PayPal is one of those online entities like Google that everyone knows something about. You may be surprised about what you don’t know about PayPal, though. Whether you’re using it to pay for purchases on eBay, to sell some things, or to run a full-blown online business, here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of PayPal:
1. Use the Right Type of Account
PayPal offers four different types of accounts. Most casual users of PayPal have a Personal account, which comes with limited debit card and merchant service privileges and has some tools for use on eBay. The premier account comes with a debit card and unlimited merchant services, while the business account offers access for multiple users under the same account. The student account is similar to the personal account, but it comes with a debit card and is meant to help students learn to responsibly manage money.
If you do any amount of selling through PayPal other than the occasional eBay auction, you should look into a premier account rather than just a personal account, since you can pay less fees for the payments you accept for the things you sell. Getting the account that fits your needs will mean you end up paying less fees in the long run!
2. Link it to a Credit Card Instead of a Bank Account
The main appeal of PayPal – other than how easy it is for buyers to use – is that it protects your credit card or bank account information. However, PayPal accounts, like anything else online, can get hacked. If your account is linked to your bank account or debit card, thieves can actually overdraw your account, and you may have a harder time getting your money back. Normally PayPal will help straighten out the problem, but using a credit card gives you a guarantee against fraudulent charges. Plus, you can link your PayPal account to your cash back credit cards to get the same benefits from shopping online that you would by just entering your credit card information directly on a website.
3. Check Out PayPal Communications in your PayPal Account Only
PayPal is one of those sites that’s prone to people trying to phish for information through fraudulent emails that look authentic. Even if an email that you get from PayPal has the logo on it and looks very official, don’t click on links in your email. They’ll often take you to a very official-looking PayPal home page, where you’ll enter your username and password only to find that you’ve just given that information away to phishers. If you get an email from PayPal, it’s wise to type in the actual PayPal web address in your browser and log into your account. Any communication that PayPal officially sends to your email address will also be available through your PayPal account.
4. Apply for Merchant Rates
If you do $3,000 a month or more of business through your PayPal account, you should apply for merchant rates. You’ll end up saving money for your business because each transaction will cost you less. Even if you can’t get merchant rates the first time around for whatever reason, you might as well apply for them to see if you’ll be able to save your business money.
5. Sign Up with a Gmail Account
Google has actually set up special authentication for PayPal emails, so if you sign up with your Gmail address and get an email from PayPal, you can be nearly positive that it’s not phishing. Since the web is always evolving and thieves are always finding new ways to circumvent such measures, it’s still a good idea to go directly to PayPal to check out any communications. However, signing up for PayPal with a Gmail account will make the whole thing that much more secure.
6. Watch the Exchange Rate Problems
If you’re a PayPal user outside of the US, be aware that PayPal does not necessarily use the exact exchange rate, and it can sometimes cost you money. It’s up to you to research the exchange rate and the rate used by PayPal so that you can determine whether or not it might actually be cheaper to use another secure payment platform for your business needs.
7. Use PayPal Sandbox to Test It Out
If you’re a merchant using PayPal on your website to take payments, you can test out your code to make sure it’s working in the PayPal Sandbox. It’s much better to test your code before you put it on your website than it is to have frustrated customers who can’t use your PayPal related links properly!