Adaptive Payments

The Adaptive Payments API allows merchants and developers to pay almost anyone and set up automated payments. They can create applications that manage payments, payment preapprovals, and refunds. They can also send money peer-to-peer, split payments in both parallel and chained models, accept guest payments, and schedule disbursements. The Adaptive Payments API works on multiple platforms including the web and mobile environments.

Applicable Use Cases

How it works

Merchants and developers can control their customers' entire transaction within a single interface.  PayPal's Adaptive Payments API handles everything from micropayments for digital goods to a robust payroll system. 

Why use Adaptive Payments API

Adaptive Payments API allows merchants to:

Build applications to handle payments

Send simple payments to a single recipient.

Make split payments to multiple recipients.

Send chained payments to multiple recipients, one after the other. Each recipient can take a cut of the payment.

Make parallel payments to multiple recipients at the same time.

Manage refunds

Issue full or partial refunds from your own account or on behalf of someone else.

Obtain currency foreign exchange rates

Convert a specific amount or a list of amounts another currency.

Pay almost anyone with an email address

Make payments to almost anyone with an email address or mobile phone number, with or without a PayPal account. Recipients who don't have a PayPal account can create one in minutes.

Get paid by anyone

Receive payments from anyone with an email address, even if they don't have a PayPal account.

Set up preapproved payment plans

Secure preapproval for future payments, including single-payments, multiple-payments, and subscriptions. The payments can be for a fixed or variable amount over the term of the agreement.

Make disbursements

Make payments from any of your available payment methods. You can make payroll payments, rebate payments, reward payments, and more. Schedule disbursements up to 90 days in advance.

Embed payments in applications

Allow customers to check out without leaving your app or website and accept micropayments for as little as 50 cents.

Developers and merchants can combine:

  • Chained and preapproved payments.
  • Parallel and preapproved payments.

How to get started

  1. Check your account status. Login to PayPal. Go to your PayPal Profile and click My settings. Confirm that your Account type is either Premier or Business, or upgrade your account.
  2. Check your API settings. Click My selling tools. Expand Selling online if needed and check API access. Click Update and Add or edit API permission or View API signature.
  3. Test your integration using the PayPal Sandbox, as described in Testing Classic API Calls. All Adaptive API calls in the Sandbox must have the following standard value as the App ID:
  4. To go live with your application, follow the submission steps outlined in Going Live with Your Application. When you submit your application to PayPal for review, the application is quickly scanned for the requests to PayPal operations. If no "advanced" operations are found, PayPal issues an App ID for the production servers at the time you submit the application. If your application uses "advanced" PayPal operations, or if your application implements a complex business model, you can expect the review to take approximately 10 – 15 days. 

Note You can choose to download the Adaptive Payments SDK. See Classic API SDKs for information about the SDKs.

U.S. fees

There are no set-up costs, monthly minimums, cancellation charges, or monthly fees.  Transaction fees are calculated as follows.

Monthly sales

Your fee per transaction  


$0 – $3,000

2.9% + $0.30

$3.20 fee on a $100 sale

$3,000+ – $10,000

2.5% + $0.30*

$2.80 fee on a $100 sale


2.2% + $0.30*

$2.50 fee on a $100 sale


For details, call 800-514-4920.

Merchant rate qualification required.

The prices apply to domestic payments in U.S. Dollars. 

International availability and fees

You can use Adaptive Payments in any country where PayPal is accepted.

You can hold multiple currency balances in your PayPal account or convert a currency balance at competitive rates. There are fees for currency conversion and to receive payments from another country.

For details, see Transaction fees for cross-border payments.

Countries with Currency Restrictions

If you are a PayPal account holder in a country with currency restrictions, make sure that your Adaptive Payment code or Mass Pay file contains requests that meet your country's requirements. If any of the Mass Pay entries do not comply with the country's restrictions, those entries will fail with an error message.

The following table lists the countries with currency restrictions and describes the restrictions that apply to Adaptive Payments and Mass Payments.

Country Currency Code Restrictions
Argentina ARS

Argentine users can:

  • Send payments in ARS only to other Argentine users
  • Send payments in other currencies to all users, including those in Argentina.

Argentine users cannot:

  • Send payments in ARS to users outside of Argentina
  • Send payments that result in currency conversion to or from ARS.

Note Non-Argentine users cannot hold currency balances in ARS.

Brazil BRL

Brazilian users can:

  • Send payments in BRL only to other Brazilian users.
  • Send payments in other currencies only to those outside Brazil.

Brazilian users cannot:

  • Send payments to other Brazilian users in a currency other than BRL.
  • Send payments that result in currency conversion to or from BRL.

Note Non-Brazilian users cannot hold currency balances in BRL.

Malaysia MYR

Malaysian users can:

  • Send payments in MYR only to other Malaysian users.
  • Send payments in other currencies to all users, including those in Malaysia.

Malaysian users cannot:

  • Send payments that result in currency conversion to or from MYR.
  • Send MYR balances to non-Malaysian users.

Note Non-Malaysian users cannot hold currency balances in MYR.

Developer and Merchant Support

Join the PayPal Partner Program

Join the North America Partner Program and enjoy many valuable benefits, including access to solutions integration information, marketing tools and a listing in our Partner Directory. It's free to join! For details, visit the Partner Program website.

Related Information

Adaptive Payments Development Resources

Forums to Follow