How to cancel a PayPal payment

Zorica Lončar
21.01.21
3 minute read

Entered a wrong email address or hit ‘send’ too soon on a PayPal payment? There’s no need to panic unnecessarily. If you act fast, you may be able to cancel it.

In this guide, we’ll cover your options for cancelling PayPal payments. We’ll look at how to cancel a PayPal payment on the app as well as online, plus what to do in situations where it’s not possible to cancel a payment.

Can I cancel a PayPal payment?¹

Some PayPal payments can be cancelled if you’ve made a mistake or didn’t mean to send the payment, but others can’t.

If a payment is in the ‘Pending Payments’ section of your PayPal account, you may be able to stop the transaction going through. It all depends on whether the payment is marked as ‘Unclaimed’, as this means your recipient hasn’t yet accepted the money.

Unfortunately, if a payment is marked as ‘Completed’, it isn’t possible to cancel it. In this case, you may still be able to request a refund from the recipient. You can perhaps get in touch to explain the situation, which may encourage the recipient to agree to your refund request.

But if they do refuse to issue a refund and you still feel you’re entitled to one, you can open a dispute with PayPal.

How to cancel a PayPal payment that is pending

If a payment in the ‘Pending Payments’ section of your PayPal account has an ‘Unclaimed’ status, act fast and you can cancel it. Follow these steps

  1. Head to the PayPal website and login to your account
  2. Go to ‘Activity’, and find the pending payment
  3. If the payment is marked as ‘Unclaimed’, there should be a ‘Cancel Payment’ button next to it
  4. Click the cancel button and follow the steps on the next page to cancel the payment.

If you’re cancelling a payment simply because you made an error, you’re then free to send the money again using the correct details.

Using the PayPal app? The steps to cancel a pending payment are just the same. You need to head to ‘Activity’, find the payment and hit ‘Cancel’. It’s that simple, and should only take a few seconds to do.

How to cancel a PayPal payment that has been completed

If a PayPal payment is showing as ‘Completed’ in your account, you won’t be able to cancel it. However, you may still be able to request a refund from the recipient – we’ll run through the steps to do this later in this guide.

How to cancel a recurring PayPal payment

It’s common to use PayPal to cover recurring payments and bills, but what if you need to cancel one? The good news is that it’s pretty straightforward, simply follow these steps³:

  1. Go to the PayPal website and login to your account
  2. Head to ‘Settings’ and then ‘Payments’
  3. You should see a section entitled ‘Manage pre-approved payments’ under ‘Pre-approved payments’
  4. Find the recurring payment you want to cancel, select it and click the ‘Cancel’ button.

This will cancel all future automatic payments to the person or merchant, and you can cancel any time up to the day before the next scheduled payment.

What if you can’t cancel a PayPal payment?

If a payment has been completed and you can’t cancel it, don’t despair. There is still one more chance to get the money back, but it depends on your reasons for wanting to cancel the payment.

You can contact the recipient to request a refund for the payment⁴. You have up to 180 days after you sent the money to do this.

When you get in touch, you’ll need to ask the recipient to use PayPal’s ‘Issue a Refund’ feature, not the ‘Send Money’ feature. They’ll find this option in the ‘Activity’ section of their PayPal account, where they can locate the payment and click the ‘Issue a Refund’ button.

You can expect to receive a refund in your PayPal almost right away, but it can take up to 30 days if the money’s being refunded to your credit card.

Of course, there’s always the chance that the recipient refuses to issue a refund. If this happens but you feel you’re entitled to a refund, you can raise a dispute with PayPal and they will look into it. You’ll need to meet certain eligibility criteria in order for your claim to be successful.

How to save when sending money to friends and family

Of course, PayPal isn’t the only option for sending money – and for international payments, it’s almost certainly not the cheapest. If you regularly send money around the world or have funds in another currency, alternatives such as Wise could be a better value solution.

Open a multi-currency Wise account and you can send and receive international payments with low fees and the real exchange rate. This makes it cheaper if you need to send a birthday present to a friend in another country or pay a bill with an overseas company.

You can hold, manage and convert 55 currencies at once⁵, all from the one account. Better still, you can do it all on the move using the handy Wise app.

And you can even spend in the local currency wherever you go, whether working, studying or living abroad, using your Wise debit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Get your multi-currency account today

If for whatever reason you need to cancel a PayPal payment, the crucial thing to remember is that time is of the essence.

If you realise your mistake and cancel before the payment is completed, you should be able to cancel with no harm done. But don’t be afraid to use the PayPal dispute process if things don’t go your way.

You should now have all the info you need to cancel PayPal payments. You may never need it, but it’s good to have a handle on the process just in case.


Sources used:

  1. PayPal - how to cancel a PayPal payment

  2. PayPal - can I cancel a PayPal payment

  3. PayPal - cancelling recurring payments

  4. PayPal - requesting a refund

  5. Wise - multi-currency account

Sources checked on 10-January 2021.


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 TransferWise 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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