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Best Payment Apps

Effortless money exchanges with just a few taps

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Back in the 1990s, if you owed a friend $5 you would just pull a crisp bill out of your wallet and hand it over. These days, cash may still be king when it comes to small, in-person payments, but sending money virtually between friends and family is easier than ever. If you need to send a friend, relative, roommate, or anyone else money for anything ranging from splitting a restaurant check to your share of the rent, these social payment apps have you covered.

The 6 Best Payment Apps of 2022

Best Overall : PayPal


PayPal

 PayPal

  • Fees: No (yes for credit card and international transactions)
  • Transfer time: As quickly as one day
Why We Chose It

PayPal is our pick for best overall payment app. It offers a user-friendly interface, strong security, and there are no fees for sending money to family and friends.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Simple (and free) to set up an account

  • No fees when you send money to a family member

  • Strong encryption technology keeps accounts secure

Cons
  • Business owners are charged a fee to receive payments

  • PayPal has the ability to freeze your account

Overview

PayPal is the granddaddy of payment companies, with a history going back to 1998. It made its name as the preferred digital wallet and payment provider for eBay transactions but has since grown to be one of the most dominant names in online payments.

PayPal offers the ability to transfer money to and from any U.S.-based bank account and many foreign accounts. There is no fee to transfer funds to family or friends from a PayPal balance or bank account balance, but PayPal does charge fees to send from a credit card or convert currencies.

Best for Friends : Venmo


Venmo

 Venmo

  • Fees: No (yes for credit card transactions)
  • Transfer time: 1-3 days (or instantly for a fee)
Why We Chose It

Whether you're dining out as a group or planning a trip with friends, Venmo takes the headache out of splitting contributions.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Easy way to split the bill with friends and family

  • Instant transfers option

Cons
  • 3% fee for sending money with a credit card

  • Privacy default is public view

Overview

Venmo is actually owned by PayPal, however, Venmo is a very different app than PayPal. Venmo is an app designed primarily to send money to friends, with an embedded social aspect. And, while you can sign in and access your account on traditional computers, you can only send money from the app or mobile browsers.

Venmo has close to 85 million users. That's a lot of restaurant checks split. Venmo can also be used to pay for transactions at many businesses as well. It is free to send money using your linked debit card or bank account.

Best With No Frills : Cash App


Square Cash

 Square Cash

  • Fees: No
  • Transfer time: 1-3 days (or instantly for a fee)
Why We Chose It

Cash App is a straightforward peer-to-peer payment app that allows users to buy and sell bitcoin.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Easy to link your bank account via a debit card

  • Offers users a digital wallet

  • Option to buy and sell bitcoin

Cons
  • Can only send $250 every 7 days and receive $1,000 every 30 days without verification

Overview

Cash App is the answer of mobile credit card processor Square’s parent company, Block Inc., to the growing popularity of peer-to-peer payments. Cash App does pretty much the same thing as Venmo, but without the social features. You can send money to friends or request from them, and funds are drawn from a linked bank account or debit card at no cost.

In 2018, Cash App added the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin as well, which gives it a unique feature compared to other popular payment apps.

Best for Banking : Zelle


Zelle

 Zelle

  • Fees: No
  • Transfer time: Within minutes
Why We Chose It

Zelle is a convenient payment service that links up with participating banks, allowing users to transfer money quickly.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Many large banks offer Zelle

  • Same-day transfers

  • No fees for sending or receiving money via Zelle

Cons
  • You can only send funds from one designated bank account

Overview

Zelle offers a unique way to pay friends or family right from your bank. If you have an account at a participating bank, you can send cash via same-day transfers. The growing list of participating banks includes titans such as Chase, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, and online banking leaders, Ally and Capital One.

If your bank doesn't partner with Zelle, you can still use it by downloading their app and linking your debit card. If your bank does participate, you have the option of using Zelle's service through your bank's website or mobile app in addition to the Zelle app.

It is free to send and receive. You can only connect one bank account to your Zelle profile at this time, so if you sign up, make sure it is with your primary account.

Best for Google Accounts : Google Pay


Google Pay Logo
 Courtesy of Google Pay
  • Fees: No (yes when withdrawing to debit card)
  • Transfer time: Instant to 5 days
Why We Chose It

If you're an avid user of Google's product suite, you may also want to add Google Pay to your toolkit. This convenient, versatile app makes it easy to send and receive payments.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No fees to send money to friends and family

  • Integrates with Google products, like Gmail

  • Easy to use from a laptop or smartphone

Cons
  • Transfers to your account can take 3-5 days

  • Fees for debit card transfers (1.5% or $0.31, whichever is greater)

Overview

Google offers a tool to do almost everything one can do online, and sending money is no exception. Google Pay is unique in its integrations with other Google products, including Gmail. Using Google Pay, you can send and receive money to friends and family by using their name, email, phone or QR code. If you have a Google account, you are essentially already signed up for Google Pay.

Like most Google products, it is well designed and easy to use. It works with the dedicated Google Pay app or through other integrated Google services. There are currently no fees to use Google Pay except when transferring money out to a debit card.

Best for Social Media : Meta Messenger


Facebook Messenger

 Facebook Messenger

  • Fees: No
  • Transfer time: 3-5 days
Why We Chose It

Meta offers a convenient payment service that allows Facebook users to send money to other Facebook users.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Transfers are private, unlike some other apps that have a public option

  • Easy to use from your Meta chat experience

Cons
  • You need to have a Facebook profile to use it

  • Need to link your debit card or PayPal account to your Meta account

Overview

Meta already knows everything about you, so why not hand over your debit card and integrate sending money with your chat experience? Because almost everyone is already on Facebook, you can send them money without waiting for them to sign up for an account elsewhere. They just need to add a debit card or PayPal account to be paid.

Payment information is private. When you send money, the transactions are not shared on your feed. Once a payment is accepted, it shows up in the bank within five business days. It’s as simple as that.

Compare Apps

The 6 Best Payment Apps of 2022
Company Fees Domestic or Foreign Transactions Length of Time for Transactions to Arrive in Your Bank Account
PayPal Best Overall No, (yes for sending with a credit or debit card as well as international transactions) Domestic and Foreign Typically a day, sometimes longer
Venmo Best for Friends No (yes for credit card usage) Only domestic 1-3 days or instant transfers for a fee
Cash App Best With No Frills No (yes for credit card usage) U.S. and U.K. only 1-3 days or instant transfers within minutes for a fee
Zelle Best for Banking No  Only domestic Within minutes
Google Pay Best for Google Accounts No (yes, only when withdrawing to a debit card) Domestic and people in the U.S. can send money to people in India and Singapore Instant transfer to 5 days
Meta Messenger Best for Social Media No  Domestic and some foreign transactions Up to 3-5 days

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Payment App?

A payment app is a tool to pay for goods and services and send money to vendors, friends, and family. People tend not to carry as much cash nowadays, so a payment app can be a quick way to reimburse a friend for a concert ticket, help a family member out with a bill, or even pay for something at a store without having your wallet with you. It’s like having a digital wallet with you on your phone.

How Does a Payment App Work?

A payment app works like a digital wallet. You link your bank account information and credit cards to the app, and it securely stores it so you can use it to send and receive money directly on the app. You don’t need to have your wallet physically with you, and you can even use some apps internationally. It’s a quick and convenient way to send and receive money and pay for things online and in stores.

How Much Does a Payment App Cost?

Some payment apps are completely free, while others have free aspects like receiving money or sending money between friends and family. Some payment apps may charge fees to receive money quicker than the standard time, currency exchange and processing fees, and credit card fees. These fees vary based on the type, amount, and location of the transaction.

You may be charged between 2.5% to 3% for credit card processing fees when using some payment apps. If you’re a small business, you can add these fees into the cost of your goods and services or charge an additional fee for customers to pay with a credit card.

Is a Payment App Worth the Cost?

Free payment apps are worth using because there’s no cost, and they’re convenient and easy to use. However, if you have to pay to use the payment app, it may or may not be worth the cost. If you’re a small business that accepts credit cards, it’s usually worth it because you’re increasing your number of customers by accepting additional payment forms.

If you need to send money internationally or need your funds available the same day, you would need to find out the fees, weigh your options, and then see if it’s worth it to pay a little more for the convenience.

How We Chose the Best Payment Apps

To choose the best payment apps, we looked at several popular options and the features they offer. As part of our evaluation, we considered factors like reputation, functions, ease of use, what platforms they work on, how you can send and receive money, and more. After careful consideration, we narrowed down our list to the apps above.

Image shows a woman looking at her phone and it has a dollar sign on it. There is a speech bubble coming out that says "thank you for your purchase of a sweater." The text on the side is the names of payment apps such as zelle, paypal, and venmo.

The Balance / Theresa Chiechi

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