Wise and PayPal are the most well-known names when it comes to international transfers.
Although PayPal has many more features, it also suffers from a fee overload.
Wise, on the other side, has a more compact offering, and its fees are much lower.
Let’s dig in and find out what service you should use.
Pros & Cons
|No recurring fees||Widely accepted|
|Transparent, cheap, and fast money transfers||Free for many domestic transactions|
|Fees as low as possible||Convenient and easy to use|
|International debit cards available||Multi-currency accounts available|
|Spend in any currency||Instant credit options|
|Easy to signup||Secure|
|1%-2% fee for ATM withdrawals above £200/$100/€250||Many fees|
|Debit card not free and not available in many countries||High international costs|
|Deposits not insured||Expensive foreign exchange fees|
|Some transfers take time|
|Scammers’ favorite tool|
Wise, previously known as TransferWise, was founded in 2011 in London by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, both from Estonia.
The two lived and worked in London and had to often send money back home. Taavet worked for Skype, while Kristo was an employee at Deloitte. Sadly, the banks charged expensive transfer fees (as they do), and their exchange rates were terrible.
This prompted them to find a solution to the high banking costs of global money transfers.
Additionally, while Kristo would get paid in pounds but needed euros to pay his mortgage, Taavet got paid in euros.
The two friends would transfer their currencies. Taavet cashed his euros in Kristo’s account while Kristo put his pounds in Taavet’s account. By doing so, they did not pay exchange rates, and they had the currency they wanted without hassles.
That’s how their business idea materialized. Taavet and Kristo thought of other people going through the same hurdles in global money transfers and international payments and decided to create Wise.
Within its first year of establishment, Wise had amounted to 10 million Euros through transactions. Fast-forward to today and 15 million businesses and people around the world use Wise. they also process more than £9 billion in international transactions each month.
PayPal started in 1998 as Confinity. It rebranded to PayPal, as it is still known, in 2000.
The company was founded by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, two now famous entrepreneurs. Their goal was to establish a low-cost company that would make digital payments between consumers and businesses effortless.
The two founders merged Confinity with X.com in 2000 to become PayPal. The brand started at a time when the internet was making advancements in the banking and payment sectors.
But it was not all easy. The founders had to find a way to build trust with their clients as they needed their emails and banking information during transactions.
With time, online merchants and small businesses started to sign up. In return, PayPal offered them fast and inexpensive payments. In just three years, the company had made more than $3 billion in payments.
In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion to elevate online payment services and digital marketing. By 2006, PayPal had more than 100 million end-user accounts.
During the same year, it launched PayPal Mobile, which allowed users to make payments via their smartphones.
The brand has had tremendous achievements over the years. One such development is acquiring Braintree Systems, a company that owned Venmo in 2013.
In 2014, there was a company restructuring, and PayPal split from eBay. Today, it is a single publicly traded brand with a revenue of $25.37 billion. It is available in over 200 countries and serves 429+ million users.
Why You Should Choose Wise
Transparent Money Transfers
Wise money transfer charges include the amount incurred when sending money and little profit to run the company. This is why they are 8x cheaper than banks and 15x than PayPal.
Compared to PayPal, Wise has fair exchange rates. In addition, you get to view all fees upfront before making any money transfers. The brand recognizes that it is unfair for consumers to undergo markups or hidden costs.
Wise Debit Card
Wise claims that you can save up to 88% when you spend internationally with their Wise debit card. The foreign transaction fee that Wise charges is only 0.35% compared to the nearly 3% that banks typically charge.
You can also generate new virtual cards when you’re not confident with the online retailer.
Local Bank Details in 10 Countries
After your Wise account is approved, you can instantly get local bank details in 10 countries, including the USD, Euro, British Pound, Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Singapore dollar, Romanian lei, Canadian dollar, Hungarian forint, and Turkish lira.
Having these bank details equals having a local bank account with extremely low Wise fees.
Wise Mobile App
For everything, there’s an app nowadays, and Wise is no different. It makes quick and fast money transfers and allows you to monitor the status of the transfer, send verification documents, and make payments.
It’s compatible with iOS and Android devices.
Why You Should Choose PayPal
PayPal understands the importance of security, particularly in online marketing. For this reason, they do not disclose your financial information.
Any time you make a payment, PayPal does not send your bank account or credit card number to the recipient. Instead, this sensitive data is stored on encrypted servers.
Fast Money Transfers
Money transfers with PayPal are quick. It takes less than 30 minutes with PayPal Instant Transfers. This, however, does not include transfers made on weekends, holidays, and later than 7 pm Eastern time.
Bill Me Later
Don’t have enough money to make a transaction? With Bill Me Later, you can make a purchase even when your account has insufficient funds. This feature, however, is only available in the United States.
Buy Now, Pay Later
BNPL is very popular nowadays, and there are dozens of companies fighting for your custom.
PayPal’s BNPL lets you shop at most of your favorite brands in four installments without interest or late fees.
You can easily split your purchases between $30 and $1,500 into four bi-weekly payments. For bigger purchases, choose 6, 12, or 24-month payment plans, also without late fees and without deposit.
- Free account setup
- No monthly fees
- €7/$9/£5 to order a debit card
- One-time fee of £16/€23/$31 for business accounts
- 0.41% fixed fee to send money (varies by currency)
- 0.33%-3.56% to convert a currency using your card
- Free ATM withdrawals up to $100/£200/30 days, after that 2%/1.75%
- $4.14 to receive USD wire transfers
Wise doesn’t have many fees. If you want a physical debit card, you’ll have to make a one-time payment.
When it comes to money transfers, Wise has some of the best rates in the market, and you can use its calculator to find out exactly how much you’ll be paying and when the funds will arrive.
PayPal is notorious for its fees. However, because their platform is so widespread, people are either complacent with them or are simply forced to use the app.
There are simply too many fees and charges to write about them here. You can find all of them on the PayPal website.
Let’s cover some of the most important ones.
Buying online or in-store:
- Free if no currency conversion is involved
Sending domestic personal transactions:
- No fee if made from PayPal balance or a bank account
- 2.90% + fixed fee if done with cards
Sending international personal transactions:
- 5.00% plus a minimum international fee of $0.99 and a maximum international fee of $4.99
Receiving personal transactions:
- No fee when no currency conversion is involved
Converting payments in another currency:
- 3%-4% or other amounts that may be announced to you during the transaction
Withdrawing from a PayPal personal account:
- No fee when no currency conversion is involved, and the withdrawal is to a local bank account and not instant
- 1.75% of the amount transferred for instant withdrawals to bank accounts and cards
- $1.50 to have a paper check mailed to you
- Instant transfers have a minimum fee of $0.25 and a maximum of $25
The above fees are for personal accounts in the US market. Please check the PayPal website to find out what the fees are for other countries.
Accounts & Cards
Wise offers a multi-currency account that comes with a debit card. With it, you get zero transaction fees and low conversion fees. What’s more, you can use it anywhere in the world at the current exchange rate.
Add money in 19 or more currencies and hold more than 50 currencies. You can also convert them as you wish for a low conversion fee.
The debit card is available in the UK, USA, Europe, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore. It is perfect for frequent travelers, expats, and growing businesses since it has zero monthly charges.
The business account lets you pay invoices and people worldwide, automate payments with a powerful API, create invoices, integrate with Xero, and use the Wise business card to make online transactions and pay for business expenses, among other things.
PayPal offers both personal and business accounts. You can access them via the excellent app or on your desktop.
The app lets you store all your cards in a wallet, just like Apple or Google wallet. You can also pay all your bills and manage subscriptions and memberships in one place.
Most spending accounts now offer direct deposits from your employer up to two days early, and PayPal is no different.
If you’re looking to save more money, you’ll be happy to know that PayPal offers a 3.25% APY on your savings without minimums or fees.
PayPal also got into the crypto game and now offers its customers a platform to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin. It even offers protection to the tune of $50,000 in the event of an unauthorized transfer.
With PayPal, you can get a debit card and/or a credit card. There’s also the no-interest credit line on every purchase of $99+.
The debit card is your run-of-the-mill Mastercard with cash back at leading merchants and worldwide cash withdrawals, including 37,000+ fee-free MoneyPass ATMs. the card has no monthly fees, no minimum balance, and no credit check.
It does have a 2.5% foreign transaction fee and a $2.50 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals. If you’re traveling a lot, this might not be the card for you.
The unlimited cash back credit card comes with no annual fee, no restrictions, and no rotating categories. That way, you can max out your cash back. The cash back is 3% if you shop with PayPal and 2% everywhere else.
It’s important to note that most of these features are available only in the United States.
Credibility & Security
Wise has an excellent track record when it comes to security. The company is also regulated by the FCA in the UK and FinCEN in the US, as well as many other authorities worldwide where it does business.
The app has real-time notifications, so you’re always aware of what’s happening with your account and card.
The company has a dedicated fraud and security operations team that monitors for any anomalies and performs regular vulnerability scans.
Although PayPal is often used by scammers to transfer your funds into their pockets, the company is famous for its purchase protection for both buyers and sellers.
For instance, if you don’t receive the item that you ordered or it looks very different from what was advertised, you should get your money back from PayPal. This only covers online purchases, however.
On the other side, the sellers have their online sales protected, and PayPal helps minimize claims and chargebacks, as well as helps prevent merchant fraud.
Scammers and fraudsters are typically trying to exploit PayPal’s Request Money feature to lure people into calling them and giving them their personal information. They also utilize fake emails that claim your account is locked or to request payments.
Wise has very favored reviews anywhere you look. And although it seems that their customer service has declined in recent months, the app still has an excellent score of 4.5/5 on Trustpilot from 182,700 reviews.
84% of reviewers rated the app with 5 stars, and 6% left one star.
As we already mentioned, PayPal has more than 429 million users worldwide. That’s an unfathomable number of people using their services.
It comes as no surprise that with so many people using a service, there would be droves of disgruntled and unsatisfied customers.
On Trustpilot, for example, the company has a very bad score of 1.3/5 from 24,000 reviews, with only 8% of reviewers giving a 5-star rating and 87% giving 1-star.
Ironically, that’s on par with traditional banks such as Bank of America (1.4), Chase (1.3), Capital One (1.2), and Wells Fargo (1.2), which all have very bad reviews.
Both of these services have a lot to offer, and now, it’s up to you to choose.
Wise stands out as the best option for international money transfers. It is inexpensive, fast, transparent, and easy to use.
PayPal meets consumers’ expectations in terms of availability and versatility. Besides, it is more than a money transfer service, and hundreds of millions of people swear by it. It has both debit and credit cards and more features all around.