Whether you’re settling a tab at the end of a night out, splitting rent with roommates, or sending part of your paycheck home to support aging parents, person-to-person money transfers are an important part of life today.
Thankfully, these types of transactions don’t require small bills, personal checks, or international wire transfers. There are now several apps that make it easy to send money right from your phone.
Below, we cover the best apps to send money both domestically and internationally.
Best Apps To Send Money Domestically
If you’re trying to send money to someone with a US-based bank account, you can send and receive money in under a minute. However, some apps require users to pay a fee for “instant” transfers to accounts while requiring non-paying customers to wait two (or more) business days to receive their cash. These are the top apps for sending money domestically.
Venmo is one of the most popular platforms for person-to-person payments in the United States. Users can transfer up to $4,999 per week to any given individual, and transfers are free for the sender. (If you pay someone with a credit card, the fee will be 3%).
When you send money to another person, it shows up in their Venmo Wallet instantly. However, it typically takes 1-3 days for the corresponding transaction to show up in your checking account.
Users can either keep the money in their “Venmo Wallet” to pay others, or they can transfer the money to a bank account for spending. Standard transfers (which take 1-3 days) cost nothing for receivers. Instant transfers (which take just minutes to show in your account) cost 1% of the transfer amount. Instant transfer fees max out at $10.
Many major banks (and some smaller banks too) allow their customers to use Zelle to send money to people in the Zelle network. Customers can send and receive money with Zelle through their mobile banking app. For those whose financial institution does not yet offer Zelle, they can download the Zelle app and enroll with their Visa or Mastercard debit card. Their bank does not have to be part of the Zelle Network, however, at least one of the two transacting parties must have a bank that is in the Zelle Network.
Transfers between Zelle members are as close to instantaneous as it gets. Typically transactions settle within 10 minutes of the transfer (when both parties are already enrolled with Zelle). And transfers among members are free!
The only downside to Zelle transactions is the limits. Banks can limit the amount of money you can send to any given individual over some time. My bank limits me to $2,000 in a single transaction and $3,000 over 30 days.
PayPal is the quintessential free peer-to-peer transfer app. Users can instantly transfer $10,000 or more to other PayPal accounts. You only need an email address and a phone number to get an account.
Hook up your bank account to the app, and you can make large cash transfers to others with PayPal accounts. Once the receiver gets the money, they can transfer it back to their bank account (which takes 1-3 days).
If the money is needed right away, they can spend from their PayPal account or do an Instant Transfer (which takes up to 30 minutes) back to the bank account. Instant transfers cost 1% of the amount transferred.
As you start using PayPal, be sure to look out for “gotcha” fees. If you use a credit or debit card to transfer money (instead of your bank account), you have to pay $.30 plus 2.9% of the amount transferred. International transfers cost 5% of the amount sent (with a $4.99 max fee).
Cash App and Venmo are almost identical apps, but Cash App has a $7,500 weekly total transaction limit.
Like Venmo, Cash App charges 3% for credit card transactions and
1-1.5% for instant transfers back to a bank account.
Fewer people use Cash App compared to our top three apps, but it is a great platform with a user-friendly interface.
Apple Pay makes it easy to send money through iMessage. If both people are Apple Users, the transfer takes just a few minutes. However, transferring the money back to a debit card takes 1-3 days.
Apple Pay allows users to send up to $3,000 per message and $10,000 over a seven-day period. You'll also be charged a 3% fee for transactions that are funded by a credit card.
Google Pay allows users to send up to $10,000 to any of their Google contacts. Your contact doesn’t need a Google Pay account to receive money from you, but they will need to connect a bank account or debit card to claim the money.
This is a relatively easy process that takes just a few minutes. Since most people have a Google account, this is a convenient way to send larger amounts of money to your friends and family.
Best Apps To Send Money Internationally
Historically, international remittances were dominated by Western Union and MoneyGram. But today, mobile and web-based interrupters have made it faster and cheaper to send money across borders.
International money transfers involve transfer fees and currency exchange rates. Remittance companies can make money on both sides of these. However, our top recommendations keep margins slim for both of these.
When sending money across borders there may also be security and safety concerns. Our top picks are highly rated companies with excellent reputations, but reputation can't protect you from every bad thing that could happen. Be sure to seek local knowledge about the best remittance companies before committing to the least expensive options.
Wise (Formerly TransferWise)
Wise, which recently changed its name from TransferWise, is a unique banking service that allows customers to hold money in many different currencies.
The platform supports over 56 currencies covering over 70 countries. The most populous countries across the world are all covered, but smaller Central American, South American, African, and Asian nations aren’t covered.
Assuming that Wise supports the required currency, it allows users to send large and small sums of money to over 70 countries. The company uses published exchange rates when sending money, so the only money it earns is on modest transfer fees. Typically, transfer fees end up being lower than 1% of the total transaction (though this varies based on currency types, location, etc.).
Wise does not publish transaction limits but may impose additional requirements for people sending very large sums of money.
Xoom is a PayPal Service that emphasizes ease of use and fast transfers for financial transactions that cross borders. Xoom charges small transfer fees ($2.99-$4.99) for small-dollar transactions, but it marks up the exchange rate by around 3%. That translates to a fee of approximately 3% on large transactions or 5-6% on smaller transactions.
Xoom has a top-notch user experience, which makes it easy to send money without understanding the Forex. It supports transfers to 120 countries. People receiving money from Xoom can receive bank deposits or do cash pickups at select locations throughout the world. For example, Xoom has 38,218 pickup locations in Mexico.
OFX isn’t the most user-friendly transfer service. It’s designed for people who are doing business overseas or who want to time transfers for favorable exchange rates.
However, the fees are astoundingly low, especially for those setting up recurring payments. If you need to pay bills overseas, OFX may be the right tool for the job.
Transferring money to friends and family should be cheap and easy. If you’re overpaying, switch to an app that can make things simpler and less costly for you. The less you pay to transfer money, the more money your friends and family can receive!
Hannah is a wife, mom, and described personal finance geek. She excels with spreadsheets (and puns)! She regularly explores in-depth financial topics and enjoys looking at the latest tools and trends with money.