The Best (and Cheapest) Ways to Send Money to Friends

mobile payment apps

We’ve all been there: short on cash when it’s time to pay the check at the end of the night. You can bum it off your friends and promise to pay them back, or you can pay them on the spot – one of many ways mobile payment apps can make the financial side of friendship a little easier.

Peer-to-peer mobile payment apps like Venmo and Google Wallet make it easy to transfer money between your and your friends’ accounts, often with zero fees. Here are some the most popular mobile payments apps that let you send money for free.

What to look for in mobile payment apps

Not sure where to start your search? Ask yourself these questions to get a better idea of what you need.

1. What’s already popular in your circle of friends and family?

If you don’t know, ask around. The more people already using it, the easier it will be for everyone.

2. How much does it cost?

Most mobile payment apps allow you to send money for free, but only under certain circumstances. For instance, if you plan on using your credit card to fund your person-to-person payment account, you might pay a fee.

3. Where will you be able to send and receive money from?

Most mobile payment apps are limited to the US. If you need to make international payments, make sure that’s an option with the company you choose.

4. Do you want to use the app for business?

If that’s important to you, you may consider looking for a person-to-person payment company that does both.

9 best (and cheapest) mobile payments apps

Square Cash

Major benefits of Square Cash:

  • Part of the popular Square app, a trusted name that many of your friends and family may have already used before
  • Offers person-to-person and business transactions

Limitations:

  • US only
  • Takes 1 to 3 business days to complete transactions

Fees:

  • Free person-to-person if you pay with funds from your debit card
  • Charges a fee if you pay with funds from your credit card
  • Businesses receiving money pay a fee, but it’s free for customers

Venmo

Major benefits of Venmo:

  • Social element makes for easy communication and coordination with friends and family
  • Money in your Venmo account may be used to make payments in mobile apps
  • Can sync with your Facebook friends or phone contacts to easily find people

Limitations:

  • US only
  • Takes 1 to 2 business days to complete transactions

Fees:

  • Free when you pay with funds from your debit card or bank account
  • Charges a 3 percent fee when you pay with funds from your credit card

Circle

Major benefits of Circle:

  •  Allows you to send and receive money all over the world
  • Operates on the Bitcoin network
  • Already available through Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, USAA, US Bank, and Wells Fargo
  • If you do not bank with one of those banks, you can still sign up for your Circle account through the website

Limitations:

  • Limited to US banks and US or UK debit or credit cards
  • Takes 1 to 4 business days to complete transactions

Fees:

  • Free when you pay with funds from your Circle account or debit card
  • Charges a fee if you pay with funds from your credit card

ClearXchange

Major benefits of ClearXchange:

  • Already available through Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, First Bank, US Bank, and Wells Fargo
  • If you don’t bank through any of those banks, you can set up your ClearXchange account through the website
  • Offers person-to-person, business-to-consumer, and government-to-consumer payments

Limitations:

  • US only
  • Takes 1 to 5 business days to complete transactions

Fees:

  • None

Facebook Messenger

Major benefits of Facebook Messenger:

  • Easily send and receive money from all of your Facebook friends

Limitations:

  • US only
  • Requires that both the sender and receiver have Facebook accounts
  • Takes 1 to 3 business days to complete the transaction

Fees:

  • None

Google Wallet

Major benefits of Google Wallet:

  • Popular, trusted brand that many of your friends and family may already be using
  • Google Wallet account balance can be used to make online purchases on Google Play

Limitations:

  • US only
  • Takes 1 to 3 business days to complete transactions

Fees:

  • None

PayPal

Major benefits of PayPal:

  • Trusted brand that many of your friends and family probably already use
  • Allows you to send and receive money all over the world
  • Lets you create a personalized link your friends and family can use to quickly and easily send you money
  • Allows transactions for goods and services

Limitations:

  • Takes 1 to 3 business days to complete the transaction

Fees:

  • Zero fees for person-to-person transactions if using your PayPal balance or a bank account linked to your PayPal account
  • Other fees may be upward of 3 percent, depending on the currency and type of account. Learn more here.

PopMoney

Major benefits of PopMoney:

  • Already available through thousands of PopMoney in-network banks
  • If you don’t bank through any of the in-network banks, you can set up your PopMoney account through the website

Limitations:

  • US only
  • Takes 1 to 3 business days to complete transactions
  • Daily and monthly transfer limits

Fees:

  • If you are using Popmoney through your bank, fees vary
  • If you sign up for Popmoney through the website, it’s 95 cents to send or request money
  • Free to receive money and free to pay a request

Snapcash

Major benefits of Snapcash:

  • Easily send and receive money from your Snapchat friends
  • Since it was created in partnership with Square, having a Snapcash account gives you access to Square Cash, too

Limitations:

  • US only
  • Link to Visa or MasterCard debit cards only
  • Takes 1 to 2 business days to process transactions
  • Transaction will be canceled if the recipient does not claim their money after 24 hours

Fees:

  • None

Paying back friends

Make good on a debt. Send birthday money. Collect contributions for a family reunion. The possibilities are endless, which is exactly how your options for mobile payment apps might seem right now.

Use this list as a supplement to what your friends and family are already using (and like), and splitting the check will soon be a whole lot simpler.

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