If you have an online business and get paid through PayPal, there are some costs you need to know about.
PayPal business accounts - also known as Merchant accounts - have different fees to PayPal personal accounts. It’s important to use the correct PayPal account for the type of transactions you make, or you risk having your account locked or closed down.
Here, we’ll take a look at the costs of using a PayPal business account, including the fees for receiving money and PayPal money transfer charges. As a comparison, we’ll also cover a smart alternative - Wise. Independent research shows that sending money overseas with Wise can work out up to 19x cheaper than using a PayPal business account.
When you receive an international commercial payment through PayPal, you’ll pay several fees¹. There is the transaction fee, which is a percentage of the value of the payment, plus a small fixed fee according to the currency. You’ll then also pay a markup of 3% on the currency exchange rate to convert the foreign currency into the local currency of your PayPal account.
Here’s a look at the fees and exchange rate used for a payment of USD1,000 to a Honk Kong based account, with a PayPal business account compared to Wise Business.
|Paypal²||4.4% value of the transaction + USD0.30 For a USD1,000 transfer, the fee will be USD44.30||Mid-market exchange rate + 3% currency conversion fee|
|Wise||USD9.81||Mid-market exchange rate|
*Fees and exchange rate information correct at time of research - 25 August 2020
We’ll take a look at each element of the PayPal fees which are used for business customers, in just a moment.
There’s not usually a fee for sending money in the currency your PayPal account is held in. However, if you send a personal or commercial payment which requires currency conversion, you’ll pay a markup of 4% on the retail exchange rate.
If you’re selling to customers based in Hong Kong, who have Hong Kong based PayPal accounts, you’ll pay a fee of 3.9% +HK$2.35 per transaction. If you’re working with customers based overseas, there is a charge of 4.4% of the transaction value, + a fixed fee based on the currency being used. You may also need to pay currency conversion fees, depending on the way the payment is structured.
If you hold HKD balance in your PayPal Hong Kong account, you can withdraw to your local bank account. There’s a fee of HK$3.5 for withdrawals under HK$1,000 - there’s no fee for higher amounts³.
You can also hold USD in your PayPal Hong Kong account, and withdraw this to your linked USD denominated account. In this case there’s a 2.5% withdrawal fee.
If you hold any other currency in your PayPal account and want to convert it to the correct currency for your linked bank account - probably HKD or USD - you’ll pay a currency conversion fee of 3%.
If you send or receive a payment with PayPal which requires currency conversion, you’ll need to know the PayPal exchange rate. The exchange rate used by PayPal Hong Kong is created by taking the mid-market exchange rate - the one you’ll find on Google - and adding a currency conversion fee.
Here’s how PayPal explains it in their terms and conditions²:
“The transaction exchange rate is adjusted regularly and includes a Currency Conversion Fee applied and retained by us on a base exchange rate to form the rate applicable to your conversion.”
The currency conversion fee depends on the type of payment you’re making - typically 3% - 4%.
It’s worth knowing that not all currency exchange services add a fee to the exchange rate applied. If you want a provider which uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, choose an alternative like Wise. We’ll cover this in more detail in a moment.
You can open your PayPal business account online. Simply head over to the PayPal Hong Kong website, and click to sign up⁴. You’ll need to enter some basic details, including:
- Your email address
- Your business information
- Your personal information
You’ll then receive a confirmation email. Open, click and follow the links in this message to get started. Once you have verified your email, you can link your bank account to make and withdraw payments. This involves entering your bank account information, and confirming by verifying 2 small test payments which are made into your account by PayPal.
With your PayPal account set up, you’ll see the different payment options available to you and can select the right ones according to your business needs.
Your PayPal business account can be used to support your business in the following ways:
- Accept payments online via your own website
- Send invoices and have customers pay using PayPal
- Accept payments via marketplaces like eBay and Etsy
- Use a PayPal link to receive payments through email, social media and instant messages
If you run your own business, saving money on international payments is a smart way to protect your profits. Don’t pay more than you have to, to connect with customers overseas, pay employees in other countries, or work with suppliers based abroad. You could save money by using Wise.
Wise payments are sent using the mid-market exchange rate with no markup - and avoid the SWIFT network, which means no correspondent bank charges to worry about. You just pay a low transparent fee when you arrange the transaction, and you can see immediately how much your recipient will get in the end.
To get in touch with PayPal, you’ll need to visit the PayPal Hong Kong website, and follow the steps laid out⁵ ⁶. You can log into your PayPal account to send and receive secure messages, or find answers to common questions in the FAQ section. You can also use the community resources which are available online.
If you’re building your business you’ll want to be able to work with customers and suppliers in other countries as easily as possible - and without paying high fees - you should check out Wise.
Sources used in the article:
PayPal - Fees for sellers
PayPal - User Agreement
PayPal - Adding or Withdrawing Money
PayPal - Get Started
PayPal - Help Center
PayPal - Contact Us
Sources last checked on 09-September 2020.
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