PayPal review: 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.
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Does PayPal work internationally?
Yes. PayPal international transfers work similarly to regular PayPal transfers, allowing you to send, receive and store money digitally. But while many domestic PayPal transfers are free, international PayPal transfers typically come with a fee.
Pros and cons of PayPal
Carefully weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks before making an international money transfer using this service.
- 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.
- 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 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 international 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.
- Select Wallet, which should be near the top of your screen.
- Choose Currencies Calculator, which is under your PayPal balance.
- Pick the currencies you want to convert to see rates.
Compare PayPal to other money transfer services
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
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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 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.
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 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.
- 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.
Compare services like PayPal to get the best rates and fees
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.