PayPal International Transfer: Fees and Exchange Rates


If you already use PayPal for shopping online, you might be interested to know that you can also make a Paypal money transfer to friends and family, both in the US and abroad. Using PayPal is simple - but the costs vary depending on the type of payment you want to make. If you’re sending money overseas you may find cheaper options, especially when you take into account the PayPal exchange rate. 

This guide covers all this and more. We’ll also touch on Wise and the Wise multi-currency account as an alternative way to get money to your friends and loved ones abroad for less.

How does PayPal work?

PayPal makes it very easy to send money to others. All you need to know is the email address or phone number of the person you’re sending to. You’ll then be able to log into your PayPal account, select the amount to send and get started. If your recipient doesn’t already have a PayPal account they’ll get a message - email or SMS - telling them to create one to access their funds.

If you’re sending money overseas, PayPal also encourages users to look at Xoom - another PayPal company which specialises in cross border transfers.

PayPal transfer time

You can easily see where your money is, by looking at Your activity on the PayPal app, or clicking Recent activity on the website. Here you’ll find a status update for all your recent transactions for checking.

PayPal international transfer fees

The PayPal transfer fee for sending money to friends and family abroad can vary according to how you fund the payment and where the money is going. Paying with a credit or debit card incurs additional fees compared to funding your transfer using your PayPal balance or a linked bank account.

It’s also worth knowing that you’ll pay a PayPal exchange rate fee when you make a Paypal international transfer. More on that coming up.

A quick cost example: sending $1,000 from the US to the UK

Let’s take a look at an example to illustrate the costs - sending a payment of USD1,000 to a friend in the UK. 

ProviderFeeExchange rateTotal cost
PayPal - payment funded by PayPal balance or linked bank account5% of send amount, from $0.99 to $4.99 Exchange rate + 3.75% currency conversion fee5% transaction fee + 3.75% currency conversion fee
PayPal - payment funded by credit or debit card5% of send amount, from $0.99 to $4.99 + 2.9% funding fee + fixed fee GBP0.20Exchange rate + 3.75% currency conversion fee5% transaction fee + 2.9% funding fee + GBP0.20 + 3.75% currency conversion fee

Wise offers fast, secure international transfers - with the mid-market exchange rate

PayPal exchange rate

As we highlighted above, PayPal adds a currency conversion fee, which is also known as a spread or markup, to the exchange rate they offer customers. 

In practise, what this means is that PayPal first buys foreign currency. Then they’ll add a percentage margin to this rate to create the PayPal exchange rate used for customer transfers.

The markup added by PayPal may vary depending on the type of transaction you’re carrying out. For international payments to friends and family, the markup is 3.75%. 

It’s helpful to know that not all international payment providers choose to add a markup to the exchange rates used. Read on for more about Wise - a good example of a modern alternative service which avoids exchange rate markups and uses a simple, transparent pricing system instead.

A cheap and transparent alternative: Wise

Before you decide how to arrange your international transfer, it pays to check out a few alternatives. Take a look at Wise for simple, cheap online payments all over the world.

All Wise payments use the mid-market exchange rate with no markup. There’s just a single, simple fee per transaction and you’ll be able to see instantly the rate being used and the amount your recipient will get in the end.

You can make a one off transfer, or to make it even easier to manage your money, get a free online Wise multi-currency account. You’ll be able to hold dozens of currencies, send payments around the world, and receive transfers for free in USD, GBP, EUR, RON, AUD and NZD using your own local bank details. See if you can save with Wise today.

How to cancel a PayPal payment?

You’ll only be able to cancel a payment if it has not yet been claimed by the recipient.

Go into the Activity section of your account to check the status of recent payments. Any which are as yet unclaimed will have an option to cancel showing. If the payment has already been processed and claimed, you’ll need to ask your recipient to send a refund instead.

How to request a refund on PayPal?

If your payment was incorrect but has already been claimed, you’ll need to email and ask the recipient for a refund. The recipient will then have to log into their PayPal account to refund the money to you.

It’s worth noting that for international transactions the amount refunded may not be the same as the amount you originally sent. That’s because the exchange rate used to get your money back to you may be different to the one which applied on the day you made the payment.