How to Get Paid by International Clients - Guide for UK Freelancers

Paola Faben Oliveira

All around the world, people are moving away from conventional employment and setting up for themselves. More and more people are going freelance – independently and through platforms like Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Fiverr. By January 2023 there were 4.3 million self-employed people in the UK.¹

When working directly with clients from abroad, or through freelancing platforms, you’ll want to find a way to get paid and withdraw your earnings into a GBP bank account. In this guide we will cover the best providers available for UK freelancers to get paid by international clients, covering features and fees to help you choose the best platform to save money when receiving payments from overseas.

Best way to get paid by international clients

Ultimately, freelancers are looking for the best ways to get paid for the work they produce. As freelancing opens up opportunities all around the world, you may wonder how to get paid by international clients or how to withdraw money from freelancing platforms that transact in American dollars (USD).

This can be especially tricky if you aim to receive your earnings without losing out on fees and exchange rates. Digital providers such as Wise Business can help, so with this guide in hand you will be able to understand the best way to get paid by international clients.

Let’s start with the key comparison points you should consider when choosing a provider to receive international payments:

Monthly fee: ideally you should avoid providers that charge a monthly fee to the account, since it becomes a fixed cost.

Exchange rate: you should always aim for the real mid-market exchange rate, avoiding expensive mark-ups.

Local account details: the amount of currencies you can get account details for and receive payments like a local.

Receiving money fee: if the provider charges you a fee to receive money into the account you should be aware upfront.

Card linked with the account: so you can be able to spend the money earned without the need to move your earnings back and forth.

Let’s get started checking the providers and how they perform on each comparison point?


Wise freelancer account

The account Wise offers for freelancers to receive and manage their payments is actually called Wise Business multi-currency account.

If you are wondering what are the differences between a personal and a business account with Wise the answer is quite simple: to open a Wise Business account you will need to have a company registered in the UK, as sole trader for example.

With a Wise Business account you get access to some useful features not available in the personal account, such as connection with accounting software, multi-user access, connection with Stripe and Amazon.

Now that the differences between a personal and a business account are clear, let’s check how Wise Business perform when you need to get paid by international clients:

Key highlights from Wise Business

💷 Monthly feeNone
♻️ Exchange rateMid-market rate, no mark-up.
🗺️ Local account details10 currencies (USD, EUR, GPB, AUD, CAD, HUF, NZD, RON, SGD, TRY)
💰 Receiving money feeNone for GPB, EUR, AUD, CAD, HUF, NZD, RON, SGD, TRY and USD non-wire
💳 Card linked with the accountYes, a debit card with 0.5% cashback

Wise Business won’t charge you a monthly fee, but to get started and set up your business account there is a small, one-time fee of 45 GBP. Besides receiving payments in 10 currencies like a local, you can also hold 50 currencies on your Wise Business account.

When you need to make a payment or spend your earnings there is no need to withdraw them to your GBP account in the UK. You can easily send payments from one of your balances to wherever you need to, or spend with your Wise Business debit card, earning 0.5% cashback on your purchases.

Learn more about Wise Business 🚀

Getting paid by PayPal

PayPal is another popular option with freelancers, and is promoted on a number of freelancing platforms as a way to withdraw your payments - but is it the best way? That decision will ultimately be down to you, but let’s check the comparison points to help you evaluate PayPal as an option to get paid by foreign clients.

Key highlights from PayPal

💷 Monthly feeNone
♻️ Exchange rate3% mark-up²
🗺️ Local account details25 currencies³
💰 Receiving money feeVaries from 1.2% to 2.9%+£0.30 + 1.29% for non-sterling payments in EEA or 1.99% for non-sterling payments in other markets²
💳 Card linked with the accountYes, a debit card with 0.5% cashback on eligible purchases⁴

PayPal integrates with a lot of freelancing platforms, and is listed as a way to withdraw payments on a number of sites. If you decide to not use a freelancing platform and receive payments directly to your PayPal account, there are tailored services for freelancers including the ability to create, schedule and track invoices.

Getting paid by international clients with Payoneer

Payoneer is another method by which freelancers can withdraw their payments from online platforms. Payoneer is integrated with a lot of marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr, although the fees charged for using each of them may vary.

Let’s check how Payoneer performs considering our comparison.

Key highlights from Payoneer

💷 Monthly feeNone
♻️ Exchange rate0.5% mark-up⁵
🗺️ Local account details9 currencies⁶
💰 Receiving money feeFree from other Payoneer account, 3% for credit card payments, 1% for ACH bank debit (US only)⁵
💳 Card linked with the accountYes, a debit card⁷

Payoneer also connects with accounting softwares to make your life easier while managing your money in different currencies.

Getting paid by Skrill

Skrill is an alternative provider that allows you to create an online bank account to which you can receive international money transfers to a local currency account. You can then withdraw this money into your own bank account.⁴

Key highlights from Skrill

💷 Monthly feeNone if you log in or make transaction every 6 months⁸
♻️ Exchange rateUp to 3.99% mark-up⁸
🗺️ Local account detailsNot specified
💰 Receiving money feeFree, but charges may apply where currency conversion is involved⁸
💳 Card linked with the accountNo

Getting paid by international clients with your bank

The old-fashioned way is to stick with your bank. You can of course just put your standard bank details on an international invoice for your freelance work, and hope you get enough money in the end. Some banks do charge customers for receiving international payments, so be sure to check whether your bank does.

Even more of a problem, potentially, are the fees that your client may have to pay at their end. Which is of course a problem for you too. And then there’s the matter of the exchange rate: very few banks charge close to the mid-market rate, which may simply mean that less of your payment actually ends up coming through to you.

We don’t have ways to compare each bank into our key point, but remember them if you choose to use a traditional bank-to-bank transfer, look out for:

  • Sender fee from the sender’s bank or transfer provider
  • Exchange rate mark-up
  • Receiving fee, and
  • Monthly service fee


Receive international payments with Wise Business

Want to make sure you can get paid easily by your international clients or through freelancer platforms? Cut the costs of expensive fees and get started with Wise Business multi-currency account.

Wise allows you to receive like a local in 10 major currencies, exchange money at the mid-market rate and spend with your Wise Business debit card in more than 55 currencies, all over the world.

Start to get paid easily
with Wise Business 💰

Sources used:

  1. Number of self-employed workers in the UK 1992-2023
  2. PayPal Merchant Fees | PayPal UK
  3. PayPal Supported Currencies
  4. Business Debit Card | PayPal UK
  5. Payoneer fees
  6. Payoneer supported currencies
  7. Payoneer Commercial Mastercard® cards
  8. Our Fees & Charges | Skrill

Sources last checked on March 28, 2023

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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