Review: PayPal’s international money transfers

Paypal money transfers are fast, but you'll find lower fees and stronger rates on international transactions elsewhere.

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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.

What is PayPal?

PayPal is a digital payment system that can be used by both individuals and businesses to send and receive payments through the internet without having to share personal data. Although PayPal has long been associated as being the primary payment system for eBay, PayPal has since separated itself and expanded to offer global services that include money transfers, international payments and more.

How does PayPal work?

PayPal works similar to a bank account, in that it allows you to send, receive and store money digitally. PayPal integrates with many online merchants to make shopping online more seamless and private, and users can see a full history of transactions in their PayPal account history. Overall, PayPal can be used in a lot of the same places you’d shop with a credit or debit card.

Why should I consider PayPal money transfers?

  • 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.

What should I be aware of with PayPal money transfers?

  • Expensive international transfers. You face a layer of fees that vary by method, amount and country. Many transfers to recipients outside Ireland 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.

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PayPal’s exchange rates and fees explained

PayPal money 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 the sudden surprise of any hidden fees.

PayPal fees in EUR

There are two separate costs you need to take into account: the fee PayPal will charge for sending the money, and the one for converting the currency (if there’s any currency exchange involved at all).

The first is referred to by PayPal as “cross-border personal transaction fee”, is always paid by the sender and depends on the country you’re sending money to as well as on the transaction amount.

Here’s how it works:

Recipient’s countryFee
Europe, US, Canada€1.99
Other countries€3.99

As well as this fixed fee, you’ll be charged an additional 1.20% for your payment method.

PayPal goods and services selling fees

When selling goods and services through PayPal, these are the fees you’ll have to pay based on which country the PayPal account of the person buying from you comes from.

Sender’s countryDomestic payment feeCross-border payment fee
Northern Europe*1.9% to 3.4%0.4%
Europe I **1.9% to 3.4%0.5%
US/Canada1.9% to 3.4%1%
Europe II***1.9% to 3.4%1.3%
Rest of the world1.9% to 3.4%2%

* Northern Europe: Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland (including Aland Islands), Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden.

** Europe I: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France (including French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and Mayotte), Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom (including Channel Islands and Isle of Man), Vatican City State.

*** Europe II: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.

PayPal’s exchange rates

When we checked on 8 June 2020, PayPal’s exchange rate markups were anywhere from 2.5% to 4%, depending on the currency.

CurrencyPayPal’s markup
AUD4%
CHF2.56%
EUR2.75%
HKD4%
THB4%
USD3.25%

How to check PayPal’s exchange rates:

  1. Log in to your PayPal account.
  2. Click Wallet, which should be near the top of your screen.
  3. Click Currencies Calculator, which is under your PayPal balance.
  4. Select the currencies you want to convert to see rates.

Compare PayPal money transfers to other transfer services

Most other services that send money overseas will be able to offer you a better exchange rate than PayPal. Check out the table below to see what your transfer could look like with another company.

Name Product Minimum Transfer Transfer Time Transfer Fee
Azimo - Ireland
GBP 10
Instant
Varies
TransferWise - Ireland
EUR 1
1-2 days
Varies
Remitly - Ireland
EUR 0
1-5 days
EUR 2.99
Skrill - Ireland
EUR 50
1 day
None
XE Money Transfers - Ireland
EUR 1
Same day
EUR 0
WorldRemit - Ireland
EUR 1
Same day
Varies
CurrencyFair - Ireland
EUR 5
1-2 days
Varies
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Compare up to 4 providers

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How to use PayPal money transfers

Whether you’re sending money to businesses or friends overseas, 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:

  1. Visit PayPal’s website and click Sign Up for Free.
  2. 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 guide to PayPal for online sellers for more information.
  3. Enter your name, email and a password then click Next.
  4. You’ll then be asked for your address and phone number to confirm to PayPal that you’re a real person.
  5. 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:

  1. Visit PayPal’s website and login.
  2. Click Wallet at the top of the screen.
  3. Click Transfer Money, and then select Add money to your balance, which is under Money in.
  4. Choose your preferred bank account, enter the amount to transfer and click 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 transfers 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:

  1. Log in to your account and click Send & Request.
  2. Enter your recipient’s phone number or email address, the amount you want to send and a description of the transfer.
  3. Review the total cost for your transaction, including transfer fees, your payment method and possible fees depending on transfer destination and speed.
  4. Click Send Payment Now if you’re ready to transfer your funds.

Considering using PayPal money transfers? Try Xoom instead.

You can use Paypal money transfers to send payments abroad, but it may be cheaper to use Xoom instead. Xoom is part of PayPal and offers international money transfers with more competitive exchange rates than those typically offered by PayPal.

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 in the post if you select this option, but fees may apply.
  • Transfer money from PayPal to bank account. To transfer to your bank account, click the Transfer to your bank button after you accept the money. You’ll have two options when transferring to your bank account: standard transfer and instant transfer.

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.

What PayPal reviews look like

Reviews accurate as of 8 June 2020.

Trustpilot score1.2 out of 5, based on 10,574 customer reviews

PayPal is a massive global company that has millions of daily users. When investigating the negative reviews on Trustpilot we saw a trend of customers 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.

Is there a PayPal app?

PayPal app screenshot

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 in Ireland using your PayPal balance or bank account for free.
  • Log in using biometrics. Both face and fingerprint recognition can be used to log in.
  • Manage your PayPal Cash Card. Move money between your PayPal Cash Card and your bank account on the go.
  • Send money around the world. Send money internationally through PayPal.

PayPal app reviews

Reviews accurate as of 8 June 2020
Google Play Store4.4 out of 5, based on 1,393,316 customer reviews
Apple App Store4.8 out of 5, based on 18,000 customer reviews

More on the best money transfer apps

Bottom line

PayPal money transfers overseas come with a complicated fee structure you’re likely better off avoiding by opting for a money transfer specialist offering lower fees and stronger rates – especially on large transfers.

Frequently asked questions

How long do PayPal money 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.

What information do I need to provide to be able to send an international money transfer?

With PayPal, you provide your recipient’s email address or mobile number and details about the amount and currency you wish to send.

Is my money secure with PayPal?

Yes, PayPal uses SSL technology to keep your information and the details of your transaction secure.

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