PayPal vs Wise – Full comparison [2024 Updated]

PayPal is a giant in the world of ecommerce and digital payments, with over 400 million active accounts globally. Wise hasn’t been around quite so long – but is already trusted by millions around the world for digital accounts and online payments. While both PayPal and Wise have some overlapping services, their focus is quite different – which means that the right fit for your needs may depend on the type of transaction you’re making.

If you’re not sure whether PayPal or Wise is best for you, this PayPal Vs TransferWise review is here to help. We’ll cover all you need to know about both PayPal and Wise international transfers, accounts, and cards, so you can decide which suits you best.

Comparison summary: The services you can get from PayPal and Wise are quite different. However, when it comes to international transactions, PayPal’s transfer costs and currency conversion fees can be fairly high. In our comparison Wise has cheaper overall costs and a better exchange rate if you’re looking for a way to spend or send foreign currencies.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about PayPal

Table of contents:

PayPal Vs Wise comparison: Side by side

Send payments toSend to PayPal accounts in 200 countries, or use Xoom for bank deposits to 130 countriesTransfers to 160+ countries, or in 50+ currencies
Multi-currency accountsHold and convert 25 currencies in your PayPal accountHold and exchange 40+ currencies, local account details for 10 currencies
Debit card availableYesYes
Credit availableYesNo
Pay later options direct with merchantsYesNo
Fully licensed and regulatedYesYes
Open a business accountYesYes

So, to summarize:

  • 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 mid-market exchange rate. If you’re looking to send money to someone’s bank account internationally, Wise worked out cheaper overall compared to using a PayPal service, in our comparisons (more on that later).

Go to WiseGo to PayPal

The important bits: Differences between PayPal and Wise

RatesExchange rate includes a markup of 4%Mid-market exchange rate with no markup
FeesAt least 5% of transfer amount, depending on funding method (subject to some minimum and maximum caps)Low fees, varies by destination
SpeedCan be instant50% of payments are instant, 90% arrive in 24 hours*
ServiceOnline, in app and by phoneOnline, in app and by phone
SafetyFully regulated and licensedFully regulated and licensed

*The speed of transaction claims depends on individual circumstances and may not be available for all transactions

Wise vs PayPal international transfer: Key points

  • Rates: Wise uses the mid-market rate, whereas PayPal may charge currency conversion fees in the form of an exchange rate markup of 4%
  • Fees: Wise has variable fees which are based on the destination country, PayPal international payments from personal account have at least 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

Go to WiseGo to PayPal

The verdict: PayPal or Wise for international transfer?

Whether PayPal or Wise is best 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 transfer fees and a currency conversion fee to consider. 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 international money transfers direct to bank accounts, and offers the mid-market exchange rate with low and transparent fees. Wise also offers multi-currency accounts with a linked debit card.

If both providers support payments to the country you’re sending to, and you want your transfer to be delivered to a bank account, our comparisons showed Wise to be cheaper than PayPal.

Go to Wise

About PayPal and Wise

PayPal transfer logo

PayPal was founded in 1998, and has 400+ 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 can be good 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 16 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 160+ countries, in 40+ currencies. Read our complete Wise review to learn more.

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. Let’s talk a look at international transfer process with both PayPal and Wise (formerly TransferWise):

How to send money internationally with PayPal

  • Log into your account and select Send & Request
  • Enter the email address, mobile number or name of the recipient and click Next
  • Enter the amount, choose the currency and add a note
  • Select either Paying for an item or service, or Sending to a friend, depending on the situation
  • Click Continue
  • Select the payment method you want to use
  • Review and hit Send Payment Now to complete your transaction

Read our How PayPal works article to learn more.

How to send money internationally with Wise

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. Here is how to transfer money with Wise:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Type in how much you want to transfer, or how much you need the recipient to get
  3. Enter the recipient’s details – bank account number or email
  4. Check over the details
  5. Fund your payment using a card or bank transfer
  6. Confirm and your money will be on the move

Wise transfers are made through Wise’s network of local bank accounts, so they arrive quickly and don’t incur intermediary fees. When you want to pay for your transfer in dollars you’ll send the money to Wise’s local US 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 can be faster and cheaper than international wire payments.

Read our How to use Wise article to learn more.

Go to Wise

Pros and cons: PayPal or Wise?

Pros✅ Global coverage

✅ Send to PayPal accounts instantly, or use sister service Xoom for alternative payout options

✅ Send payments with just an email address or phone number

✅ Hold and exchange 25 currencies in your PayPal account

✅ Business services available

✅ Mid-market exchange rates + low fees

✅ Transparent pricing

✅ Send money to 160+ countries

✅ International accounts for personal and business customers

✅ Hold and manage 40+ currencies

Cons❌ Complex fees which are often high

❌ Exchange rate markups

❌ Send from one PayPal account to another only – or use Xoom

❌ Online and mobile payments only – no branches

❌ No option for cash payments

❌ Transfer fees vary by destination country

Go to WiseGo to PayPal

PayPal vs Wise fees

PayPal fees include costs for domestic payments funded by card, and international transfer. There are also currency conversion fees when sending payments in a foreign currency, plus if you send to a PayPal account, your recipient may need to pay a fee to withdraw money to their bank. That can make it difficult to figure out exactly what the costs of your transaction are.

Wise fees are transparent and laid out before you confirm a payment. You’ll see how much the recipient gets, and the funds are deposited right to their bank account for convenience.

Fee typePayPal fee Wise fee
Open accountNo feeNo fee for personal accounts
Apply for a cardNo fee for debit cardOne-time order fee of $9
Monthly feesNo feeNo fee
Send domestic paymentPay by PayPal Balance, Visa+ transaction to Venmo, Visa+ enabled digital wallets, bank account or Amex Send account: No fee

Pay with a card: 2.9% + fixed fee

Low fees, based on payment method
Send international paymentDomestic fee applies based on payment method + 5%, minimum 0.99 USD, to 4.99 USDLow fees, based on destination and payment method (from 0.43%)
Currency conversion4%From 0.43%
Withdraw to bank accountStandard withdrawals are usually free, instant withdrawals can mean a fee – the cost paid depending on where the recipient is basedNot applicable – payments deposited to bank accounts directly

Go to Wise

PayPal vs Wise international transfer fees: 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 a friend would get if you send money in USD to their account in GBP or EUR:

Amount & CurrencyRecipient gets with PayPalRecipient gets with WiseWhich is cheaper?
Sending 1,000 USD to GBP763.29 GBP788.80 GBPWise
Sending 5,000 USD to GBP3,816.47 GBP3,944.00 GBPWise
Sending 1,000 USD to EUR889.39 EUR919.05 EURWise
Sending 5,000 USD to GBP4,446.97 EUR4,595.25 EURWise

*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research – 19th January 2024

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 exchange rates

Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate to convert your USD to the currency you need to deposit in your recipient’s bank account. The mid-market rate is the one you’ll see on Google or with a currency converter tool. Compare Wise exchange rates here.

PayPal adds a currency conversion fee when your dollars are switched over to the currency needed for deposit to your recipient’s PayPal account. For payments overseas, this fee is 4%. Compare PayPal exchange rate here.

Go to Wise

PayPal Vs Wise: Which is faster for international transfers?

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.

50%+ of Wise payments get to their destination instantly, and 90% 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.

*The speed of transaction claims depends on individual circumstances and may not be available for all transactions

Is PayPal estimated arrival time accurate?

PayPal’s estimated transfer arrival time is generally accurate for expected completion to your bank account. It usually takes 3-5 business days to transfer money from your linked bank account to your PayPal balance and vice versa. 

PayPal Vs Wise: International transfer limits

PayPal’s transfer limits depend on the status of your account, while Wise account holders can send payments to limits set according to the currencies involved. Here’s a summary:

PayPal limitsWise limits
Unverified account holders can make a one time payment of up to 4,000 USD

Once your account is verified, you can send individual payments of up to 10,000 USD (or 60,000 USD in some cases), with no limit to the total amount you can send over multiple transactions

For most currencies, Wise payments are either unlimited, or the limit is set high, in the region of 1 million GBP or the currency equivalent

In some cases, additional limits may apply based on the payment method, or the specific currency in question

PayPal Vs Wise for payment methods

To fund a payment, you can usually use either a bank transfer or card with both Wise and PayPal. Fees and speed may vary according to the payment method you select.

PayPal payment methods

Paypal allows customers to make payments using multiple methods, providing flexibility and convenience. These include bank transfer, debit and credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express cards. You can also pay using PayPal Credit as well as your PayPal balance and rewards balance. 

Wise payment methods

Wise payment methods are also convenient, providing various options for their customers. With Wise, you can fund your payments via direct debit or deposit (ACH), a regular wire transfer, and Swift as well as using debit and credit cards or your Wise Account balance. Payments made with credit cards will cost a bit more but transfers will usually come through within several hours. Wire payments, on the other hand, may take up 1 to 2 business days but is a cost effective option alongside ACH payments, which are one of the cheapest payment methods available. 

If you are interested in sending money from PayPal to Wise, check out our guide: How to send money from PayPal to Wise

PayPal vs Wise card comparison

PayPal has both credit and debit cards on offer for US customers. The features and fees for these different cards vary. Wise offers a multi-currency holding account with a linked debit card you can use for convenient payments and withdrawals.

Provider cardCard features
PayPal card
  • Both debit and credit cards available
  • PayPal debit cards have no monthly fees to pay
  • No fee to spend in USD with a PayPal debit card
  • 2.5% foreign transaction fee when spending overseas, plus out of network ATM fees apply
Wise card
  • 9 USD one time order fee
  • Use in 150+ countries
  • Get the mid-market exchange rate every time you spend overseas
  • Some fee free ATM withdrawals monthly, with low fees after that

Go to Wise

PayPal vs Wise card: Where can you use them?

PayPal’s debit card is issued on the Mastercard network and can be used locally and internationally, more or less anywhere in the world – just look out for the Mastercard symbol.

Wise issues cards on both Visa and Mastercard networks, for great global acceptance. In total, the Wise card can be used in 150+ countries globally.

PayPal Vs Wise: Business

Both PayPal and Wise offer business accounts and services, although the focus of each is a little different.

PayPal is perfect for ecommerce sellers in particular, as there are easy integrations with many popular ecommerce sites, to accept PayPal payments and increase customer conversion.

Wise Business on the other hand has a focus on international services for businesses, with a broader range of currencies supported, and mid-market rate currency conversions when sending payments or spending overseas.

PayPal BusinessWise Business
  • Free to create an account – you only pay when you make sales
  • Take payments on and offline
  • Debit and credit cards available
  • Loans and financing offered
  • 31 USD one off fee to open an account
  • Debit and expense cards available
  • 40+ currencies supported
  • Receive payments in 10 currencies conveniently, with local bank details

PayPal vs Wise for receiving money

You can receive payments with both PayPal and Wise.

With Wise, you can receive money in your Wise account or get the transfer directly deposited in your bank account. Wise lets you send payments to bank accounts in 160+ countries, and you can use your Wise account to receive payments in up to 10 different currencies, including USD, EUR, CAD and GBP.

PayPal payments are deposited to your PayPal account. You can then either spend the money online, send it to others, or withdraw to your bank account.

Receive money with PayPalReceive money with Wise
  • Money will be deposited to your PayPal account
  • To withdraw funds there may be a fee if you select an instant withdrawal
  • Money can be deposited to your bank account tor Wise accounts
  • Receive up to 10 different currencies into a Wise account with local bank details

Read our Wise account review to learn more. You can also check out our guide for ‘How to receive money internationally with Wise

Go to Wise

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
  • Transfer limits: Sending limits can vary by destination country, and based on your account type

Supported currencies

PayPal supports 25 currencies for payments to PayPal accounts held in 200 countries and regions.

Wise supports 40+ currencies, and lets you send payments to over 160 countries. You can check the full list of supported currencies here: Which currencies does Wise support?

Which currencies does PayPal support?

PayPal supports various currencies to facilitate international transfers and travel. Supported currencies include AUD, BRL, CAD, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, MYR, MXN, TWD, NZD, NOK, PHP, PLN, GBP, SGD, SEK, CHF, THB, RUB and of course, USD. 

Which currencies does Wise support?

The Wise account offers over 40 currencies, allowing you to convert between them at the mid-market exchange rate. Currencies offered by Wise include:

You can hold and exchange money in these currencies: ARS, AUD, BDT, GBP, BGN, CAD, CLP, CNY, HRK, CZK, DKK, EGP, EUR, GEL, HKD, HUF, INR, IDR, ILS, JPY, KSh, MXN, MAD, NPR, NZD, NGN, NOK, PKR, PHP, PLN, RON, KRW, THB, ZAR, LKR, SEK, CHF, TRY, AED, UAH, VND, SGD, MYR, and USD

Local account details offered in: EUR, GBP, USD, AUD, NZD, CAD, SGD, TRY, HUF, and RON

Receiving money: You can receive money via bank transfer from other people using account details in the following currencies. Just open a balance in the currency you’re being paid in and pass your account details to whoever is paying you: AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, NZD, MYR, PLN, SGD, USD, RON, HUF, TRY


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.

Wise is regulated by FinCEN in the US, and other global regulatory bodies around the world. Learn more about it here: Is Wise safe to use?

PayPal Vs Wise: Customer service

Both PayPal and Wise offer comprehensive self-help options online including detailed FAQs. The best way to get in touch if you need help will depend on the type of question you have. You can log into your account with either service, and open an in-app chat which will get you a quick and personalized response. Or, PayPal has advice on its desktop page, which details the best way to get in touch based on query type.

Conclusion: Comparing PayPal and Wise

When it comes to account and card services, and 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.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about PayPal

PayPal vs TransferWise FAQs

What is the difference between PayPal and Wise?

PayPal and Wise are quite different companies, although they have some overlapping services. PayPal offers excellent ways to shop online and send money to other PayPal users, while Wise has more of a focus on international transfers and multi-currency account products.

Related: How to send money from PayPal to Wise

Which is better: PayPal or Wise?

There’s no straight answer when it comes to which is better between PayPal and Wise. Both offer different features and fee types – so the right one for you will depend a lot on the type of transactions you need to make.

Read our Wise vs Xoom article to learn how Xoom compares to Wise.

Is PayPal or Wise cheaper?

For international payments to a bank account, Wise was cheaper in our comparisons. This is because it offers the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, and low transfer fees.

Is PayPal or Wise faster?

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 90% will be in the recipient’s bank account in 24 hours.*

*The speed of transaction claims depends on individual circumstances and may not be available for all transactions

How many currencies do PayPal and Wise support?

PayPal allows customers to hold a balance in 25 currencies and Wise supports 40+ currencies.


  1. How to send money with PayPal
  2. Wise international transfer fees
  3. How to send money with Wise
Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
Read more
Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
Read more
Last updated
February 27th, 2024