Love em or hate em, payment apps are becoming increasingly necessary. They’re easier to use than credit cards, and often more secure. You can make payments online or in-store, just by scanning your mobile device. That eliminates the need to swipe or insert a plastic card, as well as the potential to lose said cards.

Payment apps do something else that credit cards can’t, and that’s transfer money to other people. This can usually be done by sending payments to another person’s email address. That’s a simple as it gets, since it eliminates time delays, and the need for a face-to-face exchange.

And if you’re running a small business or working as a freelancer, payment apps can enable you to accept payments instantly, and even process credit and debit card payments.

If you’re looking to add a payment app, you’ve got a lot to consider. This guide will help you to do it.

Our Top-3 Payment Apps

Payment AppBest For
PayPalPersonal and business use, including international transactions
XoomSending money to family and friends and paying bills in foreign countries
DwollaLow fee processing of business payments

PayPalPayPal

PayPal offers both the traditional web version, as well as Mobile Cash for android and iOS devices. It’s one of the largest and best established of all payment apps, and commonly used by Internet-based businesses. As a spinoff from eBay, PayPal already had strong market acceptance as an online payment method.

The basic PayPal account enables you to send and receive payments to and from merchants and individuals. You can even pay recurring expenses, such as your cell phone bill. Send payments to family and friends with no fee. You will receive a debit card that can be used just like a bank debit card.

Mobile Cash has similar functionality to the web-based version, and does require you to have the basic PayPal account. You can access your account information, make payments around the world, and exchange payments with others who also have a PayPal account.

The company does have a documented history of freezing accounts without adequate explanation. There are also substantial numbers of complaints on both Google Play and App Store in regard to the mobile app.

Best for: Online businesses
Cost: No fees to send money. $0.30 to receive funds, plus 2.9% for domestic transfers, or 4.4% for international transfers
Payment Limits: Between $10,000 and $60,000 for a verified account; limits vary for unverified accounts
Types of payment: Funds transfers between PayPal account holders, online and point of sale (POS) transactions (for customers and merchants)
Platforms: Web, Android (PayPal Mobile Cash), iOS (PayPal Mobile Cash)

XoomXoom

Xoom is a payment app offered by PayPal, primarily for sending money and payments abroad. It can be used to send money, as well as to pay utility bills in other countries. Money is sent directly to banks and cash pickup locations, or can even be delivered to the recipient’s home. Payments can be sent directly from your phone, using your bank account as well as a credit or debit card.

Another interesting feature of this app is that it can be used to add minutes to prepaid phones, even for family and friends in other countries. The app can be used to send money to more than 130 countries from the US and Canada.

Best for: Sending money to family and friends and pay bills in foreign countries
Cost: Depends on country and amount; for example, fee is $4.99 if you send $1,000 to a party in Mexico from a bank account, but $24.99 by debit or credit card
Payment Limits: Up to $2,999 in 24 hours; $6,000 in 30 days; $9,999 in 180 days
Types of payment: Send money to family and friends, and pay bills in foreign countries; reload prepaid phones in foreign countries
Platforms: Android and iOS devices

DwollaDwolla

Dwolla works similar to PayPal, in that it provides a wide range of payment capabilities for businesses. You can initiate payments, and even connect and verify the identity of recipients within the app. There’s no need to use a third-party site. Dwolla even allows you to automate payments, by sending out thousands of payments with one API request.

You connect the Dwolla app to your bank account, and use ACH transfers to send funds. One of the major advantages with this app is its capacity for transactions. If you’re using it for business purposes, the app can accommodate the increasing your business volume.

If there is a downside to Dwolla it’s that it’s now a dedicated business platform, and no longer available for personal transfers. But the fee structure of 0.50% per transaction is low compared to competitors.

Best for: Businesses of all sizes
Cost: 0.50% per transaction, subject to a minimum of $0.05 and a maximum of $5. Other fee schedules are available for larger businesses
Payment Limits: $5,000 weekly transaction limit for unverified customers; $5,000 per transfer limit for personal verified customers; $10,000 per transfer for business verified customers
Types of payment: Business payments and receipts only
Platforms: Web only

Google Pay

Google Pay

Google Pay is replacing Google Pay Send. It’s basically the same, but updated with a new name and new features. It allows you to make purchases in-store and online, buy Google products, and send money to family and friends in the US and the UK.

You can use your Gmail account to send money to any address – it doesn’t even need to be to another party with a Gmail account. You can also receive money from someone using a Gmail account. There are no fees when money is sent using your Google Pay balance, a debit card, or a bank account linked to Google Pay.

Best for: General money transfers, purchase activity, and especially purchases through Google
Cost: No fee if funds are sent from a Google Pay balance, debit card, or linked bank account
Payment Limits: Up to $10,000 in a single transaction or per week; up to $3,000 every 24 hours in Florida
Types of payment: Online and in-store purchases; send and receive money from family and friends
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

Apple PayApple Pay

Apply Pay works similar to Google Pay, in that it stores your credit and debit cards so you no longer need to carry them in your wallet. Merchants who already accept credit and debit cards can accept Apple Pay instead.

You can send and receive money from family and friends in Messages, or even by asking Siri to do it for you. You can choose which credit or debit card you want to initiate a payment from. The app is available for payment wherever Apple Pay is accepted.

Best for: Anyone with an iOS device – comes with it automatically
Cost: No fee for debit card charges or bank transfers; 3% for credit card charges
Payment Limits: $3,000
Types of payment: Online and in-store purchases; send and receive money from family and friends; merchants can accept payments
Platforms: Web & iOS devices

Samsung PaySamsung Pay

Samsung Pay has an advantage in that it has partnered with all the major credit card providers, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa, so you can store and pay with virtually any credit or debit card from the app. You also earn points on every purchase you make. It uses digital tokenization, creating a random set of numbers for each transaction, rather than providing your actual credit card number.

Samsung Pay can be used anywhere a credit card is accepted. It can be used throughout the US, as well as nearly 20 other countries. The major negative with this payment app is that it cannot be used to pay family and friends.

Best for: Paying with credit cards of all types
Cost: None
Payment Limits: N/A
Types of payment: Online and in-store purchases; accepts business payments
Platforms: Android, ios, web

Circle PayCircle Pay

Circle Pay enables you to send money to parties in 29 countries. You can make payments in three currencies, including US dollars, British pounds, and euros. Funds are transferred instantly, and there is no fee for the service.

A unique feature of this app is that a group of up to 20 people can participate, with each contributing money to a certain event. The app even enables you to invest in cryptocurrencies.

You can link a bank account or credit card to the app. Your money is held on the app, where it is FDIC insured for up to $250,000. That enables you to have funds available for transfers at any time, or withdraw funds for your own use. The app supports the use of Visa or MasterCard debit cards.

Best for: No fee payment transfers outside the US
Cost: None when using a debit card; none when transferring funds between US dollars, British pounds and euros
Payment Limits: Set individually
Types of payment: Send and receive money from family and friends in foreign countries
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

VenmoVenmo

Venmo is another app offered by PayPal. It enables you to make and share payments with friends and family. You can use money you have in the app, or link your bank account or debit card.

You can also use the app to make purchases anywhere MasterCard is accepted, either online or in-store. Venmo even enables you to split payments with other parties. The app also keeps track of your purchase activity. You connect the account to your checking account, or credit or debit card. But you can also store funds in your Venmo balance account.

Best for: Storing funds in the app for immediate use
Cost: 3%, but waved when funded by your Venmo balance, a bank account, or a debit card.
Payment Limits: $299.99 per week if your identity has not been verified; $4,999.99 per week if your identity has been verified
Types of payment: Online and in-store purchases; send and receive money from family and friends
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

Square CashSquare Cash

Square Cash a.k.a., Cash App, a.k.a., Cash Boost, can be used to make purchases online and in-store, transfer funds to and from family and friends, and even access ATMs. It functions as a digital wallet for consumers. You can load money on the app from a card, or move money from your wallet to your bank account.

It can also be used for small merchants and independent service providers to request and accept payments from a mobile device. However it offers more complex versions for larger businesses.

It allows next day deposits for free, but will charge 1.5% for instant deposits. It comes with both a virtual card and a debit card, enabling you to easily use the app for both online and in-store purchases.

Best for: Consumers who make only casual use of payment apps
Cost: No fee if the app is funded through a bank account or debit card, but 3% if a credit card is used; 2.75% transaction fee for businesses
Payment Limits: No more than $250 over seven days unless you provide additional identification information; if provided, limit increases to $2,500 over seven days.
Types of payment: Online and in-store purchases; send and receive money from family and friends; accept business payments
Platforms: Android and iOS devices

Facebook MessengerFacebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger allows you to make and receive payments if you have the Messenger app already downloaded. However, unlike many of the other payment apps on this list, it does not provide an online wallet. Money transfers goes directly to the debit card the recipient has attached to Messenger.

The downside of Facebook Messenger is that you can’t directly link a bank account. Instead you have to use a credit or debit card. But the upside is that there’s no charge to send money. Since Facebook earns revenue from other sources, they can offer the payment for free.

Best for: Casual use for personal transfers
Cost: None, other than those charged by your financial institution
Payment Limits: No limit indicated, but funding may be limited it may result in a loss to Facebook
Types of payment: Send and receive money from family and friends only
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

PayoneerPayoneer

Payoneer is one of the oldest payment services available, having been founded all the way back in 2005. The app can be used to send and receive funds through your bank account. But it also offers an e-wallet, and a reloadable prepaid MasterCard debit card. You can use it to make both online and in-store purchases, as well as to withdraw funds at your local bank or at ATMs.

Much like Dwolla, it functions mainly as a business platform. It specializes in business owners, freelancers and professionals. It even offers multiple ways to get paid from your international clients. The service has more than 4 million users in over 200 countries, and works with more than 150 currencies.

Best for: Small businesses
Cost: Transfers to and from individuals are free if they are Payoneer account holders; customer payments are 3% on credit cards, or 1% on eChecks; up to 2% to withdraw funds from your local bank
Payment Limits: No limits, except for a $10,000 per transaction limit for Payoneer customers in India
Types of payment: Online and in-store purchases; send and receive money from family and friends; accept business payments
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

PayzaPayza

Payza is a payment system that enables you to send or receive payments online, as well as shop online or process payments from your e-commerce website. The app supports credit cards, bank cards, Bitcoin, and other sources. The app supports more than 25 currencies worldwide. As a business platform, you can also use the app to invoice buyers using their email address.

Also be aware that the US based Payza website, payza.com, comes up with a warning from the US Department of Justice, saying This server has been taken off-line – if you have questions or concerns about your Payza account please use the link below to redirect to the Department of Justice information page.There are no details provided as to what that’s about, but the European-based platform remains active.

Best for: International business users
Cost: No cost to send money; 1.2% to receive funds in Bitcoin; 2.9% + $0.30 to receive funds; add funds by credit card 3.5%; bank wire $8; Bitcoin free; bank transfers less then $200 $2, $200 to $5,000 free
Payment Limits: $999 limit unverified account ($4,999 lifetime), $4,999 verified account (no lifetime limit)
Types of payment: Online purchases; send and receive money from family and friends; accept business payments
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

2CheckOut2Checkout

2Checkout is an online commerce solution. It’s designed for selling products or services online. Users can either leverage a hosted card or integrate the API interface with their business website. The app also enables you to check business activity from your mobile device, where you can view sales, issue refunds, and check payments.

The app enables customers to use credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal. It’s also able to process more than 80 different currencies in 15 languages. You can carry out business in more than 200 countries around the world. You can even set up recurring billing for customers that are charged on a monthly basis.

Best for: Small businesses, especially those with international sales
Cost: Three business plans, fees per successful sale- 3.5% + $0.35; 4.5% + $0.45; 6% + $0.60
Payment Limits: Not applicable
Types of payment: Accept business payments
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

GoPaymentIntuit QuickBooks GoPayment

Intuit QuickBooks GoPayment is a free mobile point-of-sale app that enables you to accept payments from your mobile device. With Bluetooth enabled mobile card readers you can accept payments with either magstripe or EMV chip debit and credit cards. You can also accept Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

But as the name implies, the app integrates with QuickBooks Online. This will naturally be a major advantage to anyone who uses QuickBooks. It processes sales in QuickBooks in real time. You can accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express debit and credit cards.Best for: Businesses using QuickBooks
Cost: Payment receipts – 2.4% + $0.25 per transaction for swipe, dip and tap transactions: 3.4% + $0.25 for keyed entries
Payment Limits: Not applicable – business payments system only
Types of payment: Accept business payments
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

ProPayProPay

ProPay is a credit card processing app that enables you to accept all major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Process payments quickly using a mobile card reader, or manually enter credit card numbers. You can even accept payments when you don’t have data coverage, by accepting the payment, and processing it once you’re connected.

You can also securely store customer payment information. That will enable you to more easily process future payments from the same customers. The app even processes sales tax and tips where appropriate, as well as commission payments. You can access your funds with the ProPay Prepaid debit MasterCard, or make transfers directly to your bank account.

Best for: Businesses doing credit card business
Cost: Credit card processing fees: Visa, MasterCard, Discover – 2.69% + $0.30 per transaction: American Express – 3.19% + $0.30; transfer fee, $0.30; Annual fee $39.95
Payment Limits: $450 per transaction, $1,500 per month, but may be raised on a case-by-case basis
Types of payment: Online and in-store purchases; accept business payments
Platforms: Web, Android and iOS devices

WePayWePay

WePay is a service provided by J.P. Morgan Chase, and it was launched in 2008. However, the app is not available for mobile devices.It’s designed for unique online, point-of-sale, and omnichannel needs of software platforms. It enables the user to accept payments in minutes with just an email address. You can even add the ability for your customers to get paid with Chase merchant accounts. You can also make refund payments in person or online.

The app supports credit and debit card transactions, ACH transfers, and Chase Pay. You can withdraw funds to your linked bank account. The major negative with this app is that it does not accept PayPal payments, which is a decided disadvantage for online transactions.

Best for: Businesses accepting credit, debit and ACH payments
Cost: Credit card payments – 2.9% + $0.30; ACH payments – 1% + $0.30
Payment Limits: None indicated
Types of payment: Accept business payments
Platforms: Web only

What is a Payment App?

Payment apps come in all shapes and sizes. They can be available for mobile devices, web platforms, or both. Capabilities range from the ability to transfer money to and from family and friends, to make purchases online and in-store, or accept payments as a business owner.

A good personal payment app will enable you to transfer funds between individuals, and make purchases anywhere. In many cases, it can enable you to transact business to such a degree that you no longer need a physical wallet.

Business apps can enable small businesses to accept credit and debit cards as well as other forms of payment. And some apps are available for both personal and business use.

Who Should Use a Payment App

Practically speaking, anybody and everybody. Payment apps represent the next step up from credit and debit cards. Since most people now have mobile devices, payment apps enable you to transact business from your phone, and leave the credit cards at home.

They also make sense if you frequently purchase online, which is becoming increasingly popular. You can shop from your mobile device, and use a payment app to make payments.

But perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of payment apps are small businesses. Not only do they enable businesses to accept credit and debit card transactions, as well as other payment methods, but they’re also perfect for accepting payments on the go.

For example, if you transact business away from the office, a payment app can enable you to accept customer and client payments on your mobile device, including credit and debit card transactions. This can streamline your business, and enable you to freely transact business on the road.

Who Shouldn’t Use a Payment App?

If you don’t normally pay by credit or debit card, or if you don’t shop online very much, you may not be terribly interested in a payment app. But since that describes such a small segment of the population, chances are you’ll want to get a payment app at least eventually.

What to Look for in a Payment App

Even though payment apps are relatively recent innovation, there are a long list of considerations in deciding which will be the best one for you.

Features to consider include:

  • Fees
  • Payment limits
  • In-store purchases
  • Online purchases
  • Payments to family and friends
  • Ability to accept payments, whether for a small business or as a freelancer
  • Types of payments accepted, such as credit and debit cards, ACH payments, and gift cards
  • Availability of web and or mobile devices
  • International payment capability, including higher fee structures
  • Security features (see NFC description below)

Since there are so many different payment apps available, the availability of any of the above features will vary from one app to another. You should select the app that has the features that most closely match your transaction patterns and preferences

Near Field Communications (NFC). This is a short range wireless technology that enables secure communication between electronic devices. The short range factor is to limit communication only between devices that are within close proximity of one another. The purpose is to make for secure transactions, particularly for in-store purchases at checkout counters.

In addition to checkout counter purchases, it can also be used to confirm tickets at a concert or sports venue, viewing special offers on your mobile device when you enter a store (which is becoming increasingly common), and checking into an out of a hotel.

Not all payment apps offer NFC, but the trend is growing. For security purposes, you should favor payment apps with this feature.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider in choosing the right payment app. But it’s clear that payment apps are the wave of the future, due to their combination of convenience and versatility.

They can do everything a credit card can do, but more quickly and securely. And they can also enable you to transfer money to and from other individuals effortlessly, as well as accept payments for your small business or freelancing activity.

It may be best to pick a payment app now, even if you’re not sure you need one. There is a bit of a learning curve, as well as the possibility you won’t be entirely satisfied with your first choice. But start with one now, learn how the process works, and you’ll have a better idea of that perfect payment app for you.

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