Payoneer – the case against

Up until today I’d have given Payoneer a thumbs up for Australian authors like myself for an option in accepting US payments from Amazon.

But then I looked at their latest fee change and the pretty decent chunk it’s just chewed out of my earnings this year…and now I’m giving the app a very wide berth…

The times changed back in those heady covid times

During the early stages of Covid, Australian banks for some reason decided they didn’t like foreign cheques as much as they once did. Even though money is money and I’ve never met a bank in my time on this planet that didn’t love having as much of a stuff as possible, one by one they quietly stepped away from dealing with them leaving barely any options to get foreign cheques cashed and the ones that remained were so expensive, you’d lose quite a bit of your earnings in the process.

Which means floating around my desk at the moment is a cheque from Amazon worth $101 US ($152 Aussie dolleredoos) that’s pretty much worthless now unless I decide to open an account and have the process eat most of it. Thanks but no thanks.

A young Bezo’s figuring out his cheque printing machine

Because the US financial system loves their cheques and Amazon especially, possibly harking back to the time when Jeffy B himself had his own cheque printing machine next to the overflowing stack of books when he kicked off Amazon from his own garage (allegedly) back in the 1800s. Which meant unless I had someone who could cash cheques in the US (which I don’t) I had to find an easier and less conversion hungry option.

Enter Payoneer


From Wikipedia:

Payoneer Global Inc. is an American financial services company that provides online money transfer, digital payment services and provides customers with working capital.


From me (before today)

Hooray! Now I don’t have to deal with these idiot local banks who feel my us cheques are plague ridden!

-Me, some time ago

In a nutshell Payoneer and their app helped set up some international bank accounts under my name so that Amazon stopped sending me useless bits of paper whenever I crossed their minimum payment threshold (of $100 US) and instead I could score those Amazonian dollars in digital form on a monthly basis, be they in US dollars, British pounds or European Euros.

Of course there were a couple of conditions before that lovely book and affiliate money made it into my hot little hands through this app, namely:

-Payoneer slugs you a $1 fee every time someone or a company sends you money. Which normally you’d think ‘pfft’ who cares, it’s just a measly dollar right? And when 50 bucks of earnings comes in during a month (rare), you hardly notice.
But when you make $1.12 in book sales for the month (which can happen sadly, welcome to self publishing), that’s your only payment and all you see is the $0.12 of that left over? That can sting. Still, that by itself is hardly make or break option.

-Payoneer also has a payment threshold. Gah. You’re not going to get that international coinage into your own account until you reach the minimum $50 US. Which if we use the fee chewing example above (and somehow that measly money stays constant), means you’d make it in roughly…35 years. (And then with what I discovered today, you’d never see any of it anyway…read on!)

But still, with those two caveats, it still worked out to be a payment option for my part time writing career because even with the fees and thresholds, I’d get most of the money I earned in the end. Joy! And then I checked how things were going today..

From Payoneer: You have received a payment!

My monthly earnings for book sales came in overnight (and being Amazon this would be from a few months ago) which meant I was very happy to receive this email when I got up:


..and just about ready to hurl my phone through the nearest window when I logged in to see how far I was from the next payment threshold and saw:

Wait, what the hell?

Yes in one fell sweep Payoneer’s brand new fees that kicked in less than two months ago have just eaten my latest earnings and a whole heap more from months before that.

Hi Al,

We’re writing to inform you that we are updating the Annual Account Fee.

Until now, we’ve charged an Annual Account Fee of 29.95 USD when customers have kept their account open for 12 months without making a transaction.

Starting 30 days from the date of this message, we’ll charge this fee if you receive payments totaling under 2,000.00 USD (or equivalent) in any consecutive 12-month period.

You can review your activity details at any point by visiting your account. Learn more about this update and how it applies to you here.
Thank you,
The Payoneer Team

-Payoneer, May 2023

Now I’m not a $2000 US per year earning author (god I wish I was!) and I’ve have to sell hundreds more books to get anywhere near that ballpark. But what I will be soon (once I get what’s left out of my account) is an ex-Payoneer customer because it’s not feasible for someone like me to use this service anymore.

Yes I understand fees, yes it’s a business but my book writing is also a tiny business that I’m trying to get off the ground and when something like this comes along and takes a massive chunk out of the hard earned, you can imagine how disappointed I am. Especially when they already get a slice of the action with every transaction, I can’t access any of it until I get to a limit and there’s conversion fees tacked on the end.

While it may work for you, it no longer fits my needs as a tool in my writing toolkit.
You’ve taken enough of my money Payoneer, I’m looking elsewhere.

(Any fellow Aussie writers got any suggestions?)

July 2023 update

It turns out that I’m not the only one clearly unimpressed by Payoneer’s sudden rate change, some fellow Aussie bloggers over at the incredibly useful Blogging Like We Mean It Facebook group are also working their way through the ‘What the hell do I do with this cheque now?’ scenario too.

And thanks to a suggestion there, I am trying out Wise as another option. With a bit of luck once my account gets approved, I’ll be able to move what’s left in Payoneer and be done with things there. Wish me luck!

(Amazingly 10 mins after I set up the account, all is approved and ready to rumble – excellent!)

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