Learn about the service. PayPal’s home page is located at PayPal.com. From here, you can immediately request an account, or explore and learn a bit more about it. Here’s a quick run-down in case you don’t want to take the time to poke around yourself.
PayPal is an online banking service. As one of the oldest and most recognized names in the internet banking business, PayPal enjoys widespread acceptance as a payment medium for all kinds of online transactions.
PayPal is associated most closely with eBay, the famous online marketplace. However, it is also used in many other places.
There are different account levels. The most basic account is the Personal account. It’s free, and comes with a $500 monthly withdrawal limit.
Most people opt for the Personal account, which is essentially free to use as a purchasing tool. Those who sell goods or services regularly online might consider getting a higher-caliber account.
A Premier account, which costs money, lifts the monthly withdrawal limit, allows the account holder to accept personal credit and debit cards as payment for a modest fee, and adds live customer support service.
A Business account is the most expensive and full-featured type of PayPal account. It comes with everything added by the Premier account, as well as a number of other features useful to small businesses:
Access to advanced tools and reports from PayPal and eBay
The option to hold the account in the name of a business, rather than a person
Limited access options for employees to interact with the account
The ability to receive payments from buyers without PayPal accounts.
A PayPal credit card is available. This is a fairly straightforward Mastercard brand credit card with a middling range of interest rates and some perks for regular online shoppers who use the service.
PayPal comes with guarantees. PayPal is popular in part because it has features and services in place to help protect buyers and sellers alike from scams and problems with payment.
Partly because of this, the service is also notorious for placing unnecessary holds on user accounts, often for unclear reasons. PayPal’s basic financial protection philosophy can be described as “better safe than sorry.”
Sign up for an account. Once you’re ready to get a PayPal account for yourself, click the blue button in the upper right corner of the window that says “Sign Up.”
Choose your account type. On the first page, fill in your country information and then choose whether you are registering a personal account or an account for a business or nonprofit organization.
You can still upgrade your personal account to one of the other types later, so don’t apply as a business just to get a Business-level account.
Move on to page two. Fill in the required information and then carefully read over the four policies hyperlinked near the end of the page.
Finalize your account. When you have read over the material, check the box to indicate you’ve read it and click the yellow button at the bottom of the page that reads “Agree and Sign Up.”
PayPal only allows one individual account per person. If you want to make another individual account, you will have to close this one first.
Upgrade if you want. Once your account has been created, you can log in using the information you provided. The first page you see when you log in should be an overview display of your account. Under your name there is a link that reads “Upgrade.” Follow this link if you would like to purchase a Premium or Business account.
Verify your account. Look for a link on the main page that will allow you to do this. Your account can be verified by linking it to another bank account, proving you are a real person. Some of PayPal’s services are restricted until you have verified your account, so do it as soon as possible.
Learn to deposit money. If you want to make purchases using your PayPal account, it needs to have some money in it first. Click the link that says “Add Money” in the top left part of the main page to do this.
Verify your information. PayPal will need a bit more information from you before allowing you to deposit money. Give it the information and click the “Submit” button.
Choose how you would like to add money. You can add money to your account using any of a few different methods. For Personal account holders, there are two primary options:
Transfer funds from your bank. By providing bank information to PayPal, you can set up a way to transfer money from there to your PayPal account. This process is free, but each transfer takes 3-5 days on average.
Use Green Dot MoneyPak. This is a relatively new option that allows you to purchase a gift card-style card from a physical store such as a Walmart or a Rite Aid Pharmacy, and then enter the card code on the PayPal site to transfer the money you put on the card into your PayPal account.
There is an additional fee of up to $4.95 to purchase the card, which is how the store makes money from selling it.
Complete the transaction. Follow the prompts on the next screen after you choose your deposit method to complete it.
Learn to withdraw money. For people who sell things occasionally on eBay and other sites, the $500 monthly withdrawal limit on a Personal PayPal account is plenty; for more driven businesspeople, the limit will quickly prove restrictive. Whichever account type you hold, click the link on the main page that says “Withdraw” to begin.
Verify your information. As with depositing money, you must provide some basic information if you want to withdraw money from PayPal. Provide what is required and continue to the next page.
Choose your withdrawal type. PayPal has a number of withdrawal options that vary in delivery medium and convenience. Choose the one you prefer and click on the appropriate link. The options are:
A bank account transfer to your verified account, which takes a couple of business days but is free.
A written check from PayPal, which takes up to 10 days to receive and costs $1.50, but allows you to circumvent account verification.
A PayPal debit transaction, which is free and instant, but which requires you to request and receive the card first.
An ATM cash withdrawal, which is instant but costs $1.00 in addition to any other ATM fees.
A “Special Offers” option, which takes you to a page of special offers from around the Internet for PayPal users. Purchasing from this page is free and instant.
Complete the transaction. Fill in any additional required information on the next page and submit your request.
Learn to send and request money. Outside of eBay, PayPal provides tools for merchants and shoppers to automate and expedite the buying and selling process as much as possible, but there may still be times when you will want to send money through simpler channels, or request money from someone who hasn’t paid you yet.
Read the tabs near the top of the main page. There are two labeled “Send money” and “Request money.” Pick the one you want.
To send money, choose whether you are sending money as a Western Union-style wire transfer to a friend or family member, or sending money to pay for goods or services. Once you have chosen the appropriate option, read over the fees and complete the transaction.
To request money, choose whether to send an invoice or a simple request. Invoices are generated with help from PayPal; requesting money is done through a fill-in form but has the advantage of not being tied to your PayPal balance. Read over the fees involved with receiving money from a request, and finish up.
Explore other services. PayPal offers a fairly broad range of other services, especially business (selling) services, that range from custom website buttons to smartphone credit card swiping devices for physical storefronts. Learn about any additional services you are interested in by exploring the site.
Know the layout. Remember, there are five tabs across the top bar of the PayPal site. Each tab contains a sub-page with more specific options. By switching tabs and exploring options, you can find every piece of information on the site with ease. The tabs are:
Products & Services
Get comfortable with the My Account tab. Of all the tabs, My Account is the one you will visit most often. While you are on the My Account sub-page, a list of other important options become available just underneath the tabs, on a gray bar. Go to the My Account tab for these options:
Overview, a general overview of your account balance, fees, and pending transactions.
Add Money (previously covered), where you can deposit funds into your PayPal account.
Withdraw (previously covered), which allows you to withdraw money from your PayPal account.
History, which contains financial transaction logs and tax documents.
Statements, where the last three months of account statements are available to print or download for your permanent records.
Resolution Center, where you can go to request PayPal’s assistance in fixing payment disputes.
Profile, which displays all the personal information (aside from parts of very sensitive numbers such as Social Security numbers) for you to review and edit.