Best Money Transfer and Payment Apps of April 2021

Bill Mount

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners. Every day, millions of people around the globe have to figure out how to pay […]

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

Every day, millions of people around the globe have to figure out how to pay for the things they need.

Whether you’re an independent contractor filing an invoice, friends splitting the check or a family looking to divide up household expenses, electronic payments have become the norm for paying for almost anything in a fast, secure way simply by picking up your smart phone.

“I’ll Venmo you,” has nearly replaced the phrase, “Do you take a check?” But of course, not every business likes emojis alongside their invoices, and that’s where apps like PayPal — which has a slightly more sophisticated invoicing set-up — come in.

Factors like cost, transfer speed and international capabilities all come into play when choosing the best method for transferring digital cash.

Ahead, Select reviewed the best five apps for sending money to friends, family and even some small businesses. (Read our methodology for more information on how we choose the best money-sending apps.)

Select’s picks for the top apps to send money

Money transfer apps FAQs

Best between friends

Venmo

  • Cost

    No charge for sending money from a linked bank account, debit card or your Venmo account; a 3% fee for sending money using a linked credit card

  • Transfer speed

    Instant transfer to Venmo balance; 1 to 3 busines days for direct deposit (free) or instant transfer to your bank account for 1% fee ($10 max)

  • Standout features

    Links to popular apps; social features to interact with your friends’ payments (including stickers and emojis); Venmo debit and credit cards

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Only available in the U.S. and only compatible with U.S.-based bank accounts and phone numbers; compatible with iOS & Android

  • Security features

    Multi-factor authentication when signing in; QR code readers to make sure you link to the correct user account before you send money

Pros

  • Widely used and therefore easy when splitting bills with friends
  • Can link as payment method to popular apps including Uber, Uber Eats and Seamless
  • Can use to pay at participating online merchants
  • Users who opt-in can use a free Venmo debit card
  • Can link to the Venmo Credit Card to earn rewards on most popular spending categories at authorized merchants (subject to 3% credit card fee for person-to-person payments)

Cons

  • Charges a 3% processing fee when using linked credit card as a payment method
  • Charges a 1% fee for instant cash-outs (to disperse funds immediately to your bank account with no waiting period)
  • Not all users can currently link two separate Venmo user accounts to a joint bank account (Venmo is slowly rolling out this feature)

Best for bank-to-bank transfers

Zelle

  • Cost

    Free (but check with your bank to ensure it doesn’t charge an additional fee)

  • Transfer speed

    Instant: transactions typically occur in minutes when the recipient’s email address or U.S. mobile number is already enrolled with Zelle

  • Standout features

    No need to download an extra app; Zelle is already included with most mobile banking apps

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, to U.S. bank accounts

  • Availability

    iOS and Android; must have U.S. bank account linked to an email address or compatible U.S. phone number

  • Security features

    The Zelle app uses authentication and monitoring features to make your payments more secure

Pros

  • Fastest money-sending method (when both sender and recipient are signed up)
  • Compatible with hundreds of U.S. banks and credit unions

Cons

  • You can’t link your account to credit card to use as payment method
  • You can’t send money to international bank accounts
  • Recipients must sign up for Zelle to receive money (if the recipient doesn’t enroll within 14 days, the payment will expire, and the funds will be returned to your account)

Best for flexible payments

PayPal

  • Cost

    Free to download the app; $0 to make purchases using a bank account or your PayPal balance; $0 to transfer money to friends and family; 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee to pay business/contractor invoices

  • Transfer speed

    1 business day or instant transfer with 1% fee

  • Standout features

    PayPal Credit lets qualifying users pay for purchases over $99 over six months interest-free

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank accounts and credit cards

  • Availability

    iOS and Android; available in more than 200 countries and regions

  • Security features

    Two-step authentication, data encryption, email confirmations for every transaction

    See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Widely used by individuals and businesses alike
  • Flexible payment options with the ability to finance large purchases over six months interest-free with PayPal Credit (APRs vary)
  • High transfer limits: send up to $60,000 in a single transaction (depending on eligibility)

Cons

  • International transfers can get pricey ($2.99 to $4.99, plus 2.9% of the transaction amount and an additional fee based on location)
  • Fee structure is more complex than other money transfer apps

Best for budding investors

Cash App

On Cash App’s secure site

  • Cost

    Free to download and use basic services

  • Transfer speed

    1 to 3 business days or instant cash-out deposits for a 1.5% fee (25 cent minimum)

  • Standout features

    App allows users to invest money in individual stocks as well as buy and sell bitcoin

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank accounts and credit cards

  • Availability

  • Security features

    Data encryption and fraud detection technology; unique, one-time login codes, two-factor authentication

Pros

  • Free debit card for users who opt in
  • Free ATM withdrawals if you set up direct deposit (otherwise $2 per withdrawal)
  • “Cash boosts” offer discounts with certain retailers that are automatically applied to a purchase to help users save money (only one boost may be active at a time)
  • App includes features to let users invest in stocks and buy and sell bitcoin

Cons

  • Charges a 3% processing fee when using linked credit card as a payment method
  • Charges a 1.5% fee for instant cash-outs (to disperse funds immediately to your bank account with no waiting period)
  • Cash App is not FDIC-insured, despite its more sophisticated investing features

Best for sending money internationally

Remitly

  • Cost

    Free to download; transfer costs vary by country and amount (economy are often $0, express transfers start at $3.99)

  • Transfer speed

  • Standout features

    Convenient delivery options, including sending money directly to trusted banks, cash pick-up locations, mobile wallets or via home delivery

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, links to debit cards, credit cards and bank accounts

  • Availability

    iOS and Android; for U.S. users sending to other countries only

  • Security features

    Secure server with data encryption; two-factor authentication

Pros

  • Straightforward fee structure based on country and amount
  • Affordable economy transfers (3 to 5 business days)
  • High user approval rating in Google Play and Apple Store
  • Large network of financial partners to send money for cash pick-up

Cons

  • Extra charges for linking credit card as payment methods
  • Express transfer fees as high as $93.99 (for transfers of $9,000 or more)

Money-sending app FAQs

How much do money transfer apps cost?

The best money transfer apps are free to download, but costs vary depending on how you use them. Most services offer free bank transfers at a standard speed of 1 to 3 business days, but charge fees if you want to pay with a credit card and/or speed up the delivery to your bank account. International money transfers vary based on the country’s exchange rates and bank fees, but you may still be able to choose a standard or economy delivery versus a more expensive express delivery. Be sure to check fees before assuming that all money transfers are free.

Are money transfer apps safe?

Money apps are arguably safer than cash since most require you to create an account with a password and two-factor login methods (such as sending verification codes) to verify your identity and the person you are sending money to.

Likewise, using a money app is safer than writing a check because it will not expose your bank account number and routing number to the person who receives it. By signing up for a money transfer app, you are, in essence, making it possible for anyone to send you a digital payment without viewing any of your secure account information, just your user ID or email address/phone number. And unlike cash, digital payments cannot be lost.

Because digital money apps allow you to send money to anyone with an account, the one caveat is that it can be easy to send money to the wrong person if you’re not careful. Some apps offer additional protections, like QR-code scanning, text or email verification, unique user IDs and profile pictures to ensure the right person is on the receiving end of your payment.

Our methodology

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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