Fewer people than ever are carrying cash around with them. In fact, more than two in five people keep less hard cash in their pockets than they did two years ago. With a plethora of credit and debit card options, as well as digital payment systems, there just seems little need to carry around regular old money that’s easily lost or stolen.
All in all, this is a convenience, but there are times when problems arise from not having paper money. What happens when you’re out with friends and ready to split the bill?
Do you put it all on your credit card and hope that everyone remembers to pay you back? Or maybe you foolishly bet on the England football team at the pub, and now it’s time for you to pay up, except you don’t have any cash to settle your debts with.
That’s where money apps come in, designed to make those small payments between friends a little bit easier.
Wait, Are They Safe?
Anytime that finances are concerned you do of course have to be worried about the safety of any transactions made. So before we get into some app recommendations, we do have to say that yes, there’s always going to be some risk here. Even the safest apps (even banks!) get hacked, so there’s never any 100% guarantee.
However, for the most part, you’re going to be fine. Many of these apps don’t require direct banking information, and if giving out financial info worries you then there are workarounds.
PayPal is a good option for this since it doesn’t require a linked credit card and you can personally transfer small sums of money to your account to use (so no one has access to your entire savings).
It’s only fair to say that it’s up to you to check out the reliability of what you’re using. Check customer reviews, familiarise yourself with common mobile phone scams and don’t download apps from outside of the Android/iOS/Windows app store. Never enter both bank account info AND your bank PIN/password into the same app. The apps we’re recommending below have been around for a while and come from relatively reliable companies, but still, read the small print!
The Big Hitters
If you’re in the market for a cash payment app, then certain big hitters on the market will probably be top of your list for downloading. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than the small apps (which tend to be more niche oriented), but one of the big guys might be more than enough to do what you need. There are actually three (and a half) big ones here.
Apple Pay is Apple’s signature digital wallet service and can be used to send money to friends. It’s a bit of a laborious process since tonnes of info needs to be entered, but it’s safe, and it works. However, Apple is in the process of including a payment option inside iMessage, which should let you easily send payments as part of a chat. No news yet on exactly when this functionality will be released, however.
Android Pay has the Google Wallet form of digital payment for friend to friend transactions, and this is a relatively intuitive system (arguably easier to use than Apple Pay).
If you’ve already got an account at the Google Play store, then you’ve already got a Google Wallet account and can add money to it as you see fit and just hit the £ icon to send cash to friends. The only downside is that you can only send money to people with Google Wallet accounts, though…
PayPal is one of the most recognisable names on the digital payment market and needs little introduction. It’s a safe and reliable service and sending money is relatively easy. However, there’s a new tweak recently been added called PayPal.me which gives each PayPal user a unique URL. Send that URL as a text or email, and whoever wants to pay you can click on it and send that cash within seconds…
We said there’s three and a half big options, that half comes in the form of Facebook Messenger. US users have been able to send cash through FB Messenger for a year or so now, and by all accounts, the process is a simple one. However, this function is not yet available in the UK (though is likely to be released soon).
The Smaller Options…
There are a few other options on the market, though, and one of these could be a better fit.
Venmo is a great app with a big caveat. You can quickly and directly connect Venmo to your bank account or credit/debit card and then send money with the click of an icon. But Venmo is designed ONLY to be used with friends (there’s little security protection for sending cash to people you don’t know). If you’re going to be using this only for the odd dinner bill or pub bet that’s no problem, if you’re looking for more than that, then skip Venmo.
Finally, and this is a bit of a cheat since it’s not exactly an app, there’s Square Cash. With Square Cash, you register an account online, and then your payments will be made by email. Just put the cash amount in the subject line of the email, a memo in the body of the email, and send it to whoever needs paying (or needs to pay you), and CC the email to Square Cash. Job done. Ideal for those that don’t want to download yet another app, and straightforward and easy to use as well.
Paying friends should be easy, no one likes a flake, and no one likes unpaid debts. Fortunately, with these apps, making things even shouldn’t be a problem!