How to send money via PayPal

Hannah Conway
11.02.20
5 minute read

Need to pay your share of a restaurant bill, or contribute to a friend’s honeymoon fund? One of the easiest ways to pay friends and family is via PayPal.

You can even send money internationally with PayPal, but it isn’t necessarily the cheapest option. For this, you may want to consider an alternative such as TransferWise.


Let’s take a look at a quick example - sending £50 to France in EUR.

PayPal TransferWise
Exchange Rate Exchange rate + 3.75% markup Real exchange rate with no markup - the one you’ll see on Google.
Conversion Fee £2.50 £0.59

Figures accurate on 11/02/2020. For full details, see the PayPal site directly.

Get an account with TransferWise and you’ll only be charged a small, fair transfer fee. Better still, you’ll get the real exchange rate on every payment. This is the fairest rate, with none of the mark-up many providers use to charge you more.


PayPal international payments: There are a few catches

PayPal is one of a number of providers that allow you to send and receive money internationally. So, using the service, you can receive a lovely birthday present from a friend in the U.S. or help out with the bills back home if you’re currently living abroad.

There’s a catch though. Unlike sending money to friends and family in the UK, PayPal charges fees for international payments. The PayPal international fees structure only charges the sender, so you won’t have to shell out for receiving money from abroad.

Here’s what you can expect to pay as a sender using PayPal¹:

Send £50 from UK (GBP) to: Cross border fee (5% - from min. of £0.99 to max. of £2.99) Currency conversion
France (EUR) £2.50 3.75%
USA (USD) £2.50 3.75%
Australia (AUD) £2.50 4%

Remember that the fees above are only for personal payments, to friends and family. If you want to pay international PayPal invoices or receive business payments from abroad, a whole different set of PayPal business fees will apply.

Sending money internationally? Skip PayPal fees with TransferWise

If PayPal’s complicated fees structure for international payments is bringing on a headache, there’s good news. So, it may leave you looking for simpler and cheaper ways to pay friends and family abroad.

Take TransferWise as an example, one of the PayPal alternatives that can save you money on international payments. For starters, it’s incredibly easy to see how much you’ll pay on each transaction. You can even use the simple online calculator to see an instant breakdown of the costs.

Don’t lose out on foreign payments - enjoy a small, transparent fee & the real exchange rate with TransferWise.
Get an account & start saving with TransferWise

How to send money through PayPal

It’s a breeze to use PayPal to send money to a friend. All you need is an account and you’re ready to go. Here’s how to send money on PayPal in just a few simple steps:

  1. Login to your PayPal account and head to the ‘Send & Request’ section.
  2. Type in the recipient’s email address, or mobile number – these details need to be those used to register their PayPal account, so it’s worth double-checking with your friend beforehand.
  3. When asked what the payment is for, select ‘Sending to a friend or to family’ and you won’t be charged any fees.
  4. Enter the amount you want to send and an optional note to tell the recipient what the payment is for (i.e. birthday present).
  5. Check the amount and funding source – this will usually be set as your bank account or current PayPal balance, but you can change it if you wish.
  6. Send the payment, and your friend will receive their money almost instantly – it’s that easy.²

How do I pay money into someone else's PayPal account?

Follow the steps above to quickly and easily pop money into a friend’s PayPal account.

If your friend doesn’t have a PayPal account yet, you can still enter their email address and they’ll receive a prompt to set one up. It’s quick and free, and you’ll be able to send cash to each other in future. You can also send money using the PayPal app.²

Send money using PayPal without an account

It’s possible, if a little more complicated, to send money using PayPal if you don’t have an account. The easiest option is to set one up, as it’s free and relatively quick. If you’d prefer not to, follow these steps:

  1. Ask the recipient to send you a PayPal invoice or a money request.
  2. You’ll receive an email – click on the ‘Pay now’ button embedded in this email or in the invoice.
  3. Pay using your credit or debit card details.

It’s important to remember that this option is likely to incur fees. You could swerve any extra costs by setting up your own PayPal account instead, as it’s free to send money to friends and family in the UK.

Using the PayPal request money feature

Need to give your friend a gentle nudge to send over their share of last night’s dinner? Or want to request the money for a service provided? The PayPal request money feature may be able to help.

This is also a good option if you’d prefer not to open a PayPal account, as friends can ‘request money’ and you can pay by clicking an email link and paying using your credit or debit card.

Here’s how to receive money through PayPal:

  1. Login to your PayPal account and head to the ‘Request money’ section.
  2. Tap in the email address or mobile number of the person you want to request payment from.
  3. Enter the amount and choose whether you’d like to request money or split a bill. You can also add other people at this stage, plus an optional note on what the payment is for.
  4. Request the payment and an email/text notification will be sent to your friend. You’ll receive an update when they’ve paid the requested amount.

Lastly, let’s look at how to transfer money from your bank account to PayPal.

Simply head to your ‘Wallet’, where you’ll see the option to Transfer Money. Here, you can add money from your bank account straight to your PayPal balance should you wish to.


PayPal makes it super easy to split bills, pay back friends and send money to family in the UK. But it’s a different story when sending internationally, as PayPal can turn out to be more expensive than you’d expect.

Before sending money abroad, you should always compare fees and conversion costs to get the best deal. Take a look at PayPal alternatives such as TransferWise which could save you money, while also making it nice and easy to see exactly how much your payment will cost. Or, if you are an online seller and use PayPal to receive payments for your goods or services, use this simple PayPal calculator to find out how much you'll have to pay.


Sources used:

  1. PayPal: User Agreement - Fees
  2. PayPal: FAQ - How do I send money

Sources checked on 11-February 2020.


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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