Most microstock agencies pay in dollars. Pond5, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Getty Images do so.

This is great if you live in the USA, but not as much if you live in a country that uses another currency, like me, living in Italy, where we use euros, like 350 million people in Europe.

The only agencies left paying in euros are the smaller ones. As a microstock contributor, I won't even mention them because I find them useless, as they don't generate earnings worthy of the time spent using them. So, in the vast digital world of opportunities, they simply drain your useful energy away from obtaining higher revenues.

The good news regarding payments for your stock footage and stock images is that agencies transfer exactly the amount you've earned to your PayPal or Payoneer account, without hidden fees.

The bad news is that if your country's currency is not the dollar but the euro or any other, PayPal and Payoneer apply currency exchange fees ranging from 2 to 3%, sometimes with additional costs that are difficult to quantify due to the lack of clarity in their guidelines.

Short strategy to avoid PayPal currency exchange fees

For years, I tried to avoid currency exchange fees, not only to save money but also because I always considered them unfair, especially due to the unclear manner in which they are applied. As a professional stock footage producer, I lost thousands of euros due to this deplorable business practice.

In the past, I tried everything to avoid them: opening an account in dollars in my European Union bank account, urging microstock agencies to pay by bank transfer, even asking a friend living in the USA to let me send microstock payments to his American PayPal account and then forward them to mine, but none of these ideas ever worked because PayPal always found a loophole to apply currency exchange fees. Fortunately, that's no longer the case today.

Let me briefly explain the strategy before going into a detailed tutorial.

  1. Send microstock payments to PayPal.
  2. Add a credit card provided by Revolut to your PayPal account, with dollars as currency.
  3. Transfer the dollars from PayPal to the Revolut credit card via immediate bank transfer.
  4. Convert the dollars to euros within Revolut with zero fees.
  5. Transfer the euros (or your currency) to your local bank account, again with zero fees.

The only expense you'll incur is at step 3 when you send the dollars to the Revolut credit card, and PayPal charges you 1%, with a minimum fee of $0.25 and a maximum fee of $10. So, if you transfer more than $1,000, that 1% decreases in proportion to the increase in the amount.

Now let me explain step by step what you need to do. The first thing is to:

Both operations are free and simple, so I won't guide you through them step by step.

What PayPal and Revolut are

PayPal is useful for receiving payments from microstock agencies or for sending money to friends who have another PayPal account, without waiting for the day it takes for a bank transfer. Sending money to another PayPal account is free if you use the friends and family function.

PayPal is famous for many reasons. Nerds know it because at the beginning it was led by those who later became the kings of the technological world for the next 20 years, namely Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman. It's a bit like having a kids' soccer team with Messi, Maradona, and Pelé as strikers.

But the reason why people know PayPal is that it’s the most widely used payment tool on the web, with its pros and cons. Despite my dislike of it due to its unclear fees, I've always had to use it because, being commonly accepted by hundreds of millions of users, many prefer to pay with PayPal for the stock footage I sell on my websites, footageforpro.com, and thearchivefootage.com. As a website owner my choice is between:

  1. not selling my historical footage
  2. selling my historical footage, but paying annoying fees

As an entrepreneur, the second option is definitely better, especially if your product is digital, like stock footage, which means it has zero copy production costs. This implies that your margins go from 100% to a very acceptable 95/96% once you've paid PayPal service fees.

Revolut is another financial technology company, or fintech. It offers fully digital banking services such as:

  • currency exchange
  • a credit card in physical, virtual, and disposable form

Having entered a mature market, divided between the giant PayPal and aggressive alternatives like Stripe, Wise, and Payoneer, Revolut is particularly convenient for us users in some functions, otherwise, no one would use it.

Tutorial to avoid PayPal currency exchange fees

Sign in to your PayPal account:

In the top left of your control panel, you'll find the dollar amount that the microstock agencies have just sent you.

Or even more if, after previous payments, you left the money in the account waiting for a better exchange rate or for a strategy like this one I'm sharing that allows you to avoid fees.

In the top menu, click on Pay & Get Paid/Wallet/Banks & Cards:

In the window that opens, under Credit and Debit Cards click Link a card:

You need to enter the details of your Revolut card, but pay attention. Revolut gives you the possibility to have three types of cards:

  1. Physical.
  2. Virtual.
  3. Disposable.

In the first version of this tutorial, I didn't specify what a user discovered and kindly reported to me.

If you use the data of a physical Revolut Mastercard, the procedure below does not work because the card does not allow direct charges/credits. Therefore, you need to enter the data of the disposable card or, even better, the virtual card. The second option is better because it allows you to transfer money from PayPal in the future without having to write the information again.

You can take details from the Revolut app, but there's an important step that, if missed, will nullify everything you're doing to pay zero/few currency exchange fees.

The Revolut credit card, by default, has British Pound as its currency because Revolut is a British company. You need to change it and set it to dollars. To do this, again go to Pay & Get Paid/Wallet/Banks & Cards, and click on the Revolut card you just added:

In the window that opens:

Click Edit, under Currency and change British pounds to dollars.

Now go back to the main PayPal page. In the top left, click on the blue button, Transfer Money.

You'll land at this window:

You need to select the in minutes option. And select the Revolut credit card you just added under Transfer to:

At a cost of 1%, with a minimum of $0.25 and a maximum of $10, the dollars will be converted into your currency in your Revolut account, without incurring any additional fees.

On Revolut, you can spend money using its credit card, which is activated from day one as a virtual card, and if you decide, you can also have it delivered to your home in its physical form.

Alternatively, you can send money for free to your local bank account.

Congratulations: if you're a good stock image and stock footage contributor, you've just saved hundreds of dollars per year.

Daniele Carrer

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