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Monito's PayPal Review: International Transfer Fees, Safety, and Why We Seldom Recommend Them

Apr 30, 2021

PayPal is a bad money transfer service (5.4/10), not recommended by Monito’s experts when it comes to international transfers. While it is a reputable provider (7.9/10) and is often used out of convenience (7.8/10), PayPal offers some of the worst fees and exchange rates on the market (1/10) and is consequently very expensive to use. This results in low customer satisfaction (4.7/10), and PayPal only has a 1.20/5 star rating on TrustPilot, meaning that users agree that PayPal should never be your first choice for sending money.

What Monito Likes About PayPal

  • Convenient;
  • Widely available;
  • Many people already have PayPal accounts and are already familiar and comfortable with using PayPal's services.

What Monito Dislikes About PayPal

  • Very expensive exchange rates;
  • Only competitively priced 0.26% of the time;
  • Low customer satisfaction.
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Monito's Recommendation

PayPal is a bad choice for transferring money internationally. Monito recommends that users avoid PayPal and, instead, encourages them to regularly check the Monito comparison engine to see which other providers allow transfers to their chosen destination at much cheaper rates.

Compare PayPal's Fees & Exchange Rates

Who is PayPal for?

PayPal is for users who prefer to use a digital wallet they already have and don’t mind paying through the nose for the convenience. Its main advantages are the ability to send money without needing the receiver's banking details – though they need an account in the first place –, and its wide availability throughout the world, which might make it situationally useful in some highly specific situations.

How Monito Reviewed PayPal's Services

In order to review PayPal, we applied Monito’s rigorous methodology to score PayPal along with 20+ of its most popular competitors, including Wise (formerly TransferWise), Remitly, and Western Union, to see how it fared. The scoring process began with setting up a PayPal account and included thorough testing of its services both on desktop and on its mobile app. In order to analyze PayPal’s fees and exchange rates, we screened more than one million comparisons on Monito’s engine from the past three months to check how often PayPal was the cheapest and how often they were offering competitive rates. In order to determine whether or not their fees were transparent, we checked 12 typical customer transactions for the provider, such as a £250 transfer from the UK to Poland. Finally, we ran a background check on PayPal, looking at how they were regulated and by which authority, and considering their security practices along with whether they had any publicly known legal, privacy, fraud, or technical issues. As with all Monito reviews, our PayPal score was peer-reviewed by at least one Monito expert.

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PayPal at a Glance

Trust & Credibility

7.9

Background check

Publicly traded, PayPal is accredited and regulated by the relevant financial authorities in the countries in which it operates, though it loses points in trust due to past legal conflicts.

Security & reliability

PayPal’s platforms are fully secured, making use of top-notch security protocols, such as segregated user accounts and HTTPS.

Company size

PayPal is a well-established company, having existed in the money transfer market for over 20 years and employing over 23 thousand individuals. Serving over 346 million users, PayPal moved over $936 billion in the past year alone.

Transparent pricing

PayPal is not transparent about its pricing: over 70% of its fees are hidden in exchange rate margins.

Can I Trust PayPal?

There is no denying that PayPal is a well-established powerhouse in the international money transfer community, despite its bad fees and exchange rates. Founded in 1998, PayPal has been a player in the market for over two decades and has over 346 million users, transferring over $936 billion over the past twelve months and employing more than 23 thousand individuals.

Trust & Credibility

PayPal is one of the largest independent, publicly-traded, consumer financial technology companies in the world. Headquartered in San Jose, California, the company was founded in 1998 and now employs more than 23 thousand employees globally. PayPal is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol PYPL, and has a current market capitalization of approximately US$314 billion.

PayPal’s brand is recognized worldwide for its convenience, security, and availability. Globally, they have over 346 million active account holders. More than US$936 billion have been transacted using PayPal.

PayPal offers its service worldwide, which requires the company to be registered, authorized and/or licensed in many jurisdictions. In the US, Paypal is licensed as a money transmitter in all fifty states. In the European Union, PayPal is licensed as a bank in Luxembourg. Thanks to EU regulations, PayPal can “passport” this license and operate in other countries throughout the EU. PayPal also holds local entities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Russia. In every other country, PayPal provides its service through PayPal Pte. Ltd., a Singaporean company.

Is Paypal Safe?

Yes. Clients’ funds are held in pooled accounts which are segregated from PayPal’s own accounts. The funds are never used by PayPal for its own expenses and are not voluntarily paid to creditors in case of bankruptcy.

PayPal’s dedicated security team monitors every transaction 24/7 to identify theft, and prevent fraud and email phishing tactics. All transactions and private information are secured with state of the art encryption and security measures.

PayPal is a leading financial institution with a worldwide recognized brand, duly regulated, with pioneering technology and millions of customers. We have to note that some customers, mostly merchants, have expressed complaints that PayPal was holding their funds for some time for security and compliance reasons, but it doesn’t seem to concern individuals making international money transfers.

Service & Quality

7.8

Opening an account

Opening an account with PayPal is straightforward and easy to do.

Making a transfer

Whether you are sending money to an existing or new recipient, transferring money with PayPal is an easy, fail-proof process.

Contacting support

PayPal has good customer support with an extensive FAQ section, as well as 24/7 live support via either chat or phone.

PayPal's Service Quality Sending Money Internationally

Setting up a new account and transferring money, whether to a new or existing recipient is straightforward to do, making PayPal very easy to use.

Monito's Impressions During Our Test

As befits a payments juggernaut like PayPal, everything about it is sleek, polished, and simple to use, though you are of course paying for the privilege. If you already have an account with them, it's as simple as typing your receiver's email address, choosing the amount and the currency, and hitting the 'send' button. If only its expensive fees and even more exorbitant exchange rate margins were better, PayPal might be the ideal money transfer service...

Fees & Exchange Rates

1.0

Transfers to a bank account

PayPal is a very expensive money transfer provider: it offered the best deal on only 1.24% of relevant Monito searches over the first three months of 2021 and ranked competitively on only 0.26% of relevant searches.

PayPal's International Fees & Exchange Rates

PayPal has very expensive fees and exchange rates, scoring competitively on only 0.26% of relevant Monito searches.

PayPal International Fees

For personal payments to friends or family members, PayPal charges a fee if the payment is international, i.e. if the PayPal accounts of the sender and the recipient are in different countries. Domestic personal payments generally carry no fees, unless you pay with a credit or debit card.

The fee for international personal payments depends on the payment method, the country of the sender, and the country of the recipient. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the payment amount, plus a fixed fee for payments funded by a debit or credit card.

The personal payments fee is much lower for payments made from your PayPal balance (or linked bank account) than with every other payment method (e.g. debit or credit card). Therefore, if your payment isn’t urgent, it’s much cheaper to add funds to your PayPal account through a bank transfer to pay for your transaction, or to use your linked bank account (this can also give you a much better exchange rate; see more details in the “PayPal exchange rates” section).

PayPal international fees are not charged for adding or withdrawing funds to or from your PayPal account, so you and your recipient should not have to pay any other fees.

Over and above the standard set of fees, PayPal also charges an inactivity fee in the UK and parts of the UK. From 16 December 2020, if you don't log in to your PayPal account or make or withdraw a payment within a consecutive twelve-month period, you will be charged £12.

PayPal Fees Calculator

As you might notice, calculating PayPal’s international fees for an international personal payment can be quite complex. If you’re looking for a PayPal fees calculator, look no further. You can calculate PayPal’s fees and compare them to all other money transfer services here.

PayPal Exchange Rate

The exchange rate which PayPal applies to personal payments is calculated based on PayPal’s wholesale exchange rate. PayPal’s exchange rate for personal payments includes a 2.5% to 4.5% margin subtracted from the wholesale rate, depending on the sender’s country and the receiving currency.

PayPal usually applies different exchange rates for the conversion of balances in different currencies (a “balance transfer conversion”) than for the conversion of currency during a personal payment (a “payment transfer conversion”). What is the difference between the two?

  • In a balance transfer conversion, you first must hold a balance in one currency, which you convert into a balance in another currency.
  • In a payment transfer conversion, you convert your currency into another currency while making a personal payment. The currency you are converting into is entirely sent to your recipient, you will not hold a balance of the new currency after a payment conversion.

If you use any other payment method than your balance in the receiving currency, PayPal will automatically make a payment conversion. Exchange rates for balance conversions are nearly always much better than those for payment conversions. So it’s best to load money on your PayPal account (which also attracts fewer fees as explained in the “PayPal Fees” section) and make a balance conversion and then use that balance to fund your transaction. This will give you the best exchange rate (and the lowest fees).

See how PayPal quietly increased its markup on currency exchange in August 2019.

Compare PayPal's International Fees & Exchange Rates

Customer Satisfaction

4.7

Customer review score

Earning a 1.20/5 star rating on Trustpilot, PayPal is not overall well-reviewed by its users.

Number of positive reviews

Earning almost two thousand positive reviews on Trustpilot, PayPal nonetheless has a high number of positive reviews from users.

Customer Reviews of PayPal

PayPal generally does not receive very high reviews on sites like TrustPilot, where it has an average of 1.20/5 stars and only has 1,924 positive reviews out of 17 thousand total.

Positive Review Highlights

  • Trustworthy and secure.

Negative Review Highlights

  • Extremely poor customer service;
  • Blocked and locked accounts and few options to resolve the issues;
  • High fees and bad exchange rates.

How PayPal International Money Transfers Work

  • Step 01

    Log into your PayPal account

    Got to www.paypal.com and log into your account.

  • Step 02

    Select the right service

    Click on “Send & Request” at the top of the page. Enter the mobile number or email address of the recipient. If your recipient doesn’t have a PayPal account yet, enter their email address and they will be invited to open a PayPal account to receive the funds.

  • Step 03

    Set up your transfer

    Enter the amount you wish to send, which currency to send the money in. Select "Sending to a friend" (if sending within the same country) or "Send to friends abroad" and how you want to pay (PayPal balance, linked bank account, or debit/credit card).

  • Final step

    Let PayPal do the rest

    Review the details (and check PayPal’s exchange rate if your payment includes a currency conversion). If everything looks good, click “Send Money Now”.

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Paypal Mobile App

PayPal’s mobile app is available for Apple iOS and Google Android. The PayPal app allows you to view your balance and account activity, add and withdraw money, and send and request money. The app is highly rated across both app stores, with a 4.7/5 rating on the Apple App Store and a 4.2/5 on the Google Play Store.

You can't convert your balance between different currencies in the PayPal app — if you send money through the app in a currency for which you do not hold a (sufficient) balance, you will be forced to make a payment transfer conversion which is more expensive than a balance transfer conversion (as explained in the “PayPal exchange rates” section). So if you frequently use that PayPal mobile app to send money, it is best to make a balance conversion on the PayPal website before making your transfer from the mobile app.

Additional Paypal Services

PayPal offers many services in addition to personal payments to friends and family. In fact, PayPal’s main and original territory is e-commerce. PayPal is now a group of several different companies offering various payment-related services.

Commercial Payments

PayPal is one of the most widely accepted methods to pay merchants for goods and services online. PayPal can also be used on mobile applications and at offline retail locations (through the “PayPal Here” service, available in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Australia, and Japan).

PayPal Preferred Payment Methods for Commercial Purchases

If you are paying for goods and services, you may authorize a seller to use your PayPal account. You may also use PayPal to pay for goods or services online or in-store. As an example, you can designate a preferred payment method for a monthly subscription service or for online purchase. But even if you set up a preferred payment method, PayPal will first use your PayPal balance to fund the transaction. If there is no money in your PayPal balance, or if the balance does not cover the total amount due, then your preferred payment will be used. After that, there is a sequence to what payment source is used. In other words, if payment methods are not available in your account (or are only partially sufficient for your transfer amount), PayPal will automatically use the next available method in the list to fund the transaction (or its remainder).

Note: Not all payment methods are available in every country. More importantly, the payment method can also significantly influence the cost of your transaction, as certain payment methods attract additional fees and/or more expensive currency conversions. The cheapest solution is usually to add funds to your PayPal account, convert your balance into the receiving currency, and then use this balance to fund your payment. See the section on “PayPal Exchange Rate & Fees” for more information on this topic.

Sources Used by PayPal to Fund a Commercial Transaction Are the Following, in order:

  1. Your PayPal balance in the receiving currency;
  2. Your PayPal balance in another currency;
  3. Your preferred payment method (this will only be used first if you have a zero PayPal balance);
  4. (A bank transfer from your linked bank account)*;
  5. (A PayPal-branded credit card )*;
  6. Your debit card;
  7. Your credit card.

* Only available in some countries.

PayPal Buyer Protection Program

Another key value proposition is the PayPal Buyer Protection Program, which completely ensures consumers against the risk of unauthorized charges to their account, as well as damaged and incorrect orders, or orders which are never delivered. Consumer’s financial information is also never shared with merchants, which protects consumers’ privacy.

For merchants, the advantage of using PayPal is that it is a payment system used and trusted by millions of consumers worldwide, allowing them to cater to a wider variety of consumers and needs. While accepting payments through PayPal can be costly for merchants, PayPal’s end-to-end solution takes care of everything and provides instant access to funds. Merchants are also protected against fraudulent or abusive claims.

Xoom

Xoom, founded in 2001 as one of the first digital remittance providers in the world, was acquired by PayPal in 2015. The service allows migrants in the United States to send money, pay bills, and reload prepaid phones. For more information, read our review of Xoom.

Frequently Asked Questions About PayPal Money Transfers

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