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Wise (TransferWise) vs. PayPal

Wise is usually cheaper — but it isn't always faster.

Wise and PayPal are two convenient options for sending an online money transfer, but which one will net you a better deal on your next transfer?

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
PayPal
Within minutes
From $0

View details
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PayPal transfers may incur an additional fee depending on the currency sent. See the full PayPal fee schedule by currency.

Which has lower fees?

Wise

Wise’s fee is usually a combination of a small percentage of your transaction amount plus a flat fee.

The flat fee is between $1 and $2 for most major currencies, but can climb above the $5 mark in some cases.

Bank transfers attract lower fees than if you pay with a credit or debit card.

PayPal

PayPal’s fee structure is quite complicated. The amount you pay depends on your transfer amount, where you’re sending the money and whether you pay for the transaction with your PayPal balance, bank account or credit/debit card. Fees for transferring out of the US range from $0.99 to $4.99 USD + 2.9% of the transaction amount. There’s also a small fixed fee for sending in a foreign currency.

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Winner: Tie

If paying for your transfer from your PayPal balance or bank account, PayPal’s international transfer fees can be quite competitive. However, fees quickly add up if paying with your credit/debit card, and the complicated fee structure can be difficult to understand.

Wise also offers minimal fees for most transactions, and offers a handy online tool to help you calculate the total cost of your transaction.

Compare fees between the two providers for your specific transaction to find the best value for money.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 to the UK with a bank transfer and debit card

Let’s take a closer look at how Wise and PayPal compare when sending the sane amount with two different transfer methods.

Sending $1000 to the UK by bank transfer
WisePayPal
Transfer fee$6.90$2.99
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.7671 GBP1 USD = 0.7460 GBP
Transfer speed12 days35 days
Amount received (in GBP)£761.81£743.77
Sending $1000 to the UK by debit card
WisePayPal
Transfer fee$12.32$31.99
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.7671 GBP1 USD = 0.7460 GBP
Transfer speed12 days35 days
Amount received (in GBP)£757.65£722.14

While Wise had a higher fee when sending a bank transfer, its better exchange rates made it the more affordable option overall. And when sending by debit card, PayPal’s higher fees made the difference between the two more noticeable.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Wise

Wise offers international money transfers using the mid-market exchange rate. This is the rate which you see listed on Google and sites like XE, and it represents the real market value of one currency relative to another. For example, if the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 1.4974 NZD, that’s the rate you’ll get for your transfer.

PayPal

PayPal adds a margin on top of the mid-market rate. While this margin is typically smaller than that offered by the banks, it’s generally around the 3.5-4% range.

Using the same example as we did for Wise:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 1.4974 NZD
  • PayPal’s rate might be 1 USD = 1.4570 NZD

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Winner: Wise

Wise’s exchange rates are much better than those offered by PayPal, which means more of the money you send arrives in your recipient’s bank account.

Which is faster

Wise

Transfer times vary depending on the currency you send and the payment method you select.

While most transactions take between 1 and 2 business days, it’s possible to send funds to some destinations within minutes.

PayPal

If you’re sending from one PayPal account to another, transfers can be almost instant. But if you’re using another method, transfers take 3–5 days on average, and can sometimes take much longer.

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Winner: PayPal

PayPal transfers are generally faster but only if your recipient is happy to spend the money you send directly from their PayPal account. If they want it sitting in their bank account, you may find that Wise will get the money there quicker.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMinimum and maximum transfersTransfer speedsAvailability
WiseBank transfer, credit card, debit cardBank transferMinimum: $1

Maximum: $199,999

12 days45+ countries
PayPalBank transfer, credit card, debit card, PayPal transferBank transfer, PayPal account transferMinimum: $1

Maximum: $10,000

3–5 days190+ countries

Wise

While Wise offers a handy fee and exchange rate calculator on its website, you’ll need to sign up for a Wise account before you can make a transfer. You can then initiate a transfer by specifying the amount and currency you want to send and providing your recipient’s bank account details.

You’ll receive email updates throughout the transfer process and can track your transaction online or using the Wise app.

PayPal

Before you can send money overseas with PayPal, both you and your recipient will need to have your own PayPal accounts. You can then link your bank account or credit/debit card to your PayPal account to fund your transaction.

To send a transfer, enter the email address or phone number of your recipient. You will then have to enter the details of your transaction, specify the reason why you are sending funds, and then take a moment to review the full cost of your transaction before submitting your transfer.

Bottom line

Wise generally offers much better value for money than PayPal on international transfers. While fee amounts often work out fairly similar between the two companies when paying from your bank account, Wise’s commitment to offering the mid-market rate means that more of the money you send will end up in your recipient’s pocket.

But to get the best deal on your next transfer, compare other transfer providers against PayPal and Wise before getting started.

Looking for more options?

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
OFX
24 hours
$0

View details
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Dunbridge Financial
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours
$0

View details
Dunbridge Financial offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on transfers to more than 120 countries.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally £5,000)

View details
Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
XE
Within minutes
$3

View details
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
WorldRemit
Within an hour
From $1.99

View details
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Instarem
Within an hour
$1

View details
Exclusive: Use code GET60 and save $30 on each transaction over $200. Valid for the first two transactions and till 31st July 2021. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers

View details
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
MoneyGram
Within an hour
From $0

View details
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
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