Mobile payment apps are a quick and convenient way to send domestic money transfers.
Mobile apps have become the top choice for sending money in the US with secure, free ways to transfer funds in minutes — but the top apps aren’t all created equal.
What separates the best domestic money transfer providers?
For a money transfer provider, beating the competition involves three factors: cost, speed and flexibility. Sending money should be free, and your transfers should be completed immediately.
- Cost. The market for money transfers is heating up. It’s gotten so competitive, you should never have to pay to send money domestically online or with a mobile app.
- Speed. Maybe you’re concerned about transfer speed and willing to shell out money to send funds quickly. Go beyond Western Union or MoneyGram to online money specialists and mobile apps that can transfer money instantly, sometimes available to your recipient right away.
- Flexibility. The best providers include perks that make transfers work for you, including high limits and options to send money through email and text.
The best apps to send money online within the US
Among the many great mobile payment apps out there, three stand out: Cash App, Google Wallet and PayPal.
|Options to send money through app|
Like its competitors, Square’s Cash App offers free deposits, transfers, receipt of funds and withdrawals. However, it pulls ahead in a few important respects.
If you need to cash out, you don’t have to wait a couple of days for a bank transfer, like you do with other services. Cash App comes with an option to withdraw money instantly for a 1% fee, in addition to its free withdrawal option (which takes two business days). So if you’re transferring $100 to someone, they’ll see it in their bank account right away for $1. For a comparison, sending a transfer for cash pickup through MoneyGram would cost you $12.99.
Cash App’s sending limits aren’t as robust as those offered by Google Wallet or PayPal. However, the app is on par with its competitors by offering money transfers through email and text.
Cash App’s Virtual Card is a killer differentiator. This feature lets you spend money straight from the app as long as merchants accept mobile payments. This means you don’t have to withdraw money to your bank to start spending your funds.
|Options to spend money through app|
Google Wallet is arguably the best way to send money domestically. You can use it to send and receive money for free, but its greatest advantages are its speed and flexibility.
Most payment apps are fast, but they get stuck on the last leg of the transfer, sometimes taking a few days for the recipient to transfer the funds to their bank account.
Not so with Google Wallet. Once you receive money, it’s directly transferred to your debit card. So not only is a money transfer free, but it’s also immediate. If your recipient doesn’t have the Google Wallet app, they can accept funds via email or text.
There are certain exceptions where other apps are superior. For example, Google Wallet doesn’t offer a virtual card like Cash App. And Google Wallet’s sending limits, while very generous, are beaten by PayPal. But if you’re looking for the overall winner for domestic money transfers, Google Wallet takes the prize.
|Options to spend money through app|
PayPal beats everything else in one important respect: Once you verify your identity with PayPal, you can send up to $10,000 per transaction.
That said, PayPal doesn’t necessarily win in speed and convenience. Transfers are instant, but it takes two to three business days to link a bank account at the beginning. And if your recipient wants to spend funds right away, they’ll probably need to apply for the PayPal debit card. (This card allows them to spend funds from their PayPal balance.) Otherwise, they’ll need to wait one business day for a withdrawal to their bank account.
However, once you get the initial setup out of the way, PayPal can be just as effective as any other payment app — even as good as Google Wallet.
What about other online money transfer options?
So why aren’t they included in this “best ways” list for domestic transfers? Because they’re primarily geared toward sending money internationally. They’re the top choice in this space, though, in the same way that mobile payment apps are best for domestic transfers.
If you’re sending funds overseas, go with an online provider — you’ll save a lot of money. For money transfers within your own borders, go with one of the apps we’ve listed here.
Compare online money transfer providers
- Venmo is a great app and the darling of millennials, though it’s matched or outclassed by Cash App in every way.
- Circle offers free transfers, but it needs one to four days for withdrawals to your bank account. If you need to make international transfers between US dollars, euros or British pounds, however, it’s a stellar pick.
- Facebook Messenger is free and fast, and it may dominate mobile payments someday. But you can’t send money to those who aren’t on Facebook, and that makes Messenger Payments less flexible than competitors like Cash App or Google Wallet.
- Cash App is best if you want to receive funds and use them for mobile payments. Just activate your Virtual Card in the app.
- Google Wallet is the best overall pick. It’s quick to set up, its sending limits are high and your recipient can receive money immediately via their debit card.
- PayPal is the best if you want to send large volumes of money — it has no overall sending limits once you’ve verified your identity.