*This post contains a referral link to Payoneer. If you use it, we will both benefit (financially) so it’s a win/win! Thank you in advance. 🙂
One of the biggest struggles of anyone who wants to embark on selling products or services online/overseas is how to get your hard-earned cash from PayPal (the most popular digital payment platform) to Jamaica.
If you have a US bank account, that’s great! You’re covered. You can flourish and be a part of the masses that have access to modern-day technological advancements in the financial industry. Yay you! (Do I sound bitter? I am!)
For the rest who are still stuck in the Dark Ages dealing with Jamaican financial institutions, here’s what I recommend.
The Best Solution
The best solution I’ve found – and the one I’ve been using for the past 6+ years – is Payoneer. It allows me to get my money from PayPal or get payments directly from my clients, then access these funds through their Prepaid Mastercard or transfer it to my local bank account in Jamaica for an excellent exchange rate, in less than 24 hours.
But based on experience, the initial connecting of Payoneer to PayPal can be kinda tricky. And by tricky I mean, you won’t actually get through if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. That’s where I’d like to help. But before we dive in, let’s take a look at a few other alternatives I’ve seen floating around the Internet and whether they actually work.
The only official option for Jamaicans to get their money out of PayPal is to request a check. That check takes up to 5 days to be generated, 2-3 weeks to get to you, then 30 business days to be cleared by the bank. That’s a whole lotta days to be waiting on your money! And let’s hope your check doesn’t get lost in the mail like mine has.
Verdict: Kinda works, but takes too damn long!
Xoom is a service offered by PayPal which allows folks to send money to other countries digitally. Think of it as the online version of Western Union or MoneyGram. The problem with Xoom is, they only allow transfers from bank accounts, debit or credit cards in specific (read:developed) countries – not PayPal accounts. And if you had one of those, we wouldn’t be having this conversation so….next!
Verdict: Doesn’t work.
This is a local service offered by a Jamaican entrepreneur. You transfer your PayPal money to them, they take a $5 + 5% cut, then transfer the rest to your account at their going exchange rate (which, I assume, is on par with currency exchange shops).
While reasonable for one-off transactions now and then, those fees certainly add up (especially after you’ve already given PayPal their ~5% cut). They’ve also suspended their services abruptly, with no provided reason or timeline on when they’ll be back up, so it makes me concerned about their reliability.
Verdict: Works (but not right now) and kinda expensive.
Note: After writing this article, Humbird eCash reached out to me to tell me about their service, so I’m throwing them in.
This is another local service very similar to AmpleSum. You transfer your PayPal money to them, they send your funds to your Jamaican bank account within 1-3 business days. However, they take a 12.5% fee (including PayPal processing fees of approximately 5%) of the total sum, so be prepared for this if you decide to use them.
Verdict: Works, but very expensive.
This service is now defunct, but I decided to include it because the name still floats around the interwebs. It was offered by a local financial institution, Sprint Financial, and operated similarly to AmpleSum (above) but they shut it down abruptly after only a few months of operation, so I guess they determined it wasn’t viable.
Now that’s we’ve gotten through all that muddle, let’s get back to the saving grace that is Payoneer.
How Payoneer Works
Payoneer basically functions like an online bank, but for freelancers and businesses operating internationally (i.e. outside of the US). Because of this, it has become quite popular amongst online freelancers in developing countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Jamaica.
While they have a multitude of functions for both individuals and businesses, I’ll focus on the features that benefit online freelancers/small biz owners specifically. They allow you to:
- Accept direct payments companies and marketplaces (Fiverr, Upwork, Amazon, AirBnb)
- Transfer funds from PayPal to your account using their virtual bank account (which Payoneer calls the Global Payment Service)
- Spend using your MasterCard Prepaid debit card (which they mail to you when you sign up) at POS machines and withdraw from ATM
- Transfer money from Payoneer to your local bank account (all major banks and credit unions available)
How Much Does Payoneer Cost?
Here are some of the costs (in USD) you’ll incur when using Payoneer to facilitate your online freelancing/selling:
- Annual fee: $29.95 (Paid out of your first deposit, and once per year on the same date)
- Receiving direct payment from credit card: 3%
- Receiving direct payment for ACH bank transfer (including PayPal): 1%
- ATM withdrawals: $3.15 per transaction (Note: Most ATMs charge an additional fee for these withdrawals – around JMD$500)
- Bank account withdrawals: 3.5% of market rate (based on the official MasterCard rate, which is typically much higher than local exchange rates)
- Point-of-sale purchases: 3.5% currency conversion/cross-border fee
If you want more details, you can check out their full fee schedule.
Getting Payoneer Connected to PayPal
It’s important to note that transferring money from PayPal is not an advertised function of Payoneer. The two companies are in a bit of a competition and PayPal, being the biggest baddest bxtch in online money, doesn’t like to play well with others encroaching on their turf.
That said, it makes the setup process a little harder, but not impossible. And once you have the two connected, it’s smooth sailing. So here’s what you do…
- Set up your PayPal account – This should be pretty straightforward. It will ask you to add a credit card. If you don’t have one, you can click Skip or simply log out and log back in and you’ll skip that step.
- Set up your Payoneer account – You’ll need to verify your identity and enter a Jamaican address to get your card shipped to you. (You don’t have to wait for the card for this next part.)
- Contact Payoneer and let them know you need a bank account that can work with PayPal – The default one they give you is sometimes flagged by Paypal but they can give you an alternative. (You can access your bank credentials at this link once you’ve signed up and logged in.)
- Try to add your new bank credentials to PayPal – Rarely, this works right away. If it does, congrats – you’re done! But chances are, you’ll get an error message. If so, proceed to next step.
- Call PayPal and ask for assistance adding your bank account – They’ll try to walk you through it. Tell them you’re getting an error, and they’ll offer to do it on their end. Let them. LOL. If for any reason they identify you as a Payoneer customer, thank them for their time, hang up and start over from step 3. (It’s good to give at least a few hours break before calling back, to reduce the likelihood of getting back the same agent.) Eventually, your card will be added.
- Once you have money in your PayPal account, proceed with a standard transfer – Select the bank account you added as your preferred payout option. Within a business day (often less), the transfer will go through and you’ll see the funds (less 1%) reflected in your Payoneer account.
- If you wish to use your card for a transaction, you can use your card immediately – Payoneer is currently implementing a change where your card balance is separate from your account balance, so be sure to verify that your balance is on your card before attempting a transaction. Otherwise, you could end up very embarrassed at a cash register.
- To withdraw from Payoneer to your local bank account – Click Withdraw > To Bank Account in the main menu at the top, enter the requested info, including your bank account details and click withdraw. Payoneer will tell you upfront how much money you’ll get in the exchange before you make the withdrawal, so you don’t have to worry about a crap rate or unexpected balance. Once again, within a day (often less), you’ll see the payment reflected in your bank account. (Though I’ve been told the initial transaction can take up to 3 days while they verify your account/identity, etc.)
- For future transactions, you only have to repeat steps 6 and 7/8. Easy peesy.
It’s Your Money, and You Want It Now!
Sure, PayPal-to-Payoneer is clearly a bit of a hassle to set up, but once you have it up and running, it’s a breeze. Getting acess to your money within 2 days for less than 3% sure beats every other method available on this list, which is why I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in earning online.
(Unfortunately, due to the large volume of messages and emails I receive on this, I’ve had to close the comment section. Please reach out to Payoneer Support or PayPal Customer Service if you have any further questions on this. They can help you far better than I can.)