Hack 20 Get Your Money

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Retrieve the money in your PayPal account with an electronic bank account transfer or other means.

PayPal makes sending money a cinch. But getting your money out of PayPal is also pretty easy. You might have money in your PayPal account if anyone has sent you cash or a payment for an item you sold on eBay or your own web site. Money is also deposited to your account when you receive a refund for a payment you made with a PayPal balance, when you transfer funds from your bank account into PayPal, or when you receive a bonus for referring a new user to PayPal.

Your balance (or balances, if you have multiple currencies) is always displayed prominently, under the My Account tab, whenever you log into PayPal. Click Withdraw to reveal the range of money retrieval options at your disposal.

3.8.1 Withdraw Without Withdrawing

Of course, you can always use the money in your PayPal account to fund a payment to someone else, such as to pay for an item you won on eBay or to shop at an online store. In fact, your PayPal balance will be the default funding source the next time you send money.

This is popular among eBay users who do a lot of both buying and selling, yet don't want their checking account or credit card statements cluttered with lots of transactions. In fact, some of the best-selling items on eBay are seller supplies such as boxes and bubble wrap! You can send and receive all the payments you want (subject to PayPal limits), instantaneously and without clutter.

Be careful when using PayPal funds to pay for high-risk purchases on eBay, because you won't have the extra purchase protection afforded by other means. See [Hack #16] for details.

3.8.2 Transfer to a Bank Account

Certainly, a common means of retrieving money from PayPal is to withdraw it to a bank account. Once you've registered a bank account with PayPal, you'll be able to ask PayPal to transfer your funds to the bank account.

First, you'll need to attach a bank account to your PayPal account [Hack #2], if you haven't done so already.

Once you've registered a bank account, you can immediately request a withdrawal to it. Click the My Account tab, and then click Withdraw to display the Withdraw Funds by Electronic Transfer page, as shown in Figure 3-4.

Figure 3-4. Withdraw Funds by Electronic Transfer

Your current balance is shown at the center of the page; immediately underneath, type the amount you'd like to withdraw. Choose the bank account to which the funds should be sent, and click Continue


Your account will be subject to a withdrawal limit of $500 per month until you do at least two of the following three tasks [Hack #2] :

  • Verify your PayPal account.

  • Enter your Expanded Use Number.

  • Confirm your social security number

Withdrawals take a few days to show up in your bank account, a delay that can be caused by any of the following:

  • PayPal initiates bank transfers several times throughout the day. If you miss the last cutoff (about 5:00 p.m. Pacific time), your request won't be processed until the next business day.

  • The transfer is made over the standard bank Automated Clearing House (ACH) network that all U.S. banks use to transfer funds between bank accounts. These transfers take two to four business days on average and sometimes take longer.

  • After transfers are made, they can then take a few hours or even a day or two for your bank to post the funds to your account and make them available to you. This varies by bank and is usually explained in your account details.

PayPal currently can processes bank withdrawals to accounts in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Each transfer typically must be performed in the native currency of the country in which your PayPal account has been established. This means that you won't be able to make a withdrawal in U.S. dollars to a Canadian bank account, even if the bank account is denominated in U.S. dollars. Avoid currency conversion as much as possible, since PayPal's rates are not favorable for large amounts.

Unlike withdrawals to U.S. bank accounts (which are free), PayPal assesses a fee on withdrawals to non-U.S. accounts. For a complete listing of these fees, see https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_display-withdrawal-fees.

Another option for sellers outside the U.S. is to use the PayPal debit card (provided that you have a U.S.-based PayPal account), as described later in this hack.

3.8.3 Auto-Sweep

You can have PayPal transfer funds into your bank account automatically every business day using PayPal's Auto-Sweep feature.

You must contact Customer Service to activate Auto-Sweep. Thereafter, an Auto-Sweep option will appear in your Profile. Once activated, PayPal tallies your balance once each business day (usually early in the morning) and initiates a transfer for the entire amount. The transfer happens over the same ACH network as ordinary transfers and thus is subject to the same delays and limitations.

Auto-Sweep is free. Once you have it set up, it continues to operate until you log in and switch it off.

Auto-Sweep is a good option if you primarily receive payments and do little or no spending through PayPal. Plus, you'll consistently have one funds transfer per day, which might make subsequent bookkeeping easier.

PayPal also offers an automatic withdrawal option designed for large sellers who need precise reconciliation details. To find out more about this option, contact PayPal and ask about Automatic Settlement Withdrawal.

3.8.4 Just Send Me a Check

As a last resort, PayPal can mail U.S.-based sellers a paper check through postal mail. You won't want to do this too often, because PayPal charges $1.50 per check. The check will be made payable to the name listed on your account (or your business name if you have a Business account). Further, PayPal will mail the check only to a confirmed mailing address listed on your account, so make sure to confirm a shipping address [Hack #3].

PayPal can send checks only within the United States, drawn on a U.S. bank, and made out in U.S. dollars. If you are outside the U.S., you should make sure that one of the other withdrawal methods discussed in this hack works for you before you start receiving a lot of payments. Otherwise, the only thing you'll be able to do with the money is use it to fund PayPal payments to other people.

3.8.5 Get Paid to Use the PayPal Debit Card

The most profitable and flexible way to retrieve your PayPal balance is to use the PayPal MasterCard debit card. PayPal pays you up to 1.5% cash back (in the form of credits to your account) every time you use your card to make a purchase. The money comes from MasterCard every time you use your card, and PayPal passes these bonuses on to you when you follow certain guidelines.

The card works just like a MasterCard credit card, except that instead of getting billed each month for all your charges, the funds will come right out of your PayPal account immediately every time you make the purchase.

Since there's no delay, the PayPal debit card is the fastest way to retrieve your PayPal balance. Another option is to use the virtual Debit Bar [Hack #12], which allows you to use your PayPal funds at web sites that don't accept PayPal.

To be eligible for the PayPal debit card, you must meet these conditions:

  • You need to have a U.S.-based PayPal account, and the account needs to be active and in good standing for at least 60 days.

  • You need a Premier or Business account, as described in the beginning of this chapter.

  • You must attach a credit card that has its monthly statement sent to a physical street address (not a P.O. box).

  • You must be verified [Hack #2].

To apply for the card, log into PayPal, click the My Account tab, and then click Withdraw. Click "Shop with a PayPal debit card" and then click Continue. The next page displays your name and confirmed address, as listed with the aforementioned credit card. Double-check your information here, check the box to indicate that you have read and agree to the user agreement, and click Submit when you're done. PayPal then processes your application and sends you a physical card in the mail.

Now, to get cash back from PayPal when you make debit card purchases, you have to become PayPal Preferred. To qualify, you must be an eBay seller and agree to choose only PayPal when specifying the payment methods in eBay's Sell Your Item form. You can still accept checks and money orders, and you can even mention other online payment services in your end-of-listing email to buyers, but you need to advertise PayPal exclusively in your actual eBay listing. To get started, click PayPal Preferred in the Enhance Account box to the left of your Account Overview page.

The PayPal debit card can also be used like an ATM card to withdraw money at automated cash machines that display the Cirrus or MasterCard logo; this covers most ATMs, including many outside the U.S. However, you won't earn any cash back when you use the ATM card to make cash withdrawals. And since PayPal charges $1.00 for each ATM withdrawal (regardless of the amount), it's best to make cash withdrawals only in emergencies.

PayPal sets a daily limit on debit card usage. The limit typically falls between $1,000 to $3,000 per day for debit purchases and $300 to $400 per day for ATM withdrawals. You can view your limits by logging into PayPal and selecting View Limits on the Overview page.

Some users have found the debit card to be a good way to transfer money to other parts of the world. While PayPal issues debit cards to U.S.-based PayPal members only, it's possible for someone outside the U.S. to make ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases.

If you already have one debit card, you will most likely be eligible to receive a second debit card, which can be used by your partner, spouse, child, or whomever you allow to access your PayPal account funds. All the same cash back credits and charge limits will apply. If eligible, PayPal will provide a Request a Second Debit Card link on your account Overview page in the What's New section.