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Wise (TransferWise) vs PayPal

Which offers the best value for money on international transfers?

Wise and PayPal are two convenient options for sending an online money transfer, but which one will net you a better deal on your next transfer?

To find out, we'll compare Wise and PayPal side by side to see who offers the lowest fees, the best exchange rates and the fastest transfer speeds.

The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 6 February 2023.

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
PayPal International Money Transfers
PayPal International Money Transfers
24 hours
From $0
Use PayPal to safely send money and receive payments from around the world in over 25 currencies with just an email address or mobile number.
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Which has lower fees?

Wise

Wise's fee is usually a combination of a small percentage of your transaction amount (typically ranging from 0.35% to 1.5%) plus a flat fee. Wise relies on transfer fees to make a profit, for example if you're exchanging $10,000 AUD into GBP, you'll pay a flat fee of 0.66 AUD and 0.45% of the amount converted. On their website, they claim to be up to 7 times cheaper than banks.

Bank transfers are cheaper than paying with a credit or debit card.

PayPal

PayPal's fee structure is quite complicated. The amount you pay depends on your transfer amount and whether you pay for the transaction with your PayPal balance, bank account or credit/debit card.

Trophy icon
Winner: Wise

If paying for your transfer from your PayPal balance or bank account, PayPal's international transfer fees can be quite competitive. However, fees quickly add up if paying with your credit/debit card, and the complicated fee structure can be difficult to understand.

Wise also offers minimal fees for most transactions, and offers a handy online tool to help you calculate the total cost of your transaction.

Compare fees between the two providers for your specific transaction to find the best value for money.

Let's crunch the numbers: Sending $50 and $1,000 to the UK

Let's take a closer look at how Wise and PayPal compare when sending two different amounts to the UK. In this example, we'll assume the PayPal transaction will be funded from your bank account and the Wise transaction paid for with a bank transfer.

Sending $50 to the UK
WisePayPal
Transfer fee$0.88$2.99
Transaction cost$50$52.99
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.57451 GBP1 AUD = 0.5515 GBP
Transfer speed1-2 daysInstant
Amount received (in GBP)£28.22£25.92

As you can see, your recipient will receive £2.30 more with Wise as PayPal's fees are higher and they add a 4% margin onto the exchange rate.

Sending $1000 to the UK
WisePayPal
Transfer fee$5.14$5.99
Transaction cost$1,000$1,005.99
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.5744 GBP1 AUD = 0.5515 GBP
Transfer speed1-2 daysInstant
Amount received (in GBP)£571.54£548.19

Wise is a clear winner in this second comparison, your beneficiary receives an extra £23.35. As the sending amount increases, Wise offers a more cost-effective transfer.

Which offers better exchange rates?

Wise

Wise offers international money transfers using the mid-market exchange rate. This is the rate which you see listed on Google and sites like Xe, and it represents the real market value of one currency relative to another. For example, if the mid-market rate is 1 AUD = 0.7130 USD, that's the rate you'll get for your transfer.

PayPal

PayPal adds a margin on top of the mid-market rate. While this margin is typically smaller than that offered by the banks, it's generally around the 3.5-4% range.

Using the same example as we did for Wise:

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 AUD = 0.7130 USD
  • PayPal's rate might be 1 AUD = 0.6876 USD

Trophy icon
Winner: Wise

Wise's exchange rates are much better than those offered by PayPal, which means more of the money you send arrives in your recipient's bank account.

Which is faster

Wise

Transfer times vary depending on the currency you send and the payment method you select.

While most transactions take between 1 and 2 business days, it's possible to send funds to some destinations within minutes.

PayPal

Your recipient should be able to access the funds you send to their PayPal account almost immediately. However, please note that if the recipient doesn't want to leave this balance in their PayPal account, withdrawing to their bank account will take one or more business days.

Trophy icon
Winner: PayPal

PayPal transfers are generally faster – but only if your recipient is happy to spend the money you send directly from their PayPal account. If they want it sitting in their bank account, you may find that Wise will get the money there quicker.

General features

Payment methodsReceiving optionsMinimum and maximum transfersTransfer speedsCurrencies
Wise
  • Bank transfer
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • PayID
  • Alipay (China only)
  • Bank account
Minimum: $1

Maximum: $1,800,000

Within minutes52 currencies
PayPal
  • Bank transfer
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Bank account
  • Mobile wallet
Minimum: $1

Maximum: $10,000

24 hours25 currencies

Wise

While Wise offers a handy fee and exchange rate calculator on its website, you'll need to sign up for a Wise account before you can make a transfer. You can then initiate a transfer by specifying the amount and currency you want to send and providing your recipient's bank account details.

You'll receive email updates throughout the transfer process and can track your transaction online or using the Wise app.

PayPal

Before you can send money overseas with PayPal, both you and your recipient will need to have your own PayPal accounts. You can then link your bank account or credit/debit card to your PayPal account to fund your transaction.

To send a transfer, enter the email address or phone number of your recipient. You will then have to enter the details of your transaction, specify the reason why you are sending funds, and then take a moment to review the full cost of your transaction before submitting your transfer.

Bottom line

Wise generally offers much better value for money than PayPal on international transfers. While fee amounts often work out fairly similar between the two companies when paying from your bank account, Wise's commitment to offering the mid-market rate means that more of the money you send will end up in your recipient's pocket.

While PayPal can be useful when sending a small amount or when you need to make a quick transfer, Wise usually comes out on top.

Looking for more options?

Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Xe Large Transfers
24 hours
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Revolut
Within minutes
$0
Send money with great rates and low fees in 30+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From 0%
50% off first transaction fee from any country in APAC (outside India).
Minimum transfer of $250 and max transfer of $500,000
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
WorldRemit
Within minutes
From $0.99
Use promo code 3FREE and pay no fees on your first 3 transfers. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Rocket Remit
Within minutes
From $0 to $5
Send money instantly to friends and family in over 45 countries using just your mobile number.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $1.99
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
SingX
Within minutes
From 0.5%
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
CurrencyFair
Within minutes
€3
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
Send Payments
24 hours
$0
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
MasterRemit
Within minutes
From $0
Get your 1st and 2nd money transfer for free with promo codes FIRSTFREE and MASTERFINDER!.
Send money in minutes at competitive exchange rates to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
Qantas Business Money
Within minutes
$0
Limited time offer: Earn up to 125,000 bonus Qantas Points as a first-time converter. Ends 30 April 2024. Conversion limits and T&Cs apply.
Set up accounts in 11 different currencies and get rewarded for global business payments by earning Qantas Points.
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0
Streamline global payments in 60+ currencies. Send & receive securely in 150+ countries, with fast settlements & competitive rates. Simplify book-keeping & manage everything in one place.
TorFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
OFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
WorldFirst
24 hours
From $0
Open bank accounts in Australia, the UK, US, Canada, Japan and Europe. Send and receive funds with zero fees for large sums, including same-currency supplier payments.
Send business
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
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