Getting paid as a freelancer? Don’t lose out on international payments

TransferWise content team
31.07.19
5 minute read

All around the world, people are moving away from conventional employment and setting up for themselves. More and more people are going freelance – independently and through platforms like Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Fiverr. Self-employed people are now around 15% of the UK’s working population, according to recent statistics¹. It seems that the trend towards freelancing may well continue.

Ultimately, freelancers are looking for the best ways to get paid for the work that they produce for clients. As freelancing opens up opportunities around the world, you need to find ways to receive payments from international clients, without losing out on fees and exchange rates. Alternative providers such as TransferWise can help, but more on that in a moment.

As most payments on freelancing platforms are paid in USD, you’ll want to find a way to get paid and withdraw the payments into GBP bank account. This article will introduce a few options of how to withdraw your payments from online freelancing platforms, to make sure you get as much of your international payments as possible. We will take a look at:

TransferWise

TransferWise for freelancers offers a great way to withdraw your payments without losing out.

With a borderless account, you get virtual bank details in five different currencies: British pounds, US dollars, Euros, Australian dollars and New Zealand dollars. Which means that you can get paid directly in any of those currencies, just like a local.

As you can hold over 40 currencies on your borderless account, there is no need to withdraw them to your GBP account in the UK in order to use and spend your money. You can easily send payments from your USD balance to wherever you need to, or convert to GBP within your TransferWise account with just a small conversion fee, benefitting from the real mid-market rate with no markup, so you take home more of what you earn. You also can get a debit MasterCard for your account that lets you spend anywhere in the word at the real exchange rate, low conversion fees and zero transaction fees.

With freelancing, it’s also important to keep things simple, as well as making the most of your money. Services, like TransferWise, can save you both time and money when it comes to your accounts, with perks such as an integration with Xero, so your accounts can be automatically reconciled.

PayPal

PayPal is another popular option with freelancers, and is promoted on a number of freelancing platforms as a way to withdraw your payments - but is it the best way? That decision will ultimately be down to your specific needs, but here’s an introduction to PayPal to help you start your research.

PayPal integrates with a lot of freelancing platforms, and is listed as a way to withdraw payments on a number of sites. If you decide to not use a freelancing platform and receive payments direct to your PayPal account, there are tailored services for freelancers including the ability to create, schedule and track invoices.²

However, there are some fees to consider if you want to withdraw the money to your UK account. According to independent research you could save up to 19x by opening a TransferWise for business account rather than using PayPal.

Payoneer

Payoneer is another method by which freelancers can withdraw their payments from online platforms. Payoneer is integrated with a lot of marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr, although the fees charged for using each of them may vary.

If you choose to freelance independently, you can get account numbers in a range of foreign currencies, including US, Canadian and Australian dollars, euros, Japanese yen, Mexican pesos and Chinese yuan. That means clients can pay you directly in those currencies, without any international transaction costs.³

Skrill

Skrill is an alternative provider that allows you to create an online bank account to which you can receive international money transfers to a local currency account. You can then withdraw this money into your own bank account.⁴

Skrill allows you to receive money for free to your account, but if you need to convert your money then they will add a mark-up of 3.99% to the mid-market exchange rate. This means that you will likely lose out on your payments if a conversion is needed.⁵

Your bank

The old-fashioned way is to stick with your bank.

You can of course just put your standard bank details on an international invoice for your freelance work, and hope you get enough money through in the end. Some banks do charge customers for receiving international payments, so be sure to check whether your bank does.

Even more of a problem, potentially, are the fees that your client may have to pay at their end. Which is of course a problem for you too, if it then comes out of your fee. And then there’s the matter of the exchange rate: very few banks charge close to the mid-market rate, which may simply mean that less of your payment actually ends up coming through to you.

If you choose to use a traditional bank-to-bank transfer, look out for the following fees:

  • Sender fee from the sender’s bank or transfer provider
  • Exchange rate markup
  • Receiving fee from your bank

Which option to choose?

Of course, the final choice is up to you. You need to take the time to consider what you need and research the provider that could save you the most.

Getting virtual bank details you can use in foreign currencies is a useful and can save you money by allowing you to receive money like a local, and avoid hefty international fees. TransferWise’s borderless account is one online option to let you receive payments for free.

You also need to keep in mind the exchange rate, as this is where you can lose out. This is because many providers don’t actually give you the mid-market rate, but add a mark-up so that they make more on your payment, and you receive less. TransferWise always use the real exchange rate, so you take home as much of your earnings as possible. See how much you could save with TransferWise.

With the right system in place, getting paid as a freelancer – whether from British clients or international ones – you should take home as much of your earnings as possible. Just make sure that when the money hits your account, you don’t end up feeling a little bit disappointed.

Sources used:

1.BBC: The rise of self-employment
2.PayPal: Email Invoice
3.Payoneer: Global Payments
4.Skrill: Online Account
5.Skrill: Fees Receiving Payments

Sources checked on 31-July 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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