Square Cash App Review: What Is It and How Does It Stack up Against Its Competitors?

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Updated on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Square Cash App Review
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Square Cash, also known as the Cash app, is a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment service that’s part of the Square product portfolio. Headquartered in San Francisco, Square provides payment hardware and software solutions for individuals and businesses.

In this post, we’ll dig into the Cash app service to explain how safe it is to use, how it works and how it compares with other P2P payment products. Any fees and pricing mentioned below are accurate as of the date of publishing.

What is the Square Cash app?

The Cash app service is a simple way to split bills with family and friends. You just need an iPhone or Android to get started. There are a few extra bells and whistles that the Cash app has compared with other P2P payment services — and it’s starting to look more and more like a bank account with the ability to receive direct deposit payments and a companion credit card to make purchases or withdraw money at the ATM. The app can be used to buy and sell bitcoin. You can also use it for personal and business reasons. Cash for Business lets you accept money for goods and services. The Cash app just recently became available in the U.K.

How Square Cash works

The Cash app is remarkably easy to sign up for and use. You download the app onto your iPhone or Android. Next, you enter your phone number and email address to set up the account. Then you select if you want to use the account for personal or business transactions.

Keep in mind, signing up for the Cash for Business via the Cash app doesn’t afford you any significant merchant protections. The only real difference between a personal and business Cash app account is that you can issue refunds. You may want to consider Square Point of Sale instead if you need to do major transactions because it’s more robust.

How to send money with Square Cash

To send money, you hit the pay or request button. You type the name, $cashtag or phone number of the person who’s getting the money. The recipient will get an email or text message with the cash. You can also send money from a browser if you have the recipient’s $cashtag URL. Money can be sent from a debit card, credit card or from your Cash app balance.

How to receive money with Square Cash

To receive money, link your bank account or debit card to the app and select the cashout option. You can cash out the full amount of your balance or you can choose a specific dollar amount.

How long it takes to deposit money into a bank account

The Cash app offers instant and standard deposits:

  • Instant deposits are delivered to your bank account right away. There’s a 1.5% fee for this convenience.
  • Standard deposits are free but can take one to three business days to arrive in your bank account.

Square Cash app fees and fine print

Receiving money is free unless you choose the quick deposit option or you’re accepting money for business reasons. The quick deposit fee is 1.5%. For business transactions, the business owner pays a 2.75% fee for each payment received.

Sending money is free unless you use a credit card. The credit card transaction fee is 3%.

How does the Square Cash app make money?

The Cash app is free for P2P use but there are fees for extras that help the company make money. Fees for business transactions are one major source of revenue. Fees for quick deposits is another way Square makes money from the product.

Sending and receiving limits

If you send more than $250 in a week, you’ll be asked to verify your name, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. The sending limit increases to $2,500 (in most states) after verification.

If you receive more than $1,000 within 30 days, you’ll also be asked to verify your name, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. There’s no limit on receiving funds after your account is verified.

Other Square Cash limitations

You have to be 18 years or older to use the Cash app. It’s also only available to residents of the 50 states, though the Cash app recently launched in the U.K.

Square Cash safety

Square Cash and other cash apps are safe to use for the most part as long as you follow instructions and keep other people out of your account. Use the password lock on your phone and don’t share your account information with anyone. Cash itself has security locks including PIN entry, touch ID and facial ID. The app also uses encryption to protect data and stores bitcoin in a secure system.

The Square Cash app fraud protection

Cash app fraud protection is available for unauthorized payments. Unauthorized payments are transactions that show up on your financial statements without your approval. You should report these right away and in writing. You may get a temporary credit pending an investigation of the fraudulent transaction. The fraud investigation can take up to 45 days, and the credit may be revoked depending on the results.

The best defense against fraud is offense. Don’t open spam emails or click links that look sketchy to protect yourself from phishing. Phishing is a tactic fraudsters use to get a hold of your personal information. Lock your phone and don’t share your account. If you share your account with someone (i.e. your child, partner or family member), transactions they make without your permission could be considered authorized since you gave them access.

How to use Square Cash safely

Money scams are what tend to cause the biggest headache with P2P payment systems. Here are three scams to watch out for:

Scam #1: Someone sends you money in “error.”

This scam is when someone you don’t know sends you cash by “accident.” You, being a kind person, send the money back without knowing the initial transaction was from a stolen card or bank account. The fraudster is essentially getting you to send them clean money. The transfer sent “by mistake” is eventually reversed, and the scammer runs off with your cash.

Scam #2: Someone cancels your payment after receiving a product.

Product sellers beware; people can cancel their own payment. A payment can also be reversed if the money is from a stolen source. Cash is technically not yours until it’s deposited into your bank account.

A word of advice: Sign up for a Square business account if you’re doing business. Fortunately, Square has many other hardware and software products for merchants that offer more security for sellers than the Cash app. The Square Point of Sale app, for example, has no monthly fee, countless business features and chargeback protection of up to $250 each month. A chargeback is when a transaction is reversed because of a dispute or fraud. With the Square Point of Sale product, you may not get left completely empty-handed if a chargeback occurs.

Scam #3: Someone sells you a faulty product.

Buyers need to be careful as well. There are no buyer protections when you make purchases through the Cash App. Scammers are crafty. They could ask you to send them money for a knockoff product, counterfeit ticket or broken electronic. You may not notice your product isn’t the right item until it’s too late. There isn’t buyer protection offered through the app to reimburse you after fraud.

How to protect yourself from being scammed

The best way to protect yourself from Cash app scams is to only send money to people you know. This app is intended to help you transfer money back and forth between friends and family. Never send money to rectify an “accident” unless you trust the person.

Have you already been scammed? Report it to the company. You may not get compensation, but reporting new scams could help the company warn other users.

Square Cash app vs. other person-to-person payment networks

Here’s how Cash app stacks up against the competition as far as transfer speed, fees and security.

Square Cash app vs. PayPal

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

PayPal

1-4 days

$0.25 per instant transfer

2.9% + $0.30 fee in the U.S.

Sellers pay a 2.9% fee + $0.30 per sale

Yes, when payments are made for goods and services

PayPal is a payment service that was founded in 1998. For many, it’s considered the go-to for stateside and international transactions. You can connect your bank account, debit card or credit card to PayPal. Money can be sent directly from your PayPal balance or from one of the aforementioned funding sources.

Fees. Accepting money is free (unless you’re selling items). The cost to send money internationally is different from location to location. You can review the full fee table here.

Network reach. PayPal has a broader reach than the Cash app, though Cash recently expanded to the U.K. PayPal can be used in the U.S. and abroad.

Payment types. PayPal payment types are similar to the Cash app. You can send money from your available PayPal account balance or from a connected bank account, debit card or credit card.

Speed. The Cash App and PayPal have about the same standard deposit speed. Both instant transfer options happen right away, but the PayPal instant transfer is cheaper.

Safety. PayPal does let you file disputes for unauthorized personal transactions. PayPal also puts a big emphasis on protecting the safety of buyers and sellers. Both PayPal and Square have business solutions with merchant protections. You can review the PayPal terms in detail here.

Square Cash app vs. Zelle

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Zelle

1-3 days for non-enrollees

Free transfers within minutes for current enrollees

None

None

There is no buyer or seller protection program; Users are protected from unauthorized activity

Zelle is a P2P payment system that’s offered by a network of banks such as Ally Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Wells Fargo and more. Zelle is easy to use if your bank offers it. It’s a feature right in your online account dashboard. Transfers between Zelle account holders can happen within minutes.

Fees. There’s no fee to use the Zelle service, but you should still double-check that your bank doesn’t charge its own fee for cash transfers.

Network reach. There are more than 100 banks and credit unions that offer Zelle. Check out the full list of financial institutions that offer Zelle here.

Payment types. Money is transferred from bank account to bank account unless one person doesn’t have Zelle available via online banking. Someone who doesn’t have Zelle through their bank can still sign up to send and receive money by adding an eligible debit card to their account. Credit card usage isn’t available. In comparison, the Cash app does allow credit cards.

Speed. You can get money from both the Cash app or Zelle in up to three days. Both offer instant transfers. In Zelle’s case, instant transfers are free between people who are already enrolled.

Safety. Fraud protections for Zelle are slim. If you believe your account may be compromised, you must report it immediately to get any type of coverage. Zelle has no buyer and seller features or protections. Square is a larger platform with additional products for merchants which could made it more appealing if you need more than just P2P capabilities. In the terms and conditions, Zelle makes it clear that you should only be receiving from, or sending money to people you know.

Square Cash app vs. Google Pay Send

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Google Pay Send

2-3 days

Instant when using a debit card

Cannot use credit cards or prepaid cards

None

100% Fraud protection covers unauthorized purchases from your account

Google Pay Send is the P2P payment app that was once called Google Wallet. Google Pay Send can be used to send and receive money using someone’s email address or phone number.

Fees. Google Pay Send is free to use.

Network reach. Google Pay Send can be used on mobile and desktop.

Payment types. Google Pay Send must be used strictly with a debit card or bank account. The Cash app offers the credit card option when needed.

Speed. Most debit card transfers can happen within minutes, but it can take up to 24 hours to see a charge or credit to your account. Google recommends that you use the debit card option because of its speed. Google Pay Send bank account deposits can take up to three days.

Safety. Unauthorized transactions are covered 100% by Google Pay if they’re verifiable and reported within 120 days. The terms and conditions state the app should be used for only P2P payments with trusted individuals. You shouldn’t be making transfers for purchases. There’s no mention of coverage for purchase scams.

Square Cash app vs. Popmoney

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

PopMoney

1-3 days

No

Does not accept credit cards

Free to receive money or pay a request;
$0.95 to send or request funds

Varies by state; Limited liability for unauthorized purchases if you notify Popmoney of lost or stolen password immediately

Popmoney is another P2P payment service that’s offered through the online account dashboard of participating banks. Like Zelle, Popmoney can do deposits that go directly to your bank account. Money can be sent using someone’s email address, phone number or bank account information.

Fees. Popmoney costs $0.95 when you send or request money. In comparison, the Cash app is always free to send peers money as long as you don’t choose the credit card option. Receiving money through Popmoney is free.

Network reach. You can still send and receive money through the website if you don’t have Popmoney available through your online bank account. However, using Popmoney through a participating bank is the simplest way to use the service. About 2,500 financial institutions currently offer Popmoney. You can see if your bank is in the network here.

Payment types. Payments can be made from an eligible bank account or debit card.

Speed. There’s no instant transfer option available for Popmoney like there is with the Cash App.

Safety. The fraud coverage for Popmoney is limited like with most P2P payment apps. There may be coverage for fraud if you tell Popmoney well in advance that your account could be compromised. You may only receive partial reimbursement if Popmoney finds that reporting your compromised account earlier could have stopped fraud. You should avoid buying and selling through this app because there aren’t purchase protections or merchant protections.

Square Cash app vs. Venmo

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Venmo

1-3 days

$0.25 per instant transfer

3% fee, except for authorized merchants

None

Unauthorized transfers covered protection if verifiable and reported within 60 days; Authorized merchant payments may be eligible for protection

Venmo is a P2P payment system owned by PayPal. PayPal and Venmo have similar payment processes. You can connect your bank account, debit card or credit card to send money. Money can also be sent from your Venmo balance.

Fees. Venmo isn’t completely free. There’s a pricey 3% fee if you use a credit card to make a payment, unless you’re using a credit card to send a payment to an approved business. There’s also an instant transfer fee of $0.25 if you want money received deposited in your bank account right way.

Network reach. You need to be physically in the U.S. with a U.S. mobile phone to use Venmo. You must also have a bank account to deposit funds.

Payment types. You can make payments from your Venmo balance, credit card, bank account or debit card.

Speed. The Cash app and Venmo both have similar regular transfer speeds and an instant transfer capability. However, the Cash app instant transfer is more expensive.

Safety. Venmo does let businesses use the system to accept payments, but only merchants that are approved. When using Venmo, stick to sending money to family and friends unless you’re buying from an authorized merchant. If you’re an independent seller, there are conditions you have to meet in order to sell with Venmo. One example of a condition is that you can’t receive payment for goods or services in person. Square merchant products may be easier to sign up for and may have fewer limitations.

Square Cash app vs. Circle Pay

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Circle Pay

1-4 days

Instant when using a linked debit card

Does not accept credit cards

None

Certain unauthorized transactions may be eligible for reimbursement, must report within 60 days

Circle Pay is one of the few payment systems that can be used internationally, and it has no fees or exchange markups. The preferred Circle Pay currencies are U.S. dollars, British pounds and euros. When you need to send money from the U.S. to friends or family abroad, PayPal, Circle Pay and Facebook Messenger (we’ll cover that option next) are payment options to consider.

Fees. Circle Pay is completely free to use. Instant deposits to your debit card are also free.

Network reach. Circle Pay can be used to send money from one country to another. With that said, be sure to shop around for exchange rates whenever sending money internationally. Search the web to check the exchange rate before choosing a payment service.

Payment types. Circle Pay only accepts debit cards or bank accounts to make payments. Square Cash accepts credit cards.

Speed. Instant transfers can happen when depositing money from Circle Pay to a debit card for free.
Bank transactions can take one to four business days or even longer if you’re moving money during the holidays. The Cash app could be just slightly faster.

Safety. Like other P2P payment services, Circle Pay does offer some coverage if unauthorized transactions are made with your account. The fraud has to be caught and reported in a timely manner to get reimbursement. No buyer and seller protections.

Square Cash app vs. Facebook Messenger

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Facebook Messenger

Up to 5 days

No

Does not accept credit cards

None

Facebook is not liable for payments via Messenger

Facebook users will probably find Facebook Messenger one of the easiest P2P payment systems to get started with because the payment feature is right in the Facebook Messenger app.

Fees. There’s no fee to use Facebook Messenger.

Network reach. The Facebook Messenger app is primarily for U.S. residents. In 2017, Facebook Messenger expanded to let users in France and the U.K. send and receive money within their borders. You can’t send money from one country to another.

Payment types. Debit cards or PayPal accounts are currently the only type of accounts you can connect to Facebook Messenger.

Speed. Facebook Messenger may be the slowest of all the payment apps we’ve covered. It can take up to five days depending on your bank while Cash app can deposit to debit cards instantly with a small fee.

Safety. Facebook puts in the terms that this app should only be used for peer transfers with people you know. If there are any disputes, you have to take them up with the other person in the transaction. Facebook takes no responsibility. The one shiny spot is that Facebook collects information from users like their legal name and birthdate for an added level of security. The name and date of birth on your ID must match your Facebook account to use payments.

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