Linking an FNB account to PayPal – South Africa

This is off-topic for this blog, but linking my FNB account to PayPal has annoyed me so much I just had to try make the internet a better place by clearing up some things. To be clear, this guide is for people who have an FNB cheque account and are registered for online banking. To be EXTRA clear, I don’t work for either of these companies and my advice is not professional at all.

I’m an internet-savvy, elder millennial and even I got confused by this. Mostly because anything related to banks and payment is stressful. I’ve also seen a lot if similar questions in various forums and FNB seems to ignore online queries. I mostly blame some really poor UI design decisions by both PayPal and FNB.

Note: Don’t bother going to an FNB branch, they don’t seem to know anything about PayPal and will just dial the PayPal helpline for you. The lovely lady that tried to help me, printed out the FNB PayPal terms and conditions because the helpline was forever on hold. I’m really surprised they don’t have pamphlets printed for this exact reason. Whatever, it was dumb and FNB should feel dumb.

Step 1: Sign up for a PayPal account

It’s free, you just go to the PayPal site and click Sign Up. This isn’t the difficult part, just follow the steps. Their help is pretty good.

Step 2: Link your FNB account to your PayPal account

This is how you verify your PayPal account. A pretty crucial step. This is also where everything went wrong for me and, it seems, for many others. In your PayPal account, go to the Balance page by selecting Balance in the title menu. If your display is anything like mine, you will see something like the below screengrab:

PayPal Balance page indicating why the bad UI is partially to blame for the trouble people are having linking their bank accounts.
Welcome to PayPal’s terrible UI design.

You do not want to click Link a new bank. This will lead you down a dark path trying to figure out what the South African equivalent of a routing number is. Do not go there. That way madness lies.

Instead, scroll a little further down, to the Credit and debit cards section, and click Add a new card. Fill in your FNB cheque account details. A small amount will be deducted to check that the account works. So be sure you have some money in the account already. It gets returned later. You will find a code in your account transaction history alongside the deducted amount. It might take a few days to reflect. Use this code to verify your account.

There are two reasons I think this foxed me: A – the placement of the Credit and debit card section means it’s very easy to miss, being mostly “below the line” when the page loads, and B – the terminology you’re using is link, you want to link your card, and the Bank section says link so it gets your attention. This is straight-up bad UI design.

Step 3: Link your FNB account to FNB’s PayPal Service (Web version)

Login to FNB Online. In the title menu, select My Bank Accounts. On the My Bank Accounts page, you will see an orange tab on the left of the screen labelled My Accounts Menu. Click it. This is where the UI gets vexing so take a deep breath. On the far right, select PayPal Services.

Ignore the page that opens and click the orange tabbed My Bank Accounts Menu on the left. In the left section of this menu, select Link PayPal Profile.

This opens the Link page where you can fill in all your account information. Be sure to use the email address you used when you signed up for PayPal. They have to be the same. When you get to section three, you will see why this part got me frantically Googling too:

Whoever signed this off at FNB is probably over-worked or doesn’t care. It says “Non-FNB Account”, but actually it will happily accept your FNB account. So just put in your FNB account details and follow the steps.

I believe it was on the third step of this linking process, the login to PayPal part, that a bank payment window opens. I’m sorry I can’t check. This is needed so that a small amount can be withdrawn to check that the account is functional. This will be returned. For me it was about R14, I think it depends on the US currency conversion rate at the time. Once this goes through, you should be registered for PayPal Services with FNB and can click Finish.

Step 4: Maybe get yourself some tea and a biscuit

Congratulate yourself on surviving the hellbeast that is linking an FNB account to PayPal.

Did you skip the verification step in PayPal? Did you get an error when you tried to link your card through FNB Online? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I DID.

Fear not, just login to PayPal and go to the Balance page. Scroll down to the Credit and debit cards section. You should see an option to Confirm your card. Click it and it follow the same process outlined in Step 2 where it deducts a small amount and you get sent a code. You can then do Step 3 again.

Did this help at all? I hope so.

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