Wise (formerly TransferWise) vs PayPal in Singapore - Which is better?

Hannes Ausmees

If you need to send a payment to someone, or want to shop online easily all around the world, you may be considering using either Wise¹ (formerly known as TransferWise) or PayPal² . But what exactly is the difference between them?

Both providers have fast options for international and domestic payments, and both allow you to hold a balance in a range of foreign currencies. But while Wise and PayPal have overlapping services, they’re pretty different companies. This guide covers all you need to know including whether Wise and PayPal are safe, the costs you pay to use Wise, and the PayPal transaction fees (in Singapore) you need to consider.

Table of contents

What is PayPal?

PayPal is one of the pioneers of online payments and ecommerce - with an amazing 429 million active accounts, which in total have made and received payments worth 340 billion US dollars³. PayPal has been around since the late 1990s, and is based in the US, with accounts offered to customers in almost every country on earth. You can use your PayPal account to shop securely online, to send and receive payments here in Singapore, and even to make cross border transfers to other PayPal accounts around the world with just the recipient’s email address.

You may well be wondering: is PayPal safe? There’s good news. PayPal is a huge global business, overseen by regulators all around the world. Here in Singapore, PayPal has applied for a licence through MAS, and is currently doing business under an interim arrangement with the approval of the authorities.²

What is Wise (formerly TransferWise)?

Wise started out back in 2011 as TransferWise, offering low cost international payments with the mid-market exchange rate and transparent pricing. Since then, Wise has grown to serve over 13 million personal and business customers, with international transfers and multi-currency accounts with linked debit cards. Wise is available in most countries around the world, although the specific services on offer may vary based on location.


Wise is regulated and licensed by MAS in Singapore⁴ as a Major Payment Institution, and also holds a Market Services Licence. It’s a safe provider which uses a broad range of manual and automatic processes to keep customers and accounts safe.

Wise vs PayPal - main comparison

We will dive into the details of how Wise and PayPal shape up on specific features in a moment. To give you a flavour, here’s an overview of how the providers compare across some key features.

EligibilityMost countries around the world, excluding a short list of locations where accounts can not be opened or used⁵Available in almost all countries around the world
Available currenciesHold and exchange 50+ currencies; get local bank details for 9 (including SGD, USD, EUR, etc)Broad range of currencies available for holding, exchange and payments
Account opening feeNo feeNo fee
Monthly feeNo feeNo fee
Debit cardAvailable - 10 SGD one time feeNot available
ATM fees2 withdrawals a month, the value of 350 fee free, then 1.5 SGD + 1.75% per withdrawalNot applicable
Exchange rateMid-market rate4% currency conversion fee added to the mid-market rate
International transfer feeFrom 0.41%

Funded by bank account or PayPal balance - 4.99 USD (or equivalent)⁶

Funded by card - 4.99 USD (or equivalent) + 3.4% + fixed fee

Currency conversion fees also apply

Buyer protections for ecommerce transactionsNot availableAvailable
Refunded return shipping for ecommerce transactionsNot availableAvailable
Business account availableAvailableAvailable
Payment gateways for merchantsNot availableAvailable

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: Only Pay for What You Use for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.

PayPal vs Wise - international transfers and exchange rates

If the reason you’re looking to compare Wise and PayPal is because you need to send a payment to someone overseas, here’s what you should know.

To send a payment with Wise you’ll need to register an account which can be done online or in the Wise app. Upload an image of your government ID and get started.

When it comes to sending a payment, Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees. Payments can arrive instantly into your recipient’s bank account - with exact delivery times depending on where you’re sending money to.

The true cost of sending SGD to USD

Before you can send a payment with PayPal you’ll need to sign up for a PayPal Singapore account. With a personal account, you can then send money to friends and family with PayPal, both here in Singapore, and around the world.

PayPal payments are delivered to your recipient’s PayPal account, usually instantly. That’s great, but if your recipient wants to withdraw the funds to their bank account they may need to wait a few days or pay for a faster withdrawal.

PayPal uses a flat transfer fee, plus an extra charge if you choose to pay by card. There’s also a currency conversion cost - here’s the lowdown, and you can also learn more about PayPal Singapore fees here.

Send payments to other account holdersFreeFree
Exchange rateMid-market exchange rate4% conversion charge added to the mid-market exchange rate
International transfer feeFrom 0.41%, depending on the payment method

4.99 USD or equivalent

Additional fees apply when sending payments funded by card

Delivery time50%+ of payments are instant, 90%+ arrive in a day⁷Instant transfers to PayPal accounts
Withdraw funds to bank accountNot applicable - transfers are delivered directly to bank accounts

Fees vary by recipient’s country

Often standard withdrawals - which take a few days - are free, or you can pay a fee for an instant withdrawal

PayPal vs Wise - managing multiple currencies

If you have a PayPal account you’ll also be able to receive payments through PayPal, in Singapore dollars or a broad range of other currencies. You can then convert and withdraw your funds from your PayPal balance to your local bank account when you need to. However, you’ll pay a currency conversion fee in this case.

Let's look at how Wise and PayPal compare on their options to manage multiple currencies in one simple account.

Available currenciesBroad range of currencies available for holding, exchange and paymentsHold and exchange 50+ currencies; get local bank details for 9 (including SGD, USD, EUR, etc)
Convert currencies - exchange rate4% currency conversion fee added to the mid-market rateMid-market exchange rate, low transparent fees depending on the currencies
Spend in international ecommerce storesPay using PayPal balance or a linked payment method - currency conversion fee may applyFree to spend any currency you hold in your Wise account
Linked debit cardNot availableAvailable - there’s a one time 10 SGD fee to get a Wise card

PayPal vs Wise Business - business accounts

Both PayPal and Wise offer business services - although here the features on offer from each provider are a little bit different.

You can open a PayPal Singapore business account if you’re an ecommerce seller, or if you want to use PayPal as a payment method for making transfers to suppliers and staff. PayPal can be integrated directly into your ecommerce site so people can make transfers from their PayPal account to yours instantly and in a range of currencies. However, PayPal doesn’t offer options like a linked debit card for entrepreneurs and their teams, which Wise does have.

Wise Business accounts on the other hand, offer the option to hold and exchange 50+ currencies, with linked debit cards for the team to manage expenses. You can make batch payments and integrate your account to cloud based accounting tools like Xero for convenience and to cut down on admin. And overall, Wise uses a better exchange rate when converting currencies, which can mean this is a cheaper option if you’re transacting internationally often.

PayPal Business⁸Wise Business
Available currenciesBroad range of currencies available for holding, exchange and payments. 24 currencies for payouts¹⁰Hold and exchange 50+ currencies; get local bank details for 9 (including SGD, USD, EUR, etc)
Currency exchangeCurrency conversion fee will applyMid-market rate with low, transparent fees
Send paymentsSend money to PayPal accounts across the worldSend to 80+ countries, direct to bank accounts
Receive paymentsGet paid by customers online, by phone or via invoices, from around the worldGet paid locally fee-free in 9 currencies, hold 50+ currencies
Debit card for yourself and team membersNot availableAvailable
Integrate as a payment method on your ecommerce siteAvailableNot available
Sell on social mediaAvailable with a PayPal.me linkNot available
Dispute resolution for ecommerce sellersAvailable within your PayPal accountNot available
Integrate with cloud based accounting toolsNot availableAvailable

Summary - PayPal or Wise?

Whether PayPal or Wise is better will depend on what you want from your account.

Wise tends to offer cheaper overall costs for international payments, with the mid-market exchange rate and a low currency conversion fee. Wise also has multi-currency accounts which come with linked debit cards, which can make it more convenient to spend in person and online, and make withdrawals around the world.

PayPal is a specialist in ecommerce - and the features on offer may appeal more if you’re shopping locally with online sellers, or if you’re an ecommerce seller yourself. PayPal usually has no fees for shopping online when no currency conversion is involved - and the buyer protections can also add peace of mind. However, when it comes to any international transactions - as either a personal or a business customer - PayPal’s currency conversion and international fees can push up costs significantly.

Use this guide to compare Wise vs PayPal and see which might suit you best.

Wise sign up


  1. Wise
  2. PayPal
  3. PayPal - about us
  4. Wise - regulation
  5. Wise - supported countries
  6. PayPal Singapore fees
  7. Wise Q2 2022 update - speed
  8. PayPal Business
  9. Wise Business
  10. PayPal Business - Payouts

Sources checked on 26.09.2022

*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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