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Updated on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
With so many peer-to-peer money transfer options on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which is the most functional. If you’re an Apple user, you’ve probably been exposed to their proprietary product: Apple Pay Cash. Is it the best option for you, though, as far as fees and security are concerned?
Let’s dive in to find out.
Apple Pay at a glance
Fees: 3% fee if you use a credit card; free if you use a debit card or balance from Apple Pay Cash
How long it takes to receive funds: Funds are sent immediately to the recipient.
Fraud protection: If you feel you are a victim of fraud or a scam, Apple encourages you to contact the company immediately.
Compatible devices: iPhones (XR, XS, XS Max, X, 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and SE models), iPads (iPad Pro 3rd generation, iPad 6th generation, iPad Pro, iPad 5th generation, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 and iPad mini 4 models), Apple Watches (1st generation, Series 1, Series 2, Series 3 and Series 4 models), and Mac models introduced after 2012 with an Apple Pay-enabled iPhone or Apple Watch. Mac model must have Touch ID.
How Apple Pay Cash works
Before you can start sending money, you need to link a card or bank account to your Apple Pay account.
First you’ll have to identify if your financial institution participates. If they do, you can then add your account to your device in the ‘Wallet’ section. You will have to add each individual card to each individual device. Keep in mind that while sending money to friends and family is free with a debit card, you will incur a 3% transaction fee if you use a credit card to send those same funds.
Now that you have a funding source, you can send money to family and friends easily. On your iPhone or Apple Watch, you can simply ask Siri. Apple tells consumers you can say something along the lines of “Send $50 to Mom,” to use this functionality.
You can also do a completely manual transfer. On your iPhone or iPad, you’ll be doing it through messaging. Open up a conversation with your recipient and press the Apple Pay button.
Then simply type in the amount you’d like to send, add a message for your recipient if you so desire, and press the button that looks like this:
Finally, to send the payment, you will need to verify your Face ID, Touch ID or passcode.
To do the same with your Apple Watch, you will also need to open a conversation in messages and press the Apple Pay button. Turn the digital crown to set your payment amount, then turn it again when you’re ready to submit. Press “Pay,” and then double click the side button.
When someone sends you money via Apple Pay Cash, it will be deposited into your Apple Pay account. The first time you receive money, you will have to formally accept the payment within seven days. From there on out, payments will be automatically accepted unless you change your account settings.
You can leave your money in your Apple Pay Cash account, or you can transfer it to your bank account. Bear in mind that when you send money, it will be drawn from your Apple Pay Cash account first. If you send more than you have in your Apple Pay Cash account or your do not have a balance, it will come from your first payment method. This will preferably be a debit card so you can avoid the 3% fee which is incurred when you use a credit card.
Apple Pay Cash vs. Venmo
Except in rare instances where there is a hiccup in the payment process, both Apple Pay Cash and Venmo transfer money from user to user automatically. It may take one to three days to transfer money into your bank account, but your funds will be available via your Apple Pay Cash or Venmo balance immediately.
These two services also have the same fees as noted in our in-depth comparison: 3% of all transactions paid via credit card.
The biggest difference between Venmo and Apple Cash Pay is that Venmo is available to those who don’t have an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or compatible Mac. If most of your friends and family use Apple products regularly, this accessibility issue could be a moot point. But if you or much of your social circle uses Android or products with other operating systems, Venmo may be the way to go.
Apple Pay Cash vs Zelle
If you don’t feel like waiting a few days to get your money into your bank account, Zelle is a good alternative. Offered by many banks, Zelle is very much like Apple Pay Cash and Venmo except that money is transferred directly from bank account to bank account. You won’t have a “Zelle” balance like you would have a Venmo or Apple Pay Cash balance. Transactions with Zelle are usually completed within minutes.
Zelle itself doesn’t charge consumers any fees to use its service, but your bank or credit union might. The only fee to worry about with Apple Pay Cash is the 3% fee when you use a credit card as your payment method.
Risks of mobile payment apps
Apple Pay Cash is secured on various levels. First, you will have to enter a passcode, Face ID or Touch ID to send any money. This is required each and every time you make a transaction. Secondly, your actual card numbers aren’t stored directly on your mobile device or Apple’s servers, which helps keep you safer from potential hacks.
Because these security measures are already in place, the remaining bulk of staying safe with Apple Pay Cash is placed on your shoulders. Make sure you don’t accept payments from people you don’t know. In fact, Apple encourages you to report these payments as “junk.”
Even with people you do know, you should be careful of imposters. You may get a payment from a “friend” with a dummy phone number or email address and/or Apple Pay Cash account. If you’re not expecting a payment from someone, verify that they sent you money by getting in touch with them before accepting the payment.
If you want to have to opportunity to reject payments, you will have to change your settings. While you will have to formally accept your first payment, after that the default is to accept all payments automatically. Go into your settings to change payment approval to “manual” in order to dodge any shady incoming payments.
Finally, Apple cautions users to be wary if a company requests an Apple Pay Cash payment via messaging. Apple will never ask you to pay your bill this way, and it’s not the safest way to pay your other bills either as you can’t be 100% sure it’s really the entity you owe money to rather than an imposter.