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PayPal vs Singapore banks for international transfers

We compare the digital payments giant against your typical bank transfer to see which offers the better deal.

Updated

Fact checked

PayPal and bank transfers are both popular ways to get your money where it needs to go, but by comparing fees, rates and speeds, you might be able to figure out which offers the better deal.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 30 October 2018.

At a glance: General features

Payment methods Minimum and maximum transfers Delivery methods Transfer speeds Countries
PayPal Bank transfer, credit or debit card, PayPal Credit Minimum: $1

Maximum: US$10,000 or equivalent

PayPal transfer, bank transfer 1 day 190+ countries
Bank Transfers Online, in person, app (when available) Varies by bank Bank transfer Typically within 2 business days 190+ countries

Which has lower fees?

PayPal

There’s no transaction fee when you send payments with PayPal as the recipient covers that. If you send a payment overseas in a different currency, a small conversion fee ranging from 3.5% to 4% applies. Take note that if you pay by credit or debit card, your provider may charge you fees such as currency conversion fees, international transactions fees, or other fees.

Bank transfers

While most of our banks offer free bank-to-bank domestic transfers, they’re often the most expensive option when sending money internationally.

Banks charge higher fees – anywhere from $10 to $30, depending on the details of your transfer – and a bigger variety of fees. In general, there’s also a sending and receiving fee, which your recipient may have to pay.

Trophy icon
Winner: PayPal

While bank transfer fees vary, for most transfer amounts it’s unlikely that you’ll get anything lower than the competitive prices offered by PayPal. Remember to compare PayPal’s fees against other money transfer specialists to find the best deal possible.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 to Germany

Let’s bring this into context a little. In our scenario, we’re going to send $1,000 to Germany using both PayPal and a local bank to see which is better. Keep in mind, rates vary for other countries.

PayPal Major Singapore bank
Exchange rate 1 SGD = 0.62 EUR 1 SGD = 0.6 EUR
Transfer fee $0 $30
Transfer speed 1 business day 3 to 5 business days
Transfer options Bank transfer Bank transfer
Total euros received EUR€620 EUR€600
Receiver gets EUR€20 more EUR€20 less

The result? A transfer through PayPal results in your recipient receiving EUR€20 more and you save on transfer fees as well.

Which offers better exchange rates?

PayPal

To calculate the exchange rate it offers to customers, PayPal takes the current mid-market rate and adds a margin. PayPal updates this rate twice a day. The margin depends on what currency you’re sending to, but in general:

  • To USD or CAD: 3.5%
  • To other currencies: 4%

What does this mean for you? If you want to make a transfer in euros (EUR):

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 SGD = 0.62 EUR
  • PayPal’s exchange rate might be 1 SGD = 0.60 EUR

Bank transfers

Nearly all banks skew the mid-market exchange rate for a profit, but you’ll typically pay higher margins than you would with PayPal.

Using the example of a transfer to euros (EUR):

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 SGD = 0.62 EUR
  • Your bank’s exchange rate might be 1 SGD = 0.58 EUR

Trophy icon
Winner: PayPal

Again, PayPal’s exchange rates are typically more competitive than those offered by your local bank. Check out the exchange rates offered by other money transfer providers and compare them with PayPal’s in the table below.

Which is faster?

PayPal

Money transfers with PayPal are speedy. If you’re transferring between PayPal accounts, funds are available immediately. If you withdraw money from your PayPal account into a bank account, you can expect the funds to get there within the next business day.

Bank transfers

Most banks offer international money transfers that will arrive within two business days, but your transfer speed depends on your specific bank and type of account.

Trophy icon
Winner: PayPal

Even though both PayPal and a bank transfer can get your money where it needs to go pretty quickly, PayPal edges out the competition with instant transfer options between PayPal accounts. See how PayPal’s transfer speed stacks up against other money transfer companies.

How do they work?

PayPal

To transfer money through PayPal, you’ll need to create a free PayPal account. You can then send a transfer to your recipient’s PayPal account, funding it with your PayPal balance, bank account, credit card, debit card or PayPal Credit. After your recipient receives the money, they can either keep the funds in their PayPal account or withdraw the money to their bank account.

Bank transfers

A bank transfer lets you move your money from one bank account to another through existing banking networks. While in the past you had to visit a bank branch to initiate a money transfer, these days most banks allow you to initiate transfers online and by phone as well. However, delivery options are typically limited to bank account deposits, usually within a few days. You might also hear it referred to as a telegraphic transfer (TT) or a SWIFT transfer.

Learn more about using PayPal to send money abroad

Bottom line

Although much of the comparison between PayPal and a bank transfer varies depending on your bank account, PayPal tends to come out on top thanks to lower transfer fees, stronger rates and faster service.

Ultimately, you’ll want to compare your options to find the service that best fits your individual needs.

Looking for more options?

Check out some other international money transfer options in the table below.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
SGD 2,000 1 - 2 days SGD 0.00 0.74 USD
3,698
Send 35+ currencies at competitive rates and no fees. If you find a better eligible quote, WorldFirst will beat it. Go to site Show details
USD 60 1 day SGD 50.00 0.744 USD
3,684
Skrill offers easy transfers to many popular destinations, but keep an eye out for added fees Go to site Show details
SGD 250 1 day SGD 0.00 0.74 USD
3,698
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
SGD 2,000 1 day SGD 0.00 0.74 USD
3,698
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 45 currencies. Once registered, you'll be assigned an Account Manager who can provide support and guidance.
Go to site Show details
SGD 1 Same day SGD 3.99 0.743 USD
3,714
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Go to site Show details
SGD 250 1 day SGD 0.00 0.74 USD
3,698
SendFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Fee-free transfers in 30+ currencies to over 200 countries.
Go to site Show details
SGD 1 1 - 2 days SGD 22.50 0.747 USD
3,719
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
SGD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.743 USD
3,714
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
SGD 1 1 day SGD 21.50 0.747 USD
3,719
Pay no fees on your first two transfers, up to S$3000.
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and is based locally in Singapore.
Go to site Show details
SGD 200 2 days SGD 25.00 0.744 USD
3,704
Quick and simple international money transfers with a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers. Zero-margin rates on some currencies. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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