Wise Vs PayPal 2023 [Fees, Mid-market Exchange Rate & Speed]

Updated On: 07/25/2023
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In today's globalized world, it's essential to have a reliable and affordable way to transfer money between countries. While PayPal has been a go-to option for many individuals and businesses, TransferWise has emerged as a strong contender in the field of international money transfers.

Both services offer advantages and disadvantages, making it challenging to determine which is better. In this Wise vs PayPal blog, we will compare both services to help you make an informed decision on which platform is the best option for your specific needs.

What Is Wise?

What Is Wise?

Wise, formerly known as TranferWise, is a financial technology company that provides an online money transfer service.

It operates primarily through a web-based platform and mobile application that allows users to send and receive money from bank accounts in different countries with lower fees and better exchange rates than traditional banks.

Wise also offers multi-currency accounts, debit cards, and other financial services to help users manage their international transactions more efficiently. It is available in over 70 countries and supports over 750 currency routes.

How Does Wise Works?

Wise works by transferring money from one currency to another using the mid-market rate, which is the real exchange rate. This means you get more for your money than if you were to use a bank or other traditional money transfer services.

Wise offers a borderless account, which allows customers to hold multiple currencies in one account and convert them at the mid-market rate with no fees.

Customers can also get their debit card linked to their borderless account, allowing them to spend their money wherever they are in the world.

How To Open A Wise Account For International Transfers?

Opening a Wise account is a simple process. Here are the steps:

  • Go to the Wise website and click on "Sign up".
  • Select your country of residence and enter your email address and password
  • Choose whether you are signing up as an individual or a business.
  • Enter your personal or business details, including your name, date of birth, and address.
  • You'll need to verify your identity once you've finished entering your details. This can be done by scanning and uploading a copy of your ID documents, such as a passport or driver's license.
  • Next, you'll need to set up a transfer. You can add the recipient's details and the amount you want to transfer.
  • Finally, you'll need to make your payment. You can do this via bank transfer or by using a debit or credit card.

What Is PayPal?

What Is PayPal?

PayPal is a leading online payment system that allows individuals and businesses to send and receive money electronically.

Founded in 1998, PayPal has become one of the most popular and widely used payment platforms worldwide, with over 400 million active users in more than 200 markets.

It offers various services, including online money transfers, payment processing, and online checkout solutions.

PayPal also offers a range of products, such as PayPal Credit, which allows users to pay for purchases over time with flexible payment options and a mobile app that enables users to manage their transactions on the go. Overall, PayPal provides a convenient and secure way to conduct financial transactions online.

How Does PayPal Work?

PayPal allows you to add funds to your PayPal balance or withdraw funds from it. You can also use your PayPal balance as a payment method when making purchases online or in-store.

When you transact with PayPal, the money is taken from your linked bank account or credit card. The funds are then transferred directly to the recipient's PayPal account. The recipient can then transfer the funds to their bank account if they wish.

How To Make A PayPal Account?

If you want to open a PayPal account, the process is quick and easy. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to get started:

  • Go to PayPal's home page and click the "Sign Up" button.
  • You'll be prompted to choose between a personal or business account. Select the one that best fits your needs, then enter your email address and create a password.
  • Next, you must enter your personal information, such as name, address, phone number, etc., and agree to PayPal's terms of service and privacy policy.
  • Once you've completed all the required fields, click "Agree and Create Account".
  • To verify your account, PayPal may ask for proof of identity, such as a driver's license or passport photo ID.
  • Finally, connect your bank account or debit/credit card to pay with or receive money from others via PayPal transactions.

Wise Vs PayPal

Wise Vs PayPal

Wise and PayPal are two popular options for sending and receiving money online. While both services offer advantages and disadvantages, there are several key differences to consider when choosing between them. Here are some detailed comparisons between TransferWise and PayPal:


Wise is known for its low fees, with a currency conversion fee ranging from 2.5% to 4%, a 0.5% cross-border fee, and fixed transfer fees of €1.99 or €3.99. , which are often significantly lower than PayPal's.

Wise charges a small percentage of the transaction amount, and the exact fee depends on the currency and payment method used. In contrast, PayPal charges a 4.99 USD fee on all transfers and an 870.53 EUR fee on all transfers over 33.83 EUR.

Exchange Rates

Wise uses the real exchange rate and charges a low, transparent fee. This means you get more money for your transfer when compared to PayPal.

For example, if you're sending money from the US to Europe, you'll get an extra 3-4% of the value of your transfer with Wise compared to PayPal.

Wise also has much lower currency conversion fees than PayPal. For instance, while PayPal charges 5% of the transfer value plus a fee for international transfers in foreign currencies, Wise's fees are tiny.

Transfer Speed

Wise transactions are instant 20% of the time and up to a maximum of two days every other time.

In comparison, PayPal transactions can take up to five days or more. Wise also offers faster processing times for international transfers, with some transfers taking only minutes instead of days.

Additionally, Wise allows you to track your money in real-time and provides notifications when your money arrives at its destination.

PayPal does offer more options for transferring money internationally than Wise. However, PayPal's transfer costs, plus a fee, are high at 5% of the transfer value, making it an expensive option for sending money abroad.

Supported Countries and Currencies

PayPal is accepted in more than 200 markets worldwide, while Wise is available in over 70 countries. This means that if you want to send money internationally, PayPal may be a better option.

Wise has the edge over PayPal in terms of supporting more currencies and operating in more countries— with over 50 currencies compared to PayPal's 24.


Both companies use secure encryption technology to protect user data and transactions. Wise is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, while PayPal is regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Wise offers two-factor authentication for added security, while PayPal offers a variety of security measures such as account monitoring, fraud protection, and dispute resolution.

Additionally, Wise allows users to set up a spending limit on their transfers, which can help prevent unauthorized transactions.

Additional Services

PayPal offers additional services, such as payment processing and online checkout solutions, which Wise does not.

On the other hand, Wise offers a multi-currency account, which allows users to easily hold and manage money in multiple currencies and make international payments.

In conclusion, Wise is generally better for individuals and businesses looking to save money on international transfers.

At the same time, PayPal is better for those looking for fast, convenient transactions and additional services. Ultimately, the choice between TransferWise and PayPal depends on your specific needs and priorities.

Is PayPal Cheaper Than Wise?

Is PayPal Cheaper Than Wise?

While believing that a well-known service like PayPal might be the more affordable option is tempting, this isn't always the case.

Typically, PayPal charges a whopping 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee for domestic payments in the U.S., not accounting for the hidden currency exchange markup.

Unlike PayPal, Wise offers a transparent fee structure and is often touted as the cheaper option overall. It comes with no annual or monthly fees, which is fantastic news for those who use their service intermittently.

Instead of charging a fixed fee per transaction like PayPal, it has a tiered pricing structure based mainly on the amount being transferred and the destination country.

For example, you send $200 from the U.S. to the UK. With Wise, you only pay around $3 as transfer fees. In contrast, with PayPal, you could end up paying up to $8 in fees, including exchange rate markup.

It's important to remember that costs can vary depending on the currency you're exchanging and where your destination country is located, so always do your homework before jumping in.

Which Is Cheaper For International Transfer, PayPal or Wise?

When it comes to international transfers, Wise takes the cake. With a transparent fee structure and a more favourable exchange rate, Wise outperforms PayPal in cost-effectiveness.

Unlike PayPal, which charges a 2.9% to 5% fee and includes a 2.5% - 3% currency conversion fee hidden behind the scenes, Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markups. Additionally, they only charge a small volume-based fee for their services.

Therefore, Wise is your most economical option if you're looking for an affordable solution for your international money transfers.

5 Best Alternatives to Wise

5 Best Alternatives to Wise

In recent years, different money transfer service providers have emerged. Among these, Wise has its own unique place. However, you may be looking for alternatives to Wise for various reasons. So here we present the top 5 alternatives to Wise.

1. PayPal

Despite the high fees that are often a sticking point, Paypal still remains as one of the most popular options around the world.

It is available in more than 200 countries and supports over 25 currencies. If speed is your priority and your recipient already has a Paypal account, this might be your best option.

2. Revolut

Revolut offers diverse services like spending analytics, built-in budgeting tools, cryptocurrency support, and free bank transfers in many currencies (subject to an annual limit).

It also offers a sparingly used feature: hold and exchange in 28 currencies in the app itself which stands out among its competitors.

3. OFX

OFX is best suited for businesses and online sellers because it can handle large-volume transfers at low fees.

Furthermore, it provides local banking details for country-specific payments such as USD Global Currency Account for US markets.

4. WorldRemit

Just like Wise’s multi-country support, WorldRemit's operations extend across 150 countries around the globe.

In addition to bank transfers, it allows you to top up prepaid mobile phones or send cash pickup transfers.

5. CurrencyFair

CurrencyFair stands out with its unique approach – a peer-to-peer currency exchange system allowing users to set their own exchange rate below the interbank rate level, which might mean big savings.

One important factor to remember when choosing your money transfer service is the objective of your transaction.

For instance, if you want to make a large international transfer, OFX might be a good bet due to lower fees on larger amounts.

However, if you need to send small amounts frequently, options like Revolut or CurrencyFair might be useful due to their competitive rates and easy-to-use apps.

FAQs About Wise vs PayPal

How Many Currency Routes Does TransferWise Support?

Wise supports over 750 currency routes and operates in more than 70 countries, while PayPal is available in more than 200 markets and supports over 25 currencies.

Is PayPal Cheaper Than Wise?

No, PayPal is more expensive than Wise. PayPal charges a 5% fee plus a fee for international transfers in foreign currencies, while Wise's fees are much lower.

Can I Track My Payment With Wise?

Yes, Wise allows you to track your money in real time and provides notifications when your money arrives at its destination. PayPal does not offer this service.

Does Wise Offer Additional Services?

No, Wise does not offer additional services such as payment processing and online checkout solutions like PayPal.


In this Wise vs PayPal blog, we compared both companies' fees, transfer speeds, supported currencies, countries, security measures, and additional services.

While PayPal is more widely recognized and accepted by merchants, Wise offers better exchange rates and lower fees for international transfers.

Ultimately, the choice between PayPal and Wise will depend on your specific needs and priorities.

Whether you are looking for a platform with widespread acceptance or one that offers the best value for your money, both PayPal and Wise have unique advantages and drawbacks.

Therefore, it's important to carefully consider your options and choose the platform that best fits your requirements.

Michael Restiano

I lead product content strategy for SaltMoney. Additionally, I’m helping our broader team of 4 evolve into a mature content strategy practice with the right documentation and processes to deliver quality work. Prior to Instacart, I was a content strategy lead at Uber Eats and Facebook. Before that, I was a content strategist at SapientNitro, helping major Fortune 500 brands create better, more useful digital content.