How to Make International PayPal Transfers and Avoid Fees (Plus 7 Tips)
PayPal can be an easy and fast way to send money overseas through a trusted, and well-known service.
But there are disadvantages you need to know about.
For example, you can only send money to another PayPal account internationally.
After that, the recipient has to withdraw the amount to a bank account — usually losing a lot of money from fees in the process.
To solve this problem, PayPal owns Xoom, which lets you send money internationally to a bank account.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to make international transfers with PayPal (and Xoom).
But again, be aware that they’re not the most cost-effective or flexible service out there.
To help you save on fees for your transfers abroad, we also suggest alternatives that may work better for you.
This way, you can make the most informed decision about which money transfer service is best for your needs.
Disclosure: This post may contain offers and affiliate links to save you money and it also helps us to keep providing the best information. For more information, see our disclosures here.
1. How to Transfer Money Internationally With PayPal
Here’s a quick summary of how you can send money internationally with PayPal:
As you can see, whether you’re new to PayPal or already have an account, it’s really easy to set up an international transfer with them.
Here’s a look at each of these steps in more detail:
If you’re new to PayPal, start by creating your account. If you already have an account, you can jump to the steps for setting up your international transfer.
1. Go to PayPal’s website and click on “Sign Up”.
At this stage, you’ll be able to choose between an “Individual account” (for personal payments and online shopping) and a “Business account” (to pay your international employees, send invoices to clients, integrate PayPal into your e-commerce store, etc.).
2. Enter your personal details (like phone number, name, and email) and verify your email address.
3. Link your bank account, debit card, or credit card.
4. Next, PayPal will need you to verify your account with a small transfer to your PayPal wallet. This usually takes a few minutes.
When you have your account ready, you can start setting up your international transfer.
5. To begin your international transfer, go to “Pay and Get Paid” (navigation bar) → Make a payment.
6. Here you’ll see the currency you can send from and the supported currencies for international transfers (approximately 26, depending on your location)
7. Once you choose the right currency pairs and the amount, you’ll be able to see how much your recipient will get after the fees are deducted.
8. Next, you can either transfer money to your PayPal wallet or fund the transfer with a bank transfer. Other options include funding the transfer with your debit or credit card (but this can be more expensive – see PayPal International Costs and Fees below).
9. PayPal to PayPal transfers are usually instant (a couple of hours in the worst-case scenario).
10. Once your recipient receives the money in their PayPal wallet, they can hold it there or withdraw it to their bank account. Since there’s currency conversion involved, they’ll also have to pay a fee (depending on the currency).
Not that there are a few limitations to sending money abroad with PayPal.
- For one, they only support 26 currencies for international transfers and
- You can’t send money directly to a recipient’s bank account
To address these limitations, PayPal has another service called Xoom, which supports personal transfers to 160 countries around the world.
With Xoom, you can send money to a recipient’s bank account, send cash, top-up their phone, or pay utility bills (varies by country).
2. How to Use Xoom with PayPal
You won’t see an option to send money with Xoom when you’re logged into PayPal.
However, you can create a new Xoom account by logging in with your PayPal details.
- Go to Xoom’s website
- Click on “Log in with PayPal”
- Once you’re logged in with PayPal, any eligible bank accounts or cards will also show up as payment options on Xoom. (Under Settings in the sidebar)
- If they don’t appear, you’ll need to link your bank account and add a card that supports international payments.
- Alternately, your PayPal balance will also available as an option to fund your transfer (if you have sufficient balance including fees)
- You can start sending money by choosing the receiving country from your homepage dashboard on Xoom
- Next, enter the amount you want to send. Here you’ll see the currency conversion rate offered by Xoom, the transaction fees, and the amount your recipient will get
- Click Continue to choose receiving options (cash, bank transfer, bill payment, or mobile top-up). This can vary by country.
- Enter your recipient’s details and click “Send”
Note: There are limits to how much you can send based on your location and the receiving country. These limits are fixed by either Xoom (based on your user tier) or by banks and agents (for cash pick up) in the receiving country.
PayPal makes it really easy to move between its own service and Xoom depending on your needs.
If you just want to make quick transfers to another person who also has a PayPal account, then PayPal will do fine.
But if you want to send money directly to bank accounts, then Xoom is the better alternative. It also services many more countries (130 in total) than PayPal, and you even have the option to send cash for pick up.
There are even little extra services like the option to pay utility bills in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, and Vietnam.
3. When it’ll Work for You (and Not)
PayPal has been around for 20 years, serves over 377 million users, processed over 15 billion transfers in 2020 amounting to $936 billion USD.
If you’re looking for credibility markers, PayPal has them down.
But are they right for your international transfers?
Let’s find out.
- You want to send money abroad instantly to your recipient’s PayPal wallet by simply entering their email or phone number.
- You want to send micro amounts (between $100 – $300 USD).
- You need a convenient way to shop online in foreign currencies (currency conversion fees applicable).
- You want to pay your suppliers or contractors who live abroad.
Does NOT Work If:
- You’re looking for a wide base of receiving countries and currencies (currently PayPal only supports 26 currencies). While they do solve this problem to a certain extent with Xoom, you’re only limited to personal transfers with the latter.
- You want to send money directly to a bank account.
- You want to send cash payouts.
- You want to send large amounts. PayPal can get very expensive if you want to send amounts over $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD (approx).
- You want to save big on your international transfers. While PayPal is one of the most trusted services out there, they are not affordable and their fee structure is not transparent. This means you’ll never know the exact currency conversion rate or the exact amount you’re paying in transfer fees. (See more transparent alternatives here)
- You want to hold and convert between multiple currencies to pay your overseas employees or help out friends and family.
- You’re looking for exceptional customer service. While PayPal does have country-specific customer service, it’s hard to speak to a human at the company. And, coupled with the high fees, this contributes to a poor customer experience (they’re rated 1.2 / 5 on Trustpilot)
Xoom is an international money transfer service owned by PayPal that solves some of the problems mentioned above.
For example, they support international transfers to 130 countries, including bank transfers, cash payouts, mobile top-ups, and bill payments in 12 countries.
It also integrates easily with PayPal, which means if you have enough money in your PayPal balance, you can save a bit on money transfer fees (such as the fees charged by your bank or card issuer).
But here’s the catch.
You’re only limited to personal transfers for Xoom and their fees are also relatively high.
It also has sending limits that vary according to user level, sending country, and rolling periods. While you can lift these restrictions, this may increase the transfer fees.
Bottom line, it’s not the best solution for most international transfers as well. If you want a quick answer, jump to our best alternatives that are more cost-effective.
4. PayPal International Costs and Fees (Including Hidden Fees)
When it comes to fees, it’s hard to figure out what exactly you’ll be paying unless you’re about to transfer money.
PayPal’s fee structure is complex. It’s based on many factors like the country where you reside, whether you are sending money to family and friends (personal transfers) or for business, and more.
If you want to know exactly what you are paying we have made it easy on our PayPal International Fees page.
But generally, if you’re paying for your transfer from your PayPal balance, you’ll pay a small fee based on the amount (minimum fee $0.99 USD and maximum fee $4.99 USD) + a margin on the exchange rate (3-4%, depending on the currency).
If you’re funding your transfer with a credit or debit card, you’ll pay 5% + 2.9% (card fees) + a fixed fee based on the currency you’re sending.
Here’s a country-specific breakdown of how much you’ll pay in fees for your international transfers on PayPal:
|Fixed Fee||5% (minimum fee $0.99 USD and maximum fee $4.99 USD)||5% (minimum fee $0.99 GBP and maximum fee $4.99 GBP)||5% (minimum fee $0.99 CAD and maximum fee $4.99 CAD)||5% (minimum fee $0.99 AUD and maximum fee $5.99 AUD)|
|Currency Conversion Fees||4% margin on the exchange rate||3% margin on the exchange rate||4% margin on the exchange rate (minimum rate)||4% margin on the exchange rate|
|Card Fees||2.90%||Depends on the currency||2.90%||2.60%|
PayPal is available in 200 countries and supports transfers in 26 currencies.
You can sign up for PayPal international transfers if you’re from:
- Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the Bahamas, Honduras, the Cayman Islands, etc. in the Americas
- South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, etc in Africa
- India, Philippines, Singapore, HongKong, Thailand, New Zealand, Japan, etc. in the Asia Pacific
- Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, etc. in Europe.
See the full list of supported countries here.
Bottom Line on Fees
For PayPal to PayPal transfers the small fixed fee is only the most visible fee. A margin on the exchange rate can easily be the far greater amount.
To compare PayPal international transfer fees against other methods, it can be helpful to consider where the money is coming from and the final destination as there may be additional fees at each end.
5. How to Send Money Internationally With Minimal Fees
PayPal and Xoom may seem like the most trusted and safest options to send money abroad because they’ve been around for a long time (PayPal is 20+ years old!).
The thing is…they’re one of the most expensive services out there!
Also, PayPal only lets you send money to other PayPal wallets and they only support a limited number of currencies for international transfers.
While Xoom has a wider receiving base, you’re only limited to personal transfers on the platform.
Thankfully, there are alternatives that let you flexibly send money to more places, have more affordable and transparent fee structures, and also come with cool perks.
Here’s a quick look at our list of top alternative services for sending money internationally compared to PayPal and Xoom:
5.1 Quick Guide: PayPal Alternatives For Sending Money Internationally
|Service||Fees||Trustpilot Reviews||Countries Available||Type of Transfer||Fee-Free Period?|
|1.2/5||From 200 countries to 75 countries||PayPal to PayPal||NA|
|4.1/5||US, Canada, UK,|
and Europe to
|Bank-to-bank, card-to-bank, PayPal-to-bank, cash payouts, bill payments, mobile top-ups||NA|
|Wise ||Approx. 0.4%-1% of the transfer amount and transfers at the mid-market rate with no markups||4.6/5||Available in 66 countries (including UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Eurozone) and supports transfers in 40+ currencies. Also lets you hold 55 currencies in their multi-currency account.||Bank-to-bank and card-to-bank||NA|
|Percentage fee of approx. 0.25%-0.3% + a low fixed fee + margin on the exchange rate||4.6/5||Available in 60 countries and supports 38 currencies for sending and receiving money (21 for sending; 17 for receiving). Not available in the US.||Bank-to-bank and card-to-bank||Check rates and get your first 10 transactions free (use link below)|
|4.1/5||Available in 50 countries (including the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Eurozone) and lets you send money to 130 countries.||Bank-to-bank, card-to-ban, cash payouts, and home deliveries||First 3 transfers fee-free (use link below)|
|OFX||OFX can charge a flat $15 USD fee for amounts below $10,000 although you can have that removed - simply click buttom on this table. Above that amount, the fee is waived and you only pay a margin on the exchange rate (which goes down in percentage terms as the amount increases).|
This makes them extremely affordable for large transfers.
|4.3/5||Supports money transfers to 190 countries in 55 currencies from the US, Canada, UK, Eurozone, Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.||Bank-to-bank and card-to-bank||No $15 flat fee under $10,000 (if you use the link below)|
6. 4 Best PayPal Alternatives for Sending Money Internationally
#1 Wise – Most transparent fee structure for international transfers below $7000 USD (and cool perks)
Even though Wise doesn’t offer fee-free transfers, they’re our #1 choice for providing the best overall service in terms of transparency, affordability, and currency availability.
Its top-level transparency is one of the biggest reasons why it’s so popular.
You can see exactly how much you’ll be paying in fees and the amount your recipient will get using their calculator (no sign-up required). This means no surprise fees at the end when your money has reached its destination.
Their fees are also one of the lowest in the market and there is no markup on the exchange rate.
Wise is also available in 66 countries (including UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Eurozone) and supports transfers in 40+ currencies. With their multi-currency account, you can hold, manage, spend, and convert between 55 currencies.
Apart from affordable money transfers, Wise comes with a lot of perks.
You can apply for its MasterCard debit card, international bank details in 10 currencies, and a dedicated business account for companies growing their global footprint.
Wise is also known for exceptional customer service in multiple languages.
Find out more more about international transfers with our Wise review.
#2 CurrencyFair – Most affordable for amounts below $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD
If you’re looking for the most affordable option for bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers, CurrencyFair is a great option.
CurrencyFair is available in 60 countries (including UK, Europe, Australia) and supports 38 currencies for sending and receiving money (21 for sending; 17 for receiving).
But here’s the deal — they’re not available in the US.
CurrencyFair keeps their costs low with their P2P system – where you match exchange rates with another user transferring in the opposite direction.
If the currency matching takes longer than intended, CurrencyFair can step in to complete the transfer. While this costs a bit more, they’re still cheaper than all their competitors.
Another way they keep costs low is by holding local bank accounts in most of the areas they serve.
However, CurrencyFair doesn’t have bank accounts in Canada and New Zealand, which makes receiving CAD and NZD relatively expensive.
If you’re thinking of trying it out, they’ve got a good deal here:
You can also find out more with our CurrencyFair review.
#3 WorldRemit – Best for sending small amounts in cash worldwide (below $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD)
If your recipient doesn’t have a bank account and needs to receive money in cash, WorldRemit is an excellent alternative to PayPal.
It has an extensive network of cash collection centers in all the countries they service (such as banks, pawnshops, and other third-party agents).
In terms of where they operate, WorldRemit is available in 50 countries (including the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Eurozone) and lets you send money to 130 countries.
They also let you set up your transfer online, which makes them way cheaper than traditional cash transfer services like Western Union, Ria, and MoneyGram.
Apart from cash payouts, WorldRemit also lets you send money to your recipient’s bank accounts, top-up their phone, and even send money directly to their home in some countries (like Vietnam).
They’re also currently running this great deal:
After using this link, you can get your first three transfers fee-free (using the code ‘3FREE‘*). * Offer available in US, UK, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, New Zealand, and Norway.
You can learn more from our WorldRemit review.
#4 OFX – Best for transfers over $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD
If you want to send large amounts, you need to go with a service that’s got top safety, reliability, and customer service standards. But are there services that can provide all this at a reasonable fee?
Yes! From our research, we found that OFX has one of the best fee structures for large transfers.
OFX charges a flat $15 USD fee on amounts below $10,000 USD (but Transumo readers can avoid these fees altogether by simply using this link).
Above that limit, you only pay a margin on the exchange rate (which goes down as the amount goes up).
This makes them extremely affordable for handling your large international transfers.
They also help you set up your transfer over the phone and are available to troubleshoot whenever you need them, which is extremely reassuring when a large amount of money is on the line.
OFX also supports money transfers to 190 countries in 55 currencies from the US, Canada, UK, Eurozone, Singapore, Hongkong, Australia, and New Zealand (they also have offices in these countries).
You can check out our in-depth OFX review.
Are PayPal and Xoom the right choice for your international money transfers? Like we discussed here, there are definitely pros and cons. So it’s not for everyone.
If ease, familiarity, and small personal transfers are your priority, they’re not bad options.
However, if you’re looking for a bit more flexibility with your transfers (large transfers, ability to send cash) and want to save on transfer fees, services like Wise, CurrencyFair, WorldRemit, and OFX can beat PayPal any day. (Jump here to see our in-depth review of each service)
Our #1 recommended service, Wise, even has cool additional perks like a Mastercard debit card which you can use to spend in multiple currencies.
Finally, the alternatives we mentioned are all licensed financial services providers, which makes them just as safe as PayPal and even high street banks.
You now have a better idea of which are the top international money transfers services. So you can now pick the best one for your needs and start moving your money across the world with ease.