In the ever-expanding arsenal of smartphone apps available, an essential is a snappy and efficient money transfer app. Whether it’s splitting utilities or a tab at the bar, a money transfer app can make the whole experience a breeze—and possibly save a few friendships. Below is a breakdown of some of the most popular money transfer apps available.
Note: All of the apps listed are free to download, and require no commitment beyond registering an account with the service.
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The original money transfer app, PayPal is probably the most commonly known system for money transfers outside of direct bank transfers, but it is beginning to show its age. While PayPal has made its transfer system a bit easier through PayPal.Me—which allows users to create direct deposit links between accounts—the process is relatively tedious compared to the other apps in the list. Additionally, PayPal’s transfer time is roughly twice as long as any other app, taking between three to four business days for the transfer to be deposited. And while transfers between bank accounts are free, debit and credit card transfers will receive a 2.9% fee as well as a 30-cent automatic charge.
Transfer limit: Withdrawals are limited to $500 per month, but increase with identity and bank account verification.
Sporting a very simple interface, and requiring little information to get started, Square Cash is a strong candidate in the “best money transfer app” category solely because it does not require the user to set up a money account within the app. After attaching a debit card or bank account to the app, you are ready to go. You can begin sending money after a few easy steps. The app functions through an e-mail system, elegantly masked by the interface, that simply requires the user to input a payment amount and select a recipient. You can also include a transfer reason (“dinner,” “drinks,” etc). Once the transfer is submitted, it takes one to two days upon acceptance from the recipient for the money to deposit into their account. The best part is that all transfers are free.
Transfer limit: $250 per week, increases to $2,500 per week with identity verification.
Venmo works much like Square Cash, but it introduces a social element in the form of a Twitter-style post system that shows what friends have been using the app for. However, this feature can be easily disabled for privacy through the “settings” menu without any impact on the functionality of the app. Like Square Cash, Venmo runs on a simple user interface requiring only a few pieces of information to complete a transfer. Select a friend who also has the app and submit a payment or request for payment, and input the amount. Once the payment is made the recipient can either leave the money in Venmo for later use, like digital currency, or deposit the cash into his or her bank account, which typically takes one business day. It is important to note that while bank account payments are free of charge, payments made with credit cards will receive a 2.9% fee.
Transfer limit: $300 per week, increases to $2,999 per week with identity verification. Cash-outs are limited to $999.99 per week, but that too increases to $19,999 per week with identity verification.
Google Wallet functions as an extension of the namesake e-mail service and works through an existing Google e-mail account. Requests are simple: Compose an e-mail to the recipient and select the dollar sign icon on the e-mail toolbar. This will take the user to an amount request page which can be completed and attached to the e-mail. The payment will be transferred to the user’s Google Wallet instantly upon completion. From there the user can make another transfer to his or her bank account and it will be received in around three days. While the app functions within Gmail, Google Wallet will still have to be downloaded in order to function within the e-mail service.
Transfer limits: $10,000 per transaction and $50,000 per five-day period.
Each of these apps has strengths and weaknesses based on functionality, and each will appeal to different users based on their personal needs. But, the overall stand-out candidate for simplicity and efficiency is Square Cash based on the brevity of the transfer process and the fact that money transfers do not pass through a median app account before reaching the recipient. These features make the app quite approachable for any user.