PayPal Vs Wise

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 are high at 5% of the transfer value, plus a fee of 4% added to the exchange rate. Wise has a more transparent fee structure, with fees from 0.41% for major currencies. In our comparison Wise wins with cheaper overall costs and a better exchange rate.

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

PayPal Vs Wise: side by side

 

FeaturePayPalWise 
Send payments toSend to PayPal accounts in 200 countries80+ countries, 50+ currencies
Multi-currency accountsHold and convert 25 currencies in your PayPal accountAvailable for 54 currencies
Debit card availableYY
Credit availableYN
Pay later options direct with merchantsYN
Fully licensed and regulatedYY
Open a business accountYY

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 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.

 

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

The important bits

PayPalWise
RatesExchange rate includes a markup of 4%Mid-market exchange rate with no markup
Fees5% of transfer amount, minimum 0.99 USD, maximum 4.99 USDLow fees, varies by destination
SpeedCan be instant45% of payments are instant, 80% arrive in 24 hours
ServiceOnline, in app and by phoneOnline, in app and by phone
SafetyFully regulated and licensedFully 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 of 4%

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

 

PayPalWise
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
  • Mid-market exchange rates + low fees
  • Transparent pricing
  • Send to 80+ countries
  • International accounts for personal  and business customers
  • Hold and manage 50+ currencies
Cons
  • Complex fees which are often high
  • Exchange rate markups
  • Only 25 available PayPal currencies
  • 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
  • Multi-currency accounts are not interest bearing

 

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 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 Wise 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. 

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

About PayPal and Wise

Wise (formerly TransferWise) logo

Wise was launched as TransferWise back in 2011 as a low-cost international payment provider. These days, Wise has upwards of 12 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.

 

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

PayPal business accounts are ideal for merchants selling online - there are an increasing number of ways to accept PayPal payments offline too.

 

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
  • 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.

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:

  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 faster 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’s faster and cheaper than traditional international payments.

 

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

PayPal Vs Wise Fees

PayPal fees for international transfer are:

  • 5% of the transaction amount
  • Minimum 0.99 USD
  • Maximum 4.99 USD

If PayPal has to convert the currency there will also be a fee of an additional 4% of the transaction value 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 Center. 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: this covers the fixed costs associated with your payment - for major currencies this may be in the region of $4.30 - $4.80
  • Variable fee: this covers the cost of the currency exchange - for major currencies the variable fee is normally around 0.4% - 0.5%

Read our Wise fees article to learn more.

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 a friend would get if you send money in USD to their account in GBP or EUR:

Amount & CurrencyRecipient gets with PayPalRecipient gets with WiseWinner?
Sending 1,000 USD to GBP785.22 GBP821.69 GBPWise
Sending 5,000 USD to GBP3,942.03 GBP4,110.55 GBPWise
Sending 1,000 USD to EUR935.62 EUR973.65 EURWise
Sending 5,000 USD to GBP4,698.32 EUR4,879.64 EURWise

*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research - 8th August 2022

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.

 

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

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.

45%+ 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.

 

Safety

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.

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

     

 

Supported currencies

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

FAQ

Is PayPal or Wise cheaper?

For instant payments, Wise is cheaper, as it offers the real exchange rate with no markup, and low transfer fees.

What is the difference between Wise and PayPal?

International transfers offered by PayPal and Wise are pretty different. Wise delivers the transfers directly into recipient's bank account, while PayPal transfers are deposited into recipient's PayPal account. Their services also differ on transfer fees, currency conversions and transfer speed. Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup and offers international money transfer with a low fee. PayPal may have higher fees due to currency conversion markups.

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 80% will be in the recipient's bank account in 24 hours.

How many currencies do PayPal and Wise support?

PayPal allows customers to hold a balance in 25 currencies and Wise supports 54 currencies.

 

By Justin Rampono Updated September 9th, 2022