PayPal Transfers From USD to GBP: Beware the Hidden Fees

Byron Mühlberg, writer at
Jul 5, 2022
Affiliate disclosure

The United Kingdom 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 the UK 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 USD to the GBP with PayPal, what the costs are, and how to find better alternatives.

PayPal is pricey for USD-GBP transfers. Compare alternatives:

How to PayPal From the USD to GBP

Exchanging USD to GBP with PayPal may be expensive, but it's undoubtedly very convenient. To get the job done, you simply have to log in to your PayPal account and make a transfer to any PayPal user whose balance is in British pounds. This can be done as follows:

  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 GBP;
  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 gives you the choice between paying at PayPal's or your card issuer's exchange rates.

Take a look at Monito's in-depth PayPal review to learn more.

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 to a different currency. This is because of the highly variable, nontransparent fees and exchange rates that you'll be charged.

PayPal's GBP to USD Exchange Rate

In most cases, all fees PayPal will charge you when sending money from USD to GBP 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, this fee constitutes a margin that's 3% above the mid-market rate. However, according to our own analysis of the exchange rate that PayPal displays on its pricing calculator for USD to GBP transfers compared to the mid-market exchange rate, PayPal's exchange rate margins are actually higher still, in the region of 3.35% of the transfer value. In effect, this means that for every $1,000 you transfer to GBP, PayPal will convert only around $966.50 of that amount into GBP at the true exchange rate.

PayPal's GBP to USD Foreign Transaction Fees

If you're sending money to the PayPal account of somebody else in a different currency, you can generally expect to pay a $4.99 fixed transaction fee over and above the exchange rate margin we explored above.

Other Fees to Anticipate

If you make a PayPal transfer from USD to GBP 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 the card issuer's. Because currency conversion costs at major card providers can easily be as steep as at PayPal, we recommend choosing PayPal's exchange rates unless you know that your card provider offers you favourable exchange rates.

Find 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 USD to GBP with Wise (the cheapest bank transfer service on 64% of searches on Monito over the past year), your savings compared to PayPal would be in the region of $40 per $1,000 that you send across. 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 PayPal alternative:

FAQ About PayPal in the UK

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