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PayPal Review: Widely Used International and Domestic Payments App

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Bottom line: PayPal is a popular payments app that makes it simple and convenient to send and receive money domestically and internationally.

PayPal
Best payments app for versatilityPayPal

Full PayPal review

Pros

  • Popular and easy to use
  • Domestic and international payments
  • Multiple payment methods
  • Multi-currency accounts
  • Secure

Cons

  • Fees can be costly
  • Some users have sending limits
  • Transfers take time to complete
  • Frequent phishing scam target

At a glance

iOS app rating 4.8/5 stars
Android app rating 4.2/5 stars
Cost Free for standard payments from your PayPal balance or bank account, 2.9% plus a fixed $0.30 fee for credit card payments

What is PayPal and how does it work?

PayPal is an easy-to-use payments app with a great mix of features. PayPal makes it easy to send payments to friends and family or pay for goods and services. Once you've set up an account, you can use the app or a web browser to manage your transactions.

You can send, receive, and request money to or from anyone with a PayPal account. You'll need any of the following information:

  • PayPal username
  • Mobile phone number
  • Email address
  • PayPal.Me link (your personal payment link)
  • Personal QR code

The PayPal.Me link and QR functionality minimize the risk of someone mistyping your information -- they just need to click or scan.

The PayPal app also lets you keep track of your spending, and split bills with your friends. You can easily use this app in both your personal and professional life. It's worth noting that you'll have to pay fees for certain PayPal functions, which we'll cover below.

Top perks

Below are some of our favorite features of the PayPal app in more detail.

Easy to use

No matter your tech skill level, it shouldn't be challenging to use PayPal. PayPal's neat and organized interface makes it simple to navigate. The app is available for iOS and Android mobile devices, including tablets.

The payment app has a bill-splitting feature called Money Pool. You can collect funds from multiple friends to cover shared expenses or donate to a cause. That means no more stress about splitting the check when you're out.

Widely used payments app

PayPal is a widely used and accepted personal finance app. Whether you need to send money to someone domestically or internationally, chances are they have a PayPal account.

Millions of stores offer it as a payment option. You can pay with PayPal at many of your favorite stores like eBay, Apple, GNC, Target, Overstock, and The Home Depot. PayPal even lets you store your store loyalty cards within the app so you can get rewarded for your shopping.

Finally, PayPal makes it easy to fundraise or donate to charity. It won't take any fees or deductions from money donated through its Giving Fund page.

Supports international money transfers

If you need to send money abroad, PayPal is available in 200-plus countries and regions. Make sure you're aware of the fees. And if you make regular international money transfers, it's worth shopping around for the best deal.

You can also hold multiple currencies within your PayPal account, make or accept payments in other currencies, convert your PayPal balance to another currency, and transfer your balance in any currency.

Secure

PayPal has a reputation as a safe and secure payments app. PayPal doesn't share your financial data when you make payments. Additionally, PayPal's protection policies cover you when buying or selling online. If you don't receive a product you buy with PayPal, you'll get your money back.

Multiple payment methods

There are multiple ways you can make payments through PayPal. You can fund payments via your bank account, debit card, credit card, or PayPal balance. Just be aware that some payment methods, like credit cards, come with fees.

What could be improved

No payments app has achieved perfection. Here are the areas where we believe PayPal has the most room for improvement.

PayPal fees can add up

Like many payments apps, you'll pay fees for certain types of PayPal transactions. PayPal's fees are on target with other apps. And some things, such as sending money domestically to friends and family through your PayPal or bank account can be free. It will cost you to use a credit card to pay someone or send money abroad.

Transfers can take time

When you transfer money from your PayPal account to your bank account, you have two options: a free transfer, which can take one to five business days, or a paid instant transfer. The free transfer is often processed in one business day, but there's no guarantee. If you need the money instantly, you'll need to pay 1%. Instant transfers typically arrive in minutes, but a debit card transfer, where you enter your card information rather than bank account details, may take up to half an hour.

Some users may have sending limits

PayPal does set limits for unverified users. If you have a verified account, which requires you to verify banking or credit card details, you won't have a problem.

If you're not verified, you can only send so much money. This depends on your currency, but you may be limited to $10,000 in one transaction, with a cap of $60,000. You can view your limits in your account. Most people probably don't need to send over $10,000 at once, but it's something to keep in mind.

Frequent phishing target

Since PayPal is a commonly used app, unfortunately, it's often targeted by phishing scams. You may receive fake emails that look like they come from PayPal, and these emails contain phishing links. Be aware of this when opening any email or PayPal link. You want to make sure that you only click on official links.

Alternatives to consider

If you want an app that doesn't charge any fees: Zelle is a fee-free alternative. You can easily transfer money from your bank account to someone else, and it's almost instant. All you need is the person's email address or phone number. One thing to note is you can't use a credit card to transfer funds with Zelle. You may want to stick with PayPal if you want the flexibility of using both your bank account and credit cards.

If you want an app with quicker bank transfers: Venmo is an alternative that puts money into your account faster. Venmo has a more social feel and is a good option if you regularly send small amounts of money to friends and family in the U.S. Venmo can take one to three days to transfer funds to your bank, unless you pay extra for an instant transfer. PayPal bank transfers can take up to five days. But you may want to stick with PayPal if you also want to send money abroad.

What are the costs?

It's free to send money to friends and family via a debit card, bank account, or PayPal balance. Otherwise, there are fees associated with certain actions. These fees are outlined previously in our review.

Domestic and international fees

Transaction Type Domestic International
PayPal balance, bank account, or Amex Send account Free 5%
Credit card 2.9% + $0.30 5% + fixed fee ($0.99 minimum, $4.99 maximum)

You can avoid fees on domestic payments if you use an Amex credit card through an Amex Send account. Fees still apply when using Amex Send for international payments.

Transferring money out of PayPal

TRANSFER TYPE COST MINIMUM FEE MAXIMUM FEE
Local bank account No fee -- --
Instant bank account transfer 1.5% of transfer amount $0.25 $15
Instant transfer to cards 1.5% $0.25 $15
Paper check mailed to you $1.50 -- --

Receiving payment via QR Code

Transaction Amount Domestic International
Transactions above $10 1.9% + $0.10 1.9% + fixed fee + 1.5%
Transactions of $10 and below 2.4% + $0.05 2.4% + fixed fee + 1.5%

You can avoid the additional 1.5% fee for international QR code payments by using an Amex card.

Note: Fixed fees vary by currency and commercial-based QR code payments have higher fixed fees. Check out PayPal's website for full details.

This app is right for:

This app is a good choice for anyone who wants a secure, easy-to-use platform for either personal or business use. It's popular with those who want to make both domestic and international payments. Many well-known retailers accept this widespread payment method.

If you choose this payments app as your go-to way of sending or receiving money, you can't go wrong.

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