Cash App: How to transfer money safely

6 min read
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A lot of us want to make our financial lives as simple as possible. We write one check to the landlord and wait for our roommates to pay us for their share of the rent. We offer to pick up the tab at a restaurant instead of asking the server to split it seven ways. We give a friend a few bucks when they need it and tell them they can pay us back someday.

But letting people borrow money — even for something as small as the cost of a restaurant meal — can be an expensive proposition. According to a 2019 Bankrate survey, 60 percent of American adults have loaned cash to a friend or family member with the expectation of being paid back; 37 percent of those adults never saw the money again.

That’s where peer-to-peer transfer apps like Cash App come in. Not only does Cash App make it easy to send money to friends and family, but Cash App also makes it easy to request payments from people. We’re not saying that sending someone a Cash App request will ensure that you get the money you’re owed, but the Cash App notification could serve as a helpful reminder.

Plus, Cash App allows you to direct deposit your paycheck into your Cash App account, invest the funds in your account balance and use the Cash Card to make purchases everywhere Visa is accepted. Cash App isn’t just a money transfer service anymore; it’s a full-fledged financial tool.

How does Cash App work? What are the Cash App fees? Should you request a Cash App card? Let’s take a look at how to transfer money safely with Cash App — and how you can use Cash App to pay back friends and family, get reimbursed for group expenses and earn rewards on your purchases.

What is Cash App?

Cash App is a peer-to-peer money transfer service. Like Venmo, Cash App lets you quickly send and receive money. You can use Cash App to pay your share of the rent, reimburse friends and family members, make donations and even tip your hairstylist. You can also use Cash App to request money from friends and family. If you cover a friend’s meal at a group brunch, for example, you could send your friend a payment request through Cash App to ensure you got paid back.

Recently, Cash App has expanded to include additional features — like the ability to invest your Cash App account balance and the option to receive direct deposits in your Cash App account. (You can even get your coronavirus stimulus check deposited in your Cash App account!) There’s also a new Cash App card that functions like a debit card, works wherever Visa is accepted and lets you make payments from your Cash App balance.

How does Cash App work?

Cash App has a simple interface that makes it easy to send or receive money. Tap the dollar amount you’d like to send or receive, tap “Request” or “Pay,” and you’ll be seconds away from sending a friend money or requesting that they send you money.

The money you send and receive through Cash App can come from a linked debit card, credit card or bank account — but you can also add money to your Cash App account and draw from that balance when you send funds. You can even get your paycheck direct-deposited into your Cash App account, if you want to maximize your Cash App balance.

Once your Cash App account is set up, you can request a Cash Card. This Cash App card is a free debit card that works wherever Visa is accepted. Any purchases you put on your Cash Card get withdrawn from your Cash App balance (or, if you do not have enough money in your balance, your linked bank account) — and Cash App’s Boost program allows you to earn rewards on everyday purchases, including $1 off coffee shop visits.

If you’re interested in investing, Cash App lets you invest your account balance in either stocks or Bitcoin. Start investing with as little as $1, and use your Cash App balance to invest in popular companies like Nike, Apple and Disney.

What are the fees?

There are two potential Cash App fees, though both are avoidable.

  • Cash App charges a 3% fee if you use a credit card to send money, but making payments with a debit card or bank account is free.
  • Cash App also charges a 1.5% fee if you request an Instant Transfer of funds from your Cash App account to your linked debit card. If you request to transfer money to a bank account, the transfer is free — however, you must wait 1-3 business days for the transaction to process.

How to use Cash App to send money to friends

Make a Cash App account

First, download Cash App through the App Store or Google Play. Then, open the app and create an account by entering your phone number or email address and adding the one-time login code Cash App provides. You must be at least 18 to open a Cash App account.

Link your debit card, credit card or bank account

When you open a new Cash App account, you’ll be asked to add a bank account using your debit card. Enter your debit card number to complete the process, or skip this step. After your account is created, you can add additional banks and credit cards by tapping the bank icon on the app home screen.

If you link an active debit card to your Cash App account, you’ll be able to claim a $cashtag. This is a short nickname that you can give to friends and family, to make it easier for them to find you on the app. People will also be able to send you money by entering your email address or phone number, if they don’t know or can’t remember your $cashtag.

Begin the payment process

Enter the amount of money you’d like to transfer. Then tap “Pay,” and Cash App will ask you to identify the person who should receive the money.

Find the person you want to send money to

Enter the email address, phone number or $cashtag of the person you want to send money to. Your recipient isn’t required to  have a Cash App account; as long as you have their email address or phone number, you can use Cash App to transfer them money. It’s important to note that if your recipient doesn’t accept the money within 14 days, the transfer will expire.

Complete the transfer

Enter a short note on what the payment is for — maybe you’re paying someone back for movie tickets, for example — and tap “Pay” again to complete the transfer.

Does Cash App take credit cards?

Cash App does allow you to link credit cards to your account and use those cards to make purchases or transfer money. When you use a credit card with Cash App, you’ll pay a 3% fee on the transaction. If you want to avoid paying this fee, use a debit card or a linked bank account with Cash App — because debit and bank account transactions are fee-free.

When you use a credit card to send money to friends on Cash App, be aware that your lender might categorize the transaction as a cash advance. Some lenders count peer-to-peer transactions as cash advances because they consider it the equivalent of handing your friend cash — and cash advances come with higher-than-usual interest rates that begin compounding the day the transaction is made, with no grace period to allow you to pay off the debt interest-free. To minimize the cost of a cash advance, pay off your credit card balance as quickly as possible.

Best way to earn rewards with Cash App?

Since some lenders tag Cash App credit card transactions as cash advances, it’s a good idea to stick to debit or a linked bank account when using Cash App. However, you can still use Cash App to help you maximize your credit card rewards. If you’re out to dinner with a group of friends, for example, you could use a credit card that rewards restaurants to pay for everyone’s meals and your friends could Cash App you money to cover their share of the dinner.

If you’ve got one of the top rewards credit cards in your wallet, continue using that card for as many purchases as possible — and if you can pick up a group bill and get your friends to use Cash App to pay you back, it’s a win-win.

If you have the Cash Card, you can use Cash App’s Boost program to get instant discounts on purchases. That’s another great way to earn rewards with Cash App!

Frequently Asked Questions about Cash App

Are Cash App transactions safe and private?

All Cash App payment information is encrypted, and users receive a one-time-use login code every time they sign into the app. Any transactions you make are private, and do not appear on a public social feed like Venmo transactions.

Is the money on my Cash App account insured?

The money on your Cash App account is not FDIC-insured. That means your money is not federally backed if you send it to the wrong person or for fraudulent activity.

How quickly do Cash App transactions go through?

Cash App transactions are instant.

Can I cancel a Cash App transaction?

Since Cash App transactions are instant, you won’t be able to cancel a transaction after you’ve made it.

If you make an accidental payment or transfer money to the wrong person, you can use Cash App’s request function to request that they pay you back — but there’s no guarantee that you’ll see your cash again. That’s why it’s important to always double-check your #cashtags, phone numbers and dollar amounts before sending money through Cash App, Venmo or any other peer-to-peer payment service.