Money makes the world go ’round. Whether you owe a friend for drinks, or you need to send rent money to your roommate, the easier it is to transfer money to friends and family, the better.
With the advent of modern technology, there are plenty of great options for sending money to others. Sure, PayPal may well be the best-known of these services, but it’s certainly not the only one. Google reorganized Android Pay and Google Wallet into a single service called Google Pay. Then there’s Venmo, which has skyrocketed in popularity, and Square Cash, built by payment company Square. Perhaps it’s a little late to the game, but we can’t forget about Apple Pay Cash.
Which of these payment services should you use to send money to your friends, family, and others? We put them side by side to find the best.
|Paypal||Google Pay||Venmo||Square Cash||Apple Pay Cash|
|Compatibility||Android, iOS, Web||Android, iOS, Web||Android, iOS, Web||Android, iOS, Web||iOS|
|Payment methods||Credit, debit, bank transfer||Credit, debit card, bank transfer||Credit, debit card, bank transfer||Credit, debit card||Credit, debit card|
|Credit fee||2.9% + $0.30||2.9%||2.9%||3%||3%|
|Debit fee||2.9% + $0.30||Free||Free (25 cents for instant transfers)||Free||Free|
|Bank transfer fee||Free||Free||Free||N/A||N/A|
|Withdrawal speed||Up to 1-2 business days||Up to 1-3 business days||Up to 1 business day||Up to 1-2 business days||Up to 1-3 business days|
|Special features||PayPal.me shareable links||Integration with other Google services||Quick transfers to banks||No need to set up an account||Automatically available in iOS|
As previously mentioned, PayPal is perhaps the best-known of these services, and for good reason. PayPal has long been the go-to for online shopping, and the fact that it can be used to transfer money between friends is simply a bonus.
PayPal’s interface is extremely easy to use, largely thanks to a major redesign. Simply open up your PayPal account, press the “send money” button, and follow the instructions — it only takes a few seconds to send money. The PayPal.me initiative has made sending money even easier. If you have your friend’s PayPal.me link, simply follow the link and enter how much you want to pay them.
What PayPal has going against it, however, isn’t related to its ease of use. Out of the five services, PayPal is the most expensive, if you don’t want to connect the service to your bank account. Now, we would highly recommend connecting it to your bank account anyway, as it makes things a lot easier if you happen to lose your debit or credit card or when you get a new one. However, if you choose not to, PayPal will be one of the most expensive services for you. Not only does it charge a 2.9 percent fee for money sent from a debit or credit card, it also charges an extra 30 cents on top of that.
One advantage is that PayPal allows the largest transactions of the bunch. Using PayPal, you can transfer up to a hefty $10,000. Most people won’t need that — but it’s nice to have in case you do.
Like some of the other services on our list, PayPal won’t transfer money directly to your bank unless you manually do it. Instead, money will sit in your PayPal account, and can be used for purchases or sent to your bank, as you see fit. Also, PayPal Credit users might prefer PayPal, as it eliminates the need to have any extra accounts.
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Google Pay is one of the cheapest services on the list — there are no fees to use debit cards or make bank transfers, though you will pay a 2.9 percent fee for credit cards. It can transfer almost as much money as PayPal, with the maximum amount per transaction set at $9,999.
What really sets Google Pay apart from the rest, however, is its integration with other Google services. In Gmail, for instance, you can request money simply by pressing the little dollar sign in the toolbar under a message. You can even send money through Android Messages, the default texting service on most Android phones, and it will show up in Google Pay. If you have a Google Home, you can ask it to send over money to a friend through Google Pay. If you choose to use the actual Google Pay app instead, sending money is as simple as pressing on the option and entering your recipient’s email address or phone number. You can also use your fingerprint sensor or Face ID to unlock the app. Transferring money into your bank account could take up to three days, but it’s instant when you’re sending it to a debit card.
The app can also be used to make contactless payments, and it can store loyalty or gift cards or even flight and concert tickets. If you just want to send money to friends and family, you can check out Google Pay Send, which only offers peer-to-peer transactions.
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Venmo has grown a lot more popular over the past few years, becoming the preferred way for many people to transfer cash to their friends. In fact, Venmo has become a verb — “Venmo me!” After creating your account, you’ll be asked to add people to your friends list, which makes it easier to transfer money the next time you need to do so.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using Venmo, however. For example, the team behind it has tried to make the service highly social, which may frustrate some. When you send money, you’ll have the option to make the transaction public, and while you most likely don’t want or need to do this, you’ll have to be careful to not accidentally select the wrong option.
Like other services, when someone sends you money, it sits in your Venmo account; it can be sent to others or transferred to your bank account by “checking out.” It’s free to use Venmo with a debit card. It will still cost you 2.9 percent to use a credit card, but if you’re not too fond of linking a service to your bank account, it might be nice for you to not have to pay a fee for each transaction. Not only that, but Venmo says that money will be transferred to your bank account within one business day, which is pretty quick. Venmo recently added an option to instantly send money to your debit card for 25 cents; there’s still a free option, but it’s not as fast.
Venmo is obviously meant to be used for everyday transactions, and as such, the limit for a single transfer is $3,000. It’s still a lot of money, sure, but you won’t be using Venmo to send a huge amount of cash.
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Next up on our list is Square Cash, built by Square, which is perhaps best known for its point-of-sale systems for the iPad and iPhone. At first glance, you might have trouble seeing why you would want to opt for Square Cash over other services, but it does have one unique selling point — you don’t have to set up an account to use it.
It also integrates with email. To request cash, email the person that owes you money, enter how much is owed in the subject field, and then CC the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the email is received, both parties will need to enter their banking information, and the transfer will go through. There’s no need for any new accounts, long waits, or extra steps in the transferring process. In fact, once the bank information has been entered, Square claims that the transaction should be completed within two business days.
Unfortunately, the service can only be used with credit and debit cards — you won’t be using your bank account with Square Cash.
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Apple Pay Cash
Unlike the other services on this list, you may already have Apple Pay Cash, which rolled out as part of iOS 11.2, if you have an iPhone. That means you don’t need to download another app in order to transfer money to or from fellow iPhone owners.
One of the best things about Apple Pay Cash is that it’s well-integrated with iOS, and as long as you have set up Apple Pay with a credit or debit card, you can quickly and easily send money through the Messages app. To send or receive money, open up a thread in the Messages app, hit the Apple Pay icon on the keyboard, choose the amount, and hit the “Request” or “Pay” button.
Fees, transfer times, and limits are pretty standard with Apple Pay Cash. You’ll be able to transfer up to $3,000, and will incur a 3 percent fee when using a credit card. Once you have money in your account, you can transfer it to your actual bank account in one to three business days.
There are a few downsides to Apple Pay Cash, the main one being that it’s only compatible with iOS — so you won’t be able to use it with people on Android — and there’s no desktop interface.
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So which one should I use?
Which one you should use depends on what you need it for. If you want an all-in-one service for online shopping and even a line of credit, PayPal is clearly the right choice for you. Android users and avid Google fans, however, might be better off with Google Pay. For those who simply want to quickly send money to friends, Venmo is a popular and great option. If you don’t want to bother with any accounts or extra steps, Square Cash is a great solution. Last but not least, if you’re an iPhone user and intend to mainly send and receive money from other iPhone users, then Apple Pay Cash is your best bet. The reality is that all of these services are great at what they do, and while one might be better than another for your purposes, you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
You may also want to look at your bank’s peer-to-peer transaction service, as many of them now offer a way to send money to a friend directly in your banking app through services like Zelle.
Updated August 28, 2018: We’ve updated this article to include Google Pay.