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7 best ways to send money

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A family sits together at a kitchen table.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com
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Sending money to someone else has never been easier thanks to peer-to-peer (P2P) payments. With a couple of taps on a smartphone, you can request and receive money within minutes or less. Here are seven of the best ways you can send money to others from anywhere. All you need is an internet connection.

1. Zelle

Zelle is a great option to quickly pay back your friends and family. It’s free to use, your money moves within minutes and you may not even need to download another mobile app.

  • Around 10,000 financial institutions are represented in the Zelle Network.
  • To send someone money, enter their email address or phone number.
  • How much you can send per week varies by financial institution.
  • If your bank doesn’t offer Zelle and you download the standalone app, you can only send $500 per week.

What to watch for: Confirm that you are sending money to the right person. If you accidentally send money to the wrong person, there’s no guarantee that you will get your money back.

Best for: People with compatible bank accounts who don’t want to download another app or pay fees.

2. Venmo

Venmo is a popular P2P payments app and for good reason. The PayPal-owned app makes it easy to send and receive money with a social twist. Transactions between people are shared with their friends, though users can choose to make their transactions and payment history private, either by default or for individual payments.

Unlike Zelle, there’s no getting around downloading an app — you’ll need the Venmo app on your phone to send or receive money through the service. But you can easily link your bank account to send money to people for free (or pay a small fee if you want to send a payment within 30 minutes).

  • You only need someone’s username, phone number or email to pay them, but Venmo will ask for the last four digits of the recipient’s phone number to confirm you’re sending the money to the right person.
  • If you link a bank account, Venmo will automatically take out the money from your account when you pay someone. You can link a credit card, but Venmo will charge a 3 percent fee. (You can update your method of payment before you send money. But you aren’t able to make an adjustment after a transaction has been sent.)
  • When Venmo confirms your identity, you can send up to $60,000 per week.
  • You can earn a bonus when people you know use your referral link.

Best for: Paying back friends with a social component.

What to watch: Like Zelle, you can’t cancel money sent via Venmo. So make sure you’re sending money to the correct person and that it’s for the right amount.

3. Cash App

Cash App is another trendy standalone app used to send money to people you know. It’s available for consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom, and money can be sent between the two countries with no extra fee (other than what your bank might charge). Similar to many other P2P payment apps, the sender and recipient of a payment both must download the app to use.

  • Like Venmo and Zelle, you can send money back to people with an email address or phone number. You can also send money to someone using a $Cashtag (a unique identifier).
  • Within the first seven days of signing up for the app, you can send up to $250. After 30 days, you can send up to $1,000. Once your identity is confirmed, you can send additional funds.
  • You can send money to other people without paying a fee. But if you use a credit card, you will be charged a 3 percent fee. You will also be subject to a 0.5 to 1.75 percent fee if you make an instant deposit to a linked debit card.
  • You can earn a $5 bonus when someone you refer becomes an app user.

Best for: People who want a stripped down app, as well as those looking to send money between the U.S. and U.K.

What to watch: Like the other peer-to-peer apps, you can’t usually cancel the money you send. Pay attention to whom you are sending funds to and the amount.

4. PayPal

PayPal is a longstanding digital-payment system that lets you send and receive money that continues to get upgrades (including letting you use emojis just like you can on Venmo). It’s available as a desktop service or as a mobile app.

PayPal is a global service, meaning that consumers can send money to various countries around the world for a conversion fee.

  • You can send money to people for free if you use a linked bank account or PayPal Cash Card or balance. But you will pay fees for other card payment methods: 2.9 percent plus 30 cents in the U.S.
  • If you have a verified PayPal account, you can send up to $60,000; however, PayPal might limit you to $10,000 for a single transaction, depending on the currency. Those without a PayPal account can send up to $4,000 in a transaction.
  • PayPal offers international transactions through its Xoom service, which allows you to send money to people in over 200 countries.

Best for: People who want to send larger amounts of money and those who want to make convenient international payments.

What to watch: Pay attention to fees you may incur when sending money to another country. Also double check to whom you are sending money and for what amount, since transactions can’t be canceled.

5. Apple Cash

If you have an iPhone or Apple Watch, Apple Cash is another option to send and receive money to and from other Apple device users via a quick text.

To use the functionality, you must first set up Apple Cash in your Apple Wallet — a process that will require linking a debit card to fund the transfer. After that, press the Apple Pay icon in the Messages app on your device to send money via a text to one of your contacts. The transferred funds will appear in the recipient’s wallet.

  • There are free ways to send and receive money, but Apple will charge you a 1.5 percent fee for instant transfers. The minimum fee for instant transfers is 25 cents and the maximum fee is $15.
  • If the recipient doesn’t accept the payment, you can cancel it.
  • You can ask Siri to pay one of your contacts.
  • The minimum you can send per message is $1 and the maximum is $10,000.
  • A maximum of $10,000 can be sent or received within a seven-day period.

Best for: People with Apple devices who want payment services streamlined through their device.

What to watch: Unlike some other options, you have to accept the money sent for it to deposit into your account.

6. Google Pay

Google Pay is available on Google Play and on iOS devices for those who have a Google account. It can be used to send and receive money between friends and family, as well as to make contactless purchases in stores or online.

  • Like other options, the money moving in and out of Google Pay comes from a linked debit card or bank account that you entered into the app.
  • In a seven-day period, Google lets you send up to $5,000 if you’re verified (or $500 if your identity isn’t verified).
  • Google Pay lets you set up groups to help split up the costs for things like rent or dinner.

Best for: Splitting payments or bills among a group of people.

What to watch: It doesn’t support credit cards as a way to send money to someone you know.

7. Samsung Pay Cash

Samsung Pay is another digital wallet that lets you send money to someone else, but the recipient needs to have a Samsung Pay Cash Account, making it less universal than some of the other peer-to-peer payment options.

A Samsung Pay Cash account labeled as “lite” is an account that’s not registered. Your account will have more limited transactions until you upgrade to a “full” account. With a lite account, you may only receive a payment once a month and can send payments of up to $500 no more than 15 times over the same timeframe.

  • You can send money to friends and family from your phone with Samsung Pay Cash.
  • You can fund your account by using a debit or credit card, transferring money from your bank, setting up direct deposit or by receiving money from another person.
  • Samsung Pay Cash is available on Google Play.
  • The recipient must accept the payment to complete the transaction; if it’s not accepted within five days, the payment will expire.

Best for: People who have Samsung devices.

What to watch: Make sure the person you are sending money to has a Samsung Pay Cash account (or wants one).

Bottom line

Mobile apps can be a great way to send money quickly to others. Make sure you understand whether there are any fees for sending money and how fast the money will get to the recipient.

Most P2P payment services require that both the sender and recipient have the app for the payment to go through. This might factor into your decision when shopping around for the right payment app if your friends or family tend to use one in particular.

— Bankrate’s René Bennett contributed to an update of this story.

Written by
Matthew Goldberg
Consumer banking reporter
Matthew Goldberg is a consumer banking reporter at Bankrate. Matthew has been in financial services for more than a decade, in banking and insurance.
Edited by
Managing editor
Reviewed by
Senior wealth manager, LourdMurray