Money Transfer

Wise vs PayPal (2023)

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When it comes to transferring money locally or internationally, the options seem endless, but two names often rise to the top of the list: Wise and PayPal.

Both offer a variety of features, including the ability to send and receive money, make online purchases, and hold multiple currencies. However, there are some key differences between the two services that may make one a better choice for your needs.

Wise is known for its low fees and transparent pricing. The company uses the mid-market exchange rate, which is the most competitive rate available. On the other hand, PayPal is a more established company than Wise and has a larger user base. It also enjoys widespread acceptance for merchants.

Below, we take a look at the features, benefits, and limitations of Wise and PayPal, exploring how each money transfer platform caters to the needs of users in local and international money transfers.

Comparison Chart

Product NameWisePayPal
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Currencies50+ currencies25 currencies
FeesLow fees, no markup on exchange ratesHigher fees, may add a markup on exchange rates
Transfer Speed0 to 2 days, depending on the currencyInstant PayPal to PayPal transfers
2 to 5 days for international transfers
2 to 4 days for withdrawing funds to a bank account
Customer SupportChat and phone supportCommunity forums, chat and phone support
Mobile AppAvailable for iOS and AndroidAvailable for iOS and Android
IntegrationAPI available for integrationAPI available for integration
Multi-currency AccountYesYes
Debit CardYesYes
Cyrptocurrency SupportNoYes
SecuritySecured by SSL encryption and PCI DSS complianceSecured by SSL encryption and PCI DSS compliance

Company Overview

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a global technology company that provides international money transfers, currency exchange, and multi-currency accounts. The company was founded in 2011 by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, and is headquartered in London, England. It also has offices in over 25 countries.

Wise offers a variety of services, including international money transfers, currency exchange, and multi-currency accounts. The company is known for its low fees and transparent pricing.

On the other hand, PayPal has been a dominant player in the online payment industry since its establishment in 1998. The company, which is headquartered in San Jose, California, was founded by Ken Howery, Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, Yu Pan, and Luke Nosek.

With its presence in over 200 countries, PayPal boasts an extensive global network that facilitates operations worldwide. PayPal offers a variety of services, including online payments, invoicing, and merchant services. The company is known for its wide reach and convenience.

Both Wise and PayPal have made significant strides in simplifying cross-border transfers, albeit with different approaches. In the following sections, we explore arguably the most important aspect of using their services — cost.

Ease of Use

Both Wise and PayPal are easy to use. They also have mobile apps that are available for iOS and Android devices.

Wise prides itself on its intuitive and straightforward user interface. The platform’s website offers a seamless experience, making it easy for individuals and businesses to navigate through the various features. Meanwhile, the mobile app offers a user-friendly interface and allows users to conveniently send and receive money, track transactions, and manage their accounts on the go.

Similarly, PayPal is renowned for its user-friendly interface and robust mobile app. With a clean and intuitive design, PayPal’s platform ensures a hassle-free experience for both personal and business users. With its mobile app, users to send and request money, make purchases, and manage their PayPal account with ease.

Accounts and Fees

Wise Accounts

Wise offers clear and straightforward plan options to meet the diverse financial needs of individuals and businesses. They provide two main account types: Personal and Business.

The Personal account is tailored for individuals who frequently engage in international transactions, including spending, sending, and receiving money.

Meanwhile, Wise Business offers a comprehensive solution that facilitates seamless international payments and enables the receipt of funds from abroad in multiple currencies. To access the full suite of Business features, however, a one-time payment of $31 is required.

By opting for Wise Business, you gain access to a range of additional features that grant you more control over your financial operations. These features include:

  • Accounting software connection: Seamlessly connect Wise Business with your preferred accounting software.
  • Batch payments: Simplify your payment processes by initiating multiple payments simultaneously, saving you time and effort.
  • Multi-user access controls: Grant different levels of access to team members, ensuring appropriate authorization for financial tasks and maintaining data security.
  • Receive Stripe and Amazon payouts for free: Enjoy the benefit of receiving payouts from popular platforms such as Stripe and Amazon at no additional cost.
  • Wise open API: Leverage the power of the Wise open API to integrate Wise Business with your existing systems.

Wise Fees

Wise provides a range of free services to its users, including the ability to hold 50+ currencies, make card payments, and obtain local bank details for up to 10 currencies. Additionally, Wise allows you to receive money in popular currencies such as EUR, GBP, AUD, NZD, RON, HUF, TRY, CAD, and SGD without any fees.

In comparison to traditional banking rates, Wise applies minimal charges for other features. When it comes to sending business payments, Wise Business offers significantly lower costs, up to 19 times cheaper, compared to PayPal.

Outlined below are the current Wise fees. Please note that these rates are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, you can refer to Wise’s pricing page.

ServiceWise Personal AccountWise Business Account
Wise debit card9 USD5 USD
ATM WithdrawalsFree two ATM withdrawals up to 100 USD per month

Fee of 1.5 USD plus 2% will be applied for subsequent withdrawals
Free two ATM withdrawals up to 100 USD per month

Fee of 1.5 USD plus 2% will be applied for subsequent withdrawals
Currency conversion using cardStarts at 0.43%Starts at 0.43%
Receiving USD by wire4.14 USD4.14 USD
Sending international paymentsConversion fee starts at 0.43%, along with a variable fixed fee based on the currency involvedConversion fee starts at 0.43%, along with a variable fixed fee based on the currency involved
Sending high-value international paymentsPayments exceeding 100,000 GBP/month qualify for volume discounts of up to 0.17%Payments exceeding 100,000 GBP/month qualify for volume discounts of up to 0.17%

PayPal Accounts

PayPal also offers two distinct account options, Personal and Business. If your primary goal is to make purchases and send money to family and friends, the Personal account is the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you are an online merchant operating under a company or group name, we highly recommend the Business account.

It’s free to sign up for either Personal or Business accounts. There are no fees for setting up an account, no monthly fees, and no fees to cancel your account.

Here’s a quick overview of the services available to PayPal Personal and Business accounts.

Personal Account

  • Shop and pay online 
  • Send or receive personal payments for shared expenses
  • Send money as a gift

Business Account

  • Operate under a company/group name  
  • Accept debit card, credit card, and bank account payments for a low fee 
  • Allow up to 200 employees limited access to your account 
  • Access PayPal products such as PayPal Checkout

PayPal Fees

PayPal is a widely recognized and popular platform for sending and receiving payments. However, it’s important to consider the fees associated with using PayPal for various transactions. You may refer to the updates to the current schedule of PayPal fees here.

For Personal accounts, we’ve listed below some of the important consumer fees.

Consumer Transactions

ServiceFees and Limits
Sending domestic personal transactionsPayPal balance or a bank account: Free
Cards: 2.90% + Fixed Fee*
AMEX: Free
Sending international personal transactions 5% for all payment methods
Minimum international fee: 0.99 USD
Maximum international fee: 4.99 USD
Receiving personal transactionsFree when no currency conversion is involved
Buying with PayPal online or in-store without a conversion feeFree
Withdrawal or Transfer to a bank account Standard: Free when no currency conversion
Instant: 1.75% of amount transferred + applicable minimum and maximum fees (withdrawal limits apply)
Withdrawal or Transfer to cardStandard: Free when no currency conversion (withdrawal limits apply)
Instant: 1.75% of amount transferred + applicable minimum and maximum fees (withdrawal limits apply)
Withdrawal or Transfer to check1.50 USD for paper check mailed to you
Withdrawal Limits – Instant Transfer to bank25,000 USD
Withdrawal Limits – Standard and Instant Transfer to card Per transaction: 5,000 USD
Per day: 5,000 USD
Per week: 5,000 USD
Per month: 15,000 USD
*Fixed fees for personal transactions vary based on the currency

Currencies & Exchange Rate


Wise allows users to hold and receive money in over 50 currencies. The company doesn’t mark up its mid-market exchange rate, promising to always transfer your money at the existing interbank exchange rate. You can even lock in the rate for up to 48 hours for some transfers.

What does the lock-in rate mean?

When opting for a transfer with a guaranteed rate, there is a rate limit of 5%. If the rate fluctuates by 5% or more within the guaranteed rate period, Wise retains the right to cancel and refund the transfer. In such cases, the funds will be returned to the originating account.


PayPal supports up to 25 currencies. The exchange rate fee for PayPal varies depending on the currency pair and the amount of money being exchanged. However, PayPal typically has a currency conversion spread of 3 to 4%.

To find the exact exchange rate fee for your currency pair, you can visit the PayPal website and enter the desired amount for conversion. PayPal will then provide you with the applicable exchange rate and associated fees.

Buying with PayPal

While making purchases using PayPal is generally free, it’s important to note that if your transaction involves currency conversion, PayPal utilizes a retail exchange rate along with a conversion service charge of 4.5%.

It is important to note that PayPal’s exchange rate fee is not the only fee that you may be charged for currency conversion. Your bank or credit card issuer may also charge a fee for currency conversion.

Transfer Availability and Speed

Wise operates in over 170 countries, offering users the ability to hold and convert money in more than 50 currencies, including a strong presence in the United States.

For smaller transfers, Wise provides a cost-effective minimum fee. Transfers exceeding 100,000 GBP (or the equivalent in other currencies) per month are eligible for automatic discounts of up to 0.17%.

Wise ensures efficient transfers, typically taking up to 2 working days. However, the duration may vary based on factors such as the destination country, payment method, timing, and necessary security checks.

On the other hand, PayPal is available in over 200 countries, but it currently supports only 25 currencies. When sending money internationally from one PayPal account to another, it usually takes a few hours for the transfer to reflect in your recipient’s account, depending on the currency involved.

However, if you opt for PayPal to bank account transfers using Xoom, PayPal’s international money transfer service, it typically takes between 3 to 5 days for the funds to be received by the recipient.


Who Should Use Wise?

Wise is the top choice for individuals and businesses involved in international transactions. If you frequently send or receive money across borders or require currency conversions, Wise offers a more cost-effective solution.

Their transparent approach and competitive exchange rates make Wise a go-to option for expats, long-term travelers, and growing businesses looking to save on international transfer fees. With Wise’s multi-currency account, you can efficiently manage your finances and avoid unnecessary markups and fixed fees.

Who Should Use PayPal?

PayPal is recommended for users who primarily transfer money to friends and family within the United States. If your recipients have PayPal accounts, you can enjoy the convenience of instant transfers. Moreover, PayPal is a preferred choice for online shopping with USD, as it has a widespread merchant network.

However, when it comes to international transfers and currency conversions, PayPal tends to be more expensive due to markups and fixed fees. If you have minimal international transaction needs, PayPal may still be suitable, but for cost-conscious users and businesses engaged in global payments, Wise is the preferred alternative.