The 7 Best Money Transfer Apps of 2023

You have more choices than ever when it comes to the best money transfer apps — but how do you know which one will work for you? Here's how they stack up.

Money transfer apps have changed how we pay each other. Also called peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps, money transfer apps allow users to send and receive money using their smartphones or an online platform, simply by linking their checking account or credit card.

Transferring money via smartphone app is safe, easy and convenient, but not all apps are created equal. The best money transfer apps of 2023 set themselves apart with low (or no) fees to transfer cash, immediate transfers, heightened security measures and strong customer service. You can also rely on ratings in the Apple App Store and Google Play to determine if a money transfer service is up to snuff.

How Money Transfer Apps Work

Money transfer apps are an easy, secure way to exchange money between friends and family. They also make it easy to manage payments as a freelancer, independent contractor or someone earning extra cash from a hobby.

So how do money transfer apps work? By downloading an app on your phone, or in some cases going to a website, you can send money to people. All you need is their mobile phone number or email address.

The apps are linked to bank accounts, debit cards or credit cards, which is how they access your funds and transfer money with just a few taps. Some payments are free, but others have fees, which often depends on how you fund the transfer.

When someone sends you money through the app, you can get access to the money by initiating a transfer to your bank account. Some apps allow you to store money with their service for easy access.

These types of apps are not the same as the payment-processing apps businesses use for transactions, but some companies do offer both.

All of the apps are available wherever you usually get apps for your phone. In the case of platforms like PayPal, you can also create online via a web browser.

What to Look for With Money Transfer Apps

When looking at the different apps, here are some things to look for.

  • Fees: Some apps charge a fee for paying someone by credit card or sending money internationally.
  • Transfer time: How long does it take to get your money? Some are instant while some take several days.
  • Security: Is the transaction encrypted on both ends?
  • Limits: Some apps limit the number of transactions you can do in a set period of time. Others limit the amount of money you can send.
  • Customer service: How can you contact someone if there is a mistake with a transfer or a transfer happens that you didn’t authorize?
  • Protection: Unlike bank accounts, many balances in money transfer apps are not insured against loss or fraud.
Pro Tip

Always double-check the recipient’s information before you confirm a payment. Once you send a payment, is it often impossible to get it back unless the recipient refuses it.

The 7 Best Money Transfer Apps of 2023

  • PayPal: Best for freelancers and business owners
  • Venmo: Best for everyday users
  • Zelle: Best for fee-free transfers
  • Cash App: Best for cryptocurrency investors
  • Meta Pay: Best for Facebook users
  • Apple Pay: Best for Apple users
  • Google Pay: Best for Android users

How the Best Money Transfer Apps Stack Up

The best app for you might not be the best for someone else. It all depends how you plan to use them. Chances are, you’ll use different ones for different purposes.


Money Transfer Apps at a Glance

App Top Feature Best For

PayPal

Widely used

Freelancers/biz owners

Venmo

Social media feel

Everyday users

Zelle

Built into bank apps

Fee-free transfers

Cash App

Special in-app offers

Cryptocurrency investors

Meta Pay

No fees

Facebook users

Apple Pay

Retail shopping

Apple users

Google Pay

Retail shopping

Android users

Zelle

Most Accommodating Money Transfer App

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Free instant transfers
  • Built into banking apps
  • Strong security measures
Zelle is part of most banking apps and allows you to securely send money almost instantly between bank accounts. It works with more than 1,700 U.S. banks and credit unions. Each bank determines the types of accounts that are eligible to be part of Zelle. You cannot link credit cards, international debit cards or international bank accounts to Zelle.
Zelle Money Transfer App

Fees for domestic transfers
n/a
Fees for instant bank transfers
n/a
Apple App Store rating
4.8 stars
Google Play rating
4.1 stars

More Information About Zelle

How it works: You need an email address or a phone number to send money. The sender and recipient don’t need to be customers of the same bank; they only need to both be enrolled in Zelle.

In most cases, you’ll need your regular online banking user name and password to enroll and link accounts within Zelle. However, if you want to use the Zelle app — instead of initiating transfers using your bank’s app — you’ll need a separate login.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can also send money using Zelle through your bank’s website.

Fees: Zelle charges no fees for sending or receiving money. However, individual banks might have a fee.

Because Zelle is built into your mobile banking app, there’s no wait time to transfer the money you receive via Zelle to your bank account — and thus no fee for an instant transfer.

Pros/Cons: The fact you probably already have the capability of using Zelle within your online or mobile banking app or online is a definite plus. The only thing you need to do is to sign up using an email or mobile phone number and you can start sending and receiving money right away. The fact that transfers are also almost immediate is a good thing because you get paid quickly; just make sure you’re sending money to the right person. It is not possible to use a credit card with Zelle, just linked bank accounts.

Cash App

Most Global-Friendly Money Transfer App

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Free tax filing
  • Cryptocurrency options
  • Strong security measures
Cash App sets itself apart in a couple of ways. For one, it not only handles regular currencies; it also handles cryptocurrency. You can also get special offers called “cash boosts,” which can include discounts when you shop. Cash App has increasingly evolved into a true fintech company, offering banking services, investment options and even 100% free tax filing.
Cash App

Fees for domestic transfers
n/a
Fees for instant bank transfers
0.5% to 1.75%
Apple App Store rating
4.8 stars
Google Play rating
4.7 stars

More Information About Cash App

How it works: To send money, you need to know the recipient’s email address, phone number or unique ID the app calls a $Cashtag. 

When you sign up, you can link a bank account to the app, but it’s not required. (You can also fund the app by routing direct deposits to the app or transferring funds — since Cash App comes with its own account and routing numbers.)

You can also store funds in the app and treat it like a traditional bank account, with a fee-free debit card and early access to direct deposits. Plus, you can invest in stocks and Bitcoin, all within the app.

Fees: There are no fees to send or receive money on Cash App even internationally (UK and the EU). Most transfers take only minutes.

There is a 3% fee to send money using a credit card, however. 

Like the other apps, Cash App is secure, and transferring your money to your bank account is free but can take a few days. Instant cash outs will cost 0.5% to 1.75%.

Cash App allows you to use your money to buy stocks or convert dollars to Bitcoin. While Cash App doesn’t ch

International transfers: Cash App is mostly used within the United States, but it can also be used to facilitate transfers between the US and the United Kingdom and European Union.

Pros/Cons: Cash App markets itself as more than just a money transfer app. The app also has a banking feature that allows users to receive their paychecks and other direct deposits earlier than most banks. But be aware, because transactions are fast, it’s almost impossible to get your money back if you send it to the wrong person — unless that person is nice enough to return it. While Cash App is growing in popularity, you won’t find as many users with the app as you would with competitors like Venmo. And while Cash App bills itself as a replacement for a true bank, the app misses too many hallmarks of an actual bank account, like interest on “deposits.”

PayPal

Most Experienced Money Transfer App

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Free domestic transfers
  • Great tools for freelancers
  • Strong security measures
PayPal is the grandparent of money transfer apps, as it’s been around the longest and is probably the most familiar to many people. It’s ideal for anyone with a side hustle, as it’s simple to send invoices.
PayPal Money Transfer App

Fees for domestic transfers
n/a
Fees for instant bank transfers
1.75% (up to $25)
Apple App Store rating
4.8 stars
Google Play rating
4.3 stars

More Information About PayPal

How it works: PayPal is secure, and you can send money domestically and internationally, although fees apply for international transfers. You can use PayPal online and through the phone app. To send money via PayPal, you’ll need to know the email address or mobile number of the person you’re sending money to. Both the payer and the recipient will need PayPal accounts to transfer money. People can also request payments through PayPal.

Fees: The fee structure for PayPal can get confusing. You won’t pay any fees if you’re sending money from a linked bank account or through the app (domestically). However, if you want to use a credit or debit card, you’ll pay a 2.9% fee (plus a transaction fee if you’re using a currency other than the U.S.). Those transaction fees vary.

Transferring your PayPal balance to a linked bank account is free, but can take a few days. Instant transfers are available for a 1.75% fee. You can also have PayPal mail a paper check to you for $1.50.

International transfers: You can transfer money internationally, but if you’re sending money to someone outside of the U.S., be aware that you’ll be subject to a different fee structure. PayPal also offers business accounts for different fees.

Pros/Cons: PayPal has protections in place to keep you from losing money. If either the sender or recipient has an issue, PayPal will put a hold on funds. PayPal’s fees are on the higher end, especially for business users.

Venmo

Most Like Social Media Money Transfer App

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Free domestic transfers
  • Widely used service
  • Strong security measures
Venmo has a social media feel, including a feed that allows you to share who you paid and what you paid them for. (You can even use emojis!) Venmo is among the most popular money transfer apps, meaning it’s likely your friends and family also use it. It’s a secure way to pay while also connecting you with the people you pay. (Venmo’s parent company is PayPal.) If you’re not interested in publicizing your financial transactions with friends and family, you can turn this option off.
Venmo Money Transfer App

Fees for domestic transfers
n/a
Fees for instant bank transfers
1.75% (up to $25)
Apple App Store rating
4.9 stars
Google Play rating
4.2 stars

More Information About Venmo

How it works: You can send money to anyone, as long as they also have a Venmo account; due to its popularity, you’re more likely to find Venmo users than users of other P2P cash transfer apps. To transfer, you just need their mobile number, email address or handle. Users can also request payments.

Fees: Venmo is secure and is free to send money using a balance within the Venmo app, linked bank account, debit card or prepaid card. You’ll pay a 3% fee when you use a credit card to send money. 

Transferring money from Venmo to your linked bank account is free with a standard transfer. This could take some time, usually 1-3 business days. 

If you’re short on time, you can initiate instant transfers, which carry a 1.75% fee or a minimum of $0.25 and a maximum of $25. Venmo users can also buy or sell cryptocurrencies with fees attached.

International transfers: Both sender and receiver need to have U.S. bank accounts, so sending money abroad isn’t possible.

Pros/Cons: The fact that Venmo feels like social media can be good or bad, depending how you look at it. Others you are connected to will know who you’re conducting business with and when. For those of us who are bad at math, a function of the app will help you split bills. It’s also easy to request money from people within the app. The major downside is the instant transfer fee.

Meta Pay

Best for Facebook Fans

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Built into Facebook (Meta) properties
  • No fees
  • Good customer service
If you want to send money to people you’re already connected with on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, Meta Pay might work for you. You can also use Meta Pay to buy many items you see in Facebook or Instagram ads or from Facebook Marketplace or Facebook Shops. You can even use it to donate to a cause or make in-game purchases. One big difference between Meta Pay and other money transfer apps is you cannot link it directly to a bank account. Instead, you connect the service to a credit card, debit card or PayPal account.
Facebook Pay Money Transfer

Fees for domestic transfers
n/a
Fees for instant bank transfers
n/a
Apple App Store rating
n/a
Google Play rating
n/a

More Information About Meta Pay

How it works: Meta Pay (formerly Facebook Pay) isn’t a standalone app, but rather an enhancement to those primary social media apps, so you’ll need to set it up in each app.

To set up Meta Pay:

Instagram: You can first set things up on Facebook or Messenger and then connect the payment info through the Instagram app, or you can set it up directly in the Instagram app.

Messenger: You can connect your Meta Pay information to Messenger or set it up in the Messenger app. Once everything is working, you just attach a payment like you attach a photo.  

Meta Pay is secure, but if you want added security, you can create a PIN or use your device’s biometrics security every time you make a payment.

Fees: There is no fee to send or receive money through Meta Pay.

International transfers: Meta Pay is expanding to other countries outside of the United States. 

Pros/Cons: It’s super-convenient to be able to send money, donate money, and buy things from whatever app you might be using and familiar with. You might want to set up extra security features just in case someone gets a hold of your accounts. Customer support is available 24/7 via chat or email. Meta continues to face controversy for how it handles private information; carefully consider adding banking information to your account. Though money sent to friends transfers instantly, it may take up to five days to post to their bank account.


Google Pay

Best for Google Fans

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Widely accepted at retailers
  • Strong security measures
  • Available on Google and Apple devices
Google Pay isn’t just for Android — Apple users can also download the Google Pay app, if they like its features enough. As a spending platform, Google Play is great, with in-app cashback rewards that you can claim when making everyday purchases. But Google Play is also an easy way to send and receive money.
Google Pay

Fees for domestic transfers
n/a
Fees for instant bank transfers
1.5%
Apple App Store rating
4.2 stars
Google Play rating
n/a

More Information about Google Pay

How they work: The evolution of Google Pay has been a roller coaster. At various times in the last decade-plus, we’ve had Google Wallet, Android Pay, Google Wallet (again), Google Pay (and briefly Google Pay Send), Google Wallet (again again) and now a world where both Google Wallet and Google Pay coexist. You’ll be forgiven if you aren’t a little confused.

But fans of Google may find Google Pay relatively straightforward. You can fund the account with a debit card or bank account, then use the app to pay friends, split bills and make purchases wherever Google Pay is accepted.

The app also has cool features that help you track your spending. The built-in cashback rewards program is also a homerun for shoppers who remember to check what deals are available.

Fees: No fees for transfer of money to family or friends and also no payment when you use the app to pay for purchases. However, if you want to transfer your balance back to your debit card, you’ll pay a 1.5% fee (minimum $0.31, weirdly). There isn’t a fee to transfer to your bank account.

Pros and Cons: Google Pay is widely accepted and makes it easy to send money and split bills. Security is top-notch, and the cashback rewards are a nice touch. It’s been challenging to keep up with the constant changes to the Google Pay/Google Wallet family, however. 

How Long Does It Take to Transfer Money With an App?

Peer-to-peer money transfers in apps generally take just a few minutes. However, as the recipient of money, you may want to move the funds out of the app and into your bank account. That can take much longer, typically 1 to 3 days. Many apps allow you to use an instant transfer service but charge a fee to do so, usually a percentage of the transaction.

Transferring Money Internationally

While some of the above money transfer apps can be used to transfer internationally, other apps and websites focus primarily on transferring large sums of money internationally. Check exchange rates in each app when you send money internationally.

Beware: Fees for international money transfers can be high. However, popular apps for international money transfers are:

  • WorldRemit: People in more than 50 countries can send money in more than 70 currencies to recipients in more than 130 countries using a phone or computer. Many of the transfers happen instantly. Fees vary. One recent change is WorldRemit no longer accepts Google Pay.
  • Western Union: Has been around for years and works in more than 200 countries and territories.
  • OFX: Competitive rates compared to banks and has a minimum of $1,000.
  • Remitly: This app adds the possibility of physically delivering the money to the recipient’s home instead of just a cash pickup or depositing it into a bank account. The rates vary by country.

Money Transfer Etiquette

In today’s world of instant gratification and constant connections, what is proper money transfer etiquette?

In July 2019, Venmo surveyed 1,000 users and then partnered with an etiquette expert to help create some modern money manners.

Here are a few of the survey’s findings:

  • 75% said it’s appropriate to wait 24 hours before issuing a request for payment.
  • 24 hours is the longest you should wait before paying someone.
  • 42% said the person who pays for dinner when the check comes back for the entire group should be paid immediately — before anyone leaves the table.
  • 24% said no amount is too small to ask for, even $1 to $5.

As for advice from the etiquette expert, Venmo suggests:

  • Practice social awareness: When using apps that have a social component, be careful of emojis and inside jokes that could embarrass someone. You never know who might see it.
  • Respond quickly: If you can’t pay someone within 24 hours, send the person a text or email saying why you can’t pay them back.
  • Stay in contact: Don’t just ghost someone and make your friends and family track you down. It isn’t fun.
  • Discuss: If you’re going to split payments, discuss this plan before an event. Don’t surprise someone with a money request. Also, if you pick up the check and say something like “I got this,” don’t expect people to pay you back.
  • Correct mistakes: If a money request has the wrong amount, politely point out the discrepancy, and decline the transaction. Send back money if someone sends you more than you were expecting.

The survey also found 65% of people say it’s more stressful to owe someone money than to be owed money. The money transfer apps make it easy to relieve that stress — by paying up.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Money Transfer Apps

We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most popular questions about money transfer apps so that you can decide which one is right for you.

What is the Safest App to Transfer Money?

All of the apps mentioned have several security features in place to keep your account numbers and personal information private. Just make sure you send money to the right person. Once you tap send, it’s sometimes difficult to get the money back.

What is the Best Money Transfer App?

Each of the money transfer apps on our list is a strong performer. Deciding which app is right for you comes down to your preferences, including smartphone operating system, security protocols and fees for instant transfers.

What Money Transfer App Is the Fastest?

Zelle provides instant transfers between bank accounts for free. Most of the other apps will do instant transfers, but there is a cost associated with them.

What Happens If I Send Money to the Wrong Person?

Sadly, that depends on the app. In some cases, you can contact customer service and they can help reverse the process. In others, you have to rely on the honesty of the wrong recipient to decline the transfer.

Do I Need a Smartphone to Use Money Transfer Apps?

It depends. If your bank or credit union uses Zelle, you can often send and receive money from the financial institution’s website. It’s similar for PayPal. Venmo has some services available online, but not all.

What Is the Cheapest Money Transfer App?

All the apps on our list offer free transfers. However, if you need money right away, most apps charge a fee to transfer funds to your bank instantly.

Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics. Contributor Timothy Moore covers banking and investing topics for The Penny Hoarder.