These days I rap my little thumbs against a screen to communicate with my friends.
I amend words with meaningless emojis. “Goodnight! ? ” Why do I use a frog face to tell my boyfriend goodnight? For some extra spice, I suppose.
In recent years, I’ve hopped on the “pay your friend back immediately via a money-transfer app” movement.
I resisted for a bit, always opting to fill out an old-school check. But about a year ago, I finally downloaded Venmo.
Besides late-night food binges (I’ll Venmo you for eating half your pizza), I’ve used it to split utility bills with roommates, to pay for (or get paid for) freelance work or to help out with an Uber ride.
It’s brilliant, really. And more apps are following in Venmo’s steps, although I suppose PayPal probably started the whole trend.
6 Money-Transfer Apps for Paying Your Friends Back
However, with any saturated market, you must be wary — especially when invisible internet wires are responsible for your hard-earned money.
That’s why we decided to look into all of these payment options and sift out the most user-friendly and secure apps. Oh, and they’re all free (for personal use, at least) because who wants to pay a fee?
Here’s our list of recommendations.??
I might as well start with the one I use on a regular basis.
It’s simple: Select who you want to pay or request money from, write a description (or use emojis) and enter the amount. If you receive money, you must transfer it into your account; it won’t automatically appear in there.
Also, connect your debit card — a 3% fee is tacked on for credit cards.
From my experience, I’ve had no security breaches. I checked, too. It says all financial information is encrypted, stored and protected on secure servers. And if your phone’s stolen, you can hop online and revoke the device’s access.
Heads up: I’ve used this one, too. My editor even uses it to pay his rent.
In fact, I’ve been needing to use it to request money from a Rodan + Fields associate, so let me walk you through it.
I log in with my thumbprint (so I don’t have to run through my six varieties of passwords). I request money and type in her phone number, then designate the money amount she owes me. I add a note to her and send.
Done. Two seconds. So easy.
You can also use the platform for online purchases. You’ll often see the yellow button with the PayPal emblem. You can click it, and it’ll prevent you from having to enter your personal information into yet another platform.
PayPal really is your pal with 24/7 monitoring, an encryption process, fraud prevention (just give them a call if you’re suspicious of any activity) and global buyer protection. And it’s not just for U.S. dollars — it hosts 25 currencies.
Transactions within the U.S. are free.
3. Facebook Messenger
This is super duper convenient. I already use Facebook Messenger, and I’m connected to my hundreds of friends.
In order to send money, open up a message, click the […] and select “Payments.” After the app reminds you that transfers are free and secure, it prompts you to select your transfer amount.
There are also fun Snapchat-like filters to decorate your money payment or request.
But you need to be careful with this one.
Sure, you need to be careful with all of them, but you know those random Facebook friend requests or messages you’ll sometimes receive? These are especially important to ignore when it comes to transferring money. A Kansas City news station recently reported a scam. Just be smart.
4. Google Wallet
Funny story: PayPal sued Google over this sucker. Apparently a former PayPal employee shared all the secrets.
Anyways, Google Wallet is yet another digital payment form that’s catching on.
The nice thing is you can send money to anyone via email or phone number; the recipient doesn’t need Google Wallet to receive it.
Connect with your Google email account, then choose to split, request or send money. Zero extra fees involved.
It’s safe, too. The safety page notes the data encryption and fraud protection. Like Venmo, you can cut your device’s access if something happens to your phone.
5. Square Cash (plus: Snapchat)
This is another uber-easy app. You sign up, get a confirmation number in your texting or email inbox, then enter your debit card number. You even make a “Cashtag,” so mine might be $CarsonKohler.
Oh, and pro tip: Invite friends — Square Cash sends you $10 for each one that signs up. Then it works the same as the others: request and/or pay.
It’s all safe, too. The Square Cash site notes encrypted data, fraud protection and security locks (i.e. touch ID). You can also opt for account notifications, so you know when anything happens.
The app is free to use among your friends and family (via debit card), but if you’re operating as a business, you’ll be charged a 2.75% fee.
Also note: Square Cash paired up with Snapchat to make a beautiful baby, Snapcash.
It’s so easy. Just open a Snapchat conversation, and type in, say, $23. You’ll type in your debit card info and bam. Add an obnoxious selfie, too.
I have a dear friend who lives in Italy now. Suppose I owe her some money: TransferWise has me covered.
First, it converts what you owe into the proper currency. If I owe her $150, I select USD. For her, I can simply search “Italy.” Yup, looks like the country uses the Euro. Transferwise automatically converts the money for me: I owe her 132.26 euros.
It tells me my guaranteed exchange rate, plus let’s me know I can save up to $42.59.
What? I click “Compare Prices.” I had no clue banks often hide exchange rates in the transaction. Transferwise says it could cost me $45.59 to send money from here to there.
Your Turn: What apps do you use when paying your friends back?
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.