At the time of writing, PayPal has a massive 295 million active customers from all corners of the globe. Established in 1998 when it was initially called Confinity, it developed security software for handheld devices.

After a merger with Elon Musk’s online banking company X.com in 2000, PayPal was born. The company has grown into the market leader as a result of a seemingly endless string of successes. Before we dive in further, it is important to understand fully what it is and what it offers the customer. In turn, this will allow you to better understand and evaluate all the PayPal alternatives

What is PayPal all about?

PayPal recreates a physical wallet in the digital world. You can add card information to your account giving you the ability to make payment online, as well as send and receive money from almost every country on Earth. At the time of writing, PayPal allows money transfer from more than 200 countries. Also, you can link your bank account to PayPal for easy transfers between both. 

PayPal is the most common and widely accepted online money transfer medium around today. This makes it the most hassle-free to use as almost everyone will have an account already. It is recognized everywhere on eCommerce sites from small businesses to mega-corporations like Amazon and eBay. The power of convenience should never be underestimated. 

Yet even with its current standing taken into account, PayPal is not perfect. There are some services that PayPal does not offer, such as:

  • A low chargeback fee
  • Digital goods seller protection
  • Quick turnaround on withdrawn funds. It currently takes up to four business days to arrive in your account
  • A highly engaged customer service team
  • Worldwide availability

There is an ever-growing number of viable alternatives to the PayPal giant arriving on the scene every year. Each one offers something slightly different. Knowing their ins and outs will guide you to a well-informed decision on which one to use. Check this comprehensive list of the top PayPal alternatives to send and receive money and take care of your finances.

Top 9 PayPal Alternatives for Sending and Receiving Money

  1. Transferwise 
  2. Google Pay 
  3. Payoneer
  4. Stripe
  5. Apple Pay
  6. Amazon Pay
  7. Square
  8. Shopify Payments
  9. Venmo

1. Transferwise

Blue background with white smartphone showing a money balance app

Transferwise is an innovative money transfer provider that is labeled the ‘Robin Hood’ of the money transfer world. They aim to make bank transfers less costly than established and traditional banks. With over 7 million customers and counting, it looks like they are succeeding in doing just that. 

Transferwise provides one of the most seamless and logical customer experiences of any PayPal alternatives available today. The process from start to finish is a dream come true. If ease of use is your main concern, then you will not go far wrong with Transferwise.

How much is it?

An account is free to open with no subscription or contracts, and you will find no monthly account fees either. Sending and receiving money costs nothing. Exchange rates are always guaranteed for a specific period. When the transfer is set up, the rate is frozen. As long as the money is received within that time, the rate is locked. It is usually 24 hours for most currencies, with some being even longer. As an example of the pricing, a USD to EUR transfer of $1000, Transferwise charges a 0.6% fixed fee and a 0.45% variable fee. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • Fully transparent transfer fees
  • A true mid-market exchange rate is used to convert money to different currencies This means that no mark up is passed onto you, the customer 
  • It supports 59 countries for sending and receiving money 

What we didn’t like

  • You are only able to send money to a bank account
  • Not possible to set up repeating transfers and standing orders

What they say 

We’re building money without borders.
The world’s banking systems weren’t designed for people without borders. That’s why we’re building a new one. 1. Be radically transparent 2. Charge as little as possible 3. Make premium the new normalTransferWise

What the reviews say

“It’s extremely easy to use, perfectly transparent about fees and the timing of transfers and significantly cheaper than other options like PayPal, bank wires, or exchange kiosks.” Forbes.com

2. Google Pay

Woman smiling in the sunshine. Smartphone image at front.

Google Wallet is a fantastic choice for storing and using your debit and credit cards. Money transfer is simple and largely free. You also get the comfort of working with one of the most well-known brands in the world. A positive when the safety of your money is at stake. You have the luxury of paying either in-app, in-store, or on your website. 

The emphasis here is on a faster and more convenient experience through all devices people are currently using while maintaining a high level of security. Google Pay has seen a 600% increase in unique users since integrating the new API. 

The Google Pay service is a streamlined way to pay using cards stored on your account and brings together everything you need to pay at the checkout. It does all this while keeping your information safe. Card numbers are never shared so your personal information stays secure.

How much is it?

Bank transfers are free, as are Debit cards. They can be used in apps, stores, or online. Credit card transactions are charged at 2.9% of the full transaction amount. The maximum transaction amount is capped at $9,999. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • The app is fully integrated with your smart device and sending payments directly from your smartphone is easy online or in-person
  • No fees for debit cards and bank transfers. No hidden fees 
  • You can accept Google Pay from your customers through Google Business via your website or a brick and mortar store 
  • Receiving and sending payments is lightning fast

What we didn’t like

  • Limited to NFC enabled device
  • Not available to use in every store

What they say

“Google Pay enables quicker, safer checkout on sites, in apps, and in stores. With simple integration, you can access hundreds of millions of cards saved to Google Accounts and open up your business for more business. Plus, it’s free for you and your customers.” Google Pay

What the reviews say

“Android Pay is a fast and secure mobile-payment system that works on a wide variety of phones, but it lacks some features offered by the competition.” PC Magazine

3. Payoneer

Man in cardign stood arms crossed behind his back.

Payoneer has positioned itself as the freelancers’ choice as one of the top alternatives to PayPal to send and receive money, both quickly and securely. It is also great for small to medium-sized businesses involved in market sectors such as eCommerce and online advertising. A debit card is available to complement their online accounts, meaning you can draw funds from your bank at ATMs around the globe. 

Payoneer’s cross border payments platform gives businesses, freelancers, and online merchants a way to get paid anywhere around the world as easily as they would locally. It features a multi-currency receiving account so you can access local bank accounts in many currencies. Everything is housed under one main account to help simplify payments and help you manage your currencies. Costs are reduced with low conversion fees that help keep money in your pocket. 

How much is it?

Receiving money is free with Payoneer as long as the payment is sent to you by another Payoneer user. Alternatively, if you use the receiving account where you will be charged 1% and then 3% from a transaction on a credit card. Echeck transactions are also allowed, giving customers the ability to send you electronic checks for a 1% fee. 

Using the Payoneer Mastercard to withdraw money from an ATM is charged at $3.15, and there is a $29.95 fee to open the account. A declined card at the ATM incurs a $1 fee. This account is only available for individuals though, not businesses. Card replacement $12.95. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • Useful tools for freelancers who need to receive money from clients. This is especially true for international payments
  • Payoneer can be used anywhere around the globe
  • No programming knowledge needed like some other systems. Payoneer can be set up directly on your website to get money from customers quickly
  • Account set up is simple
  • Accessing money is easy from an ATM or through your bank account 
  • Free payments between Payoneer accounts 

What we didn’t like

  • Customer service is adequate but nothing special
  • Bank transfers have fees attached. This is a big disadvantage as most other systems are free in this regard
  • No payment gateway
  • Taking credit card payments will land you a high fee
  • Fees at the ATM when using your Payoneer Mastercard  

What they say

“Payoneer’s cross-border payments platform empowers businesses, online sellers, and freelancers to pay and get paid globally as easily as they do locally.” Payoneer

What the reviews say

“Payoneer provides an excellent solution to freelancers that need to receive payments from abroad, and companies that need to make international payments. Their system is diverse and comprehensive, the rates they quote for currency exchange are fair, and as such Payoneer has received global recognition as a leader in the payments field.” Money Transfer Comparison

4. Stripe

Tablet device with spreadsheets on the screen.

Stripe is an increasingly popular PayPal alternative, and this is especially true with online businesses. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company launched in 2011 and now has over 2,000 employees, 14 global offices, and many millions of users. Stripe is marketed as a ‘developer first’ business, insisting that payment problems are “rooted in code, not finance.” It is a compelling eCommerce solution for your money transfer needs. Everything is dealt with by Stripe, no matter if that’s sending or receiving payments in a variety of forms. The system plays equally well with Bitcoin as it does ACH payments. The API is the streamlined and logical meaning you can have the account and the system set up in mere minutes. 

Stripe implemented a new payment stack, where the payment platform is combined with a bunch of useful applications that “put revenue data at the heart of the business” At its core is a high powered payment engine that makes transferring money easy. Their infrastructure is all cloud-based giving both security and scalability. Stripe works around the world to aid businesses in over 100 countries in most industries. 

How much is it?

The entire payment platform is accessed via simple, pay-as-you-go pricing. You will find no setup or monthly fees here. There is a 2.9% fee for every successful credit or debit card charge of 2.9% plus 30 cents. International payments will see additional fees of 1% for using international cards. Getting paid with ACH direct debit, ACH credit, or wire transfers lands at a 0.8% fee with a $5 cap. Standard payout is free, and there is an instant payout option that allows you to access your money within minutes. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • Stripe automatically transfers transaction money to your bank account
  • Mobile payments feature
  • Receive payments companies and clients all over the world
  • Fee reporting is in real-time
  • No setup or hidden fees make the pricing very transparent
  • Full support for Apple and Android Pay

What we didn’t like

  • Gaining access to your money after a transaction often needs you to wait a few days
  • Merchant accounts only available to the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, and a host of EU countries 
  • The API may need a basic level of programming knowledge to set up
  • 1% fee on transactions with international cards

What they say 

“Stripe is a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet. Businesses of every size—from new startups to public companies—use our software to accept payments and manage their businesses online.” Stripe

What the reviews say

“Stripe is a great online-only credit card processor that charges fair processing rates and has very few added costs. The free and simple API is great for businesses whose developers can build a custom online e-commerce experience.” Value Penguin

5. Apple Pay

Three Apple smartphones showing Apple Pay app pages.

One of the pioneers of mobile payments, Apple pay was introduced to smartphones way back in 2014, even beating Google to the punch. In the six years since Apple pay has gone on to acquire more than 441 million users

This system by Apple is similar to Google Pay in many ways. It focuses on usability with a super streamlined interface that is beautiful and logical. Purchases are made in stores, apps, and on an extensive number of websites. You also can send, receive, and store funds with its Apple Pay Cash feature. This is a peer-to-peer payment system that works with every iPhone going back to the iPhone 6. Your account and cards are synced up with your Apple Watch, meaning you don’t even have to take your phone out of your pocket. 

There are a few limitations though, as transferring or withdrawing funds is not possible without the app. Apple is renowned for its insistence on a closed ecosystem. 

How much is it?

There is no cost for setting up an Apple Pay account. The initial set up is quick and painless. You will not find any fees for the privilege of using Apple Pay for purchases online or in-store when using a debit card. There is also no fee to send, receive, and request money using Apple Pay Cash normal delivery. There is a small fee when using the ‘instant transfer’ option though of 1% up to a maximum of $10. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • Fast, simple NFC-payment system 
  • Card data is secure with no storage of payment data on the devices
  • Sky-high security standards
  • Online as well as in-shop payments possible

What we didn’t like

  • Only available to Apple users
  • Not available in some countries
  • Only compatible with the iPhone 6 and later models
  • A limited number of Apple Pay equipped stores

What they say 

“Apple Pay is easy to use, and works with the Apple devices you use every day. You can make secure purchases in stores, within selected apps and on participating websites. Apple Pay is even simpler than using your physical card, and safer too.” Apple

What the reviews say

“Paying with your iPhone via the Apple Pay mobile-payment system is a convenient and secure experience, but for now it’s not possible all that often” Pc Mag

6. Amazon Pay

Woman drinking a cup of tea all wrapped up onthe sofa.

I think it is safe to say that Amazon has come a long way from its humble roots as an online book merchant. As part of its expansion, Amazon Pay was first released to consumers back in 2007. It was previously known as WebPay. This initial attempt was introduced as the answer to PayPal but operations ceased in 2014. 

The payment and money transfer platform works equally as well on mobile as it does on the desktop. You will even find a voice-activated feature via Alexa for merchant payments. The system is available to hundreds of millions of Amazon users around the world. Shoppers can carry out payments using their pre-existing Amazon account. This avoids a time-consuming set up of additional accounts, or the need to enter yet more credit card information.

For both consumers and businesses, The Amazon Pay systems make the most sense if you already have an Amazon profile. It is automatically activated when you have the standard Amazon account and accept the user agreement for Amazon Pay, and then make one purchase on an external site. 

How much is it?

Set up of the account is free across all devices. There is a charge from Amazon Pay of 2.9% plus $0.30 for US domestic transactions. In the event of an international transaction, there is a 3.9% charge plus $0.30. When a dispute is filled that is not covered under their chargeback policy, there is a $20 fee plus tax where applicable. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • Unlike Apple Pay, it’s available on all devices
  • Highly advanced security when compared to other systems
  • The initial sign up faze is swift, as long as you already have an Amazon account
  • People will feel at ease with such a well-known brand

What we didn’t like

  • Fees are a little on the steep side
  • Some basic programming knowledge is needed to integrate the system with your online store

What they say 

“Offer the hundreds of millions of Amazon customers a fast and familiar payment processing solution. Shoppers can make payments using their Amazon account and avoid having to create a new account or enter credit card information” Amazon

What the reviews say

“With Amazon Pay, you can offer your online customers a simplified checkout experience. It has a flat rate and no monthly, annual, or PCI fees, but its reserve policy may stall your cash flow.” Business.com

7. Square

Woman in a small store packing an item that was was just bought.

Square is the most valuable for mobile point-of-sale transactions, but it is still very useful as a PayPal alternative when making payments online using invoices or eCommerce websites. The point of sale system is one of the best around, giving you the ability to accept everything from cards, cash, cheques, and even gift cards. It is an intuitive experience from start to finish and its sheer class pushes it ahead of many of its rivals in this area. The hardware for their POS is all made completely in-house and they provide a range of options depending on your business needs. 

The app that compliments the system is excellent. It is there where you can create custom invoices, send detailed estimates as well as accept payments online. Card information is securely stored and you can track invoices and payment status’. 

How much is it?

Proud of it’s flat and transparent fees, Square also offers all mobile and retail customers a free Square chip reader for swiping cards. Their range of POS systems costs $49 at the bottom end for a simple contactless card reader up to $799 for the Square Register that includes a display, stand as well as a customer-facing display. 

Point of sale transactions vary depending on the model used but going no higher than 2.6% + 10¢. The dashboard app, reporting and analytics, and app marketplace integration are all free. Online store fees start at 2.2% per transaction. Gift card transaction fees start at $0.80 per card and eGift cards are free. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • No monthly fees
  • Merchants with small revenues get a particularly good deal. Free domain and online store comes free with every account
  • It covers all the bases of payments both online and in-store that make it a comprehensive solution
  • A variety of extra add on services for any size business

What we didn’t like

  • Currently, card payments are available in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom only
  • Not the best option out there for ‘high-risk’ merchants

What they say 

“Protect your business and customers with PCI-compliant, tokenised software at no additional cost. First-class hardware that works seamlessly with our software or your existing tools. Contact us by phone, email or Twitter – or get instant answers in our Support Centre.” Square

What the reviews say

“With no fees, competitive rates and pay-as-you-go service terms, Square is our pick as best credit card processor for low fees. It’s also the best option for businesses that need a full-featured mobile credit card processing app.” Business.com

8. Shopify Payments

Man in a purple shirt sits at a table on his laptop computer

Shopify payments is an in-built payment processing system on the Shopify App or website. This provides a simple ‘set up and use’ factor that makes the whole process streamlined and hassle-free. Management of the transaction processing systems is controlled from inside Shopify’s dashboard. You can track your balance and payment schedule and get email alerts when funds land in your bank account. Shopify Payments also works with Facebook shops, Facebook messenger, Amazon, eBay, and Pinterest, amongst others. 

For business, there is the option of using Shopify’s POS. It makes it very easy to accept credit cards either online or in store. Over 1 million businesses use Shopify to unify their sales wherever they sell and they have seen a 30% growth in revenue when doing so. They take advantage of this powerful platform that provides all the tools to manage a business. Extra features include inventory management options to generate orders and transfer stock based on forecasts and performance as well as unified reporting and analytics to help keep track of trends. 

How much is it?

Plans for a basic Shopify account start at $29 per month. Shopify Payments charges a 2.6% + 30¢ rate for using credit cards online. In-person, the rate drops slightly to 2.5% + 0¢. If a different payment provider is used other than Shopify Payments, there is an extra 1.0% fee. Shopify POS is currently free until October 31, 2020. After that date, it will cost $89 per month for the privilege. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • Shopify Payments’ user experience is seamless due to the interconnected nature of the system with Shopify
  • Compatible with a wide variety of payment solutions and third parties
  • Plays well with accounting applications to aid accounting and reporting
  • Removes any transaction fees if your business is on Shopify

What we didn’t like

  • Currently only available in 16 countries
  • Too often, accounts are frozen or investigated without warning
  • There is a $15 fee for every chargeback

What they say 

“Accept credit cards and other popular payment methods with a payment provider that’s ready to go when you are. Skip lengthy third-party activations and go from setup to selling in one click. Shopify Payments comes with your account, all you need to do is turn it on.” Shopify Payments

What the reviews say

“Shopify Payments, our top processor for online businesses, offers month-to-month terms and simple flat rates. Its mobile credit card payment apps include powerful point-of-sale tools to help you run your online business and accept payments on the go.” Business.com

9. Venmo

White smartphone showing messages from different users.

Venmo is considered a rising star in the money business. It is gaining more and more popularity from individuals looking to send money and share expenses in the process. Peer to peer transfers is where it truly excels. You have probably already used Venmo to pay back friends for pizza, or concert tickets. 

Venmo allows users to add their debit card information in-app as well as bank account details. Payments accepted by peers can be instantly transferred on to your physical bank. If you so wish, you can add multiple bank accounts to your Venmo account and split your funds between them. It also acts as a wallet similar to PayPal and transfers for holding funds digitally. The transactions made through Venmo also have the option to be made public, allowing you to see them from others, as long as you know them. Many customers swear by Venmo for the social aspect of its service and the sheer number of users, which currently stands at over 40 million.

On top of this, it also has business applications for those who prioritize a friction-free customer experience on mobile devices and social media when sending and receiving payments. 

How much is it?

Sending money using the Venmo balance, bank account, debit card or prepaid card is free because Venmo waives the fee themselves. Otherwise, there is a standard 3% fee that applies to credit cards. It is always free to receive money or make purchases in other apps. ATM withdrawals are free unless you are outside the network when it is charged at $2.50. (Find out more here).

What we liked

  • Sending and receiving cash peer to peer is an effortless and logical process
  • The social aspect of Venmo is an interesting feature that stands it apart from many competitors
  • The system is very useful for splitting costs with friends instantly

What we didn’t like

  • No way to cancel a transaction if it is sent to the wrong person using the username transfer feature
  • Fees are present for immediate bank transfer and when dealing with credit cards
  • No way to opt-out of the integration of the platform with Facebook

What they say 

“Pay family and friends with Venmo accounts using a phone number or email. If they don’t have a Venmo account, they’ll just need to create one. Find friends automatically by syncing your Facebook or phone contacts.” Venmo

What the reviews say

“Venmo’s clear focus and strong execution make it one of the best overall mobile-payment systems.” PCmag.com

The Takeaway

Although PayPal is the most well known of all payment and money transfer systems worldwide, it is not necessarily the best. Everything depends on your primary concerns as a customer and user, of course. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings a little and start accounts on a few different platforms. This way, you will get a full range of benefits and have all your requirements covered. It is understandable to be a little wary about changing from PayPal when it has been a market leader for so long. Today, other platforms are just as compatible with eCommerce and payment solutions as PayPal is. Even so, do not make the mistake of discarding PayPal completely. It still has its place. 

Top PayPal alternative for international transfers – TransferWise

TransferWise is simply unbeatable where international transfers are concerned. It’s staggeringly low fees and widespread availability means it is the top alternative for sending and receiving money across borders. A lot cheaper than Paypal, it has the fantastic multi-currency borderless account feature that allows you to receive money in different denominations into a local account, and exchange at a flat rate in-app.  

Top PayPal alternative for freelancers – Payoneer

Payoneer is specifically targeted to freelancers around the world and serves them well. It provides a debit card to go with their online account meaning you can draw out money from ATMs worldwide. Its recent expansion into global payments gives you the tools to get paid and send payments to clients and marketplaces.

Top PayPal alternative for small businesses and entrepreneurs – Square

Square’s all-around integration and POS systems make it a complete choice. No matter what the scale of your business is, Square provides a service to match. With an excellent API, plenty of custom options for invoicing, and fantastic security standards, the platform doesn’t make a single misstep.

Top PayPal alternative for peer-to-peer transfers between friends and family – Venmo

For personal, peer to peer money transfers, Venmo is the king. The ease at which you can pay a bill, pay a friend or split costs almost instantly through its fully integrated system is excellent. Throw in the social aspect of the service and there is so much to like here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the disadvantages of using PayPal?

One of the major disadvantages of the PayPal system that although they claim to help small businesses and small sellers, the presence of hidden fees contradicts that notion. Fees can be as high as 2.9% per transaction. For transactions with large sums involved, this can get very costly, very quickly.  

You are also limited in the ways how you can use Paypal. Your account can be subject to instant suspension without you being aware as to why. This results in funds that are frozen for months on end. Also, it can take up to 4 business days to withdraw funds from your account, stalling your financial flow. New accounts are severely limited from the outset, and there are a lot of hoops to jump through to be able to access your money in less than the initial 30-day holding period. 

What should I consider when evaluating PayPal alternatives?

The alternatives to PayPal are many and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few things to consider, no matter if you are a business or individual.

  • Transaction fees: This is the main cost of any system that allows you to send and receive money, but you will be surprised at how varied they can be from platform to platform. This cost is amplified if you are regularly deal with international transfers, both in and out. 
  • Monthly fees: If you have committed to a service for the long term, the level of monthly fees will make a difference. Many have scrapped monthly fees altogether, but they are still present in a few platforms. 
  • Niche services: Do not discount any of the smaller services out of the gate. Depending on your requirements, they can be a valuable asset in payment management, banking, and transfers. 
  • Money-saving: Is your primary target to save as much money as possible? Choosing free platforms would be the way to go. Or are you happy to pay a little extra for a more comprehensive service with more features to make your life a little easier?
  • Business interaction: Some of the alternatives to PayPal integrate better with online services and some with brick and mortar businesses. It is important to factor this into your decision-making process

Is it worth setting up accounts on more than one platform?

Setting up accounts with several different platforms is something to consider. No single platform is perfect for all business or personal finance needs. Most of them have relatively fast setup, details verification, and identification time. Then, you are free to decide what platform is best for each situation.

How can I estimate fees before I transfer any money?

Almost all of the platforms are very upfront about their fees. A no hidden fees policy is a must in our view. A quick visit to the platform’s main site will give you the fees for all transaction types.

Some sites will even allow you to enter your transfer amount and give a breakdown of all costs as well as the amount of money you will receive at the end of the transaction. If you are transferring money internationally, be aware that exchange rates change very quickly, so you have to be fast to secure a given rate. 

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