You’re doing it wrong: 5 ways to get more out of your mobile payment apps

Posted: 30 March 2023 8:41 am
Sponsored by Cash App, the #1 finance app in the App Store, where you can send and spend, bank* and buy stocks or bitcoin all in one place.
Learn more

We’ve all been there. That awkward moment when it’s time to split the dinner bill with a group. The usual cast of characters goes something like this: The friend who “forgot” to bring their wallet (again). The perfectly timed bathroom-breaker. The Ross Geller who blindly assumes everyone can afford to split the bill six ways when all you ordered was a side salad and water.

You probably already know that mobile payment apps can help alleviate some of that awkwardness. But you may be surprised to hear that sending and receiving money is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what mobile payment apps are capable of.

Investing: check. Fee-free banking: that too. Shopping with instant discounts at places like Shake Shack: way too specific not to be true.

It’s high time you started utilizing these lesser-known features of mobile payment apps…

1. Shop online and in stores

Ditch the bulky wallet and opt to pay with your smartphone or app-linked debit card. Connect your debit card to mobile wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay, or use Cash App Pay to quickly scan a QR code at checkout. With multiple purchase methods, you’ll never have to fumble for cash or manually input your card information again.

Some mobile payment apps also offer extra savings when you shop. For example, the Cash Card Boosts feature combines convenient payments with instant discounts with some of your favorite retailers and services. Just select a Boost, use your Cash App Card at checkout and save immediately on coffee, groceries and more.

2. Send stocks, gift cards and foreign currency

Mobile payment apps have come a long way and shouldn’t limit you to domestic currency. On top of sending US dollars to other users, you can also send stocks to Kevin, your friend who’s a budding investor. We’ll also accept, “literally any other friend.” You get it. Just pick the security, choose how much you’d like to give and send it like a regular cash payment.

And for the family member you can never please with the right gift, you can send gift cards directly from your mobile payment app. If the recipient is using Cash App, for example, the gift card balances are stored in their app and they can spend their gift online or in-store by swiping their Cash Card. No more misplacing gift cards or scratching off cover labels to reveal a PIN.

If your loved one doesn’t have a Cash Card, they can sign up for one within 30 days and start spending, or simply wait a month and the gift will convert to cash.

And if you have family or friends abroad, you can also send international currency. Your payment is generally funded in your local currency, and the recipient receives it in their default currency. Your mobile payment app handles the conversion and confirms the exchange rate with you before finalizing the transfer. That means no more trips to Western Union.

3. File your taxes — with a faster refund

You know what’s great? Hidden fees.

Wait, did we say hidden fees? We meant puppies. Puppies are great. And cake. Hidden fees, however, are bad, and Cash App gets this. Which is why they’re now letting you file your taxes for free — yes, $0 to file both federal and state taxes. And some apps also throw in audit defense for free and a maximum refund guarantee.

And fun fact: Cash App Taxes is so confident it’ll get your taxes right that if you get hit with a penalty or interest for a calculation error, it’ll reimburse you up to $1,000 in the form of a gift card. Plus, you can always contact customer support if you have questions or get stuck during the process.

If you deposit your refund into your Cash App account, you can access it up to six days early. This does depend on the timing of your submission and fulfilment of any other requirements, so be sure to finish your return early and completely to take advantage of this feature.

4. Invest in the market

Since only about 26% of Americans have a brokerage account, according to research from Finder’s Consumer Confidence Index, mobile payment apps are making investing easier and more accessible by building investing features right into their platform. Everyone, from experienced investors to newbies, can get involved in the stock market.

You can purchase from various companies on exchanges like NYSE and NASDAQ. And many services support fractional shares, which enables you to buy a portion of a stock rather than the entire share. In other words, you don’t have to be Warren Buffett to invest in big players like Apple or Netflix with as little as $1.

Some apps don’t charge commissions for buying, selling or gifting stocks. And if you want to put investing on autopilot, consider Cash App’s Auto Invest feature, which lets you automatically purchase stocks every day, every week or every two weeks.

It’s a fantastic feature for those who want to invest their paycheck regularly or gradually accumulate a bigger position in a particular stock without needing to place the order every day or week.

5. Bank and use an app-tied debit card

Banking. Meh. Even the word itself feels a bit outdated. So let’s hear it for progress and the fact that now you can manage all your finances from one platform by using an app-linked debit card. Debit cards like the Cash Card, let you spend your account balance wherever Visa debit cards are accepted.

Fund your account by enabling direct deposit, depositing cash at participating locations or linking an external bank account or debit card. Yes, you can make ATM withdrawals. Yes, you can get cash back at participating stores. No, we still don’t have flying cars.

How to avoid fees with mobile payments

Some mobile payment apps charge fees for their services. Here are some common fees and possible ways to avoid them.

FeeDescriptionCan you avoid it?
Transaction feeA percentage on each transaction.Generally unavoidable.

Some apps don’t charge a fee when you send money but may charge a percentage to the recipient if the transaction was for a good or service.

Currency exchange feeA fee for converting between different currencies.Generally unavoidable.

While some apps only charge the exchange rate and don’t take a profit, some companies add a percentage on top as a service fee.

Transfer feeA percentage or flat fee to transfer money to a bank account or debit card.Most apps only charge this for instant transfers.

You may be able to skip the fee by choosing a slower transfer, generally up to 3 business days.

Cash withdrawal feeA fee for withdrawing cash at an ATM.You may be able to avoid it if your bank offers ATM reimbursements.
Inactivity feeA monthly fee for having no changes to the account after a specified period.Initiate a transfer to or from your account to keep your account active.
Minimum balance feesA penalty for not keeping a certain amount of money in your account.Add money to meet the minimum balance requirement to avoid the monthly fee.
Name Product Filter Values Max. amount per pay period Turnaround time Costs
Cash App
Not rated yet
Cash App
1-3 business days
5% flat fee
Disclaimer: Star ratings are only displayed for products with 10 or more reviews.

Best ways to send money online in the US

*Banking services provided by Cash App’s bank partner(s). Debit cards issued by Sutton Bank, pursuant to a license from Visa USA Inc.

Go to site