Cash App review 2021

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Cash App
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Cash App is like five apps in one stripped-down, easy-to-use package. It’s high on functionality but low on design. But the thing is, it works. Think of it as a cross between PayPal (or Venmo) and Robinhood, with a bank account thrown in for good measure. You’ll be able to send and receive money, spend with a debit card from your account, as well as trade stocks and Bitcoin. It’s a solid app for beginning investors and a very good one if you’re looking to transfer money. Still, Cash App ends up being something closer to a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

If you’re just starting to invest via mobile app and looking for a broker with a cash management account, you should also consider Robinhood or Webull, both of which give you much of the functionality of a bank account. If you’re looking for someone to manage your portfolio and give you that attractive bank account, too, you may want to take a look at Wealthfront.

Best for

  • Beginning investors
  • Mobile banking users
  • Cost-conscious investors

Cash App at a glance

Category Cash App
Account minimum $1 to start investing, otherwise no minimum
Securities tradable About 1,000 stocks and dozens of ETFs; Bitcoin
Account types Individual taxable
Cash management account Debit card, 2-day early direct deposit,  Cash Boost discounts on card purchases, ATM access: $2 fee for CashApp, but all fees can be waived with direct deposits of more than $300 each month
Tools Basic charts, basic watchlists, news feed and profile
Customer service FAQ, email
Promotion $15 referral bonus if friends sign up

Pros: Where Cash App stands out

Easy to sign up and use

Cash App is so easy to sign up for that you’ll be in your account before you even realize you have one. Give your name, add either an email or phone number, pick your username (your cashtag, as it’s called) and you’re ready to roll, even without linking your bank account to transfer funds. Your cashtag acts as an identifier when you want to move money peer to peer.

Once you’re in, you’ll have an easy-to-navigate app with a few buttons that move you between the various functions: money transfer, a bank account with debit card, an investing account, an overview of your finances at Cash App and a referral tab that allows you to invite friends and pick up a $15 promotion for those who do sign up and fund an account.

The app couldn’t be easier to use. And that can be a pro and a con: It’s so stripped-down that you’ll know exactly what to do as soon as you download and open the app, yet this design also means that it doesn’t offer more advanced functionality for complex things such as investing. Still, the app strikes a good balance, especially for beginners, without being too restrictive.

Low costs and account minimum

It’s incredibly easy to get started with Cash App: Link your bank account and transfer money and you’re in. Or set up a direct deposit. Or download the app and request money from someone. Regardless of how you get started, it’s easy to maintain the account due to the low costs and no account minimum.

To trade stocks, you’ll need just a dollar in your account, and of course you’ll be able to buy fractional shares. So you’ll be able to put your whole investment to work immediately, rather than having to purchase only in round shares. It’s a small feature that adds to the functionality. Stock trading doesn’t cost you any fees, in line with the industry’s shift to no commission, though Bitcoin trading will cost you extra, as explained below.

And otherwise, you won’t be hit with typical account fees, such as a monthly fee or transfer fees for the cash management account. Again, Cash App is like a PayPal or Venmo account with some added features. And unlike a rival such as Acorns, you won’t have to pay a monthly fee to access features, though you won’t get that app’s range of features either.

Cash management account

The cash management account offers many of the core banking functions, with the ability to send and receive money. You can have a paycheck direct-deposited up to two days early, and you can get a debit card that offers some spending rewards – or “boosts” as the company calls them. Again, it’s core functions here, not the whole range of perks with other top cash management accounts.

As for ATM access, Cash App will charge you $2 on its end for each transaction, though if you’ve direct-deposited at least $300 each month, it reimburses all fees, including operator fees.

However, it’s worth noting that funds are not FDIC-insured, so if something happens, you’re not guaranteed to get your money back. That’s in contrast to other cash management accounts.

Cash App really helps enable using Bitcoin as a currency. The cash management account allows you to make transfers in Bitcoin as well as dollars. Heck, you’ll even be able to earn your spending rewards in Bitcoin if you want. If crypto is your thing, here’s a way and place to use it.

Access to Bitcoin

One of the draws for traders here is the ability to trade in Bitcoin. Cash App says that it “may” charge a fee when you buy and sell, and by that it means Cash App “will” charge a fee. But just how much? The app charges a basic service fee for each transaction as well as a fee based on the volatility of Bitcoin traded on U.S. exchanges. Cash App provides you with the fee before you trade, so you won’t be hit with some unexpected charge later.

Also worth noting here is that Cash App will provide you with the appropriate tax forms if you trade or spend in Bitcoin. That’s critical, because you’ll need to report transactions on your annual return in order to avoid running afoul of IRS laws. However, determining your basis for your transactions is up to you, says Cash App, so you’ll need to refer to your transactions data.

Automatic investing

If you’re looking to automatically invest in Bitcoin or a specific stock or ETF, Cash App actually allows you to set up a regular buying schedule. So you can set it and forget it with your stock purchases. You can set the app to buy daily, weekly or biweekly and then it executes your trade.

It’s a cool feature that you might not expect from such a stripped-down app. Regularly investing is the kind of good discipline required to succeed in growing your portfolio.

Cons: Where Cash App could improve

Limited stock and ETF selection

If you’re expecting to buy deep-in-the-weeds stocks (as at other major brokers), you’re not likely to find what you’re looking for. But you’ll likely find all the major stocks, with Cash App offering about 1,000 stocks on its platform, which meets the bulk of demand, says the company.

That said, the goal is to broaden the selection of supported stocks, focusing for now on companies that have a market capitalization of more than $1 billion and are listed on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq, as well as a few other criteria. The app does note that it hasn’t removed any securities from its platform, except if they’ve been acquired by another company or are otherwise required to do so, by the exchange due to bankruptcy, for example.

Cash App also offers dozens of ETFs, and you can quickly find what’s available here by clicking on a search tab within the investing function. You’ll get access to ETFs from some of the top fund companies, including Vanguard and iShares. The most popular index funds are represented, too, so you’ll have access to top funds based on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the Nasdaq 100, for example, as well as many other potential high performers.

Again, Cash App’s offering is good within its bounds, but may not have that off-the-beaten-path thing you want.

Basic charting and features

Cash App offers a bare-bones setup if you’re clicking onto a stock to see more. You’ll get basic functionality, for example, on the charts, which don’t even feature numbers and axes, just a line noting where the stock has gone over a few preset time frames. You’ll also see a basic news feed with links to recent articles on the company and a quick profile of it.

It’s similar with the rest of the elements in the investing tab. The main investing tab offers you a few preselected watchlists, such as the most-traded stocks or biggest movers, or you can create your own. If you’re looking for a stock by industry, a quick search tab allows you to pull up all the stocks on offer there. And that’s about the extent of the tools here.

Lack of customer support

You’re dealing with a no-frills app, so don’t come to the table expecting full service like you’d get with a broker like Charles Schwab or Fidelity. Cash App offers a workable support section on its website, so you can get answers to basic questions. Once you’ve exhausted this option and run through the potential answers, only then will you stumble onto the ability to contact support staff via email.

Of course, this approach is in line with other similar apps such as Robinhood, where it can take days for a response from support. That said, Robinhood’s FAQ section looks more built-out than what you’ll see at Cash App.

Bottom line

Cash App is a solid offering that allows you to do a lot of things in a no-nonsense app, especially if you need core functions – banking, spending, money transfer and basic investing. You’ll get it all in an easy-to-use form, and be ready to roll seconds after you load the app.

But others looking for more complex functionality may be disappointed and want to look elsewhere. Robinhood or Webull could be good alternatives, with more expansive trading capabilities (including other cryptocurrencies) and solid cash management accounts, too. Or Wealthfront offers an even better cash management account and do-it-for-me investing. Finally, those looking for the fully featured brokerage experience can turn to investor-friendly Fidelity, and then add on one of its attractive cash management accounts to round out the bill.

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Written by
James Royal
Senior investing and wealth management reporter
Bankrate senior reporter James F. Royal, Ph.D., covers investing and wealth management. His work has been cited by CNBC, the Washington Post, The New York Times and more.
Edited by
Senior wealth editor