As a pioneering purveyor of online payments, PayPal has been making waves within the industry since its inception in 1998. What started as an eCommerce platform has rapidly evolved over the last few decades, growing into an all-encompassing payment solutions provider. We want to know if the PayPal app, which is widely revered as a useful payment tool for sending money between friends and family, is as useful for those making international payments.
In addition to its merchant services, PayPal has also become a standard tool for international money transfers. The company is well-known for its security, ease of use, and acceptance as a payment method. So, let’s look at how PayPal international money transfers compare.
PayPal burst onto the money transfer scene in the early 2000s as part of the first wave of digital wallets. With never before seen features, the company attracted the attention of e-commerce giant eBay and quickly became a popular go-to payment solution for online transactions.
PayPal has continued to develop rapidly, branching out to provide other financial services, and it has become a hugely profitable business in the process. In 2020, the company set a new record when it reported annual revenue of $6.12 billion.
PayPal’s own app allows you to spend, send and receive money using your secure online account. It is available to download on iOS and Android for free, has the same look and feel as the PayPal website, and is easy to use.
Like other international money transfer services, PayPal charges a mix of fees and an exchange rate margin.
PayPal charges a margin on all currency exchanges. Their exchange rates are above the mid-market rates, which produces a “hidden” cost not reflected when you confirm a transaction. You will only see the difference when comparing the rates PayPal offers you with the mid-market rate. You can find the mid-market rate for your currency exchange transaction with a quick Google search.
Exact exchange rate margins depend on the currencies used in the transaction. Let’s look at a typical example: exchanging US Dollars USD for Euros (EUR).
At the time of writing, the mid-market rate for USD 1 would get you EUR 0.91. With PayPal, the rate is USD 1 for EUR 0.88. This demonstrates a currency conversion cost of approximately 3%. This rate is pretty high for currency exchanges.
At the time of writing, the mid-market rate for USD 1 would get you XCD 2.70 (East Caribbean Dollar). With PayPal, the rate is USD 1 for XCD 2.61. This demonstrates a currency conversion cost of approximately 3%. This rate is also high for currency exchanges.
Most of PayPal’s exchange rates fall within a similar range. PayPal claims a flat 3% rate for all currency conversions. This seems to be consistent.
You can expect to be charged 3% in exchange rate margins. However, keep in mind that these rates may be subject to change at any time. For example, US users were subject to increased exchange rates in 2019.
Regarding payments, rates are higher but more transparent than with similar services.
In addition to exchange rate markups, PayPal also charges a transparent transfer fee for each transaction.
There is a fixed fee for sending money. That base fee depends on the currency you’re sending them. You will then be charged 1% of the transfer amount, with a maximum of $10.
When a recipient withdraws money from their PayPal account to their bank, they will be charged a flat 2.50% fee. If the currency they receive via your PayPal transfer is different from their local currency, they will also have to pay currency conversion costs.
PayPal’s costs add up to a higher than the average sum in the money transfer industry. When you combine all the costs of sending money, you can spend 5% of the transaction balance if you send small amounts of money. But because the transfer fee is capped at $10, larger transfers are cheaper to make. But either way, you’re paying more than you would with many other money transfer providers.
The PayPal app has changed a great deal over the years, and it is now possible to load funds into your PayPal account using your bank account, credit, or debit card. To do this, you simply choose which payment method you want to connect to PayPal, enter your personal details then choose which account you want to pay with when making transactions. It is also possible to set up a default payment method for ease of use when using your PayPal balance to send money or make a purchase.
The other way to add money to your PayPal balance is to leave funds received via your PayPal account, in your balance, as a digital wallet to dip into as and when you need it.
It is easy to send money to people you know who also have an active PayPal account. Using the “Friends and Family” payment option, you will be able to search for your recipient, select the amount you wish to transfer, and send it to them within minutes. There is also the option to make payments for “Goods and Services,” but the PayPal app’s best known Send Money feature is the “Friends and Family” payment type.
It is possible to make international payments using the PayPal app; however, as stated on the website: “Fees apply when converting currency and when sending money to an account in another country.”
When using money available in your PayPal balance to send money between PayPal accounts, domestically or internationally, this will nearly always be instant. If you require PayPal to withdraw the money from your bank account, credit, or debit card before transferring to another account, this can take up to 4 – 5 working days.
Domestic transfers – for example, Friends and Family payments sent within the same country – are free to send. When sending money to other PayPal accounts, without the need for currency conversion of any kind, there are zero fees.
However, international money transfers which involve a currency conversion will incur fees, as stated earlier in this guide. PayPal often faces criticism for its high percentage fees on top of the fixed fees incurred for international payments.
A multitude of costs is incurred when arranging an international money transfer using the PayPal app, with various layers of fees determined by the amount, country, and payment method. While these costs are diminished when customers use their PayPal balance (rather than payment via card or bank account), a substantial amount of money is usually lost as a result of the currency conversion.
Further fees are charged when receiving certain payments in your PayPal account; for example, PayPal charges a 2.9% transaction fee for customers using the e-commerce platform Depop.
In this next section, we will take you through a step-by-step guide to opening an account and sending a money transfer using the PayPal app.
PayPal has made it easy to create an account: simply head to their website, click “Sign Up” and choose a personal or business account. You will be asked to enter your payment information during the sign-up process so make sure you have your bank details on hand. If you’re still unsure how to open a PayPal account, follow the steps below.
Due to PayPal’s vast customer base, when you search for a recipient using their username or email address, you must review the details before confirming the payment. Take care when spelling the recipient’s name or email so as to avoid selecting the wrong person, which can easily be done when there are millions of active account holders around the world using the platform. Make sure your hard-earned money is being sent to the right place, every time.
Unfortunately, PayPal doesn’t have a single phone number. You can look on the PayPal website for your country to find the relevant phone number. Because of how international PayPal is, we cannot provide a universal contact method for their customer support. However, PayPal offers a 24/7 customer support and is accessible via the following channels:
As highlighted above, PayPal has multiple drawbacks such as high fees, bad currency conversion rates, and inefficient international money transfers. Therefore, we have researched the industry to find three alternative transfer providers you can register with today.
Wise is an FCA-regulated money transfer company that many customers regard to be the top choice. Their transparency and competitive fees ensure that customers get a great deal for sending money internationally. Also, they offer low markup percentages for most currency pairs.
The customer service team at Wise goes above and beyond to help you figure out problems to ensure you can send money internationally without issues. You can get help via live chat, email, phone, or the mobile app.
WorldRemit is another industry leader that provides an amazing service for sending money internationally. They provide transfers to over 150 countries and have more than 30,000 agent locations. This is ideal for recipients that want to get physical cash from a local pick-up point.
The flexible payment options ensure that you can send money in a way that matches your preferences. This includes bank transfers, credit, and debit cards. Also, the payout options are impressive, which means that customers have multiple ways of getting money out of WorldRemit.
TorFX is a highly rated money transfer service that offers competitive exchange rates for 60 currencies. They provide excellent features for business customers, such as large transfer caps, high-quality customer support, and mass payments.
They do not charge fees for transfers but instead apply a currency exchange 1-3% markup. Also, the transfer options are flexible, so businesses have many options. For instance, market contracts and spot orders can be applied.
In conclusion, PayPal has forged a well-established network and is now widely accepted, with over 300 million users worldwide. It is also a very safe payment provider due to its Buyer Protection policy which is essentially ironclad, safeguarding customers and issuing refunds when necessary. Other security measures in place include the app’s 2-factor authentication and customer’s bank details are not stored in PayPal’s database.
The main drawback of using the PayPal app is the excessive costs incurred when sending money overseas. More favorable exchange rates and cost-effective transfer fees can be found elsewhere. If you are a fan of PayPal and want to maintain brand loyalty, we would recommend using Xoom for international payments instead. Xoom is a PayPal service that provides easy and convenient international payment services for money transfers to friends and family abroad. Have a read of our Best Money Transfer Apps guide to find out more about suitable overseas payment providers.
April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she’s not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.