Apple Pay vs PayPal in the UK: the full comparison

Gert Svaiko

If you’re a fan of online shopping, you’ll know that there’s more than one way to pay at checkout. A couple of the options you’ll have come across in the UK are Apple Pay and PayPal, both of which can also be used to pay for things using a mobile wallet.

But which is best? Read on for a helpful comparison of the two, looking at pros, cons, fees, limits, security and much more.

We’ll also show you a great alternative for making online and real-world purchases in multiple countries and currencies - the Wise card from the money services provider Wise. You can also get it as a virtual card.

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But for now, let’s get straight into our comparison of Apple Pay vs. PayPal.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a mobile wallet payment service, which securely stores virtual versions of your debit cards and credit cards on your phone. If you have an Apple iOS device like a smartphone, tablet or smartwatch, you can use it to pay online, on websites and in apps.

And as it’s a mobile wallet, you can also use Apple Pay for contactless payments using just your phone at real-world shops and supermarkets.

Pros and cons of using Apple Pay

Pros:

  • Super secure transactions
  • Fast and easy to make contactless payments using just your phone
  • Accepted by millions of merchants in-store, online and in the app
  • No transaction fees

Cons:

  • Only works with Apple devices - and isn’t compatible with some older models (before iPhone 6)¹
  • Not all retailers accept Apple Pay
  • Can’t be used if your phone has run out of battery
  • Feature to send payments is not available in the UK
📚 Read more: Best debit card to use abroad: Top 6 UK picks

What is PayPal?

PayPal is another online payment service, but it works in a different way compared to Apple Pay. Anyone can open a PayPal account (age 18+), unlike Apple Pay which is restricted to Apple users only.

With a PayPal account, you can send and receive money online, as well as using it to checkout when paying for online shopping purchases.

Your PayPal account is linked to your bank account and card, but you can also pay for things using your PayPal balance.

There’s also a PayPal app which lets you use the service to pay in real-world stores. However, it’s not as easy and seamless as other types of mobile wallets, which let you pay with just one contactless ‘tap’. Instead, you need to open the app and scan the retailer’s QR code to pay

Pros and cons of using PayPal

Pros:

  • Widely accepted, especially when shopping online
  • Very secure
  • No device restrictions - use PayPal on any phone, tablet or laptop
  • Can be used to send and receive online payments - including international payments
  • Fast or instant payments
  • Easy to use accounts with multiple features
  • Pay in-store with the PayPal app and QR codes
  • Free to open an account and free for many transactions

Cons:

  • Complicated fees structure
  • High fees for international payments³
  • You must have a PayPal account to receive payments
  • Not as easy and convenient for in-store payments as contactless mobile wallets
📚 Read more: How to pay someone on PayPal in the UK?

Apple Pay vs. PayPal

Now, here’s a quick look at how Apple Pay and PayPal stack up against each other, on all the things that matter:

Apple PayPayPal
Market shareUsed by 69% of mobile wallet users⁴Used by 31% of mobile wallet users⁴
AvailabilityiOS users onlyAll users (age 18+)
FeesNoneNone for domestic transactions (inc. paying in-store)

5% fee for international transactions³

LimitsNone - although some retailers may have £100 contactless limitNone
SecurityPayments completed with Face ID or Touch IDUses data encryption and has Buyer Protection policies⁵
PrivacyUses tokenisation so card details aren’t shared with merchants⁶Protects data with encryption and secure servers⁶
Buyer protectionPayment protection provided by card issuerBuyer and Fraud Protection policies⁵
Customer supportApple Support website and phone support⁷PayPal Resolution Centre, message and phone support⁸
Payment typesOnline shopping

In-person (app)

Online shopping

In-person (app)

Send and receive payments

Wise – An alternative to Apple Pay and PayPal

Of course, Apple Pay and PayPal aren’t the only digital wallet options out there. The Wise card is a fantastic alternative, especially if you’re looking for an easy, cost-effective way to pay for your expenses on holidays and overseas trips.

Open a Wise account online and you can get a contactless Wise card or a virtual card so you can pay securely with a tap and add it to mobile wallets.

And whenever you spend in a different currency, it does a very clever thing. The card automatically converts the currency at the mid-market exchange rate – with no margin added on top.

You’ll only pay a small fee for the conversion, or it’s free if you already have the currency in your Wise account. There are no commission charges, foreign transaction fees or other hidden costs.

Sign up with Wise today 💰

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.


So which is better, Apple Pay or PayPal? It all depends on what you’re looking for, whether it’s a mobile wallet or a way to make online payments. And if you’re an iOS user, there’s also no reason you can’t use both services.

After reading this guide, you should have a better idea of what’s on offer with both Apple Pay and PayPal. So, you can choose the right one for the type of payment you’re making.


Sources used for this article:

  1. Mastercard - Mastercard with Apple Pay
  2. PayPal - How PayPal Works
  3. PayPal - PayPal fees
  4. Finder - Digital wallet statistics: Usage and market size
  5. PayPal - PayPal Safety and Security
  6. Journalism - PayPal vs Apple Pay: the battle for your digital wallet
  7. Apple - Get Support
  8. PayPal - Contact Us

Sources checked on 14-Nov-2023.


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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