If you’ve got a debt to pay, a bill to split or a reward to give, you no longer need to dig out your wallet or bother with notes and coins—your smartphone is perfectly capable of sending money to friends and relatives with just a few taps.
But the apps that let you send the money can be rife with hidden fees, they often hold your cash for longer than you might like, and sometimes they force you into a whole new social media sphere you might have zero interest in. So here are the best apps for sending money with your phone ranked from least to most annoying.
One of the best benefits of using Square Cash is that the person you’re paying doesn’t need a Square Cash account, so there’s no need for them to install another app or set up another account—all you need is their email address and your debit card. It’s free to use too, unless you’re a business, or you want to use a credit card (a three percent fee applies here).
Standard deposits show up the next day, while same day deposits cost a small fee (one percent) and you can link your account to a Visa card, MasterCard, or Discover debit card. Square Cash is difficult to beat for simplicity and ease-of-use, and you won’t have any problem keeping track of payments in and out. The app also lets you set up your own “$Cashtag” code that lets you get paid anonymously.
That’s right, they’ve put payments into Facebook Messenger now. You’ve handed over the rest of your life to Facebook, so why not put money into the mix too? Paying money is as easy as typing out a dollar sign and an amount in a conversation window—it turns into a hyperlink that can be clicked to make the payment. You need to link a debit card to your Facebook account to send money in Messenger, though the service is free to use.
Payments can take up to five days to process, but the obvious benefit is that pretty much everyone you know already uses Facebook (though anyone receiving money needs to enter their debit card details too). So there’s none of the hassle of asking friends to make an account just so you can pay them back for a pizza.
PayPal has been making digital payments simple for many years now, but the mobile apps have often lagged behind the fake bank’s desktop iteration. Yet after the acquisition of Venmo back in 2013, Paypal has slowly been getting more intuitive and easy to use. It’s now pretty simple to pay someone you know from the PayPal app, though the recipient will need PayPal too (if they’ve somehow gone the last 15 years without, they’ll get a prompt to sign up for one).
You need to have a bank account or card linked to your PayPal to draw the balance from, or you need a positive PayPal balance in your account, so some preparation is required. Sending money straight from your account or PayPal balance is free of charge, but if you use a linked debit or credit card there’s a fee of $0.30 plus 2.9 percent of the amount. That’s the costliest money transfer fee on this list, but PayPal is also the only app that lets you send money to people who aren’t in the US. Which means PayPal will be the best choice for paying back those Brits you met at the bar last Saturday.
Venmo is built around the idea of seamless mobile payments to friends and family, so you would expect it to be pretty good at its job, and it is. Both parties need the Venmo app installed, but transactions are free if you use a linked bank account, a debit card from a major bank, or your Venmo balance, otherwise the sender pays a 3 percent charge.
The app is now owned by PayPal, so like the parent company it has a tendency to hold onto you cash longer than you might like. Yet there’s also a built-in tool for splitting a bill, and you can pay over text without opening the app (Venmo links to your phone number, WhatsApp-style).
But Venmo is structured like a social network for payments (you can even “like” transactions). Which means you have to see all the eggplant emojis your friends use when paying back their significant others. That’s why even though Venmo is cheaper than PayPal, it’s still much more annoying.