Wise vs PayPal: Which one is cheaper? [2023]

Not sure whether to use PayPal or Wise for your next international payment? This PayPal Vs TransferWise review is here to help. We’ll cover:

  • A full side by side feature comparison
  • Which provider is cheaper?
  • Which is faster?
  • Which is safer?
  • Which gets better customer reviews?

Summary: PayPal supports more countries than Wise. However, PayPal’s transfer costs aren’t always easy to figure out, and can include a fixed transfer fee, card payment charges, and a fee of 4% added to the exchange rate.

Wise has a more transparent fee structure, with payments from 0.41% for major currencies. In our comparison Wise wins with cheaper overall costs and a better exchange rate.

Go to Wise

PayPal Vs Wise: side by side

Feature PayPal Wise 
Send payments to Send to PayPal accounts in 200 countries 80+ countries, 50+ currencies
Multi-currency accounts Hold and convert 25 currencies in your PayPal account Available for 50+ currencies
Debit card available N Y
Fully licensed and regulated Y Y
Open a business account Y Y

So, to summarise:

  • PayPal supports payments to more countries, but you can only pay to another PayPal account.
  • Both PayPal and Wise offer options to hold and convert currencies – Wise accounts can handle more currencies
  • Both providers are fully regulated, and offer both personal and business services

PayPal started as a payment platform for online shopping, and also allows customers to make domestic and international payments between PayPal accounts.

Wise is a specialist in international payments to bank accounts, and offers safe, fast and low cost transfers which use the real exchange rate. If you’re looking to send money to someone’s bank account internationally, Wise probably offers better value than using a PayPal service.

Go to Wise

The important bits

PayPal Wise
Rates Exchange rate includes 4% a markup Mid-market exchange rate with no markup
Fees 6.99 NZD (+ 3.4% + fixed fee for card payments) Low fees, varies by destination
Speed Can be instant 50%+ of payments are instant, 90% arrive in 24 hours
Service Online, in app and by phone Online, in app and by phone
Safety Fully regulated and licensed Fully regulated and licensed

Rates: Wise uses the mid-market rate, whereas PayPal may charge currency conversion fees in the form of an exchange rate markup

Fees: Wise has variable fees which are based on the destination country, PayPal international payments from a personal account have a fixed transfer fee, currency conversion charge, plus extra costs if you want to pay with a card

Speed: PayPal payments arrive almost instantly if you’re sending to someone who already has a PayPal account. Wise payments can be instant

Service: Both providers offer multilingual service in a range of languages, online, in-app and by phone

Safety: Both providers are fully licensed and regulated

Pros and cons

PayPal Wise
  • Global coverage
  • Send to PayPal accounts instantly
  • Send payments with just an email address of phone number
  • Mid-market exchange rates + low fees
  • Transparent pricing
  • Send to 80+ countries
  • International accounts for personal  and business customers
  • Hold and manage 50+ currencies
  • Complex fees which are often high
  • Exchange rate markups
  • Only 25 available PayPal currencies
  • Send from one PayPal account to another only


  • Online and mobile payments only – no branches
  • No option for cash payments
  • Transfer fees vary by destination country
  • Multi-currency accounts are not interest bearing

Wise Review  PayPal Review

PayPal Vs Wise: The verdict

Whether PayPal or Wise win for you will depend on the specific services you need.

PayPal is a really popular and convenient way to shop online and send money quickly to friends. Making a domestic payment is often free – but when it comes to international payments, there can be hefty fees and an exchange rate markup. Transfers with PayPal are deposited into your recipient’s PayPal account – if they want to withdraw their payment they may need to wait several days for it to arrive in their bank account, or pay a fee for a faster withdrawal.

Wise is a specialist in transfers direct to bank accounts, and offers the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees. Wise also offers a multi-currency account with a linked international debit card.

If Wise supports payments to the country you’re sending to, and you want your transfer to be delivered to a bank account, they may be your best bet.

Send money with Wise

About PayPal and Wise

PayPal was founded in 1998, and has 337 million customers. You can send payments all over the world from one PayPal account to another.

PayPal business accounts are ideal for merchants selling online – there are an increasing number of ways to accept PayPal payments offline too.

Wise was launched as TransferWise back in 2011 as a low-cost international payment provider. These days, Wise has upwards of 13 million customers, and also offers personal and business accounts to hold and manage currencies, accept payments and spend using a linked debit card.

With Wise you can send payments to 80+ countries, in 50+ currencies.

How do they work?

If you already have a PayPal account, it’s easy to send money. Setting up a PayPal account only requires a few personal details and can be done entirely online or in the PayPal app. Here’s how to send money internationally:

  • Log into your account and select Payments
  • Enter the email address, mobile number or name of the recipient and click Next
  • Confirm you’re sending to a friend
  • Enter the amount, choose the currency and add a note
  • Click Continue
  • Select the payment method you want to use
  • Review and hit Send Money Now to complete your transaction

To use Wise you’ll need to create an account, and depending on the type of payment you want to make you might need to provide some ID for verification.

Once your account is up and running make payments online and in the Wise app:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Type in how much you want to transfer, or how much you need the recipient to get
  3. Enter the recipient’s details – bank account number or email
  4. Check over the details
  5. Fund your payment using a card or bank transfer
  6. Confirm and your money will be on the move

Wise transfers are made through Wise’s network of local bank accounts, so they arrive faster and don’t incur intermediary fees. When you want to pay for your transfer in New Zealand dollars you’ll send the money to Wise’s local NZD account. Then Wise will make a payment of the equivalent amount in your preferred currency, from their account in the destination country. No money actually moves across borders, so it’s faster and cheaper than traditional international payments.

PayPal Vs Wise Fees

PayPal international transfer fees are:

  • 6.99 NZD when you pay with your linked bank account
  • 6.99 NZD + 3.4% + fixed fee when you pay with a card
  • Currency conversion fee of 4% if you need to switch currencies

Wise doesn’t hide any fees in the exchange rates used, but instead has a couple of different transparent costs:

  • Fixed fee: covering the fixed costs associated with the transaction
  • Variable fee: covering the cost of the currency exchange, from 0.41%

PayPal Vs Wise: which is cheaper?

Choosing an international payment specialist is almost certainly cheaper than sending money using your bank. However, as fees and rates do vary, it still pays to compare a few providers before you pick.

Let’s look at how a few different payments from PayPal and Wise work out. This table looks at how much your friend would get if you send them a payment in GBP or EUR:

Amount & Currency Your recipient would receive with PayPal Your recipient would receive with Wise Winner?
1,000 NZD to GBP 471.77 GBP 501.48 GBP Wise
5,000 NZD to GBP 2,372.89 GBP 2,509.05 GBP Wise
1,000 NZD to EUR 541.93 EUR 572.99 EUR Wise
5,000 NZD to EUR 2,723.51 EUR 2,864.10 EUR Wise

*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research – 3rd October 2022

As you can see, on all our comparisons, Wise worked out cheaper – this is because of the currency conversion fees added to the PayPal exchange rate.

PayPal Vs Wise: which is faster?

When you send a PayPal international payment it is delivered to the recipient’s PayPal account almost instantly. They can then use the funds to shop online, or make payments to others. If they want to move the money to a bank account this may take time or incur fees, depending on where in the world they’re based.

50% of Wise payments get to their destination instantly, and 90% arrive in 24 hours. However, the exact delivery time will depend on where you’re sending money to, and how you want to pay. You’ll see an estimated arrival time when you set up your payment.

Send money with Wise


Both PayPal and Wise are fully licensed and regulated, and use both smart technology and dedicated service teams to keep customer money safe.

As global companies, both Wise and PayPal are overseen by regulatory bodies around the world, so you’ll know your money is safe wherever you’re sending it.

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: Create your account online or in app with both PayPal and Wise
  • Making a transfer: Make a PayPal international payment using a credit or debit card, bank transfer or your PayPal balance. Wise typically allows bank transfers, card payments and Apple Pay payments
  • Ways to send money: Send payments to your recipient’s bank account directly with Wise. PayPal transfers are deposited in the recipient’s PayPal account
  • Languages: Both PayPal and Wise offer multi-lingual support services
  • Minimum & maximum amounts: Sending limits can vary by destination country, and based on your account type

Supported currencies

PayPal supports 25 currencies for payments to PayPal accounts held in 200 countries and regions. Wise supports 50+ currencies, and lets you send payments to over 80 countries.


When it comes to making international payments, the services offered by PayPal and Wise are pretty different.

Wise is a specialist in international transfers that are delivered directly to the recipient’s bank account. PayPal transfers are deposited in the recipient’s PayPal account – if they want to withdraw the money to their bank they may need to wait a few days or pay a fee.

The other major differentiator is on cost and transparency. Wise international transfers use the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, and a low fee. PayPal payments may have higher fees, and a currency conversion cost – a markup – is added into the available exchange rate. This means that sending money internationally with PayPal will probably work out to be more costly than using Wise.

Send money with Wise Read more about PayPal


Is PayPal or Wise cheaper?

For instant payments, Wise is cheaper, as it offers the real exchange rate with no markup, and low transfer fees.

Is PayPal or Wise faster?

PayPal transfers can arrive almost instantly in the recipient’s PayPal account – but withdrawing the money to a bank account may take a little longer. Wise payments can be instant, and 90%+ will be in the recipient’s bank account in 24 hours.

How many currencies do PayPal and Wise support?

PayPal allows customers to hold a balance in 25 currencies and Wise supports 50+ currencies.


Claire Millard
Fintech copy and content writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Ileana Ionescu
Content manager
With a background in business journalism, Ileana is an experienced content manager, creating content for Exiap that helps its audience make informed decisions about their finances.
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Last updated
December 16th, 2022