When you search for “PayPal Israel,” our posts on the topic show so high in search results that we get a few calls a year asking us PayPal questions.
We are not PayPal experts, but using PayPal has become an integral part of our business, since it opens up an easy and relatively inexpensive way to accept payments for us and for our clients’ websites. And, unlike many US-based services like Stripe and Authorize.net, with PayPal your money isn’t stuck online, you can see and feel the actual money by depositing it into an Israeli bank account.
PayPal’s Documentation and Phone Support
Recently, PayPal redesigned their website – well some of it anyway. The homepage and some of the sales pages are new and shiny, but most of the support documentation is still stuck in their design mode circa 2001, which makes it hard to find clear answers to our questions. Luckily, Israel has a customer service number which we call every once in a while to get real answers.
PayPal’s shiny new homepage
PayPal’s not-as-shiny support documentation
As we wrote in June 2010, PayPal has an Israeli customer service phone number you can call. The number is: 073-713-7777. But there is something very strange about it… you can’t call the number from a land line! Only from a cellphone. Yup.
The menu is in Hebrew but if your Hebrew isn’t great, try pressing 2 and then 2 again. The representatives speak English and Hebrew.
PayPal’s Recurring Billing Options in Israel
We offer WordPress hosting and maintenance on a monthly basis and we manage the recurring payments via PayPal. Some of our clients don’t have PayPal accounts and prefer paying for the recurring monthly or annual payment by credit card. Currently, Israeli PayPal account owners can only accept recurring credit card payments if the payer opens a PayPal account and links it to their credit card. They don’t even have to put any money into their PayPal account, but it has to exist to make the credit card payments. (Note: payers using credit cards do not have any additional fees added on to their payment by PayPal.)
However, US PayPal account owners can use PayFlow PRO to do recurring billing directly to a credit card (without having the payer set up a PayPal account). That’s a much more user-friendly system than the current one available to Israeli merchants.
It’s awesome that PayPal has worked so hard to become compatible with the Israeli financial systems. Their efforts mean that they are pretty much the only option available to Israeli merchants who don’t want to go through the standard complicated and expensive credit card merchant account setup. But there are still some things that need improving: like a phone number that works with land lines, and an easier way to accept recurring credit card payments.
We at illuminea get quite a lot of PayPal support requests due to the fact that if you search for PayPal Israel on Google we appear high on the first page of results.
Well, we just found that PayPal Israel has established a local support number!
The number is 073-713-7777 and is open 9am to 6pm Sunday through Thursday.
I had a PayPal question so I decided to call and see how the support was. The rep was very friendly and helpful, and it turns out he’s located in Dublin. He told me that since this support service is new, the Dublin office is taking Israeli support questions until about the end of July, when the Israel office will have finished setting up Israeli support agents.
He also told me you can email your questions to email@example.com. This is a temporary address until the Israeli support team is up and running.
Here are some other PayPal posts we’ve written that you may find helpful:
Still confused by how to use PayPal in Israel? You’re not alone. No matter how many times we write it up and try to understand all the ins and outs, and jump for joy over new developments, we still have more questions. Ever since PayPal started paying attention to Israeli online payments, we’ve eagerly been following the developments along the way, and have even become so PayPal obsessed that we’re now considered PayPal experts.
But of course we’re obsessed since being able to easily accept and send online payments is crucial to any kind of online commercial activity. If you’re driving traffic to your ecommerce site with SEO (search engine optimization) and/or social media marketing, you need to see measurable results and often that includes making sales. The ability to use PayPal or other online gateways without having to sell our unborn children (someone on twitter actually made that comparison) can make all of that possible.
Luckily, Nissim Ohayon, Sr. Business Development Manager at PayPal Israel came to Jerusalem Web Professionals last night to try to calm our anxiety.
Here were the major questions and answers from the evening
- Can you withdraw US dollars in Israel?
No, you can only withdraw money in the currency of the country you’re in. In Israel, you can withdraw shekels. In the US, you can withdraw dollars.
- Can I use a local Israeli credit card like Visa Cal or Isracard to RECEIVE money?
No, but now it’s not really an issue since you can withdraw funds to your Israeli bank account.
- Can you use a local Israeli credit card to SEND money?
No, only PayPal or international credit cards at this point. No plans yet to make this available.
- How can I fill up my PayPal account with money?
Right now, the only way to fill up your account is through getting paid by someone else. No plans announced yet for when you can transfer funds from your bank account to your paypal account.
- There are 3 types of PayPal accounts – Personal, Premier, and Business. What’s the difference?
Personal: You can receive payments via PayPal only.
Premier: You can accept credit cards. For individuals who buy and sell online.
Business: You can accept credit cards. For merchants who buy and sell online.
- What are the fees associated with the Merchant (Business or Premier) accounts?
You can look at the PayPal Israel site to see a list of transaction fees.
- Are there any fees associated with the Personal account?
PayPal to PayPal payments are free. However, let’s look at the following example. Let’s say you have a personal account and someone is supposed to pay you $10. If their account has $0, the money will come from their bank account or credit card. If it comes from their credit card, you pay 5.4% fee to PayPal.
- Can you set up a PayPal Debit Card in Israel?
Not at the present time.
- Are there any plans for Hebrew integration, Hebrew buttons, etc.?
Not at the present time.
Handy Israel-Specific Send, Receive, Withdraw VISUAL
For Web Developers
Nissim discussed X.com, a developer network community for developers looking to extend PayPal’s usage with new applications.
Alternatives to PayPal in Israel for accepting local credit cards
Since PayPal doesn’t accept local Israeli credit cards, Tranzila came up as the only alternative to PayPal to accept local Israeli credit cards. The problem for small businesses in Israel is that Tranzilla charges a monthly fee which is not cost effective for minimal monthly transactions.
In short, Nissim reminded me what a great option PayPal is for safely accepting international payments. He also emphasized what a huge marketplace PayPal is with over 200 million users and $3Billion in play every 2 weeks.
It was also so nice to see a real person behind the faceless company come to Jerusalem to explain the nitty gritty and answer our zillions of questions.
Unfortunately, PayPal Israel doesn’t look like it will be in Hebrew or accept local Israeli credit cards any time soon.
For more questions, you can follow Nissim on Twitter, or ask questions here in the comments. He’s been very responsive here on our other posts about PayPal.
More on using PayPal in Israel:
The day that I thought would never arrive is here: Israeli PayPal account holders can now withdraw their PayPal funds to Israeli bank accounts! Oh happy day.
PayPal says that it will take 3-5 days for your funds to arrive in your Israeli bank account, and there is an 8 NIS fee if you withdraw less than 1000 NIS at a time:
To add a bank account to your PayPal account, you have to fill out the following form:
If you click on “What’s this?” next to where it says “Bank and Branch Code,” the following pop-up window will appear with the exact spelling of each bank in English for entering in the field called “Bank name,” and the exact bank code for entering in the field that says “Bank and Branch Code.”
In the “Bank and branch code” field, you need to enter the two digit code for your bank and then the three digit code for your branch number. So let’s say your bank account is at Bank Leumi in branch 368 – you would enter 10368 in that field.
Note that there is a minimum that you can withdraw, and that is 40 NIS.
I managed to add a bank account, but I haven’t yet tried withdrawing funds. But it seems to be set up to work, so hopefully we Israelis can now use PayPal as a real means for accepting credit card and online payments, without the stress we had to go through until now.
So you’re wondering how you can use PayPal in Israel? Does PayPal accept Shekels? Can you withdraw your PayPal funds to your Israeli bank account? Etc. As you often do when in doubt, you head over to Google and type in “PayPal Israel” to see what the web has to say about your questions. If you are located in Israel, here are approximately what the results will look like:
See results number 3 and 4? That’s us. Where’s PayPal or PayPal Israel? Nowhere to be seen.
Ranking high for this term was an accident for us. We happen to have published two blog posts on the subject of using PayPal in Israel over the past year, and as you can see the web is not exactly saturated with good content on this topic, so it was an easy score.
The funny thing is that as a result, people have begun to perceive illuminea as PayPal Israel experts. We get at least one phone call and/or email from people with questions about using PayPal in Israel about once a week.
PayPal Israel is missing an opportunity
Although PayPal officially serves the Israeli community, the amount of information available online about using PayPal in Israel is meager at best and confusing at worst, and the amount of people with questions is huge as is evidenced by the number of them contacting us with their PayPal questions.
I must give credit to Nissim Ohayon, Sr. Business Development Manager at PayPal Israel, who wrote a post on our blog about using PayPal in Israel, and even took the time to answer the many questions posed by readers in the comments.
However – maybe this is a sign that PayPal and/or PayPal Israel needs its own blog? PayPal should be engaging in the conversation, providing solid and timely information. I suspect that PayPal could win quite a lot of Israeli clients if it provided a minimum standard of online customer support.
Twitter’s great, but it can never take the place of the blog
This accidental positioning of our company as experts in the field of PayPal use in Israel demonstrates the strength and importance of blogging.
Twitter is all the rage these days, and people have even questioned whether twitter will take the place of the blog. The truth is, many people, myself included, are blogging less because they are spending more time on twitter. However, with all the value that twitter provides let nobody tell you that it can replace the power of blogging.
A blog allows you to present an idea and follow through on it. You cannot do that in 140 characters. (Can you imagine this post as a tweet? Let’s try: “illuminea appears #3 & 4 in Google SERPS for term PayPal Israel thanks 2 our blog. PayPal not even on 1st page. Lesson: keep blogging”. Not too bad!) In addition, it offers loads of content for search engines to index and present to users in their results. Yes, tweets do appear in search results but less than blog posts, and also with a strange sort of randomness.
Also, a blog gives you your own place on the web. The content you create on facebook or twitter helps prop up those networks. The content you create on your blog helps prop up your own place on the web.
So don’t bury blogging yet. It’s still the foundation of any online marketing activity you undertake, whether it’s SEO, PPC, email, or social media. It’s on your blog that you have a chance to convert users in whatever way you hope to do so.
In the meantime, we’re happy to answer your PayPal questions as best as we can so don’t let this post stop you from contacting us! And keep blogging!
Our previous posts about using PayPal in Israel:
There always seems to be confusion regarding how Israelis can use PayPal – can they use it in their currency, i.e. Shekels? Can they withdraw funds? Are there limits they should know about?
Almost a year ago I blogged about an announcement on the PayPal blog regarding new PayPal currencies, one of which was the Israeli Shekel. Despite that post, some questions still persisted, and the accuracy of the information was doubted.
Well, I’m happy to say that I now have the latest info regarding PayPal and Israel straight from PayPal! The following information was provided by Nissim Ohayon, Sr. Business Development Manager at PayPal Israel:
While PayPal services are not fully rolled out for Israeli merchants, thousands of Israeli merchants are using PayPal for cross border sales with great success. Here are some links that will direct you to the products and features available to Israeli merchants today:
- Main PayPal web page for Israeli users and merchants: www.paypal.com/il.
- Small to Medium Merchants:
- Email Payments – Click here for full details
- No integration required.
- Accept credit/debit card as well as PayPal balance and echeck payments immediately.
- Website Payments Standard (WPS) – Click here for full details including fees and integration tools.
- Simple to Integrate. Select from one of three easy integration options.Click here for details.
- No need to “qualify.” Just open a premium or business account online and follow the instructions.
- Your site can be integrated and ready to accept credit card payments in a single day.
- Click here for an online demo (may take a few minutes to load).
- To see if your shopping cart software already has a kit for Website Payments Standard, please follow this link.
- Merchants with their own merchant account:
- Express Checkout (EC) – Click here for full details including fees and integration tools.
- Some advanced programming may be required.
- To see if your shopping cart software already has a kit for PayPal Express Checkout, please follow this link.
- If your shopping cart is not listed on the page at the previous link, please direct your developers to this link to review the API documentation on how they can integrate PayPal Express Checkout to your site.
- Your account may need to pre-qualify for Express Checkout, so please contact me directly if you wish to integrate this product into your site.
A few important notes for Israel-based users and merchants to consider:
- Withdrawing funds is now available directly in Israel, in New Israeli Shekels via an Israeli-issued Visa card. Since Visa cards in Israel are typically linked to a bank account, those funds do settle directly into your bank account, via your credit card. Please note that this feature is restricted to a $750/day limit. We have plans to improve on the withdrawal methods for Israeli accounts in the coming months, so please stay tuned.
- PayPal users and merchants that have a US bank account may link it to their PayPal account even if their PayPal account is here in Israel. This allows Israeli merchants and users to move funds in and out of PayPal directly to/from their US bank account without the daily limits mentioned above.
- The PayPal web site will not be available in Hebrew in 2009. This means that Hebrew sites will not be able to integrate with the service yet.
To get started, open a PayPal Premier or Business account to start accepting credit cards and PayPal payments today by clicking here.
Note what it says about withdrawing funds: it can only be done with a Visa brand credit card, and the money is transferred through the Visa network and arrives in their bank account. This is because the overwhelming majority of Visa cards in Israel are linked to a checking account. So when Visa goes into the account to withdraw funds, funds will be deposited instead (or, at least offset from some of the withdrawals for Visa transactions).
I hope this information is helpful!
People are always asking us about Paypal and how it works in Israel with the Shekel. So, I went back to the announcement on the PayPal blog, New PayPal Currencies: Mexican Peso and Israeli Shekel. After reading over comments from Moshe, Fabio, Roi, Roberto, Yeong-Ping Koh and the like, I learned more from the comments section than from the post itself. Here’s what I discovered:
- You can withrdraw money to any Israeli-issued VISA cards or U.S. Bank. Israeli PayPal users cannot withdraw funds to a MasterCard.
- You can use your ILS balance to pay anyone in 190 markets worldwide. You can also receive funds from buyers or family and friends in Shekels.At this time, Israeli users can only withdraw money to a Visa card. Israeli users can also withdraw funds to a U.S. Bank account.
- They’re using the ILS instead of NIS because PayPal uses the international currency code (ISO 4217) to represent all our currencies, and the first 2 characters has to be consistent with the country code IL.
- The functionality is no different from any of the other multi-currencies like EUR, GBP etc. So for example, you can use your ILS to pay someone in the US in USD, the seller will receive his money in USD and the equivalent amount of ILS will be withdrawn from your PayPal account after a conversion charge. If you are using the card to pay a domestic Israeli seller, then it should work like a domestic purchase. If you are using your credit card to make a payment internationally through PayPal, then it should work just like when you use the card at an international merchant website or at a foreign retail store, and there may be applicable charges from your credit card company depending on their policy.
Hopefully, cross your fingers, PayPal will keep its word to its commenters and implement local card acceptance (like Isracard), direct transfer to Israeli banks and add the Hebrew language to the Paypal site.
What online payment service do you use?