve disputes between buyers and sellers when PayPal is used as the payment method.
PayPal reviews and complaints
Reviews accurate as of October 14, 2020.
1.2 out of 5, based on 13,518 customer reviews
B, with 13,632 complaints in the last 3 years
4 out of 5, staff reviewed
4 out of 5, staff reviewed
PayPal is a massive global company with millions of daily users. When investigating the negative reviews on Trustpilot, we saw a trend of complaints focused on poor customer service and extremely long wait times on both phone and chat support. To avoid some of these issues, always be sure to read existing reviews on a buyer before making a purchase.
Also, thoroughly read PayPal’s buyer protection fine print to fully understand what is and isn’t covered before relying on it to guarantee you a refund. Many of the scams that people face on PayPal are common money transfer scams.
Is there a PayPal app?
PayPal has an app on both Google Play and the App Store. The app can be used to:
Send money to loved ones. Send money to friends and family locally using your PayPal balance or bank account for free.
Log in using biometrics. Both face and fingerprint recognition can be used to log in.
Send money around the world. Send money internationally through PayPal.
PayPal can help you or your business beyond moving money worldwide or supporting your e-commerce business.
Online shopping. Sign up for an account to pay for purchases at digital retailers without pulling out your credit or debit card. You can also donate to a series of charities or fund a gaming hobby directly from your account.
Lines of credit. Buy now and pay later with PayPal Credit — up to six months later with no interest.
Mobile wallet. Use PayPal’s mobile wallet app to pay for in-store purchases at a growing list of brick-and-mortar retailers.
PayPal Ventures. The company invests in fintech startups and other early stage companies looking for a lift off the ground.
Digital loans. Your PayPal business account grants you access to flexible loans for a fixed fee with no credit check.
Card processing. Add a PayPal button to your e-commerce site to accept debit and credit cards and simplify your accounting.
Mobile card reader. Use your phone or tablet for on-the-go payments to your business through PayPal’s mobile card reader.
PayPal is a strong solution for fee-free direct domestic transfers to other PayPal accounts. But international transfers come with a complicated fee structure you’re likely better off avoiding with a money transfer specialist offering lower fees and stronger rates — especially on large transfers.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I use PayPal?
PayPal can be used in more than 200 countries and thousands of stores around the world. To see if a store you want to shop at supports PayPal, visit our PayPal store list and type the store you want to shop at into the search box. Our list is updated frequently and is way more convenient than visiting every store individually online and searching its website to find out if PayPal is accepted.
How long do PayPal transfers take?
PayPal transfers between PayPal accounts are instant, but transferring to your bank account may take anywhere from 1-5 business days or more.
Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder. He’s ghostwritten hundreds of articles on fintech, finding his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Traveling internationally for nearly half his life — and getting burned once by an OTC money exchange — Zak's vowed not to settle for anything short of the mid-market rate again.
PayPal is one of the most well-known ways to pay online, particularly helpful for users who want an added layer of security when online shopping. Although PayPal is a popular option for buying and selling online domestically, you can also use it to send money both domestically and internationally.
When it comes to sending money to loved ones both near and far, PayPal may not be your best bet due to higher fees and weaker exchange rates. Using PayPal to send money within the US is a viable option as long as you use the Friends and Family option, but when sending money abroad be sure to shop around to save some money.
Why you can trust this review
At Finder, we value and respect our editorial independence. We keep our reviews completely factual so you can use them to make better decisions. While we may receive revenue and referral fees from advertising and affiliate links, advertisers do not approve our reviews.
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