The alternatives to PayPal for money transfers | moneyfacts.co.uk

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Michelle Monck

Michelle Monck

Consumer Finance Expert
Published: 29/01/2021

At a glance

  • Wise and MoneyGram both offer alternatives to PayPal to send money abroad 
  • Read more to find out how these services work and what they cost

There are now plenty of options to send money abroad and make international payments. PayPal is one of the most well-known companies and we have summarised their services compared to a few others in the guide below.

A review of PayPal

How does PayPal work?

PayPal works by connecting your bank account and/or credit card to a secure online system that allows you to send and receive payments without needing to input your details each time. Your details are never shared with the recipient (or with sellers in the case of online shopping) to help prevent fraud, and payments can even be sent to people using an email address or phone number.

To transfer money abroad using PayPal, all you have to do is select the recipient (or add them to your contacts), enter the amount you’re sending, choose the currency, and send it. The transaction will complete in a matter of seconds and the recipient can access the money from their account.

Alternatively, for recipients who don’t have a PayPal account, you can send money using Xoom, PayPal’s new international money transfer service.

Who owns PayPal?

After being owned by eBay for much of its history, PayPal is currently a publicly traded company. Its biggest shareholder is the Vanguard Group.

How much does PayPal cost?

Although PayPal is free to use for those purchasing goods or services, and for both sending and receiving money in the UK, there will be fees to pay if you’re sending money abroad.

International personal transactions will be charged at 5% of the transaction amount, with a minimum fee of £0.99 and a maximum fee of £2.99. Currency conversion charges will also be applicable, with the charge to convert payments received into another currency standing at 3% above the base exchange rate. Fees for sending money not in GPB are 4% above the exchange rate.

Is PayPal safe?

PayPal is known for offering a high level of security, with personal details never shared with the recipient and vice versa. It also monitors every transaction to check for fraud, and each one of those transactions is fully encrypted. The website is encrypted, too, and as long as you know who you’re sending the money to, there’s minimal risk involved.

A review of Wise

How does TransferWise work?

Wise is the new name for TransferWise. This is an online account that lets you send and receive money internationally, get paid in other currencies and spend money abroad. It’s a multi-currency account that lets you link your own bank account to make payments, in a similar way to PayPal; you can either send money to the recipient using their bank details, or simply using an email address. Then, if they don’t have an account with TransferWise they’ll receive an email prompting them to set one up. Money is transferred using the real exchange rate, with minimal fees and transparent pricing.

Who owns Wise?

Founded by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, Wise also has a number of additional investors including Old Mutual, Andreessen Horowitz and Sir Richard Branson.

How much does Wise cost?

It’s free to set up the account, but you’ll be charged a fee for every transfer made; there’s both a fixed fee (depending on currency) and currency conversion costs. This will vary depending on the currency you’re transferring into and the amount you’re sending, as well as the exchange rate, but TransferWise has an on-site calculator that lets you see exactly how much each transaction will cost.

Is Wise safe?

Yes. TransferWise adheres to a strict set of rules within each country it operates, and has bank-level data security as well as a specialist security team to ensure all transactions are as safe as possible.

 

A review of MoneyGram

How does MoneyGram work?

MoneyGram allows you to send and receive money to and from bank accounts outside of the UK. You can also choose to send money from a MoneyGram office or to use their App. Money can also be sent to mobile wallets, as long you provide the recipients full legal name and mobile number, with international dial code.


To get started on MoneyGram you need to register for an account. You can then send money abroad straight to your recipient’s bank account and pay for this either from your own bank account or by using a credit or debit card. You can fund an international payment using cash either by a visiting a MoneyGram office or at Tesco for a small fee. You will need to start your payment online and then go to Tesco to complete this with your cash. You will need a valid photo ID to do this.


Money Gram also offer a loyalty scheme called Plus Rewards. This offers discounted fees after you complete a certain number of international payments. They also offer a recommend a friend scheme, with zero fees for you and your referred friends when they use the service for the first time. Terms and conditions apply for bother schemes – please check these before making any decisions to use the service.

Who owns MoneyGram?

MoneyGram is listed on the NASDAQ -GS. At the time of writing, it’s top three owners include BlackRock Fund Advisors, The Vanguard Group and Renaissance Technologies LLC.

How much does MoneyGram cost?

Fees for MoneyGram will depend on the transfer amount, payment type, delivery method and pick-up location. If you use a credit card to fund your payment, then card issuer cash advance fees may and interest charges may apply.

Is MoneyGram safe?

Moneygram is along established brand and offers a safe and convenient way to send money abroad to more than 200 countries. You should still compare international money transfer providers as there may be others offering better rates or services for your needs.

Compare different providers to send money abroad

Use our chart to compare providers to send money and payments abroad. 

PayPal versus Wise FAQs

Can I trust Wise?

Wise is know for its high level of security and scores highly in customer reviews.

Is Wise better than PayPal?

It depends on your point of view! It’s a personal decision; read more about them above to make your mind up.

Will my bank charge me for using Wise?

No; you won’t be charged any additional transfer fees by your bank when using TransferWise.

Is it cheaper to transfer money internationally through PayPal?

You’ll need to use online calculators based on your own financial requirements to see if it would be cheaper to transfer money internationally by using PayPal or another service.

How long does PayPal take to send money internationally?

PayPal says that, provided the recipient has an account set up already, the money can be sent and received in a matter of seconds.

Three tips to get the best value sending money abroad

1. What's the best way to send money internationally?

This depends on various different factors, such as the country you’re sending the money to and how much you’re looking to send, but the best way to send money internationally is arguably the one that’s the most convenient, the safest and the cheapest. 

2. What is the cheapest way to send money internationally?

Using a specialist international money transfer service will typically be the cheapest way to send money internationally, with fees often lower than if you were to go via your bank and exchange rates more favourable. Find out more about how to find the best international money transfer service by reading our guide.

How do I send money internationally electronically?

You can send money internationally electronically using a range of specialist services and apps, depending on your individual requirements. Find out more about how to send money abroad to see the kind of options available.

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

Send money around the world

At a glance

  • Wise and MoneyGram both offer alternatives to PayPal to send money abroad 
  • Read more to find out how these services work and what they cost

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