PayPal international money transfer review

Sending money overseas from the Philippines is fast and convenient, but you'll find lower fees and stronger rates on international transactions elsewhere.

Updated

Fact checked

PayPal supports easy money transfers in the Philippines 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.

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 Philippines 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.

Compare money transfer services now

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.

Fixed fee based on currency

CurrencyFee
Australian dollar0.30 AUD
Brazilian real0.60 BRL
Canadian dollar0.30 CAD
Czech koruna10 CZK
Danish krone2.60 DKK
Euro0.35 EUR
Hong Kong dollar2.35 HKD
Hungarian forint90 HUF
Israeli shekel1.20 ILS
Japanese yen40 JPY
Malaysian ringgit2.00 MYR
Mexican peso4.00 MXN
CurrencyFee
New Zealand dollar0.45 NZD
Norwegian krone2.80 NOK
Philippine peso15 PHP
Polish zloty1.35 PLN
Russian ruble10 RUB
Singapore dollar0.50 SGD
Swedish krona3.25 SEK
Swiss franc0.55 CHF
Taiwan new dollar10 TWD
Thai baht11 THB
UK pounds sterling0.20 GBP
US dollar0.30 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 ratePayPal’s markup
AUD1.48181.543.78%
CAD1.34881.43.66%
EUR0.8920.923.04%
GBP0.77810.813.94%
MXN22.890623.894.18%
PHP48.844450.373.03%

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 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.

Name Product Minimum Transfer Transfer Time Transfer Fee
WorldRemit
WorldRemit
PHP 1
1 - 2 days
USD 3.99
WorldRemit Philippines lets you use your debit, credit or pre-paid card to send instant mobile airtime top-ups.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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:

  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 PayPal for Business page 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 — these help PayPal confirm 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 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.

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 your bank may need to report it to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in compliance to the Anti Money Laundering Act (AMLA) — learn more about how the banks handle large 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.
  • 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.

How to withdraw funds from PayPal without a bank account

If you need to withdraw funds from your PayPal account to your Philippine bank account, chances are you will have to wait 3-5 days before your money gets credited to your account. But GCash, one of the country’s most popular mobile wallets, shortened the waiting time to just a few minutes, without the need for a bank account. But first, you need to make sure your PayPal is linked to your GCash account.

How to link your PayPal account to your GCash

  1. Go to your GCash account, tap on “My Linked Accounts”.
  2. You will find PayPal in the list of providers that you can link your GCash account to.
  3. Enter your PayPal email.
  4. Tap on “Link”.

How to withdraw your PayPal funds to your GCash

To make this work, you need to make sure you’ve successfully linked your PayPal and GCash accounts. You also need to convert your funds to Philippine pesos if they are in another currency. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Log on to your PayPal account.
  2. Click on the button to direct you to the Money page.
  3. Convert your funds to Philippine pesos.
  4. Open up your GCash account, tap Cash In. You should see the PayPal icon under the “My linked accounts” section.
  5. Your available PayPal funds converted in pesos should reflect there.
  6. Withdraw your funds. Most transactions are processed in real-time. You should receive a message from GCash once the transfer is completed. There are no fees for withdrawing your funds this way.
  7. If you wish to transfer your GCash funds to your bank account, you can also do so through the Send money to bank account option. Most transfers are also completed in real-time via Instapay with zero transactions fees involved.

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.

How to stay safe on PayPal when buying and selling

It is important to understand how to stay safe when buying and selling on PayPal — use these key tips to protect yourself and your money:

Tips for safe buying

Although PayPal has protocols in place to help protect you and your money, take these extra precautions to prevent user error when using PayPal:

  • Don’t use public wifi to access your PayPal account.
  • Avoid clicking email links related to PayPal — they are probably phishing attempts.
  • Use a credit card to fund your purchases for extra protection.
  • Triple-check item details before purchasing, as buyer protection only covers the item as it is described by the buyer.
Tips for safe selling

A major complaint for businesses that sell through PayPal is that buyer protection can be used against the business if the customer isn’t happy with the purchase. To avoid fraudulent disputes, be sure to:

  • Ship only to the verified address provided through PayPal.
  • Never deliver goods in person, always use a service that provides proof of delivery.
  • Require a signature if the item is expensive.
  • Describe the item you are selling in as much detail as possible, including defects, features and photos.
  • Promptly communicate with unsatisfied customers.

What PayPal reviews look like

Reviews accurate as of May 11, 2020.

Finder.com4 out of 5, staff reviewed

Trustpilot score1 out of 5, based on 9,985 customer reviews
BBB ratingA, with 10,765 complaints in the last 3 years
PCMag.com4 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?

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 the Philippines 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 app reviews

Reviews accurate as of May 11, 2020
Google Play Store4.4 out of 5, based on 1,347,478 customer reviews
Apple App Store4.8 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.

Personal products
  • 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.
  • Mobile wallet. Use PayPal’s mobile wallet app to pay for in-store purchases at a growing list of brick-and-mortar retailers.

Bottom line

PayPal is a strong solution for fee-free direct 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.

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. Consider using an instant transfer if you need the money immediately.

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