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Which peer-to-peer mobile payment app is best for you?

best mobile payment app
March 29, 2018

By Kathryn Pins

The way we spend and share money is rapidly changing. Think about it. Just a couple of years ago, dinner with friends concluded with the splitting the bill fiasco. One friend only ordered an appetizer, the math was not quite right, and we were all asking, “Can anyone break a $20?” Now, in a matter of minutes, one friend volunteers to pay the bill, and the rest of the table sends money their way without even pulling out their wallets.

There are many different ways to send and receive money using your smartphone; even social media apps have gotten in the game. But, which one is right for you? I tested, compared, and contrasted the best peer-to-peer mobile payment apps available to help you pick the best and most convenient app for you.

Apple Pay Cash

Have an iPhone? You can send, receive and request money from other iPhone users right in the Messages app using Apple Pay Cash, so you don’t have to download another app.

The convenience and speed of this payment method are incredible. Once you’re in a conversation, you can pay a friend in five taps or less. You can even go a step further and have Siri do the work for you. The transaction is free as well.

You will need to add set up a debit or credit card via Apple Pay. It’s free to use a debit card, but there is a fee for using a credit card.

Facebook Messenger

More than 1 billion people are active on Facebook, according to the company’s website. Since Facebook Messenger only allows you to send and receive money among other Facebook users, it’s a good thing it’s popular.

The messenger payment feature is easy to use, and if you’re an avid messenger user, it’s quite convenient too! Also, there are no fees to use this feature.

The downside is that you’re limited to debit cards, and it can take a few days for you to receive money sent to you.

PayPal Cash

PayPal was one of the first online payment options and has evolved based on its users’ needs. Recognizing the need for a peer-to-peer payment app, PayPal created PayPal Cash. The app makes receiving money easy, especially because your friends don’t need an account to send money. (I’m personally excited about this feature because I know some late adopters.)

You can request money from friends with a text, email or post using your unique PayPal.Me link, so you can cater to how your friends like to communicate. This also means quicker transactions for everyone!

The bad news is that you incur a PayPal fee if you send money via credit card, debit card or PayPal credit. If you use a debit card, your money will enter your checking account sooner. However, you need to decide if it’s worth the fee or not.

Snapcash

Snapcash is similar to Facebook Messenger in that Snapchat uses its messaging component to help you send and receive money among friends. So, if you and your friends use Snapchat more, Snapcash will be very convenient and easy.

There are no fees to use this feature, but you are limited to debit card transactions.

Square Cash App

You have probably used Square to purchase something with your credit card from a local business or vendor. The Cash App is Square’s way of getting into the peer-to-peer payment app world. They have not lost their business roots and allow users to set up business accounts.

Personal payments are free for checking accounts, but there is a fee for payments sent from a credit card. Also, you can send money to almost anyone. 

The transaction limit is high and is definitely a selling point for when you are splitting expensive experiences, like an entire vacation.

Venmo

There is a reason why “Venmo me” has become part of our vocabulary. It is among the most popular mobile payment apps, so you probably have friends or family who already use Venmo. Anyone who is in a transaction must have the app, which is why its popularity is important.

You will not have to pay a fee if you connect your Venmo account to most checking accounts or a debit card. If you send money using a credit card, a fee applies. You also have to pay a fee for instant transactions into your checking account.

Finally, it is important to note that transaction quantities are limited.

Zelle

You may recognize Zelle from countless commercials recently. The peer-to-peer app partners with credit unions and banks so you can send or receive money efficiently and safely. That list of partners is growing and will include Alliant soon. Almost anyone can send and receive money if they download the app.

Zelle does not charge a fee to send or receive money through checking, savings or debit cards, but it doesn’t allow you to link credit cards to your account.

The best news is that transactions are instant and the transaction limit is high if your bank or credit union is a partner. This feature is especially important when you’re in a bind and need to send or receive money quickly.

The Importance of Interest

Venmo, Square Cash, PayPal Cash, and Apple Pay Cash keep the money you receive in their peer-to-peer payment apps until you transfer it back to your checking account. Pro tip: take your money out of the app as soon as possible, especially if you have a high interest checking account. You don’t want to miss out on gaining interest by letting your money sit somewhere other than your checking account.

One Last Note on Security

All of these mobile payment apps work hard to keep your information safe and secure with encryption, passcodes, and fingerprint or Face ID. Every app encourages you to only interact with people you know and trust. These services are not meant for a random Craigslist purchase. With that in mind, go out and experience a night out with friends and family. Don’t worry about cash or splitting the bill, your phone has got you covered.


Kathryn Pins is a marketing content specialist at Alliant. She’s passionate about finding and communicating meaningful financial information with Money Mentor readers. Kathryn is a saver who gets more excited about certificates and her Roth IRA than shopping. When she does spend her earnings, it’s on furthering her education, travel, unique experiences, and loved ones.