PayPal vs Wise (ex. TransferWise). Which is for you?

Roberto Efflandrin

There are many reasons why you might need to convert and spend foreign currency including travel plans, international business and having family overseas. To do it safely, you’ll need to choose a reliable and secure service to handle your hard earned money.

You’ll find that there’s a variety of options out there including the Australian banks, neobanks, prepaid foreign currency cards or a foreign currency specialist. Each method has its own pros and cons that you can weigh up against your needs.

For this article we’re going to compare two companies that offer foreign currency and money transfer services to Australian customers - Wise (ex TransferTransferwise) and PayPal. We’ll take a look at the services they offer, and how their fees, exchange rates and public reviews compare. Let’s begin.

💸 Hold over 50 currencies in your account and spend at the mid-market exchange rate with the Wise card while abroad.

Learn more about the
Wise Multi-currency account

(Transfer)Wise vs PayPal introduction

Before we get to the comparison, here’s a quick intro to PayPal and Wise.

What is PayPal?

PayPal began offering services to Australian customers in 2005 and has grown to approximately 7 million active accounts in the region.¹ Their business is mostly known for acting as a payment partner to collect online payments, but customers can also store and send local and foreign currency using their PayPal account.

What is Wise (ex TransferWise)?

Wise, formerly known as Transferwise, was launched in 2011 and is an international payments specialist. Their services largely focus on money transfers, foreign exchange and multi currency accounts, and are available to both private and business Australian customers.

PayPal vs Wise — main product offerings

Let’s take a look at some of the main services offered by PayPal and Wise to Australian customers.

Product PayPal Wise
Who is it for? Personal and merchant customers can open a PayPal account¹ Private and business customers can open a Wise Account
Store money With a PayPal account you can hold balances in 25 currencies.¹ Using the Wise Multi currency account you can store 53 currencies.
Local account details Not available With the Wise Multi currency account you’ll receive local account details for AUD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, SGD, RON, CAD, HUF and TRY.
Debit card Not available to Australian customers The Wise Debit card attaches to the multi currency account.

Virtual cards are available.

Payment Gateway services Yes No

As seen on 8 October 2022

multi-currency-account-card-small

PayPal vs Wise — Fees

One of the biggest factors when choosing who to trust with your money is what fees are charged for the services you’ll use. Here’s some of the main ones charged by PayPal Australia and Wise Australia, and with any monetary amounts being listed in Australian Dollars (AUD).

Service PayPal Wise
Foreign currency transfers When sending money to a private overseas PayPal account a transaction fee of 5% of the send amount applies, with a minimum of $0.99 and maximum of $5.99.²

If the transfer was funded by a card there’s also an additional funding fee of 2.6% of the funded amount plus a fixed fee based on the currency.

Fixed payout fee of 0.66 AUD + a variable conversion fee of about 0.45%. You can do a fee calculation here.
Account fees Generally no monthly account fees or account opening fees for private customers. No monthly account fees and just a 20 GBP equivalent deposit for private customers to receive local account details.
Card replacement and delivery No card available $10 (one time fee) for the first card then $6 for replacement cards.

Optional express delivery is available from $26.

ATM Withdrawals Not possible You can take out money for free twice a month — as long as the total amount is under $350 AUD. After that, there is a $1.50 AUD per transaction fixed fee.

If you take out over $350 AUD in one month, there is a 1.75% on the amount exceeding that.

As seen on 10 October 2022

PayPal vs Wise — exchange rates used

When exchanging currency or making an international transfer you want to make sure your money is converted using the best rate with the lowest fees. Here’s a quick explanation of the exchange rates used by PayPal and Wise for Australian accounts, including whether they add fees.

PayPal² Wise
PayPal sets and adjusts the transaction exchange rate based on the market conditions.

They then add a 3% or 4% currency conversion fee to the rate that’s determined by the type of transaction.

Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate — just like the one shown on Google.

As seen on 10 October 2022

PayPal vs Wise — supported currencies and routes

When deciding between PayPal and Wise it’s important to find out what currencies and transfer routes are supported for Australian account holders so you can see if they meet your needs.

Here’s a brief overview of what they both can do.

Service PayPal Wise
Receiving money Receive money in 100+ currencies¹ Add money in up to 21 currencies See list here.
Taking money out You can withdraw funds in 56 currencies¹ You can send money to and fro in 53 currencies

Check out the full list here

Storing currencies It’s possible to hold balances in 25 currencies³

AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, MYR, MXN, NOK, PHP, PLN, RUB, SGD, SEK, THB, TWD, USD

53 available currencies including

AED, AUD, BGN, BRL, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HRK, HUF, ILS, IDS, INR, JPY, MXN, MYR, NOK, NZD, PLN, RON, TRY, SEK, SGD, USD

You can see the rest here

Local account details Not available AUD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, SGD, RON, CAD, HUF, TRY

As seen on 8 October 2022

Keep in mind that the supported currencies, routes and countries are subject to change. To find out the most up to date information on what’s available to Australian customers you could check the PayPal and Wise websites.

Money transfer speed

The speed money is transferred can vary depending on a number of factors including the day of the week, financial institutions involved, method of transfer and if a currency exchange was involved.

Here’s the estimated time frames for how long a money transfer can take using an Australian PayPal or Wise account.

PayPal Wise
Payments to other PayPal users can take seconds.⁴

For a fee, a withdrawal from your PayPal account to your Australian bank account can be instant.⁵ Otherwise the standard transfer takes 2-3 business days.

Payments made to other Wise users are instant.

\ International payment transfer times vary from instant up to 5 business days depending on factors like the payment method, verification requirements and bank transfer times.

As seen on 10 October 2022

Transfer pay in and pay out payment methods

Here’s the pay in and payout options you can use to add or withdraw funds from Australian PayPal and Wise accounts.

PayPal Wise
Pay in options Bank transfer from confirmed bank account⁷
  • Debit card
  • Credit card
  • Bank transfer
  • PayID
  • POLi
  • Wise Balance
Payout options
  • Your bank account (even a Wise account)
  • Recipient PayPal account
  • Eligible debit cards (even a Wise debit card)
  • Recipient bank account
  • Recipient Wise account

As seen on 10 October 2022

Pros and cons of using these services

As with all services there’s pros and cons to using PayPal and Wise. Here’s some of the main ones for Australians.

PayPal Wise
Pros
  • Streamlined use with PayPal payment gateway
  • Pay directly from your bank account or debit card if your PayPal balance is low⁷
  • Local account details for 10 currencies
  • 50+ currencies available to receive and store
  • Mid market exchange rate
Cons
  • No debit card
  • Can’t send money to other people’s bank accounts
  • Can only transact with others through a PayPal account
  • No cash or cheque deposits
  • No physical locations for service/assistance

What about safety?

Wise and PayPal are both regulated services and have put in place various safeguards to protect your money.

In Australia, Wise and PayPal are regulated by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission and both hold Australian Financial Services Licences (AFSL).

  • PayPal Australia - AFSL number 304962⁴
  • Wise Australia - AFSL number 513764

You can read more about Wise’s security here and PayPal’s here.

Online reviews for PayPal and Wise in Australia

Here’s how other Australians have ranked Wise and PayPal on two independent review sites.

PayPal reviews Wise reviews
PayPal on Trustpilot Australia⁸

1.6 out of 5

Wise on Trustpilot Australia⁹

4.5 out of 5

Product Review¹⁰

Rated 1.3 stars

Product Review¹¹

Rated 2.3 stars

As seen on 10 October 2022

Customer support and contacts

If you want to speak to Wise or PayPal directly about their Australian services you can reach out to them using these details.

PayPal Wise
  • Log in to chat in the Message Centre
  • Call 1800 073 263 using an Australian landline or +61 2 8223 950
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Wrapping up

In the end whether you choose Wise, PayPal or a combination of both comes down to what suits you and your circumstances best.

Wise makes managing international funds simpler with over 50 different currencies available to hold, spend and convert in a single account. You’ll know any fees up front before you make a transfer and you don’t have to waste money on exchange rate markups. You can even order a card and withdraw or spend like a local at home or abroad.

Meanwhile, PayPal is a convenient way of paying for goods online when the seller uses the PayPal payment gateway. You don’t necessarily need to have an account balance to pay for goods and it’s possible to fund or withdraw PayPal payments using a linked Wise Account and/or Debit card if that interests you.

If you're curious about Wise why not try it out for yourself? The registration process is done online and can be completed in minutes,

Register your Wise account in minutes


Sources:

  1. PayPal - About
  2. PayPal - Combined Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement
  3. PayPal - PayPal Supported Currencies
  4. PayPal - Send and Receive Money
  5. PayPal - How do I withdraw from PayPal to my bank account?
  6. PayPal - Can I withdraw money from my PayPal balance to my credit card?
  7. PayPal - How do I add money to my PayPal balance from my confirmed bank account?
  8. Trustpilot - PayPal
  9. Trustpilot - Wise
  10. Product Review - PayPal
  11. Product Review - Wise

Sources accurate as of: 10 October 2022


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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