How to Top-Up PayPal Account in the UK: A Full Guide 2024

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
27 December 2022

PayPal is a popular and convenient way to shop online with retailers in the UK and globally - or to send money quickly to friends and family. However, while PayPal can be cheap or free to use for some transaction types, there are fees you’ll want to consider, which can be particularly high if you’re sending or spending a foreign currency.

In this article, we’ll cover 3 ways to top-up your UK PayPal balance, the pros and cons of PayPal, and some important fees to know about when you use PayPal UK. And as PayPal may not be the best option for international transfers due to the overall costs involved, we’ll also introduce some alternatives to PayPal like OFX and Wise.

Key points:

  • Top-up PayPal UK from your linked bank account online or in the PayPal app

  • Bank top-ups may take several days to arrive

  • Have friends or family send you PayPal transfers to add funds to your account

  • PayPal UK top-ups are free as long as no currency conversion is needed

Table of contents:

Can you add money to PayPal in the UK?

If you have a PayPal account in the UK, you’ll be able to top up your PayPal balance using your linked bank account. You can’t top up using a credit or debit card - instead you’ll need to use your normal online banking service to make a payment to PayPal which will be deposited into your PayPal account.

One other option is to have someone send you a PayPal payment directly - we’ll cover how this works, later.

3 ways to top-up your UK PayPal balance

It’s good to know that you don’t actually need to add money to your PayPal account if you don’t want to. You can simply link your preferred bank account or card to your PayPal account and funds will be taken directly from there when you shop online or send payments.

However, if you’d rather hold a PayPal balance, you can also do that. Here are your options to top-up your PayPal UK account:

Option 1: How to add money to PayPal from Bank Account

From the UK you’ll need to fund your PayPal top-up from a linked bank account. If you don’t already have a linked bank account it’s pretty easy to set this up:

  1. Log into your PayPal account and go to Wallet

  2. Click Add a card or bank account, then Add a bank account

  3. Enter the account details including sort code

  4. Review your information and click Agree and add

You may need to complete an automatic or manual verification to prove the account you’re linking is actually yours. However, this is usually an easy process - you just follow the prompts to set up the bank account you want to link.

Once your bank account is linked to PayPal:

  1. Log into your PayPal account and go to Wallet

  2. Click Transfer Money, then Add money to your balance

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to log into your online banking and transfer money to PayPal

Option 2: Receiving money from friends and family into your PayPal account

Another option is to have family or friends send you a PayPal payment which could be deposited fairly quickly, depending on how they choose to pay.

All the sender needs is:

  • A PayPal account of their own

  • The email address or phone number which is associated with your PayPal account

They can initiate the transfer by logging into their own PayPal accounts and selecting the options to send a payment. It’s worth noting that the sender may need to pay a fee for this service, which can vary depending on how they choose to pay and the currency they send.

The sender will also need to double check delivery times and options - paying with a linked card or PayPal balance may mean your money arrives faster, compared to paying with a linked bank account.

Option 3: How to add money through the PayPal App

If you have the PayPal app already this can be an even easier way to add funds to your PayPal account, as long as you already have a bank account linked to PayPal:

  1. Tap the dashboard logo and then Transfer

  2. Select how you want to pay

  3. Enter the amount and tap Add to Your Balance

Advantages and disadvantages of using PayPal in the UK

Not sure if PayPal is right for your transaction? Here are a few pros and cons to consider:

Advantages of PayPal UKDisadvantages of PayPal UK
  • Use PayPal to send and spend, plus get credit and buy now, pay later arrangements

  • Very widely accepted locally and internationally

  • PayPal Honey offers a browser extension to automatically find and apply vouchers when you shop 

  • International transfer fees are 5% of the payment value, from 0.99 GBP to 2.99 GBP

  • Exchange rates include a variable markup - check the live rate in the PayPal app 

Alternatives to PayPal

PayPal is understandably popular, and offers some great services including many fee free domestic transactions in the UK. However, as soon as you’re sending a payment in a foreign currency - or if you’re shopping online in a different currency - extra PayPal fees do creep in. The specific costs you need to know about are:

  • PayPal’s international fee for sending money to friends and family - 5% of the transfer value, from 0.99 GBP to 2.99 GBP

  • PayPal’s exchange rate markup - varies by currency and transaction type

When you transact internationally, the fee you pay and the exchange rate used to convert your money from one currency to another are both important. While transfer fees tend to be reasonably easy to find out, extra costs are also often added into the exchange rate applied, which can be harder to spot - and often far more expensive than the transfer fee itself.

To see the exchange rate you’ll be offered from PayPal you’ll need to use the currency converter tool which is available in the PayPal app or desktop site. Compare the PayPal UK rate to the mid-market rate which you can find with a simple Google search. Often you’ll spot a difference of 3% or more - this is the PayPal exchange rate markup, and it pushes up the cost of your transaction significantly.

PayPal isn’t your only option for sending or spending money in foreign currencies. Alternative specialist services can work out cheaper - with all the same convenience you’re used to from PayPal. Here are a few to consider:

Service/feeWiseOFXRemitlyWestern Union
Account opening feeNo feeNo feeNo feeNo fee
Currencies supported

Send to 80+ countries

Hold 50+ currencies

Receive payments fee free from 30+ countries

Send payments in 50+ currencies

Business customers can get paid in and hold 9 currencies

Send payments from the UK to a broad range of countries

No option for holding a currency balance

Send payments from the UK to almost every country in the world

No option for holding a currency balance

Exchange rate usedMid-market exchange rateExchange rate includes a markupExchange rate includes a markupExchange rate includes a markup
International transfer feeFrom 0.41%No feeFee varies by payment type - you may be able to choose Express or Economy service depending on urgencyFee varies by payment type 
International transfer optionsSend to bank accounts in 80+ countriesSend to bank accounts in a broad range of countriesSend to bank accounts and for cash collection on popular remittance routesSend to bank accounts and for cash collection in most countries around the world
International transfer speed50%+ of payments are instant, 90% arrive in 24 hoursMost transfers are received within 24 hoursVaries by destination and payment typeCash collection payments can be instant, bank deposits may take a day or two
Linked card availableDebit card available to spend in person and online, and make global ATM withdrawalsNot available Not available Not available 

PayPal may not be your best bet if you’re sending money overseas from the UK. However, which alternative is best for you will depend on the type of payment you want to make, and the destination country. Here are some pointers to help you decide:

  • Wise may be a great option for fast payments with the mid-market exchange rate. You can make cheap international payments or open a Wise multi-currency account to hold and exchange 50+ currencies in one place.

  • OFX - currency specialist which offers international transfers as well as currency risk management services with 24/7 phone support. Online sellers and business customers can also get a multi-currency account.

  • Remitly has payments to banks and for cash collection, on popular remittance routes. You can often choose cheaper fees or a faster transfer depending on your needs.

  • Western Union - send money to almost every country in the world, and have it collected in cash in just a few minutes, with options to send to bank accounts available too.

Go to Wise
Go to OFX

How much does it cost to add money to PayPal?

Depending on how you want to add money to your PayPal account, there may be a charge to pay:

ServicePayPal UK fee
Top up account in GBP from linked UK bank accountNo fee
Receive payment in GBP from friends or family

No fee for the recipient

If your sender is based outside the UK they will pay a fee and an exchange rate markup, which varies depending on the country they are in

Send money in GBPNo fee as long as no currency conversion is required
Send money internationally 5% - from 0.99 GBP to 2.99 GBP

How long will it take to add money to PayPal?

If you’re adding money to your PayPal account from a linked bank account, it’ll usually arrive within about 3 working days. Several factors can make a difference to the delivery time:

  • Your own bank’s processes, and when the payment is initiated

  • Whether any currency conversion is needed

  • Value of the transfer

  • Transfers made out of hours, at weekends or during bank holidays will take longer


While you don’t need to top up your PayPal UK account to send and spend, you may choose to add some money so you know you’ve got a balance ready for the next time you want to transact. In the UK you can only add money to PayPal via a linked bank account or by having someone send you a payment. There’s no fee to add money in GBP from a UK account, but if someone sends you money they may pay a fee depending on how they fund the transfer and what currency their PayPal account is held in.

If you’re transacting internationally you may be able to cut your overall costs if you choose an alternative provider. Services like Wise offer low transaction fees with the mid-market exchange rate - or an alternative like Western Union may be a good choice if you’d rather the recipient gets their money in cash.

Go to Wise


How do I instantly top up PayPal?

In the UK you can top up PayPal for free from your bank account, but the money may take up to 3 working days to arrive. You may find it faster to link a bank account or card to your PayPal account using the automatic verification process, and send or spend that way instead.

How to top up PayPal without a credit card?

You can top up a PayPal UK account with a linked bank account, or by having someone send you a PayPal payment.