PayPal vs. Travelex: Which should you use to send money? | finder.com
PayPal vs. Travelex for international money transfers featured image

PayPal vs. Travelex for international money transfers

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Discover the side of these two providers that many overlook.

Travelex is well known for its prepaid travel cards and travel insurance, but it also offers online international payments. Similarly PayPal is almost synonymous with online payments, but not as recognized for its international money transfer capabilities. We’ll highlight major features of both so you can decide if either is your new go-to for sending money across borders.

PayPal vs. Travelex: How they work

While PayPal and Travelex are both online-only processes, they each work a little differently.

PayPal

You’ll need to register for a free PayPal account before you can send money using it. Once you’re logged in, simply choose who you want to send the money to via the email or mobile number associated with their PayPal account (also referred to as a PayPal wallet) and choose how to fund it. Some locations don’t require the recipient to have a PayPal account and can have the funds transferred directly to their bank account by using PayPal’s service Xoom.

Travelex

Travelex also requires that you create an account. You may need to verify your identity with Travelex, a process that can take one to several business days. Once the account is fully verified you can start sending money. You’ll need to enter your information as well as your recipient’s information, including their bank account details. Only bank-to-bank transfers are accepted.

I want to send

to

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 2.99 0.865 EUR 4,321 Show details
USD 0 2 days - - No fee for transfers of $5,000 or more to 177 countries, backed by an International Payments Price Promise. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Who offers lower fees?

PayPal

If you’re sending a personal transfer to any country other than Canada, you’ll find there may be a fee that varies based on your payment method and the country you’re sending it to. The highest fees come with using a credit or debit card or PayPal credit to send funds to any country except Australia, which is 3.9% of the transaction amount plus a fixed fee based on the currency. You can find the full table and list of fees on our full review.

Travelex

Travelex has a very clear-cut fee structure of $5 for any transfer under $5,000, and no fee for transfers over $5,000.

  • Winner: Travelex

Travelex takes this one easily with a straightforward fee structure that keeps costs low for senders.

Travelex International Money Transfers

Our Pick: Choose from a range of services with Travelex

Travelex simplifies money matters overseas. Get currency before you go or get money when you're there with a transfer or cash passport.

  • Send international money transfers over $500.
  • Bring a pre-loaded cash passport with you on your trip.
  • Order foreign currencies before your overseas trip. That's one less thing to worry about.
  • Sell your leftover foreign currency back to Travelex when you return from your trip.

    Who offers better exchange rates?

    PayPal

    PayPal receives a wholesale rate quote twice per day from its bank. Add 2.5% to the rate received, and that’s used for all transactions that require a currency conversion. Here’s an example of what it might look like if you sent money to Australia:

    • If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 1.26 AUD
    • PayPal’s exchange rate may be 1 USD = 1.23 AUD

    Travelex

    Currency rates are updated live throughout the day on Travelex’s International Payments site. You’re able to lock-in rates with a spot trade and take out forward contracts and limit orders. Travelex also provides the International Payment Price Promise wherein if you get a better rate within 30 minutes of placing your order, Travelex will exceed that competing rate. Using the same example of sending money to Australia:

    • If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 1.26 AUD
    • Travelex’s exchange rate may be 1 USD = 1.24 AUD
    • Winner: Travelex

    Despite having similar exchange rates, Travelex pulls ahead with its forward contract and limit order options, as well as its best-price guarantee.

    Who’s faster?

    PayPal

    Transfers take only minutes to go through to a recipient’s PayPal wallet. From there it usually takes a business day to transfer from the recipient’s PayPal wallet to their bank account.

    Travelex

    You can expect the funds to transfer in two to four business days with Travelex.

    • Winner: PayPal

    Instantaneous is hard to beat — PayPal easily takes the win this round.

    Who has more options?

    Payment methodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
    PayPalBank account, PayPal balance, PayPal credit, debit and credit cardMinimum varies by country; no maximum when sending to PayPal wallet, $10,000 maximum otherwisePayPal wallet; some locations offer direct-to-bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile phone reload and home deliveryMinutes to 1 business day for wallet transfers200+ countries and 24 currencies
    TravelexBank transfer$500 minimum; no maximumBank transfer2–4 business days50 countries and 46 currencies

    Case study: Sending $4,000 to the Philippines

    Jess needs to send $4,000 to her cousin in the Philippines. After consulting with her cousin, they decide PayPal or Travelex will probably be better than going through her cousin’s bank. Here’s what a bank-to-bank transfer using PayPal and Travelex to get money from the US to the Philippines might look like.

    PayPal via XoomTravelex
    Transfer fee$4.99$5
    Exchange rate1 USD = 50.62 PHP1 USD = 50.12 PHP
    Transfer speed5 days or less4 days or less
    Total received202,480.00 PHP200,480.00 PHP

    PayPal and Travelex have similar transfer speeds, so it comes down to which service gets more money to Jess’s cousin at less of an expense to her. PayPal wins out by delivering $2,000 Philippine pesos more for a cool cent less than Travelex.

    Bottom line

    Travelex wins out when it comes to a clear fee structure, but PayPal offers instant delivery. Your needs will dictate which is the better service in terms of saving you money and getting the most to your loved ones.

    You’ll find much more than just these two transfer companies out there. Take the time to compare your options before you settle to find the one that serves you best.

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