Review: PayPal’s international money transfers
Domestic transfers are fast and free. But you'll find lower fees and stronger rates on international transactions elsewhere.
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PayPal supports easy, no-fee money transfers in the US to your recipient’s email address. Internationally, however, you face a complicated fee structure and weak exchange rates that can take a significant bite out of your recipient’s transfer.
Min. Transfer Amount
Max. Transfer Amount
3 - 5 days
|Min. Transfer Amount||$1|
|Max. Transfer Amount||$10,000|
|Transfer Methods||Online, Bank Account to Bank Account|
|Transfer Options||One off payments|
Minimum transfer time
|3 - 5 days|
|Customer Service||Phone, Email|
|Available Currencies||AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, MXN, MYR, NOK, NZD, PHP, PLN, RUB, SEK, SGD, THB, TRY, TWD, USD|
|Online Transfer Fee||2.99%|
Zak Killermann is a staff writer at Finder specializing in money transfers. He has ghostwritten hundreds of FinTech articles over the years and found his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Zak has been traveling internationally for nearly half his life and — after getting burned once by an over-the-counter money exchange — vowed to never settle for anything short of the mid-market rate.
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.
What's in this guide?
- What is PayPal?
- PayPal's exchange rates and fees explained
- Compare PayPal to other money transfer services
- How to use PayPal
- How to send money through PayPal
- How to receive money on PayPal
- Is PayPal safe?
- What PayPal reviews look like
- Is there a PayPal app?
- What other products does PayPal offer?
- Bottom line
- Frequently asked questions
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?
- 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 domestic transfers. When sending domestically 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 your 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’s 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 USD
The following fees apply when sending money to friends and family.
|Funding method||Destination country||Fees|
|PayPal balance or linked bank account||United States||$0|
|Credit card, debit card or PayPal Credit||United States||2.9% of transaction amount + $0.30|
|PayPal balance or linked bank account||Any other country||5% of the transaction ($0.99 minimum, $4.99 maximum)|
|Credit card, debit card or PayPal Credit||Any other country||5% of the transaction ($0.99 minimum, $4.99 maximum) + 2.9% of the transaction amount paid using a credit card, debit card or PayPal Credit + a fixed fee based on currency|
PayPal goods and services selling fees
When selling goods and services through PayPal, these are the fees you’ll have to pay based on what country the PayPal account of the person buying from you comes from.
|Sale occurs:||Buyer’s PayPal account is from:||Fee|
|Online||In the US||2.9% of the transaction amount + a fixed fee based on the currency.|
|Online||Outside of the US||4.4% of the transaction amount + a fixed fee based on the currency.|
|In-store||In the US||a fee of 2.7% of the transaction amount|
|In-store||Outside of the US||a fee of 4.2% of the transaction amount|
Fixed fee based on currency
|Australian dollar||0.30 AUD|
|Brazilian real||0.60 BRL|
|Canadian dollar||0.30 CAD|
|Czech koruna||10 CZK|
|Danish krone||2.60 DKK|
|Hong Kong dollar||2.35 HKD|
|Hungarian forint||90 HUF|
|Israeli shekel||1.20 ILS|
|Japanese yen||40 JPY|
|Malaysian ringgit||2.00 MYR|
|Mexican peso||4.00 MXN|
|New Zealand dollar||0.45 NZD|
|Norwegian krone||2.80 NOK|
|Philippine peso||15 PHP|
|Polish zloty||1.35 PLN|
|Russian ruble||10 RUB|
|Singapore dollar||0.50 SGD|
|Swedish krona||3.25 SEK|
|Swiss franc||0.55 CHF|
|Taiwan new dollar||10 TWD|
|Thai baht||11 THB|
|UK pounds sterling||0.20 GBP|
|US dollar||0.30 USD|
PayPal’s exchange rates
When we checked on May 11, 2020, PayPal’s exchange rate markups were anywhere from 3 – 4% or more, depending on the currency.
|1 USD =||Mid-market rate||PayPal’s markup|
How to check PayPal’s exchange rates:
- Log in to your PayPal account.
- Click Wallet, which should be near the top of your screen.
- Click Currencies Calculator, which is under your PayPal balance.
- Select the currencies you want to convert to see rates.
Compare PayPal to other money 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.
How to use PayPal
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 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 click 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 login.
- Click Wallet at the top of the screen.
- Click 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 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 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 click 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.
- Click Send Payment Now if you’re ready to transfer your funds.
Sending international transfers with PayPal? Consider using Xoom.
Making international payments can be done through PayPal, but if you are sending money to friends and family abroad it may be cheaper to use Xoom instead. Xoom is a part of PayPal and offers international money transfers with more competitive exchange rates than those typically offered by PayPal. To learn more about how to use Xoom and the fees and rates associated with it, read our comprehensive Xoom review.
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. If you’re receiving large amounts of money through PayPal you may need to declare it on your taxes — learn more about how the IRS handles money transfers.
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 check. PayPal will send you a check by mail 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.
Case study: Katia's experience
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 TransferWise whenever I need to send money to and from Australia and my adopted home in the US. I like TransferWise’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.
What PayPal reviews look like
Reviews accurate as of May 11, 2020.
|Trustpilot score||1 out of 5, based on 9,985 customer reviews|
|BBB rating||A, with 10,765 complaints in the last 3 years|
|PCMag.com||4 out of 5, staff reviewed||Finder.com||4 out of 5, staff reviewed|
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. Many of the scams that people face on PayPal common money transfer scams, so read up on our list of common scams and how to avoid them to save yourself time and stress.
Is there a PayPal app?
- Send money to loved ones. Send money to friends and family in the US 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 May 11, 2020|
|Google Play Store||4.4 out of 5, based on 1,347,478 customer reviews|
|Apple App Store||4.8 out of 5, based on 3,324,851 customer reviews|
What other products does PayPal offer?
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.
- Credit and debit cards. Earn rewards on gas, dining and digital spending with the no-fee PayPal Extras Mastercard. Or gain instant access to your PayPal account funds with the reloadable PayPal Cash Card.
- 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.
- Xoom money transfers. Send money to friends and family overseas as bank deposits or cash pickups in select locations.
- 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 accounts grants you access to flexible business 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.
- Point of sale solutions. Accept business payments through PayPal Here or PayPal Chip and Swipe POS systems.
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.
Looking for an alternative? Compare services like PayPal to get the best rates and fees.