PayPal vs. Venmo vs. Square vs. Google: Who makes the best app for sending cash?

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PayPal

As previously mentioned, PayPal is perhaps the best known of these services, and for good reason. PayPal has long been the go-to for online shopping, and the fact that it can be used to transfer money between friends is simply a bonus.

PayPal’s interface is extremely easy to use, largely thanks to a major redesign. Simply open up your PayPal account, press the “send money’ button, and follow the instructions — it only takes a few seconds to send money. The recent PayPal.me initiative has made sending money even easier. If you have your friend’s PayPal.me link, simply follow the link and enter how much you want to pay them.

What PayPal has going against it, however, isn’t related to its ease of use.

Out of the four services, PayPal is the most expensive to use, if you don’t want to connect the service to your bank account. Now, I would highly recommend connecting it to your bank account anyway as it makes things a lot easier if you happen to lose your card or when you get a new card. However, if you choose not to, PayPal will be the most expensive service for you. Not only does it charge a 2.9 percent fee for money sent from a debit or credit card, it also charges an extra 30 cents on top of that.

PayPal also seems to be the slowest service in our roundup, though it’s hard to tell if that’s just the company trying to cover its bases — I don’t think I’ve ever experienced PayPal taking five days to complete a transaction. Still, it’s nice to have the promise of less than that, something that PayPal just doesn’t offer.

Another advantage, however, is that PayPal allows the largest transactions of the bunch. Using PayPal, you can transfer up to a hefty $10,000.

Like some of the other services on our list, PayPal won’t transfer money directly to your bank unless you actually tell it to. Instead, money will sit in your PayPal account, and can be used for purchases or sent to your bank, as you see fit. Also, PayPal Credit users might prefer PayPal as it eliminates the need to have any extra accounts.

Google Wallet

google-wallet-screen

Android Pay has made more headlines than Google Wallet of late, but some don’t realize that Android Pay isn’t actually a Wallet replacement. Instead, Wallet is aimed specifically at helping users send and receive money to and from others.

Google Wallet isn’t the cheapest service on the list, but it’s also not the most expensive — it charges 2.9 percent for credit and debit transactions. It can transfer almost as much as PayPal, with the maximum amount per transaction being $9,999.

What really sets Google Wallet apart from the rest, however, is its integration with other Google services. In Gmail, for instance, you can request money simply by pressing the little dollar sign in the toolbar under a message. If you choose to use the actual Google Wallet app instead, sending money is as simple as pressing on the option and entering your recipient’s email address.

Another cool feature about Google Wallet is that while the goal is to avoid taking your actual wallet out, if you insist on doing so, you can order a plastic Google Wallet card that can be used to purchase items and withdraw cash. You’ll have to make sure there are funds in your Google Wallet account to do so, however, and money sent to you sits in your Google Wallet account until you tell the service you want it sent to your actual bank account.

Venmo

venmo-screen

Venmo has grown a lot more popular over the past few years, and has thus become the preferred way for many to transfer cash to their friends. In fact, Venmo has become a verb — “Venmo that money!” After creating your account, you’ll be asked to add friends to your friends list, which makes it easier to transfer money the next time you need to do so.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using Venmo, however. For example, the team behind it has tried to make the service perhaps a little more social than it should be. When you send money, you’ll have the option to make the transaction public, and while you most likely don’t want or need to do this, you’ll have to be careful to not accidentally select the wrong option.

Like other services, when someone sends you money, it sits in your Venmo account, where it can be used to send money to others or be transferred to your bank account by “checking out.” Unlike other services, however, it’s free to use Venmo with a debit card. It will still cost you 2.9 percent to use a credit card, but if you’re not too fond of linking a service to your bank account, it might be nice for you to not have to pay a fee for each transaction. Not only that, but Venmo says that money will be transferred to your bank account within one business day, which is quicker than any other service.

Venmo is obviously meant to be used for everyday transactions, and as such, the limit for a single transfer is $3,000. It’s still a lot of money, sure, but you won’t be using Venmo to send a huge amount of cash.

Square Cash

square-cash-screen

Last but certainly not least on our list is Square Cash, built by Square, which is perhaps best known for its point of sale systems for the iPad and iPhone. At first glance, you might have trouble seeing why you would want to opt for Square Cash over other services, but it does have one unique selling point — you don’t have to set up an account to use it.

It also integrates with email. To request cash, email the person that owes you money, enter how much is owed in the subject field, and then CC the email to [email protected] Once the email is received, both parties will need to enter their banking information, and the transfer will go through. There’s no need for any new accounts, long waits, or extra steps in transferring process. In fact, once the bank information has been entered, Square claims that the transaction should be completed within two business days. Sure, that’s not as quick as Venmo, but it’s still a lot quicker than the likes of PayPal and Google Wallet.

Unfortunately the service can only be used with debit cards — you won’t be using your credit card or bank account with Square Cash.

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