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paypal online paymentsHere at MakeUseOf, we have recently had a revelation when it comes to using PayPal to pay staff writers: it turns out you can save massive amounts of money in PayPal fees by using the bulk batch payment manager (known as Mass Payment) rather than sending separate Paypal online payments.

We had no idea we would save quite so much by using this method. And because we know other people will benefit from using the bulk payment option, we felt we had to spread the word. We know here’s a lot of people out there making online Paypal wage payments and possibly paying unnecessary fees.

So this is what Mass Payment is all about.


Typical PayPal fees within the same country are 1.9-2.9% + USD$0.30. When you cross borders, international PayPal fees can creep up to 3.9% + USD$0.30. So, a payment for US$100 could wind up with a fee of US$4.20, which normally gets paid by the receiver. A much smaller fee is applied to Mass Payments. Any online freelancers getting paid a full-time wage this way will surely have noticed the significant impact of these fees on their final wage. But, they’re completely unnecessary – we just need to get the people making payments to update their ways.

By the way, don’t get too cranky with PayPal for these fees. Ever seen the fees banks charge to make international transfers? PayPal are really just passing on bank fees and other processing fees to do with single payments. You’re no doubt saving PayPal money too by suggesting your boss make Mass Payments.

So, let’s talk it through step-by-step so you can simply hand your boss this article and they’ll know exactly what they need to do. While you’re there, mention that by using Mass Payment their accounting records will be much easier to navigate.

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Firstly, the sender will need to have a verified PayPal Premier or Business account. It’s easy to upgrade an existing account to Premier or Business, but it does require verifying the email address and bank account used with the sender’s PayPal account.

Secondly, the sender will need to ensure they have sufficient funds in their PayPal account. Credit cards can’t be used for Mass Payments.

Mass Payments can be made to any email address – if a recipient doesn’t have a PayPal account using that exact email address, the address can be easily added to an existing PayPal account. So, all the sender needs is to know the email address and how much they want to send. Senders should also note that all payments in a Mass Payment need to be made in the same currency as each other.

The sender needs to create a tab delimited file containing the email addresses, currency and amounts to be paid. From Excel, this is something you can create easily by saving as “Text (Tab Delimited)”. Put email addresses in the first column, payment amounts in the second column and the currency code in the third column (see PayPal for the codes). An optional fourth column lets you put in some sort of identifier for each person for your own accounting records. Another optional fifth column allows you to send a personal message to that recipient.

paypal mass pay feature

To access Mass Payment, click the “Mass Payment” link at the bottom of the page when you’re logged in to PayPal.

paypal mass pay feature

This takes you to an overview of Mass Payment, including guides, fees, codes and examples. Click on “Make a Mass Payment” to get started.

paypal mass payment feature

The Mass Payment file upload is straightforward and easy to use. It’s simple to add a generic subject and body to the email sent with all payments. Note that it’s also possible to use the PayPal API to send Mass Payments, so if you’re a larger company (or you just prefer automation) there’s that option available to you as well.

Mass Payments are processed instantly and available for recipients to use or withdraw immediately.

A word of caution: Ensure your recipient is trustworthy and has fulfilled their service or delivered their goods because PayPal Mass Payments can’t be cancelled.

If the recipient has a personal PayPal account in the same country as the sender (and the sender is not using a credit or debit card to make the payment), sending payments to them is free the regular way. If the recipient has a Premier or Business account, or they are in a different country to the sender, the fees are lower with a Mass Payment. With regular payments, the sender can choose whether to pay the fees or let the recipient pay them, however with Mass Payment the sender must pay the PayPal fees. So, discuss with the recipients which method is best before you send a Mass Payment.

If you use PayPal regularly, check out these other MakeUseOf articles on Paypal:

If you’re making regular international PayPal payments to people who you know you owe money to, this is definitely the way to go. Get set up now and save your team money!

  1. Anonymous
    September 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Paypal has always been non-trivial to administer. You really have to spend some time learning the secrets.

  2. timmyjohnboy
    August 16, 2010 at 2:53 am

    I wonder why Paypal hasn't talked up this option. It seems like a real perk.

  3. Vordreller
    August 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    So... what if I upload a file with only 1 payment in it?

    • Angela Alcorn
      August 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      It should go through just fine.. and with the lower fee scheme. :)

  4. Binoy xavier
    August 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for enlightening post. Appreciated.

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