PayPal Transfers From the US to Colombia: Beware the Fees

Byron Mühlberg, writer at
May 28, 2021
Affiliate disclosure

Colombia is one of the most popular destinations for international money transfers originating from the US. PayPal, with its 300 million customers, is one of the most widely-used transfer platforms globally.

However, while fast and convenient, using PayPal to send money from the US to Colombia is an expensive choice due to the hefty exchange rate margins that go along with the service. In this guide, we look at how to send money from the US to Colombia with PayPal, what the costs are, and how to find better alternatives.

PayPal is pricey to Colombia. Compare alternatives instead:

How to PayPal From the US to Colombia

To send money from the US to Colombia with PayPal, all you'll need to do is log in normally to your PayPal account and make a transfer to a Colombian PayPal user whose balance is in Colombian pesos. This will entail the following steps:

  1. Log in to your PayPal wallet;
  2. Click the 'Send & Request' button;
  3. Enter your recipient's email address, username, or mobile number;
  4. Specify the 'Sending to a friend' option;
  5. Enter the amount you'd like to send and choose COP;
  6. Click 'Send Money Now'.

Using this method, you will also be able to choose whether to pay by credit card or using your PayPal balance. The latter option will subject your transaction to PayPal's exchange rate fees, while the former option will allow you to choose between PayPal's exchange rates and your card issuer's exchange rates.

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Only inbound and outbound international PayPal payments are possible in Colombia. It is not possible to send domestic PayPal payments within the country, as the service was discontinued in 2015.

PayPal's Fees and Exchange Rates

All things considered, sending money from one PayPal account to another is one of the most expensive ways to transfer into a different currency. This is because of the highly variable, nontransparent fees and exchange rates that you'll be charged.

PayPal's US to Colombia Exchange Rates

In most cases, all fees PayPal will charge you when sending money from the US to Colombia will come in the form of the exchange rate margin, the difference between the mid-market exchange rate (i.e. the one you see on Google) and the exchange rate that PayPal offers.

According to PayPal's fee schedule, these fees typically constitute a margin between 3.00% and 4.00% above the mid-market rate. According to our own analysis of the exchange rate that PayPal displays on its pricing calculator for USD/COP transfers compared to the mid-market exchange rate, we found that PayPal's exchange rate margins are in the region of 3.35% of the transfer value. In effect, this means that for every USD 1,000 you transfer to Colombia, PayPal will convert only around USD 966.50 of that amount into Colombian pesos at the true exchange rate.

PayPal's US to Colombia Foreign Transaction Fees

If you're sending money to the PayPal account of somebody else in a different currency, you won't pay any fixed transaction fees over and above the exchange rate margin we explored above.

However, if you're sending money from the US to a business or non-profit in Colombia or receiving payment using the 'Request Payment' tab, you'll be subject to a COP 3,500 fixed fee in addition to the exchange rate margin. (The exchange rate margin for these types of payments is between 4.4% and 5.4% for transfers from the US to Colombia.)

Other Fees to Anticipate

If you make a PayPal transfer from US dollars to Colombian pesos using a debit or credit card, you could be charged an exchange rate margin fee by your card issuer. However, PayPal gives users the choice of whether to pay their own exchange rate fees or those of the card issuer. Because currency conversion costs at major card providers can easily be just as steep as PayPal's, we recommend choosing PayPal's exchange rates unless you know that your card provider offers you favorable exchange rates.

Take a look at our guide to dodging bad PayPal exchange rates when checking out of an online store to learn more.

Finding the Best PayPal Alternatives

To avoid the high fees that come along with making a transfer with PayPal, comparing the market for the most competitive money transfer services out there is one of the best choices at your disposal.

For example, by comparing your options and making a bank transfer from the US to Colombia with WorldRemit (the cheapest bank transfer service on 60% of searches from the US to Colombia on Monito over the past year), your savings compared to PayPal would be in the region of COP 180,000 for every USD 1,000 that you send across. It's for this reason that we particularly recommend Remitly as the best alternative to PayPal for transfers to Colombia, as it also provides a fast and easy way to send money online to bank accounts, mobile wallets, or cash pick-up locations.

Other services such as Remitly, Wise, and Ria frequently offer highly competitive prices from the US to Colombia too.

Run a search on Monito's real-time comparison engine below to compare the market and find the best transfer service out there:

Find The Cheapest Alternative

FAQ About PayPal in Colombia

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