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A Bird in the Hand - Withdrawing from PayPal

written by: Aaron R.•edited by: Mark Muller•updated: 6/27/2011

While PayPal is a really useful payment processor, it can be a bit difficult to get your money out quickly if you don't know what you're doing. I'll cover the various withdrawal methods below, and cover how to stay safe doing it.

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    Getting Your Digital Dollars to Real Ones Isn't Too Hard The one unfortunate side of PayPal is that it is just a payment processor at heart. If you want to actually get dollars in your hand, then you'll need to take a few steps to properly do it. PayPal makes this fairly easy, if a bit time consuming. You have the option to receive your money as a transfer to your bank account, as a check to your mailbox or through an ATM and a debit card issued by PayPal. I strongly suggest that you stick to these services, because you run a very big risk of getting scammed if you try to go offsite.

    The average time that it takes for your money to move from a Paypal account to your bank account will depend on the method that you use. Checks take a few days for processing and then must be mailed. Bank transfers take a few business days to process, and there will have to be an initial test transfer to verify the account. If you decide to go with the debit card, you'll face virtually no delay (besides the walk to the ATM) once your card arrives.

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    Security Side

    I'm just going to say this at the start to be clear. Do not go to outside withdrawal services if it can be helped at all. PayPal offers a lot of legitimate methods to withdraw your money. Adding in a third party really opens you up to scams and fraud. Do not trust people you don't personally know to handle your money, and only go to third-party sites if they have an ironclad reputation. I mean ironclad, A few blog posts with affiliate links don't count. A lot of nasty things can happen if they get access to your PayPal account. You don't even want to know what would happen if the same people had your PayPal account and banking information.

    Exchanges between PayPal and other online payment systems are usually fraught with risk, since there's little recourse for a private money exchange, especially since scammers often ask that you send the payment as a gift to “avoid fees and stay safe.”

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    This is probably the easiest for the average user, for the occasional payment. For $1.50, PayPal will draft a check for you and send it to the address that's listed on your account. Just tell them the amount and wait a few days for it to arrive. You will obviously need to cash or deposit it to gain access to the money.

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    Bank Withdrawal

    A bit quicker of a solution is to do the deposit electronically. If you add a bank account to your PayPal account, you can safely send money to it through an electronic transfer. Note that this isn't a bank wire. It will be done via an ACH transfer. It will be free, but take a few days to make it into your account. And note that PayPal will have access to your bank account if you do this, so your money is at a slightly greater risk. You'll need to keep up good security, since the costs will be higher.

    In order to add an account, you will need to have the bank account's number and the router number of your bank. You can get both of these off of the checks that the bank issues. If you don't have checks, then you can call or email your bank's support line to get the routing number.

    Once you add the account, PayPal will send two transfers to the account with a randomized number of cents. You will need to verify ownership of the account, and confirm for yourself that the information was input correctly, by logging back in and typing in the amounts that you received. You'll either need to log into your online bank account and read the statement, visit or call your bank or wait until you receive your statement.

    From this point on, you can then choose the bank account that you wish to withdraw to, and then put in the amount of money that you want to move.

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    PayPal Debit Card

    This isn't really complicated, at least in practice, so it's a good one to end the article on. If you wish, you can apply for a PayPal debit card. The card is through MasterCard, and acts as a fairly standard debit card. They currently offer 1 percent cashback, but you will need to be accepted for it. Once you have the card, it will be tied to your PayPal account. You can then withdraw or spend money from your account just as you would any bank account.

    I don't personally use it, but I'm sure that it'd be very useful for some.

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    Source: Author's own experience with PayPal

    Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons/BrokenSegue