How to Prepare Your PayPal Account for International Payments

So you've decided that you want to start earning money online. Now let's set up your PayPal account, before you change your mind.

The State of Non-Payment

Whether you're still new to freelancing or a seasoned side-income veteran, getting paid can become quite a challenge.
  • Up to 40% of freelancers were having troubles getting payment "owed to them", according to Bit Rebels.
  • PayPal's Global Freelancer Survey of 2018 unveiled that up to 58% of freelancers in Indonesia have had to face non-payment for their work.
  • In the UK, almost 30% of freelancers surveyed in Dinghy's "freelancing in 2020" survey have also been stiffed. At least 40% of those were simply ghosted by the company who commissioned their work.
These are all payments that both the workers and the clients have somewhat agreed to at some point. So, you see, for many of us non-payment is not just a challenge.
It's the challenge. A well-known, global test.
To prevent non-payment, what creators can do is try to make it easier for people to pay for our work. Anyone should be able to send us money quickly and easily. And one way to do this is to create an account with an online service that facilitates secure transactions on the internet.

How Does PayPal Help Any of Us Get Paid?

Let's focus on a normal wire transfer for a sec. If you wire some money to Indonesia, it can take anywhere from 2 days to a few weeks for the transaction to complete.
In the days before digital payment, this process of moving money internationally from one bank to another is known to be tedious with various risks involved: inaccurate account number, delayed payment, human error during the manual processing, misspelled name. Literally many things can go wrong.
A digital payment system like PayPal or PP shortens the overall time it takes to complete a transaction. A transfer takes no more than 30 minutes, and it literally costs zero to transfer money from one digital account to another. All the client needs from you is your email address. Easy-peasy.
Once your fund is in, you’re free to withdraw it to your local bank account, or use your hard-earned money to fund your online transactions. Bloggers will face recurring annual expenditures such as domain renewal, hosting costs, or other subscriptions that thankfully can now be paid automatically with PP.

Having a digital payment account will only make it easier for you to receive international payments. It will cut the wait time significantly, reducing the burden of costs related to bank transfer and currency exchange.
Ready to start earning more with your freelance business? For this tutorial, we’ll look at how we can sign up and prepare our account to receive international transfers.

Setting Up Your Free Account

Step 1: Sign up for a personal PayPal account.

Because most freelance platforms already use and trust PP, to start receiving money as an online creator, you just need to create a regular account. The free personal account.
Unless you’re planning on selling products on your own site with the PP checkout or on places like Shopify or Ebay, you don’t need a business account. A freelance content creator receive and send money with the regular account.
There are two ways you can register: through the website or from the mobile app. Watch the video below to follow the creation process for an account in Indonesia.

[VIDEO TUTORIAL: Create a free PayPal account /id]

This process today should still be painless and instant, but you do need to prepare a few things to be able to use the platform:
  • your ID or driving license or passport (just one of the three will do)
  • your mobile phone
Input your identification number during signup to send a one-time password to your mobile phone number and complete the process. Be sure that the phone is active and can receive a text message. Have both items near you while you’re registering.

Step 2: Fill out your personal information.

Once you’ve completed the steps mentioned above and have received your one-time password, you’ll be asked to confirm your email address and log in with your password. Within your dashboard, your personal information can be found within Settings, which is the gear icon next to log out.
Your profile photo
Your default photo is a plain avatar from PP, which you definitely should update with your most recent one.
Your legal name
When registering, you need to make sure that your name is spelled correctly. It’s very important to use your legal name, as they appear on your bank account or credit card. You can change your name if you need to, but with proof of legal documents, such as a marriage or divorce certificate that clearly shows your face and ID number.
To change your name, click on Change name right below your current name and choose one of the three options: change your legal name, update your name, or make a minor correction (1 or 2 characters).
PayPal is very peculiar about this. In order to cash out locally, your bank needs to verify your identity. Normally, though, this entry wouldn’t really be an issue, unless you have a one-word name. (Many Indonesians do.)
Your address
When you link your credit card to your account, the address you have on file for the card will automatically be updated to your PP account. You’ll be able to add new addresses if you’re currently spending more time elsewhere.
Email addresses
In total, your account can be linked to 7 different email addresses, including one primary where you get your account related notifications sent to. Why so many? A separate email address really is handy when you’re registered with a lot of freelance platforms. Think of it as setting an email for each income funnel.
Mobile phone number
Recently PP has made it mandatory that you give them your mobile phone number when registering. So make sure that this number is up-to-date.

Step 3: Set up your wallet to receive funds.

From the top of your dashboard, if you click on Wallet, you’ll be able to add new international currency. It’s very important that you prepare this before actually receiving a foreign payment, because there might be additional costs related to receiving a currency you’re not ready for.
From Wallet, go to PayPal balance and choose + Add a currency. Your current default currency is set to receive USD, but you can add common currencies such as AUD, GBP, and EUR.
The following currencies are currently available: CAD, Swiss franc (CHF), Czech koruna (CZK), Danish krone (DKK), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Hungarian forint (HUF), Israeli new shekel (ILS), Japanese yen (JPY), Mexican peso (MXN), Norwegian krone (NOK), New Zealand dollar (NZD), Philippine peso (PHP), Polish zloty (PLN), Russian ruble (RUB), Swedish krona (SEK), Singapore dollar (SGD), Thai baht (THB), and New Taiwan dollar (TWD).
Now what you do next is check your setup for reciving payments from the Seller Tools tab. Go to Seller Tools > Getting Paid > Payment receiving preferences, and update. You will see on the top the option to "Allow payments sent to me in a currency I do not hold:" and select "Ask me whether to accept or deny each individual payment."
This will avoid any additional charges from converting them to US Dollars, the current main currency. Once you get this setting right, you'll need to manually approve payments made in a foreign currency that you did not set up.

Step 4: Link a bank account/credit card/both.

When later on you want to withdraw the funds you’ve collected into a local bank, you’ll receive your money in a bank account that you’ve already linked to PP.
As long as the name you have on file and the name you used to register with PP is one and the same, this process will be very simple. There is another option to link a credit card account, which is optional. It’s a good idea to link both early on, but if you don’t have a card, just your bank account will be enough.
In addition, you’ll be able to link more than one bank and more than one credit card to your PP, and when you cash out, PP will be able to send your funds to both issuers.

Step 5: Set up a link (optional).

Other than to receive freelance payments and to pay for your online expenses, PayPal is an option you can use to crowd fund your project, raise donations, or directly support you. All you need to do is set up an easy to remember that is uniquely you, and then share that link across your social media. Your supporters will recognize your link and if they decide to support your cause, they’ll easily send money your way.
To create your own link, visit PayPal.Me and click Create Your PayPal.Me Link.
Next, personalize your link. Use the name of your freelance business, your nickname, or your username that you use often on social media. Anything that will help people recognize that it’s your link.
Also be sure it’s something you like, because once you create your link, you won’t be able to edit it. And be sure to share your link everywhere to help make it easier for people to support you.

Step 6: Additional security settings.

From the Security tab, located to the right of Account, you can see additional settings to help keep your account secure. Although this is optional, it wouldn’t hurt to know what needs to be managed and how.
Experts recommend that we update our passwords once every couple of months—at least every 3 months. Create a strong and unique password each time to help keep your account 'uncrackable'. Maintenance tip: to keep your account active on any service provider online, you need to log in at least once every 2 years.
2-step verification
Using a form of two-factor authentication helps keep your account safe, even if your password has been cracked. A combination of 2-step verification and machine generated password is usually enough to keep your accounts uncompromised. You can use an authenticator, such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator app, from your mobile or you can have PP text you the additional code each time you log in.
I suggest using an authenticator, because sometimes text messages get lost in space and it can be a hassle when you’re out with no reception.
Scan the QR code generated by PP, and then enter the 6-digit code you see in the authenticator app and click submit. Each time you log in, you’ll be asked to enter a one-time code from the authenticator.
Auto login
It’s a good idea to log out of devices that you no longer use or recognize. If you see that you’re logged in to devices other than the ones you are using, just turn it off.
Permissions you’ve given
Every couple of months, review and update the data and permissions you’ve given to apps and sites. A good rule of thumb is if you’re not using the apps or sites anymore, remove the permissions.
Security questions
Again, this is optional. You can set up 2 security questions that will be asked from you each time you need to make fundamental changes to your account, such as resetting your password. However, you really need to make sure that you remember the questions and their answers to the t. Keep a screenshot of the questions and their answers, or write them down on a secure piece of paper. And don’t lose them! If you’re not sure, then don’t turn this security feature on.
Customer service PIN
Finally, you can add a secure 6-digit customer service PIN to your account. Remember your combination, and never lose the PIN.

Step 7: Set up your preferred way to pay.

If you’re going to be using your account for online purchases, just make sure that you set up a preferred way to pay from the Payments tab. You’d be prompted to make a choice, usually between your PP balance and your credit card.
This really depends on how comfortable you are with using your cards online. I always set up my preferred way to be balance first. If there isn’t enough funds in my balance, but this is rather rare, PP will usually ask to pick a different payment method (the card) as the need arises.

You’ve Nailed the Fundamentals

You’ve completed all the steps and has a better understanding of your account. We're all set!
Your PayPal Setup Checklist
Basically, once you’ve got the fundamentals right, you can start receiving money for your work. That link you created, that could serve as a tipping jar.
Did I mention that one maintenance tip about logging into your account at least once every couple of months just to keep it active? (Just double-checking to make sure we’re good.)
Also, some people may wonder whether or not it’s okay to leave their balance empty. And the answer is yes, of course.
What you should remember is this. PP isn’t a bank. It’s a middleman service catering digital transactions, charging fees for these monetary services.
We won’t be punished for not having any money in our wallets, but we won’t generate any interest either from whatever amount we keep in our balace. Generally, what you want to do once you get paid is transfer that money to a verified bank account. Maybe leave some amount in there, just enough for things like domain renewal, online subscriptions, etc.
These should make it easier for people to support us.
Now, what about you? How are you getting paid for your freelance works?

[Illustration by Icons 8 from Icons8]


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