If you run an online business, then the world is at your fingertips. You can have customers, partners, employees and suppliers based anywhere on the planet. The internet certainly makes the world a much smaller place.
If you’re working with people based in other countries, then the chances are that you’ll need to send money to, or receive money from, overseas. Maybe you have a supplier based abroad, or you’re a freelancer who’s embraced technology and hired a virtual assistant based on the other side of the planet — or perhaps you simply want to sell your products to the widest possible market. Whatever the circumstance, you’ll need to find the best possible value when choosing whether to use PayPal or an alternative provider, for your online business.
PayPal can oftentimes be great for domestic payments and transfers because it’s such a widely used service. But if you run an online business, and especially if any of your transactions cross international lines in any way, you’ll need to also consider how they compare for international money transfers. It’s worth knowing that PayPal adds a currency spread of 2.5%-3% onto the wholesale exchange rate for international payments.¹ On top of this, PayPal’s international fees run from 0.3%-2%,² and up to 3.9% for credit and debit card payments, meaning that, when you add it all up, PayPal international transfers can be costly.
Just try to calculate how much PayPal charges sellers for international transactions with this calculator.
It can feel exhausting trying to pore through PayPal’s fee structures, so if you’re just looking for a simple comparison of what some real international business payments cost using PayPal, you should check out this independent study before you dive into the alternatives.
If PayPal doesn’t suit your business’s needs when it comes to international money transfers, you do have options. Here’s all you need to know about the top 15 alternatives to PayPal for your online business.
Let’s start at the beginning. What do you need to consider when choosing an alternative to PayPal for your online business?
Moving money overseas can be a fairly complex process. There are costs involved, and the bank or money transfer service will also want to make a profit on the transaction.
And you can bet that, one way or another, the costs will be passed on to the customer.
If a bank or money transfer service list upfront fees, then, of course, you can check these to help you decide which service offers the best value.
However, it’s also very important to check the exchange rates used by different international money transfer services.
Check out the exchange rate that you’re offered for your currency pairing, and then compare it to the mid-market rate. The mid-market rate is the only real exchange rate — it’s what banks use to trade money on global financial markets. You can find it with a quick Google search, or by using a currency converter online.
This matters because many services won’t offer customers the mid-market rate when they make an international transfer. Instead, they wrap a bulk of their profit into the exchange rate they use. That’s seldom a good deal for customers. Use the mid-market rate as your benchmark, and you can avoid being ripped off.
TransferWise was founded in 2011 and has offices in cities including Tallinn, London, Singapore, and New York City just to name a few.
TransferWise offers international money transfers throughout much of the world. You can arrange a transfer online, or through the TransferWise app, which comes highly rated for both iOS and Android phones.
The 2 TransferWise founders were sick of banks taking money from them on poor exchange rates and decided to do something about it. Creating a peer-to-peer system that skips the international part of transfers altogether, using smart new technology to connect local bank accounts all over the globe. And at the real mid-market rate, like the one you find on Google. TransferWise only charges a small, upfront fee. Which means if you’re sending money internationally, you may be able to save up to 8x by using TransferWise rather than your bank when you send your money abroad.
TransferWise also offers a borderless multi-currency account, an especially useful tool if businesses are located in one country but have clients located across borders that need to pay them.
You can store, send, receive and organise your money in dozens of currencies internationally, without crazy fees or even-crazier exchange rates. Just a small, fair charge when your money moves between currencies.
The account lets you:
- Sign up for free
- Say goodbye to frustrating monthly fees and account balance minimums
- Receive domestic payments in several regions — like the UK, the EU, the US, and Australia — by generating your own domestic bank details
- Store your money in dozens of currencies and convert between them at the real mid-market rate for a small, fair fee
- Make international money transfers to over 50 nations at the same exchange rate you find on Google for a fair fee — always stated upfront
- Use your TransferWise debit Mastercard to spend locally and abroad in dozens of different currencies (available in select countries)
If you’re a business that especially needs to make a larger amount of payments to employees or customers, TransferWise offers a payouts platform for businesses and banks.
Founded in 2001, Skrill is based in London and specialises in low-cost money transfers, both domestically, and in over 40 currencies if you’re sending abroad. You can manage your money through an app, and withdraw your funds to a linked bank account. It’s possible to make a transfer to a bank account directly, or to a Skrill wallet held by another account holder.
You can get a prepaid Mastercard through Skrill, including an option which is intended for travel use. Skrill also highlights the fact you can use your account for online betting and gaming. For regular users of Skrill, there’s a VIP club which offers perks and discounts.
A heads up, though. Skrill advertises “zero send money fee” international transfers but seems to make a bulk of their profit through offering poor exchange rates.³ So before you press “send money now,” check that exchange rate against the one you find on Google to find out what you’re really paying.
At the time of writing, when comparing USD to CAD and GBP to EUR, there was a difference of 4.2-5.9% on the exchange rate Skrill offered versus what you found on XE.³ Which means there’s still a fairly hefty cost to those international transfers. In fact, if you read the information on their fees page they specifically note:
For transactions involving currency conversion Skrill adds a fee of 3.99% to our wholesale exchange rates.⁴
Canadian Payza has been around since 2004 and offers money transfers that are, in their own words, simple, speedy and secure.⁵ In the US you can link your Payza account to a bank account, credit or prepaid card, or even fund or withdraw from it using Bitcoin.⁶
Payza supports 25 currencies worldwide and promotes the fact that there are no setup or maintenance fees for accounts. If you’re sending money abroad, there’s a 2.5% spread added on to the daily exchange rate,⁷ and you can use your account to pay bills, send remittances or shop online.
As a company in digital payment solutions, Payoneer is something of an old-timer, founded way back in 2005. Payoneer is a popular service, integrated with other marketplaces, such as Airbnb, Fiverr and Upwork.⁸
Payoneer supports 150+ currencies, in over 200 countries, and has 4 million users.⁸ For international transfers, the fees vary depending on the currency being moved, and whether it’s coming from another Payoneer customer, via a receiving account, direct from a customer, or through a platform which has Payoneer integrated, such as Fiverr.⁹
In addition, if you’re sending money to a bank account in a different currency, Payoneer notes clearly that they will charge up to 2% above the mid-market rate when they make the switch, on top of any other fees that may be applicable.⁹
Xoom is a PayPal company, offering payments and remittances, globally.
However, Xoom is specifically for person to person payments — useful if you want to remit money home, for example. But it wouldn’t work for business transactions such as paying a supplier invoice. Here’s how Xoom explains their policy in their online FAQ:
> Xoom is a person to person remittance service and does not support transactions for goods or business purposes. While you may be able to submit a transaction intended for a business, the transaction will eventually be rejected or the transaction will not be completed as the business receiving the payment will not be able to associate it with an invoice number¹⁰
In addition, even if you are using Xoom for personal use instead of business, make sure you pay attention to Xoom’s exchange rates even beyond their stated fees. Xoom explicitly notes that they make money on the exchange rate, and you’ll likely find if you change the sending amounts that the more you send, the better of an exchange rate you’ll get.
In addition to the transaction fee, Xoom also makes money when it changes your U.S. dollars into a different currency.¹¹
Google Wallet and Android Pay both used to be popular options, but in early 2018, Google began bringing the two under a single brand: Google Pay.¹² Android is being migrated to Google Pay and Google Wallet is now Google Pay Send. It’s great for payments between friends and family, but you may not realize that you can use it for business, too.¹³
Google Pay hasn’t made their stance on international transactions easy to find, in fact, there doesn’t seem to be any information available publicly stating whether or not international transactions are possible. Only a list of countries that Google Pay now works in.¹⁴ Previously, however, payments could only be made within the US if you were a US-based customer, or within the UK if that’s where you were from.
On the positive side, Google advertises that businesses can integrate with its Google Pay API so your customers can start paying you in under a week. And, surprisingly, they state that “you and your customers won’t be charged a think when a purchase is made.”¹⁵ However, with enough transactions Google will ask you to submit a W-9 form.
There are no fees to use Google Pay. We’ll ask you to submit a W-9 form if your total transactions are higher than the IRS’s threshold of: (1) 200 transactions (2) $20,000 in gross receipts.¹⁶
NETELLER is an e-money service, founded in 1999. There are options for both personal users, and merchants who want to use the system to take payments. You can make and receive international payments with just an email address. 22 currencies, in over 200 markets, are supported.¹⁷ There are also products like prepaid Mastercards available.¹⁸
It’s worth looking at the fees if you’re considering using NETELLER, however, as these can vary widely depending on how you want to use the system. Funding your wallet, for example, comes with a fee depending on how you want to make the transfer. The fee ranges from completely free if you make a local bank transfer, to a nominal 1% for bitcoin, to a more average range of 5-7% charged by many banks, but then can actually move upwards to a staggering 45% for Pay by Mobile powered by Boku.¹⁹
But not only do you need to watch out for upfront fees, there are also currency conversion charges to be mindful of.
All transactions involving currency exchange are subject to a currency exchange fee — an average daily interbank market rate published by a third party foreign currency data provider plus 3.99% (for non-VIP members). NETELLER retains this amount as a foreign exchange processing fee to protect against exchange rate fluctuations.²⁰
What that means is that, if you aren’t a NETELLER VIP member, you will be charged an additional 3.99% on a poor exchange rate if your transaction involves 2 or more currencies. Add that fee onto whatever you’ve already paid and that can be quite painful.
Sadly, if you’re a NETELLER VIP member, the fees may not be much better. Their lowest VIP package still comes with 3.79% FX Fees. Whereas their highest package does get those FX fees down to 1.29%, but you’ll need to be a merchant that receives at least $2,000,000 USD in transfers each calendar year.²¹ If you’re a business that does transactions across borders, these fees can eat up your profit quite quickly.
Zelle, launched in 2017 by Early Warning Services, which itself is owned by major banks like Bank of America, BB&T, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo, definitely assures consumers that they are in experienced hands.
With Zelle, you can send, request or receive money between person to person. Although, if you’re looking for an international solution, Zelle won’t be it. It’s available only to senders and recipients whose bank accounts are located inside of the US.²² Unfortunately, another major downside is that, if you’re a business owner, you likely can’t currently use Zelle for business transactions. Although there is talk of U.S. Bank using the Zelle network to enable some business to business payments. If you’re a business, you might want to check with your bank’s terms with Zelle to see if you’re eligible.
The good news is that, if these are the type of payments you’re looking for, then for the most part Zelle is pretty simple to use. And, as a major upside, the service itself is fee-free, although it’s possible your bank may tack on its own charges. You just need the preferred email address or mobile number of the person you’re sending money to. If they have already used Zelle, then the money will go straight to the bank account they’ve already linked with their info, normally within a few minutes. If they haven’t used Zelle, then they can set up their preferences once you send them money. And, once set up, then typically your recipient will get your funds within 1 to 3 business days.²³
Stripe was founded in the US in 2010 and works in 25 countries. It’s set up mostly for internet businesses with all sorts of tools for billing customers, accepting payments, or even setting up a marketplace with a global payments platform.²⁴
Customers love that Stripe’s tools can be used as-is or completely customized. So you can drop a single line of pre-written code into your website to accept payments there, or you can design your own payment flow if you’d rather, using the building blocks Stripe provides. You can even just add a plug-in to your website or blog, for the ultimate ease.
Most pay fees for Stripe with a ‘Pay as you go’, in which case you pay a percentage + a fixed fee for all transactions. Although there are options to buy into a tailored package to suit your business. If you’re taking card payments domestically, there’s a charge of 2.9% + $0.30, with an extra 1% if your client pays with an international card payments.²⁵ In addition, if there are 2 or more currencies involved, Stripe notes that they usually convert the funds at 1% above the daily mid-market rate, essentially a further charge for foreign payments.²⁶ But Stripe also supports cheaper payment methods like local ACH payments, and, although supported, domestic wire payments may get a bit pricey.²⁷
Dwolla is a US-based payment company, which allows American business users to facilitate local US bank transfers and online payments through their website. Like Stripe, you can either buy an off-the-shelf solution to get started, or use the Dwolla API to build your own, tailored payments options.
Businesses can, through the ACH network, “send transfers to customers, receive transfers from customers, facilitate transfers between customers, and send ACH payouts or mass payouts.”²⁸ It’s only available for use within the US at the moment, so international payments are a no-go. If your online business is currently trading globally, or if you might ever intend to reach customers, employees or suppliers based overseas, then Dwolla might not suit you.
Propay offers businesses solutions if you want to accept credit card payments online, take payment by text or email, and a whole bunch more.²⁹ There are different services aimed at different types and sizes of businesses, from very small companies to larger enterprises, and even tools which are aimed toward people working in a specific field — like software vendors.
With ProPay’s global payment option you can accept payments from 180 countries, and make payments in 35 different countries. Including a few other alternative payment options like directly debiting from bank accounts in several European countries.³⁰
Headquartered in California, Intuit has been around since 1983, so it must be doing something right. Intuit is also the parent company of Turbotax, Quickbooks, Mint and Proconnect, offering a wide range of services for individuals and professionals.
Quickbooks Payments is a neat solution for small businesses and professionals, allowing you to track income and expenses, estimate quarterly taxes, run reports, invoice & accept payments, even on their most basic of plans in the US.³¹
When you invoice and accept payments on Quickbooks, you can accept credit cards and bank transfers for online or mobile payments, direct from an invoice which you have sent a customer.³¹ You can get a month’s free trial of the various packages, after which there is a monthly fee, plus any costs associated with various payment methods your customers may pay you in.³²
You can also create and send your invoices by using our downloadable free invoice templates.
The monthly plans and costs vary depending on where in the world you are, but there are several different levels of membership, at different prices, which offer different benefits. Also, on the plus side for businesses on the international side, it appears that QuickBooks may not add any sort of spread to exchange rates as they note that they use the most recent exchange rates from Wall Street on Demand (WSOD).³³
2Checkout offers a range of payment options. When it comes to global payments, 2Checkout offer 87 currency options in over 200 countries, giving them a fairly impressive global reach. If you need help, there’s a support team that can help you in any one of 15 different languages.
2Checkout offers global payments, hosted checkouts, a payment API, shopping cards, and recurring billing.³⁴ You can either embed the code in your own site for a fully integrated payment option, or you can use a hosted checkout option, where you use the default options available online.
In the US, the cost per transaction from each of your customers is currently 2.9% + $0.30. However, if you’re dealing with international payments, prices can go up quite quickly. If your customer is outside of the US you’ll not only have to pay a 1% cross border fee, but currency conversion to your home currency incurs an average of 2-5%.³⁵ That can add up quite quickly.
Authorize.net is a payment gateway partner which was established back in 1996. You can accept card payments through Authorize.net in a number of different ways. You can take payment online, on a mobile, by mail or telephone if your customer sends you their credit card details, or in person using a card reader. This can be very handy for customers who do a mix of on and off-line selling. For example, if you have a craft business and sell at fairs, as well as through your website.
If your business is based in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe or Australia, you can take international card payments, too.
When it comes to running your online business, you’ll want to make sure you keep your costs down wherever possible, while still offering a great customer experience. It’s important to choose the right service for receiving payments and paying suppliers and employees — especially if you’re doing business internationally. Get it wrong, and you could find that the costs mount up quickly. If you’re looking for a global payouts solution or just need a way to accept money from your clients locally in a major region like the US, the UK, the EU or Australia, then TransferWise borderless accounts may be the low-cost answer you’ve been searching for.
It’s good to know that there are lots of options out there which all suit different types of businesses. Check out the alternatives, and if you’re making international payments, remember to review not only the fixed fees but also the exchange rates used, to make sure you get a fair deal for your business.
- https://www.paypalobjects.com/webstatic/ua/pdf/US/en_US/ua.pdf (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.paypalobjects.com/digitalassets/c/website/marketing/na/us/ebooks/pdf/fees-page.pdf (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.skrill.com/en/transfer-money/international-money-transfers/ (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.skrill.com/en/siteinformation/fees/ (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.payza.eu/ (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.payza.eu/local-payment-options?cc=us (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.payza.eu/available-currencies (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.payoneer.com/main/ (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.payoneer.com/fees/ (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.xoom.com/help/can-i-use-xoom-to-send-money-to-a-business (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.xoom.com/money-transfer-fees (May 14, 2018)
- https://support.google.com/pay/answer/7625483?hl=en&ref_topic=6224829 (May 14, 2018)
- https://pay.google.com/about/business/ (May 14, 2018)
- https://support.google.com/pay/answer/7454247 (May 14, 2018)
- https://pay.google.com/about/business/checkout/ (May 14, 2018)
- https://support.google.com/pay/send/answer/6285485?hl=en (May 14, 2018)
- https://www.neteller.com/en/features/money-transfer (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.neteller.com/en/ (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.neteller.com/en/fees (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.neteller.com/en/support#/path/PAYMENTS/Fees/85238188/What-is-currency-exchange-fee.htm (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.neteller.com/en/vip/overview (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.zellepay.com/support/can-i-use-zelle-internationally (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.zellepay.com/how-it-works (May 15, 2018)
- https://stripe.com/us/payments (May 15, 2018)
- https://stripe.com/docs/currencies/conversions (May 15, 2018)
- https://stripe.com/us/pricing (May 15, 2018)
- https://support.stripe.com/questions/pricing-of-payment-methods-in-the-us (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.dwolla.com/ach/ach-transfer/ (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.propay.com/en-US/ (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.propay.com/en-US/Enterprise/Payment-Processing/PayVision-and-Planet-Payment (May 15, 2018)
- https://quickbooks.intuit.com/pricing/ (May 15, 2018)
- https://quickbooks.intuit.com/payments/?xcid=seq_intuit_pay_click_ft (May 15, 2018)
- https://help.quickbooks.intuit.com/en_US/kb/about-exchange-rates/000002364_en_US:SALESFORCE.modal (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.2checkout.com/hosted-checkout (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.2checkout.com/pricing (May 15, 2018)
- https://www.authorize.net/international/ (May 15, 2018)
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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