6 Easy & Paperless Ways to Share Money with Friends

Everyone accepts credit and debit cards…except you and me. Paying gas money, sharing rent, or going in on a gift for Mom usually requires writing a check or running to the ATM.

Not anymore.

Most reviews of person-to-person (P2P) payment apps focus on the ease of use for you. I do the same in this article, but I also mention how easy it is for the other person. It feels good to pay back a friend, but it seems rude to make it hard for them to use the money.

I need to pay some friends back for football tickets soon, so I thought I would try out the latest payment apps. I only used my phone, so all my findings and advice come directly from the mobile experience.

The right app for you depends on who you want to pay and how much you trust each company. As the fintech industry continues to grow and evolve, there will be more stand-alone apps to try. It’s also becoming common for social media apps to add payment features. You can send or receive money through Facebook Messenger and Snapchat (using Snapcash). Also, I do not consider myself a security expert, but I do have some common safety tips at the end of the article.

None of these apps move money instantly for free. Sending or receiving money usually takes a business day or two. If you need to move money immediately, it’ll cost you. If you want to get started using these apps, don’t wait until the last minute. Set up an account today so it is ready to use for the future. So far, cash is still king.

Finally, keep in mind that I tried these apps for personal transactions. Businesses can use some of them but that gets complicated. If you’re looking for an easy or cheap way to move money for business, this isn’t the article for you.

Square Cash

Created by Square, this app took me only four minutes to install, set up an account, and link my debit card. The interface is simple, and you can send money to just about anyone using a text message or an email. Users can sign up for a unique $CashTag which makes paying friends and family even easier.

Square Cash is free to use when linked with a debit card or bank account. The app makes deposits within 1-2 business days. If you want to move money instantly (even on holidays), Square Cash can make instant deposits for a 1% fee.

The person receiving money from you does not need to sign up for a Square Cash account. This is why I put Square Cash at the top of my list. The app makes it easy for you to use and easy for others (that don’t have Square Cash) to get paid.

Venmo

Owned by PayPal, Venmo makes it easy to send and receive money among friends and family. It took me three and a half minutes to download the app and get an account up and running. There are no fees for linking bank accounts or debit cards, but there is a 3% fee for sending money using a credit card. If you send someone money, they have to have a Venmo account (or sign up for one) to receive the funds.

With Venmo, money is not moved from bank account to bank account. The service is more of a digital wallet that has its own balance. Once money shows up in Venmo, you can move it to your bank account. Since there is an extra step, you can cancel transactions if you make a mistake. This also means someone can cancel a transaction on you, so only use Venmo with those you trust.

Venmo is great if you and your friends have all created an account. If you are hanging out with the same people all the time, Venmo works great. But if you need to pay other people that don’t want to use Venmo, life gets a little harder.

Facebook Messenger

A while back, Facebook forced everyone to use a separate app to use their Messenger feature. Since I already use the app, I didn’t need to download anything or set up an account. It took me less than a minute to link a debit card.

Facebook Messenger is the easiest app on this list due to the lack of features and options. You can only send and receive money with friends on Facebook (no businesses). You can only link debit cards. No linking bank accounts or credit cards. Plus, transactions are completely free.

The major downside to using Facebook Messenger is the security. If you leave your phone unlocked while logged in to Facebook, anyone has access to your payments. Otherwise, you’re moving money for free with friends and family on an app you use every day.

PayPal

It took me less than four minutes to download the PayPal app, create an account, and link my bank account. The app is sneaky when asking to set up a debit card first. PayPal has fees for debit and credit card transactions. Right now, the fee is 2.9% plus $0.30 for each transaction. But it took me seconds to figure out how to link a bank account, so now I can pay friends and family for free.

The app is easy to use and you can send money to almost anyone. If you plan to send money to friends or family, they need to already have a PayPal account or sign up for one. The process PayPal uses is a lot like using Venmo, but since they are the same company, that makes a lot of sense.

Ebay has been using PayPal for decades, so it is a trusted name. PayPal might be right for you if you want awesome customer service while slightly inconveniencing others.

Google Wallet

Since I already use Gmail, installing and setting up an account with Google Wallet was fast. The app allows you to link only bank accounts and debit cards (no credit cards). Sending and receiving money is free. In fact, you don’t need to use the app. You can send money directly through Gmail after signing up for Wallet.

The major downside to Google Wallet is that the other person needs to have an account. You can send money, but the other person has to have a Google Wallet account to collect. It’s easy to use if the other person is already part of the Google ecosystem.

P2P Payments through {insert your bank here}

The final option to send friends and family money without using cash or checks is through the P2P payment system of your bank. I use a smaller, regional bank (i.e., not Wells Fargo or Bank of America). My bank has an app I can use on my phone, and each transaction costs $1.

The best news is that if I’m paying someone, they do not need to have an account at my bank. The friend or family member I’m paying gets an email or text message with a link and instructions.

This method works as well as the other apps I’ve talked about today. It all depends on which bank or credit union you use and what technology they have implemented.

Keeping You Safe

Again, I do not consider myself a security expert. Here are the most common tips I found for keeping your money safe while using these P2P payment apps.

  1. Lock your phone with a password, PIN, or pattern.
  2. Use strong passwords for all your accounts.
  3. Encrypt your phone.
  4. Don’t ever use public Wi-Fi (Starbucks, airports, hotels, etc.) for private or sensitive information.
  5. Sign up for automatic emails or text messages when money moves.
  6. Use 2-step authentication if available.
  7. Open a separate bank account to link to apps.
  8. Only use these apps with friends and families.