Alternatives to PayPal for international payments

TransferWise content team
14.08.19
9 minute read

A leading global provider of digital payment services, you likely have come across PayPal when shopping online, but you can also use the service to send or receive domestic and international payments.

If you’re looking for the best way to make or receive international transfers, it’s good to know that PayPal is not the only option out there. That means it’s worth considering a few options to find the one that suits you best.

This guide will cover some alternatives to PayPal, looking at their key features, pricing and exchange rates, and what services they offer for businesses and freelancers. That means that whatever is important to you - whether that’s simple mobile payments, cost effective ATM withdrawals, a good range of payment options, or the lowest transaction fees - you’ll be able to find the right service for your needs.

Alternatives to PayPal included in this article:

PayPal Alternative: TransferWise

TransferWise is a global business specialising in online international payments which are made using the mid-market exchange rate and low upfront fees. As well as sending and receiving money overseas you can hold and convert money in a borderless multi currency account.

Service aimed at: Personal and business customers who need to send and receive international payments, including freelancers, and e-commerce business owners.
Type: International payment provider with account services available.

Pros Cons
Key Features Send and receive international payments, or get a multi-currency account to hold, send and spend foreign currencies. You may need to verify your identity to send large sums of money, but any assistance you can contact their support team.
Pricing and exchange rates Uses real exchange rate with a transparent fee. TransferWise may be up to 19x cheaper than PayPal for businesses. Fees may vary depending on the payment method you choose to use. .
Currency Options Hold 40+ currencies in a borderless account, and send over 50 currencies. Some currencies are not supported - check coverage online.
Debit Card Free linked debit MasterCard available with borderless accounts, for personal and business use. Withdraw up to £200 a month fee free from ATMs, with fees added after that.
Business account options Business support and services available, including Xero integration, batch payments and an open API. You may pay a small fixed fee of £0.65 to withdraw money from a borderless account to an account in the same currency.
Freelancer account options Get local bank details for the UK, US, euro area, Australia and New Zealand, to receive payments for free in these currencies. There’s a fee to consider if you convert money to other currencies within your borderless account, but it’s only 0.33%-3.56%.

PayPal Alternative: Starling Bank

Starling Bank is a British challenger bank, looking to disrupt traditional banking by offering online current accounts and other services for both personal and business customers.

Service aimed at: Online accounts available for personal and business customers.
Type: Digital, mobile only bank based in the UK.

Pros Cons
Key Features Business and personal accounts available for online sign up and operation. International payments aren’t processed during the weekend.
Pricing and exchange rates 0.4% fee added to an international transfer, plus a delivery charge which varies depending on the method used. Local transfers cost from £0.30, while SWIFT payments are £5.50.
Currency Options 38 countries, and 20 currencies are covered. While more currencies are being added to the range offered, you may not find the one you need listed.
Debit Card Debit cards are available and can be managed online via the app. There's a charge of £60 for a replacement your card is lost or stolen overseas
Business account options Business accounts are available. Sending money within the UK is free from a business account. You can deposit cash at a post office counter, but there will be a fee of at least £3 for this service
Freelancer account options No monthly fee for a business account² Before you can get your account set up you’ll need to send a video, ID documents, and have a credit reference check carried out. Make sure you leave time for this to be processed.¹

PayPal Alternative: Azimo

Azimo lets personal and business customers send money overseas. All transfers are arranged online and paid using a bank transfer or card payment. You can make individual payments, but won’t be able to hold funds in your Azimo account as you may with a current account or similar product.

Service aimed at: Individuals and businesses who want to make international payments.
Type: Online money transfer service.

Pros Cons
Key Features Send money securely overseas using your card or bank account. Some payments will arrive quickly, but the length of time taken will vary depending on the destination country and bank.⁴
Pricing and exchange rates Average fees - 0.1% - 2.25% exchange fee, plus £1.99 per transaction. Fees vary by country and currency so check the details for your specific transaction.
Currency Options Over 195 countries are covered by the personal payment service, and 189 for business payments.⁵ Check availability for the country and currency you need.
Debit Card Not available. Not available.
Business account options Business accounts are available but only for sending payments, not holding funds. International payments made using a company card are capped at £12,000.
Freelancer account options Freelancers may need to use a personal account - no specific freelance account available. You’ll need a number of details such as a company registration number to sign up for a business account, which may make it unsuitable for freelancers.³

PayPal Alternative: Payoneer

Payoneer offers a range of services aimed at freelancers, businesses and ecommerce entrepreneurs. You can send and receive payments with Payoneer, and also get working capital loans to help you grow.

Service aimed at: Freelancers and ecommerce business owners.
Type: Financial services company offering digital payments and working capital solutions.

Pros Cons
Key Features Send and receive payments globally and access loans and funding to grow your business. Hold a balance in your Payoneer account, in a range of currencies. Aimed at professionals, this may not be the best option for private payments.
Pricing and exchange rates Switch currencies within your account for 0.5% fee, withdraw with currency conversion for up to 2% fee, or to the same currency for a fixed fee. There are also fees levied by marketplaces for ecommerce sellers, and costs for receiving payment in some currencies and payment routes. Pricing varies widely depending on the service you choose. Check out the details carefully.
Currency Options Get an account in US, Canadian or Australian dollars, Chinese yuan, British pounds, euros, or Japanese yen.⁷ Check coverage for the currency you need if it is not one of the large global currencies mentioned.
Debit Card Prepaid debit card available. You’ll need to any funds into your card before it can be used. There is no credit card option.
Business account options Many options available to make business easier, including multi currency accounts and loans. In some cases, fees are set by specific marketplaces, so whether this is good value may vary according to the sort of business you do.
Freelancer account options Freelancers can open an account to get paid in foreign currencies, hold, send and receive payments globally. Check out the fees for the specific services you need before you decide if this is right for you.⁶

PayPal Alternative: Monese

Monese has personal and business current accounts which come with a range of different fees and features. There are also tools to help you manage your money.

Service aimed at: Customers looking to open current accounts online for personal or business use.
Type: Current account and international payment provider.

Pros Cons
Key Features Several different account options which come with different fees and benefits according to your needs. You’ll usually operate your account via an app, so this may not be the best option if you prefer a human touch
Pricing and exchange rates You can get a free, simple account, or choose to pay as monthly fee of £4.95 or £14.95.⁸ The price you’ll pay for other services depends on the account option you choose. Choose your account carefully to make sure you pay only for the services you need.
Currency Options Over 30 countries and currencies.⁹ Check coverage for the destination you need,
Debit Card Contactless debit card available for business and personal customers. Your first 6 ATM withdrawals a month are free, but there’s a fee after that. This may not suit your spending patterns.¹⁰
Business account options Available for owners of UK registered businesses. £9.95/month fee for business accounts.
Freelancer account options Freelance workers may need to use a personal account - no specific freelance account available. You’ll need a UK company registration number to sign up for a business account, which may make it unsuitable for freelancers.¹¹

PayPal Alternative: Monzo

Monzo is another challenger bank based in the UK, looking to make banking simple and transparent.

Service aimed at: UK resident personal banking customers.
Type: Digital mobile only bank.

Pros Cons
Key Features Personal accounts available online. You must be a UK resident to apply.
Pricing and exchange rates No fee for UK based transactions but you may pay for international transfers and withdrawals. Check the fees carefully for the services you use regularly.¹³
Currency Options International payments all over the world powered by TransferWise.¹⁴ Check coverage for your chosen destination.
Debit Card Linked debit card available for personal customers. International ATM withdrawals are free up to £200 with a 3% fee after that.
Business account options Not available to new customers.¹⁵ Not available to new customers.
Freelancer account options Freelance workers may be able to use a personal account but there’s no specific freelance product. No freelance accounts available.

PayPal Alternative: Payza

Payza enables online payments between personal and business customers, which can be in a number of currencies.

Service aimed at: Customers using bank transfer, credit card or bitcoin to send and receive funds.
Type: Online payment processor.

Pros Cons
Key Features Send money funded by bank transfer, credit cards or bitcoin. Integrate to your online store to take customer payment using Payza. Check the fees for services you need as they vary depending on the type of payment being made.
Pricing and exchange rates Free to open an account. Exchange rates set at 2.5% over mid market rate. Fee to receive funds based on the currency used.¹⁷
Currency Options 25 global currencies available. Check coverage for your chosen currency.
Debit Card Prepaid card available. You’ll need to apply for a linked prepaid card - no credit card options available.
Business account options Integrate Payza into your online store to take payment in multiple currencies and bitcoin. Fees to receive and withdraw funds can make this a relatively expensive option.
Freelancer account options No specific freelance product- freelance workers may choose to use the personal account instead. No perks for freelancers specifically highlighted. ¹⁶

When making international transfers for personal or business use you have a number of different options available. While PayPal is a great tool for many things, it may not always the best choice for international payments.

You may choose instead to use your regular bank account to simply make a bank transfer - although traditional banks can have relatively high fees for cross border payments. Or if you’re looking for payment services for small businesses you might find an alternative service more helpful. Many modern international payment providers offer great perks for both personal and business customers, which means you’ll be able to find a cheap and safe way to meet your needs, if you do a bit of research.

Don’t forget to check out a range of options including TransferWise to find the provider that suits your needs.

Sources used:

1.Starling Bank: Send Money Abroad
2.Starling Bank: Business Account
3.Azimo: How it Works
4.Azimo Money Transfers
5.Azimo: Business Calculator
6.Payoneer: Fees
7.Payoneer: Global Payment Service
8.Monese: Pricing
9.Monese: Currencies Available
10.Monese: Debit Card
11.Monese: Business Account
12.Monzo: International Payments
13.Monzo: FAQ
14.Monzo: International Transfers
15.Monzo: Business Account
16.Payza: Money Transfer
17.Payza: Fees

Sources checked on 14-August 2019.


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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