PayPal vs Wise: Fees and Rates Compared 2023
Not sure whether to use PayPal or Wise for your next international payment? This PayPal Vs TransferWise review is here to help. We’ll cover:
- A full side by side feature comparison
- Which provider is cheaper?
- Which is faster?
- Which is safer?
- Which gets better customer reviews?
Summary: PayPal supports more countries than TransferWise (now known as Wise). However, PayPal’s transfer costs aren’t always easy to figure out, and can include a fee of up to 5% added to the exchange rate. Wise has a more transparent fee structure, with fees often around 0.40% for major currencies. In our comparison Wise wins with cheaper overall costs and a better exchange rate. Both providers are licensed by the FCA.
PayPal Vs Wise: side by side
|Send payments to||Send to PayPal accounts in 200 countries||80+ countries, 50+ currencies|
|Multi-currency accounts||Hold and convert 25 currencies in your PayPal account||Available for 54 currencies|
|Debit card available||Y||Y|
|Pay later options direct with merchants||Y||N|
|Fully licensed and regulated||Y||Y|
|Open a business account||Y||Y|
So, to summarise:
- PayPal supports payments to more countries, but you can only pay to another PayPal account. To make payments to a bank account you’ll need PayPal’s Xoom service
- Both PayPal and Wise offer options to hold and convert currencies - Wise accounts can handle more currencies
- PayPal offers credit and pay later services to selected customers - Wise does not
- Both providers are fully regulated, and offer both personal and business services
PayPal started as a payment platform for online shopping, and has related services such as credit for eligible account holders. You can also make domestic and international payments between PayPal accounts, but to send money to a bank account you’ll need to use PayPal’s alternative service - Xoom. Wise is a specialist in international payments to bank accounts, and offers safe, fast and low cost transfers which use the real exchange rate. If you’re looking to send money to someone’s bank account internationally, Wise probably offers better value than using a PayPal service.
The important bits
|Rates||Exchange rate includes a markup||Mid-market exchange rate with no markup|
|Fees||5% of transfer amount||Low fees, varies by destination|
|Speed||Can be instant||40% of payments are instant, 80% arrive in 24 hours|
|Service||Online, in app and by phone||Online, in app and by phone|
|Safety||Fully regulated and licensed||Fully regulated and licensed|
Rates: Wise uses the mid-market rate, whereas PayPal may charge currency conversion fees in the form of an exchange rate markup
Fees: Wise has variable fees which are based on the destination country, PayPal international payments from personal account have a 5% fee
Speed: PayPal payments arrive almost instantly if you’re sending to someone who already has a PayPal account. Wise payments can be instant
Service: Both providers offer multilingual service in a range of languages, online, in-app and by phone
Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated
Pros and cons
PayPal Vs Wise: The verdict
Whether PayPal or Wise win for you will depend on the specific services you need.
PayPal is a really popular and convenient way to shop online and send money quickly to friends. Making a domestic payment is often free - but when it comes to international payments, there are often hefty fees and an exchange rate markup. Transfers with PayPal are deposited into your recipient’s PayPal account - if they want to withdraw their payment they may need to wait several days for it to arrive in their bank account, or pay a fee for a faster withdrawal.
Wise is a specialist in transfers direct to bank accounts, and offers the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees. Wise also offers a multi-currency account with a linked international debit card.
If Wise supports payments to the country you’re sending to, and you want your transfer to be delivered to a bank account, they may be your best bet.
About PayPal and Wise
PayPal was founded in 1998, and has 337 million customers. You can send payments all over the world from one PayPal account to another. More recently PayPal has launched an alternative service - Xoom - which allows users to send to bank accounts and for cash collection.
PayPal business accounts are ideal for merchants selling online - there are an increasing number of ways to accept PayPal payments offline too.
Wise was launched as TransferWise back in 2011 as a low-cost international payment provider. These days, Wise has upwards of 10 million customers, and also offers personal and business accounts to hold and manage currencies, accept payments and spend using a linked debit card.
With Wise you can send payments to 80+ countries, in 50+ currencies.
How do they work?
If you already have a PayPal account, it's easy to send money. Setting up a PayPal account only requires a few personal details and can be done entirely online or in the PayPal app. Here’s how to send money internationally:
- Log into your account and select Send & Request
- Enter the email address, mobile number or name of the recipient and click Next
- Confirm whether you’re making a personal or business payment
- Enter the amount, choose the currency and add a note
- Click Continue
- Select the payment method you want to use
- Review and hit Send Money Now to complete your transaction
To use Wise you’ll need to create an account, and depending on the type of payment you want to make you might need to provide some ID for verification.
Once your account is up and running make payments online and in the Wise app:
- Log into your account
- Type in how much you want to transfer, or how much you need the recipient to get
- Enter the recipient’s details - bank account number or email
- Check over the details
- Fund your payment using a card or bank transfer
- Confirm and your money will be on the move
Wise transfers are made through Wise’s network of local bank accounts, so they arrive faster and don’t incur intermediary fees. When you want to pay for your transfer in pounds you’ll send the money to Wise’s local UK account. Then Wise will make a payment of the equivalent amount in your preferred currency, from their account in the destination country. No money actually moves across borders, so it’s faster and cheaper than traditional international payments.
PayPal Vs Wise Fees
PayPal international transfer fees are:
- 5% of the transaction amount
- Minimum 0.99 GBP
- Maximum 2.99 GBP
If PayPal has to convert the currency there will also be a fee for this.
The currency conversion fee is a percentage fee added onto the exchange rate being used. You’ll be shown the exchange rate available when you arrange your payment - and you can also get an indicative rate through the PayPal online Help Centre. However, this markup in the exchange rate pushes up the overall cost of using PayPal for international transfers.
Wise doesn’t hide any fees in the exchange rates used, but instead has a couple of different transparent costs:
- Fixed fee: covering the fixed costs associated with the transaction. For major currencies this can be in the region of £0.20 - £0.40
- Variable fee: covering the cost of the currency exchange. For major currencies this can be in the region of 0.35% to 0.45% of the transfer value
PayPal Vs Wise: which is cheaper?
Choosing an international payment specialist is almost certainly cheaper than sending money using your bank. However, as fees and rates do vary, it still pays to compare a few providers before you pick.
Let’s look at how a few different payments from PayPal and Wise work out. This table looks at how much in GBP it’ll cost you to send a payment to a friend in USD or EUR:
|Amount & Currency||PayPal||Wise||Winner?|
|GBP> 5000 EUR||4,369.65||4,215.91||Wise|
*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research - 24th November 2021
As you can see, on all our comparisons, Wise worked out cheaper - this is because of the currency conversion fees added to the PayPal exchange rate.
PayPal Vs Wise: which is faster?
When you send a PayPal international payment it is delivered to the recipient’s PayPal account almost instantly. They can then use the funds to shop online, or make payments to others. If they want to move the money to a bank account this may take time or incur fees, depending on where in the world they’re based.
40% of Wise payments get to their destination instantly, and 80% arrive in 24 hours. However, the exact delivery time will depend on where you’re sending money to, and how you want to pay. You’ll see an estimated arrival time when you set up your payment.
Both PayPal and Wise are fully licensed and regulated, and use both smart technology and dedicated service teams to keep customer money safe.
PayPal is globally regulated and one of the largest payment companies in the world. In the UK PayPal is FCA regulated, like most financial service companies.
Wise is regulated by the FCA in the UK, FinCEN in the US, and other global regulatory bodies around the world.
Ease of use
- Creating an account: Create your account online or in app with both PayPal and Wise
- Making a transfer: Make a PayPal international payment using a credit or debit card, bank transfer or your PayPal balance. Wise typically allows bank transfers, card payments and Apple Pay payments
- Ways to send money: Send payments to your recipient’s bank account directly with Wise. PayPal transfers are deposited in the recipient’s PayPal account
- Languages: Both PayPal and Wise offer multi-lingual support services
- Minimum & maximum amounts: Sending limits can vary by destination country, and based on your account type
PayPal supports 25 currencies for payments to PayPal accounts held in 200 countries and regions. Wise supports 50+ currencies, and lets you send payments to over 80 countries.
When it comes to making international payments, the services offered by PayPal and Wise are pretty different.
Wise is a specialist in international transfers that are delivered directly to the recipient’s bank account. PayPal transfers are deposited in the recipient’s PayPal account - if they want to withdraw the money to their bank they may need to wait a few days or pay a fee.
The other major differentiator is on cost and transparency. Wise international transfers use the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, and a low fee. PayPal payments may have higher fees, and a currency conversion cost - a markup - is added into the available exchange rate. This means that sending money internationally with PayPal will probably work out to be more costly than using Wise.
For instant payments, Wise is cheaper, as it offers the real exchange rate with no markup, and low transfer fees.
PayPal transfers can arrive almost instantly in the recipient’s PayPal account - but withdrawing the money to a bank account may take a little longer. Wise payments can be instant, and 80% will be in the recipient's bank account in 24 hours.
PayPal allows customers to hold a balance in 25 currencies and Wise supports 54 currencies.