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Circle Review: Send and Receive Payments from Peers for Free

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Circle is a peer-to-peer payment service you can use to send and receive payments virtually through iMessage, Contacts, text, email, NFC & Bluetooth, or Bitcoin. The purpose of a peer-to-peer payment system like Circle is to eliminate the hassle of exchanging money between roommates, family, and friends.

For instance, if you sign up for Circle, there’s no need to chase down your roommates for their share of rent and utilities each month. Instead, you can simply send payment requests through the app, and they can forward cash using their credit card, debit card, or bank account. This payment scenario can be convenient for both the sender and receiver of funds.

Circle integrates with banks and cards in the U.S., the U.K., and a few other European countries. However, they support Bitcoin worldwide. In this post, we’ll dig into:

  • How Circle works
  • How much Circle costs
  • The pros and cons

How Circle Works

Signing up for Circle is easy and free. You can sign up on your desktop computer or through the Circle app using your mobile device. The app is available for iOS and Android. You can link a debit card or bank account to Circle to send out payments to others.

Sending money

To send money with Circle, you input the email address, phone number, or Bitcoin address of the recipient.

Using a debit card is the easiest way to send payments. Circle supports a number of U.S., U.K., and some European issued Visa and MasterCard debit cards, and you have the option to make payments directly from these cards. There’s no need to add money from your debit card to your Circle account balance first before sending a payment.

If you add funds from your U.S. bank issued debit card, money will be available in your Circle account immediately to send to the recipient. However, adding money from your bank account to Circle can take 1 to 4 business days to complete.

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Although Circle doesn’t allow you to link new credit cards, cards that were linked in the past can still be used.

Receiving money

Receiving money is just as easy as sending money. You can receive payments through iMessage, Contacts, text, email, NFC & Bluetooth, or Bitcoin. Once money is received in your Circle account, you can cash out to your debit card or bank account. The cash withdrawal process can take 1 to 4 business days to go through.

Currencies

As mentioned, Circle is offered globally, but on a limited basis. Currently, Circle supports U.S. dollars, British pounds, euros, and Bitcoin for transactions. Circle is used primarily in the U.S., the U.K., and a few other European countries.

You can find out more about the international capabilities of Circle here. But, generally speaking, this payment service is one that will probably not be as useful if you need to exchange payments outside of the U.S. and Europe.

The bank accounts and debit cards that you can link to Circle are limited to ones issued in the U.S. and Europe. So, if you send a Circle payment to someone who lives outside of the supported areas, they may have trouble linking an account to cash out the funds.

Circle does plan to expand internationally and may even be adding more currencies to the service. There are other money transfer services available if you want to exchange money between countries beyond what Circle supports. We’ll cover an international money transfer service below.

Circle Peer-to-Peer Payment Fees

Circle does not charge any fees to process the payments you send and receive. However, there are third-party fees you may need to watch out for when sending money. Your credit card company may charge a cash advance fee if you transfer money from your credit card to make a payment.

Check with your credit card company first before doing a Circle transaction. You will want to avoid paying a costly cash advance fee for this service.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Circle offers peer-to-peer payments for free. There are no fees to send or receive payments.

Con: Credit card cash advance fees. The third-party credit card cash advance fees aren’t charged by Circle, but they’re still costs you need to think about. You’re better off connecting your bank account or debit card to Circle to avoid third-party fees entirely since these methods of sending payments are free.

Pro: You can send payments directly from your debit card. There’s no need to transfer money from your debit card to your Circle account balance before sending a Circle payment. You can pay someone directly from your debit card quickly. Again, sending payments through your debit card also has no third-party fees.

Con: Global support with Circle is limited. International support for Circle is restricted at this time, although the product may be expanding to support other countries and currencies in the future.

Other Ways to Send and Receive Payments

Venmo is another popular peer-to-peer payment service that’s quite similar to Circle. You can send money to friends and family using a phone number or email. Sending money with your debit card or bank account is free. However, there is a 3% fee if you send money with a credit card. Receiving money from others through Venmo is always free. The Venmo app is available for iOS and Android.

TransferWise is an international money transfer service. If your goal is to send money globally, this is a service that may give you more flexibility. TransferWise does charge a transfer fee to perform transactions that varies by country, which is something to keep in mind.

For a quick example, if you were to transfer $1,000 USD using TransferWise into the British pound, as of the writing this post, the recipient would get £802, and the transfer fee would be $9.90 USD. One area where TransferWise shines is the transparency in fees and exchange rates. TransferWise has an exchange rate and fee calculator on its main home page you can use to find out how much an international transfer will cost before you do the transaction.

Who Will Benefit the Most from Circle?

If you’re looking for a simple way to send and receive payments to peers stateside or within Europe, Circle is a service you may want to consider using because it’s free.

The most convenient way to go about sending money with Circle is through a debit card. Using a debit card, you can quickly send money to recipients without having to first add cash to your Circle account balance. Using a debit card will also help you avoid any of the fine print fees that may be involved with credit card transactions.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Reviews

The Ins and Outs of the Wally App for Daily Expense Tracking

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

App for Daily Expense Tracking

Since most of our transactions happen electronically with a credit card swipe or click of the mouse, it’s easy to lose sight of where your money is actually going each month.

Budgeting apps, like Wally, are a convenient way to keep track of expenses so you can meet savings targets and other financial goals.

How to Use Wally

Wally is available for iPhone and Android. After you download and subscribe for Wally on your device, you will see three main tabs on the left side of the screen: home, income and review.

The home tab is the opening screen and it’s where you enter expenses. You can choose from expense categories including transportation, clothes, entertainment and more. There are also subcategories within each major category where you can get really specific.

For example, under the home category there are additional line items including mortgage, rent, furniture and more. If a subcategory isn’t on the list, you can create your own.

Every time you go to enter an expense Wally will try to guess where you are on a map and connect your expense to that location. You can also scan receipts.

In the income tab, you add up each of your income sources for the month and set your savings goal. At first glance, I could not figure out how to set a goal for this review.

Tinkering around I found out you have to hold down and drag the orange scroll bar in the income section for savings target to pop up.

Here’s what the income section looks like before and after holding down the orange circle:

This is just one example of how the Wally interface is not so straightforward.

The third and final tab on the app is for budget review. This area shows a very basic analysis of your spending by category each week, month and year.

Wally 1

Wally 2

 

 

Who is Wally best for?

Wally is for someone looking to just track money coming in and going out to cut down on excess spending. The budget history section of Wally is a breakdown of your spending with minimal detail. It’s just a pie chart with color-coded expense categories. If you’re looking for an app that has more to offer in the analytics section, this isn’t the one for you.

What does Wally cost?

The best thing about Wally is it’s free. In the future, the creators of Wally may add premium plans with extra features like currency conversion and money management for families. But, there will always be the basic free version of the app that includes the expense tracking tools.

What are the pros and cons of using Wally?

If you’re on the hunt for a budget app, here are a few pros and cons of choosing Wally:

Pros

  • It’s free.
  • It’s available on iPhone and Android.
  • It saves the locations where you shop often so you can enter them quickly in the future.
  • You can assign recurring income and expenses.
  • You can take photos of receipts to store them.
  • There’s a review section where you get a very basic overview of your spending habits.
  • You can export data via CSV and store your data on iCloud.

Cons

  • Wally isn’t as user-friendly as it could be. It took some digging through the user tips manual to figure out the app.
  • The review section for expense analysis is limited.
  • Wally doesn’t link to your actual financial accounts. What your app says and the money you physically have in the bank may not match up if you forget to put an expense in.

How does Wally Stack Up Against the Competition?

SpendBook has a leg up on Wally when it comes to analytics and how user-friendly it is. The basics of the app are relatively similar though. You manually enter your income and expenses.

But, in addition to that, SpendBook has a calendar where you can review budget history down to each day. There’s also a section to manually enter balances from your financial accounts to see how income and expenses impact your bottom line. SpendBook costs $1.99 for iPhone.

LevelMoney is another similar system to track spending except you have the option to connect your financial accounts to the dashboard. Level Money uses your income, expenses, and savings goal to calculate your “spendable” amount, which is like an allowance.

This app is free and available for iPhone and Android. It uses 128-Bit SSL and AES encryption to keep your data safe. It’s also security verified by Intuit and McAfee.

Toshl Finance is a budget system with more options. You can manually enter data. Or you can connect up to two financial accounts for free. Toshl Finance uses your spending habits from the past to create a spending plan for the future.

You can export data to PDF, Google Docs, Evernote, Excel and CSV. You can also sync your Toshl Finance account with other devices. The service has bill reminders and spending analytics. It’s available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. The basic service is free, but the advanced version where you can set-up unlimited financial accounts and budgets costs $1.99 per month.

Should You Use Wally?

The biggest negative of Wally is it’s not particularly easy to navigate at first. Still, it’s free. So, if you’re looking for a way to take control of your everyday spending, this app is worth a try.

 

 

 

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Banking Apps, Strategies to Save

Review: Toshl Finance Budgeting App

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Toshl Finance Budgeting App

When you’re looking for a budgeting app, you’ll find no shortage of options on the market. Yet few mix pragmatic finances with pure fun as successfully as Toshl Finance. As you move through its interface, you’ll be greeted by the Toshl monsters, who will guide and cheer you on.

What is Toshl Finance?

Toshl Finance
Toshl Finance is a budgeting app that is accessible both via a web-based app and on virtually any mobile device. Toshl’s goal is to make money fun, so they’ve set up a friendly user interface to help you evaluate past spending habits, get a snapshot of your current finances, build realistic budgets for the future, and even remind you when bills are due.

How does Toshl Finance work?

When you sign up for Toshl Finance, you’ll be asked to open up your wallet to record your cash reserve. After you have your current cash status uploaded, you’ll have the option of linking your financial accounts.

Using the information from your financial institution, Toshl Finance will give you easy-to-understand charts displaying your spending habits and your current money situation. Using this information, you’ll then be able to build a budget based on your actual, recorded spending habits rather than guesses and assumptions.

What security features does Toshl Finance offer?

Toshl is big on encryption. The web app comes with SSL encryption. All data stored in the database is encrypted, as is all data exchanged between your devices. Passwords are even stored using a one-way hashing algorithm, meaning that even tech support won’t be able to hack your secret code.

What does it cost?

For many, using Toshl is free. However, if you have three or more financial accounts you want to link to your profile, you will need to upgrade. Also, if you want to create more than two budgets, you’ll have to switch to Toshl Pro, too.

Pro comes in at $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. Along with being able to link unlimited accounts and create unlimited budgets, you’ll also be able to upload pictures of your receipts with this membership level.

If you upgrade and hate it, you can cancel and get a refund within the first 30 days.

Who is Toshl best for?

If you’re looking for a budgeting app that isn’t boring, Toshl is your best bet. The user interface is engaging without sacrificing any functionality. In fact, the ability to both look back and towards the future of your finances is something that’s not found in all budgeting apps, making this a great option for nearly everyone.

Toshl Pro presents interesting possibilities for freelancers or those that want to keep their business and personal finance budgets separate. Because you can add unlimited accounts and create separate budgets, you can simultaneously view your current big picture financial situation while still allotting your dollars to definitively separate endeavors (i.e. rent and groceries versus business cards and automation services.) The added bonus of being able to upload receipts is also great for record keeping.

What are the pros and cons of using Toshl Finance?

There are some amazing pros and a few cons to contemplate before deciding if Toshl Finance is the budgeting app for you.

Pros

  • Allows you to analyze past spending behaviors while also enabling you to budget for the future.
  • Encourages saving.
  • Reminds you when bills are due.
  • Free option is available for those with two or less financial accounts.
  • No ads.
  • Fun and functional interface

Cons

  • Marginal fee for those with 3+ financial accounts or the need for 3+ budgets.
  • Functionality on mobile is good, but limited. You will need to use the web app at least some of the time.
  • Focused on investing? If so, there are better options on the market.

How does Toshl Finance stack up against the competition?

If you find yourself uncomfortable with any of those negatives about the app, then you may want to look at another budgeting app. Here are three alternatives that may better fit your goals:

Personal Capital

 

Personal Capital

Personal Capital has a roughly similar business structure to Toshl. There are no ads; it makes money through subscription memberships. With Personal Capital, though, you can invest directly through the app. If you’re less concerned about basic budgeting and more concerned about managing your investments, this may be the way to go.

Mint.com

Mint Budgeting
Dislike the idea of paying a subscription fee? Mint.com is an absolutely free budgeting app, regardless of how many accounts you want to link. While there won’t be fun little monsters to greet you, there will be tons of user-friendly charts to help you evaluate past spending and budget for the future. Because they don’t charge a fee for use, you will be inundated with ads.

YNAB

 YNAB  Budget
If you’re looking to completely revamp your financial situation, you may need more help than the Toshl monsters can provide. You Need a Budget (or YNAB) is more about helping you change your lifestyle than simply helping you track your cash. It’s intensive, and won’t have cute little monsters along the way. It also won’t be as big of a help when you’re looking back at your finances retroactively. What it will do is whip you into shape for a better tomorrow, forcing you to reevaluate the way you think about and spend your paycheck. Fees are higher than Toshl at $5/month or $50/year, but may be worth it if you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck even though you’re making a comfortable income.

Overall, we like Toshl. If you’re looking for a comprehensive app that brings some levity into a traditionally boring chore, you won’t find too many other options that are able to meet Toshl’s combination of spirit and practicality.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne at brynne@magnifymoney.com

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