What the Paypal Fees are for International Payments

If you are looking for alternatives to the bank for international money transfer, Wise (formally known as TransferWise) and PayPal are cheaper ways to do so. This comparison will help you find out if Wise or PayPal is the better option.

The Important Bits

Wise (formerly TransferWise)

Safety: Based in the UK, licensed and well backed

Rates: You receive the interbank exchange rate on google

Fees: Percentage based fee

Speed: 1-2 business days for most transfers

Service: Limited phone support but excellent online resources


Safety: One of the largest payment companies in the world

Rates: Vary depending on the situation

Fees: A lot depends on the country but is usually percentage based

Speed:  up to 6 business days

Service: Average customer service both on and offline

The Verdict

Safety: PayPal is a much bigger company with a strong record on compliance

Rates: Wise gives the interbank rate and will always be better

Fees: Wise is a percentage based, clear and simple where as the PayPal fee structure is complicated and hard to understand

Speed: Wise is faster on most transfers

Service: Both have good online support


PayPal for so long has been the go to company for receiving payments. To a large degree, it still is. Particularly if you are receiving money from credit cards.

Wise is a much cheaper option to receive  or pay money via a bank transfer.


One option for businesses is to use both. That is, use PayPal to receive money from customers that are paying by credit card and use Wise for everything else.

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

Let's have a look at them in more detail

Wise (formerly TransferWise) logoWise is a peer to peer money transfer service that is often recognised for its fast transfers and bank-beating exchange rates and fees. The company’s headquarters is located in London and has offices in New York and Tallinn.


PayPal is one of the world’s most popular payment systems used to purchase goods and pay for services. It is also a way to transfer money to people in other countries.



The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the government body that ensures and regulates fair and transparent conduct of financial services. Every financial service must be granted an Australian Financial Service (AFS) licence by ASIC to carry out business in Australia.

Wise are regulated by ASIC & AUSTRAC (AFSL 456295)

PayPal are also properly regulated in the UK and Australia (AFSL 304962)

Exchange Rates

Like banks, money transfer providers usually make money in two main ways: Firstly, the margin from which they purchase currency at a wholesale rate and the cost of currency sold on to customers. Secondly, an additional transaction fee.

In Wise’s case, the way they make money is only through fees. This is unique in that they sell currency based on the true mid-market rate (the rate you see on xe.com or google).

PayPal uses a retail exchange rate, which is a comparatively poor rate. Their rate offered is the rate you would get if you bought currency at the airport, which is one of the worst ways to buy currency. If you make payment with a credit or debit card, you could choose to use the currency conversion rate determined by your card provider instead.

Before making a decision, it is important to compare live exchange rates. Comparing PayPal’s rates is more difficult as you can only see the converted amount after you commit to buy.

Here are three ways to compare the rates offered by Wise and different providers:

  1. View live rates online at Wise
  2. Contact Wise through the Live Chat feature on its website
  3. Compare exchange rates online with our comparison engine


This is the fee structure to send money internationally with Wise and PayPal. It is just as important to compare fees as well as exchange rates as mentioned above, as Wise makes money on fees and not the exchange rates.

Wise makes money in fees calculated on a percentage of the transfer amount. The good thing is, they are very clear and transparent about how much they will charge you. For a full run down of there fees, click here

The PayPal fee structure is complicated. The fee you pay depends on the type of transaction you are doing, the country you are in and the country you are sending the money too. For a better run down on their fees as a payment gateway, click here

Min & Max Amounts

In the UK, Wise has a minimum amount of 1 GBP and a maximum amount of 1,800,000

With PayPal, you can send or receive as little as 3 cents and they have no limit for money transfers, but do have credit card limits.


Customer Support

Should you have any queries, you can contact Wise over the phone at +61 28 0466 244 (within Australia).

Alternatively, you can use their live chat feature to get in touch with a consultant. Expect to receive a response within 24 hours.

To get in touch with PayPal Australia, call 1800 073 263.

Final Verdict

Wise is the overall winner because of their exchange rates, fees and ease of use.

Generally, we found Wise's exchange rate, fees and transfer speed better than PayPal. Their exchange rates are based on the mid-market rate and their fee structure is significantly cheaper.

Just remember to compare the exchange rates before you decide to transfer as rates change all the time.

Related: How to send money from PayPal to Wise

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

Oscar Murray
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Last updated
November 14th, 2023