Peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer apps make it simple to transfer money. However, with so many options available, deciding which app—or apps—to use can be difficult.

Your top choice may be influenced in part by your social circles. It may be most convenient to join your friends, spouse, or roommates if they use a specific app. However, there are still pros and cons to consider, and a specific feature may entice you to try a new option.

  1. Cash App

Square’s Cash App allows you to send payments using debit cards, credit cards, and many government payment cards. You can also have money deposited directly into your Cash App account.

Use your Cash App to send money instantly to other Cash App users, including those in the United Kingdom. To send money, you’ll need the recipient’s phone number, email address, or username, which is referred to as a $cash tag. The fee for sending money with a linked credit card is 3%, but the other options are free.

If you receive money through the Cash App, you can transfer it to a linked bank account and have access to the funds in one to three business days. For a fee, you can also request an instant transfer to an eligible debit card.

Cash App also provides a free Visa debit card with which you can spend your Cash App balance. You can also use your balance to invest in stocks and Bitcoin directly from the app, with fractional shares starting at $1.

  • Google Pay

Google Pay is primarily a digital wallet that allows you to add bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, and transit passes to your account. Tap to pay at eligible stores and transit systems using your account and phone.

You can find someone using their name, phone number, email address, or QR code for P2P transfers. You can then use your linked bank account or debit card to send money for free.

Transfers from your Google Pay balance or a debit card are usually instant, but linked bank accounts may take three to five business days. If you create a Western Union or Wise account and connect Google Pay, you can also send money to people in India and Singapore.

The funds you receive are saved in your Google Pay balance. For a 1.5 percent fee, you can withdraw the funds to an eligible debit card—withdrawals are usually instant. Withdrawals from bank accounts may take one to three business days, but they are free.

  • PayPal

PayPal, one of the first and most well-known peer-to-peer (P2P) services, is a popular way to send money online.

You can send money to someone using their phone number or email address by linking a bank account, debit card, or credit card to your PayPal account. Sending money within the United States from linked bank accounts or using a PayPal balance is free, but debit card, credit card, and PayPal credit transactions incur a fee of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents. International transactions are also possible for a 5% fee ($0.99 minimum and $4.99 maximum per transfer).

Withdrawals from PayPal are free and take one to three business days. Transfers with eligible debit cards may take up to 30 minutes and are subject to a 1.5 percent ($15 maximum) fee.

For business transactions, PayPal may be superior to some P2P apps. It may have higher daily or monthly transfer limits, and if you initiate a P2P transfer and select the “goods or services” option, you’ll be covered by PayPal Purchase Protection. These transfers will incur a fee for the recipient.

  • Venmo

PayPal owns and operates Venmo, but the two peer-to-peer payment apps operate separately. Venmo brings a social element to payments by allowing you to send emojis and messages along with your payment. The global feed was removed from the app in July 2021, but you can still see your Venmo friends’ payment feed. You can also make your payments private if you prefer.

Debit cards, bank accounts, and credit cards can all be linked to a Venmo account. Direct deposits are also possible, and the funds received are kept in your Venmo account. It can then be transferred to a linked bank account within one to three business days—for a fee, instant transfers (within 30 minutes) are possible.

If you know another user’s name, Venmo handle, email address, phone number, or account’s QR code, you can send money to them. There is no fee to send money from a debit card or bank account, but credit card payments incur a 3% transaction fee.

You can also use the app or a Venmo Debit Card to pay for products and services with your Venmo account, which also offers cash back at select merchants. If you’re buying goods and services rather than sending money to a friend, Venmo’s Purchase Protection Program may cover the transaction, and the sender won’t have to pay any extra fees.

  • Zelle

Zelle stands out as the only non-third-party app on the list. The Zelle app is managed by Early Warning Services, a company co-owned by several major U.S. banks. The advantage of using a “bank-centric” P2P app is that funds are transferred directly between bank accounts.

A transfer between two Zelle users can be completed in a matter of minutes, making it one of the quickest ways to transfer money from one bank account to another.

The Zelle app can be downloaded, or it may be included as a benefit with many bank and credit union accounts. As a result, you may be able to use Zelle directly from your online banking account or banking app.

You can also use Zelle to send money to someone who doesn’t have the app, but they must sign up and link a U.S. bank account to receive the funds.

Bottom Line

P2P apps can be a quick and easy way to send money to friends and family members, as well as conduct small or informal business transactions. Furthermore, using a P2P app may be safer than carrying large sums of cash or accepting a check from a stranger. However, regardless of which app you use, you should be wary of scams because apps generally do not provide the same fraud protections as debit or credit cards.