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International money transfer Vs. PayPal - which is better for sending money abroad?

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Are you unsure whether to use an online international money transfer (IMT) specialist or PayPal to make your next overseas money transfer?

While both are convenient options, the right choice for you can vary based on multiple factors, for instance, whether you’re looking for an instant transfer or one that’s more cost effective. Read on as we run you through the major features, pros and cons for both.    

What are the key features of IMT specialists and PayPal?

IMT Specialists

Competitive exchange rates.

IMT agencies such as OFX or Send are foreign exchange specialists and are known to offer some of the best exchange rates in the market. Since exchange rates have a huge impact on the final value you get for your Aussie dollar, this is a big tick in the box for IMT specialists.  

Good for large overseas money transfers.

When you start comparing IMT providers, you’ll realise that there are many IMT agencies like TorFx that don’t charge any transfer fee for sending your money overseas. And most others that do charge a fee, offer to waive it if you’re sending a large amount of money, generally around $10,000. The fees you pay for transferring money with PayPal on the other hand, is a percentage of the amount you’re sending, which means the more you send, the more you are charged.


Accepted at most online retail websites.

If you shop a lot on international websites, a PayPal account can be quite handy because it’s accepted almost everywhere online.  

Flexibility of multiple linked accounts.

Another useful feature with a PayPal account is that you can link it with multiple accounts as well as credit and debit cards. So if you’re running short on funds in your linked bank account, if you’ve also added your credit card to your PayPal account you can use that instead. But remember that the fee you pay for an overseas transfer can differ depending on the type of account you’re using. For instance, the fee for sending money using your credit card is generally higher than what you’ll be charged for using funds from your bank account.    

How do IMT specialists and PayPal transfer money?

IMT Specialists

Step 1. Set up an account with an IMT specialist
Once you’ve compared IMT specialists and picked one that suits your needs best, you need to go over to the provider’s website directly to register for an account. You can then provide your contact information and account details for the initial setup.  

Step 2. Confirm the exchange rate and other details
Next up, you need to confirm the amount you’re planning to send and check on the final exchange rate and transfer fees. If you need help figuring out whether you can snag a better rate by booking a forward contract or limit order, you can talk to an account manager who can help you plan your deal. Not sure what these features are? No worries, read our IMT jargon buster to cut through all the forex mumbo jumbo.     

Step 3. Book the transfer deal
After you’re satisfied with all the information and transfer details, you can provide the account information for the beneficiary and book the final deal. It usually takes around 2-5 days for the money to reach the overseas account.


Step 1. Sign up for an account
A PayPal account is very easy to set up - all you need to provide to begin with is some basic contact information like your email address and phone number.

Step 2. Add your bank account/ credit/ debit card details
You can pick the accounts and cards that you want to link with your PayPal account. This gives you the option to select the most suitable mode of payment at the time of checkout.  

Step 3. Make payments using PayPal
That’s it! Once you’ve got your account sorted, you can start making payments with PayPal. Just keep in mind that the person you’re transferring money to will also need to have a PayPal account.

What are the pros and cons of transferring money using IMT specialists and PayPal?

IMT specialists PayPal
Pros 1. Access to competitive exchange rates and the option to track and book rates for future transactions

2. With low or no transfer fee, this is a cost effective option for transferring large amounts of money
1. Instant money transfers possible if you and the recipient both have PayPal accounts

2. Access to flexible modes of payment, such as bank accounts, credit and debit cards
Cons 1. It generally takes 2-5 days to send money through an IMT specialist, so this may not be the ideal choice if you need an instant money transfer

2. Great option for small and large transfers but not meant for shopping or other retail websites
1. With higher transfer fees and exchange rates that are not as good as those offered by IMT specialists, this generally turns out to be the more expensive option

2. The recipient also needs to have a PayPal account to receive the money

What’s the final verdict?

PayPal is a quick and secure option for sending small amounts of money (a few hundred dollars), especially when you’re in a hurry or if you’re shopping online. But if you’re after a more cost effective solution for sending money overseas, IMT specialists offer more bang for your buck.

With a number of IMT providers competing for your business, there are plenty of good deals available across most currencies.

To find the best deal for your money, you can easily compare who’s offering the top exchange rates and the lowest fee, using Mozo’s exchange rate calculators.

I want to transfer
Today’s foreign exchange rates
  • Excellent exchange rates, no transfer fees
  • 24/7 transfers online, over the phone or through the TorFX app
  • Personal account management and expert insights

$6,663 USD

  • $0.6663 USD

  • 1-2 days

  • $200 minimum

  • Send to 200+ countries and 100+ currencies globally
  • Dedicated Australia-based client services team with personal account management for transfers over $20,000
  • 48,000+ 5-star 'Excellent' ratings on TrustPilot

$6,650 USD

  • $0.6650 USD

  • 1-3 days

  • none

  • Fee Free transfers
  • Talk to a human, 24/7. Sharp Rates and Fast and Secure transfers.
  • Australian owned, ASX listed and Official Foreign Exchange Provider of the NHL

$6,614 USD

  • $0.6614 USD

  • 1-2 days

  • $250 minimum
    $500 monthly minimum for regular transfers

  • Fee free for selected countries on the first transfer
  • Transfer in minutes, 24/7 Live support
  • Wide range of options - Cards, Bank transfer, Wire, Cash pickup and E-wallet

$6,640 USD

  • $0.6640 USD

  • Within minutes

  • $0 minimum

Maria Gil
Maria Gil
Money writer

Maria Gil writes across all of our personal finance areas here at Mozo. Her goal is to help you think smarter about money and have more in your pocket. Maria earned a journalism degree in Florida in the United States, where she has contributed to major news outlets such as The Miami Herald. She also completed a masters of digital communications at the University of Sydney. When Maria isn’t busy with all things finance, you can find her tucked away reading fantasy books. She is also ASIC RG146 (Tier 2) certified for general advice.

* The exchange rates offered by each provider are indicative exchange rates that have either been supplied by each provider or gathered by Mozo. Exchange rates fluctuate constantly and as a consequence the exchange rates listed here may vary to the actual exchange rate you are quoted by a provider. Please ensure you confirm the actual exchange rate with the relevant provider prior to conducting any transaction. These exchange rates are updated every hour.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice International Money Transfer Awards

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