Hack 15 Send Money Without Creating a PayPal Account

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Pay someone quickly without going to the trouble of setting up an account.

If you don't have a PayPal account and you want to see what the fuss is about, send someone money using PayPal. After all, everyone owes someone for something. Perhaps you owe a coworker for lunch, a friend who bought you a ticket to the big game, or another friend who sold you his old DVD player. Why not pay them via PayPal?

But to send someone money, you'll have to sign up for an account. Or will you? The answer is no, as long as the recipient has a PayPal account!

Using this procedure, you can also request and accept payments without requiring the customer to sign up for a PayPal account. Just fill in your own email address into the URL discussed here and send it to your customers.


To send money without creating a PayPal account, open up any web browser, and type this address (URL):

http://paypal.com/xclick/business=

Add the email address of the recipient of the money to the end of the URL, like this:

paypal.com/xclick/business=reg@paypalhacks.com

After pressing the Enter key (or Return on the Mac), the email address (reg@paypalhacks.com, in this case) will be sent to the PayPal web site, which will look up the user's account. If the email address refers to an existing PayPal account, you will see the Payment Details page (shown in Figure 2-7) with the following information:


Pay To

The email address of the recipient of your payment.


Payment For

An optional field, into which you can enter a note describing what the payment is for.


Currency

The currency it expects you to use; the default is U.S. dollars.


Amount

In this example, you will be required to enter the amount you wish to pay, since you didn't put the amount in the URL

Figure 2-7. Payment Details screen for customers sending money to registered PayPal sellers
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If, on the other hand, the email address of the recipient does not refer to an existing PayPal account, you will see a slightly different Payment Details page, as shown in Figure 2-8. In this case, you'll be required to sign up for a PayPal account as a part of the payment process.

Figure 2-8. Payment Details screen for customers sending money to unregistered users
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At this point, you'll have two choices:

  • If you have a PayPal account, you can type your email address and password here and click Login to pay with your account.

  • Otherwise, click the Continue Checkout button. Use this option if you don't want to pay with your PayPal account, or if you don't have a PayPal account and want to pay with a credit card.

If you or someone else has previously accessed a PayPal account on your computer, the Payment Details page might look a little different, as shown in Figure 2-9. You will see the email address of the PayPal customer who previously used your computer, and you'll be prompted for a password. But you can still get to the new user page shown earlier in this hack by clicking the Click Here button, at which point you'll be able to pay without logging in.

Figure 2-9. Payment Details screen with cookies enabled
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Cookies and Personal Information

Cookies are tidbits of information that web sites store on your computer for future reference; they typically contain just enough information for the web site to identify your login or user ID.

A good example of how cookies can work to your advantage is the way both eBay and PayPal use cookies to keep you signed in and remember you the next time you visit.

To experience PayPal as a new PayPal user would, find and delete your PayPal cookie. If you're using Internet Explorer, look for a text file containing the characters @paypal.com in your Cookies folder (or Temporary Internet Files if you're using Windows 2000). If you're using Netscape or Mozilla, go to Tools Cookie Manager. In either case, deleting this cookie is harmless, so give it a try and see what happens when you return to the PayPal web site.


Next comes the Shipping Information page; for purchases that do not require shipping (e.g., for repaying a friend or for a digital download), select the No Shipping Required option and click Continue Checkout.

If PayPal skips the Shipping Information page and instead shows you the Billing Information page, then the person you are trying to pay does not have a PayPal account. You will be asked to create an account before sending the money.


Otherwise, if you're purchasing a physical product that must be shipped, enter your shipping address here. Select Yes at the bottom if this address is the same as your credit card billing address, and click Continue Checkout when you're done.

On the Billing Information page, enter your credit card information and email address. (If you indicated that your billing and shipping addresses are the same on the previous page, your billing address will appear here; otherwise, you'll need to fill it in.) You'll also need to fill in your phone number and security code.

The security code, typically a word embedded in a pattern, is an extra step that PayPal requires to ensure that you are a real person and not a computer trying to gain automated access to PayPal. In theory, only human beings have the patience to read the code and enter it.


You'll also have another chance (in addition to the aforementioned Payment For field) to leave a message to the seller in the Message to Seller field.

When you're done, click Continue Checkout. On the Review Information page, review the details of your payment and click Pay to complete the transaction. Assuming your credit card is accepted, you have just made a payment!

When you are finished making your payment, one of two things will happen:

  • If the email address to which you sent the money is registered with PayPal, the money will be deposited directly into the email owner's PayPal account.

  • If the email address is not registered with PayPal, a "You've got cash" email will be sent to the owner of the email address. The recipient will then need to follow the instructions in the email to sign up for a PayPal account and accept the money. Note that your email address will be used as the return address, suggesting its origin and allowing the recipient to reply to the message and easily email you.

Either way, after accepting the money, the recipient will be able to use your payment to pay someone else, transfer the money into her bank account, or even have a check sent to her from PayPal [Hack #20] .

Truth be told, this process isn't all that easy. In fact, it's more involved than paying with an existing PayPal account. It is, however, easier (in the short term, anyway) for those who don't yet have PayPal accounts, and this fact might be enough to attract customers who otherwise might be scared off by PayPal.

On the last page of the payment process, you will be invited to create a PayPal account using the credit card information you have just provided. If you plan on using PayPal to pay again or perhaps to even accept payments yourself, go ahead and accept the invitation. There is no easier way to create a PayPal account than at this moment. And the next time you need to make a payment, the process will be even easier, because you won't have to enter all your payment information again.