Square Cash Review: Now Send Money From Your Mobile Phone With A Swipe!

Formed by Square Inc., Square Cash was launched in October of 2013 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Square Inc. co-founder Jim McKelvey.

How Square Cash Works

The Square Cash application allows for person-to-person money transfers.  The app is very similar to Venmo, letting you pay and request money from friends. Although there are other similar applications, Square Cash is free and offers the simplest user experience available. You don’t even need to set up a username and password to create an account.

Furthermore, the Cash app doesn’t require knowing the recipients bank account number. You can initiate a payment with their mobile number, email, or $Cashtag.

If they are an existing user, they will receive a notification from the Cash app about the transfer. If they are not a user, they will receive an email or text message asking them to signup to accept their payment. The experience is seamless.

Getting Started

Square Cash offers a drop-dead easy process for getting started. To open a Square Cash account, you can enter either your mobile number or email—you don’t have to have a mobile number. Next you have to enter a debit card number, and then choose a name for your $Cashtag.

You’ll also need to enter a verification ID sent to your phone via SMS or to your email account. Perhaps that sounds like it’s getting complicated, but compared to most other financial service on-boarding, it’s pretty easy.

Square Cash and its send-from-any-email-address trick is so easy that it feels somehow illicit.  First-time senders will get an email prompting them to go to the company’s website and type in their Visa or Mastercard debit card number and expiration date. First-time recipients will get a similar note. Once that is set, Square pulls money from one debit card and credits it to the other. It promises that the money will land in one or two business days, but it sometimes happens faster.

Walter S. Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal gave Square Cash a try.

“I tested Square Cash, sending and receiving money in amounts ranging from $10 to over $1,000, with eight people, and it worked rapidly and flawlessly. I can recommend it for anyone who needs to pay a small debt, give a cash gift, split a bill, or send cash quickly and easily.”

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The Square $Cashtag

Every Square Cash user creates a personal “$Cashtag” when signing up for the service. People can send money directly to Square Cash users through their $Cashtag URL without asking for email addresses or phone numbers. Users can even make their $Cashtag public so anyone can send them money, like, say, a donation.

The Square Cash Apple Watch App

The Square Cash Apple Watch app can perform simple tasks like accepting or rejecting payments and sending “virtual stacks of cash” to friends and family nearby via Bluetooth, all from your wrist.

Security Issues? They have it covered.

Square states that it is certified as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) Level 1, which is the same security used by major credit cards. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to make sure that you enable the Security Lock using FaceID or TouchID on the iPhone or whatever biometric authentication your Android phone uses.

The company has a strong track record in its merchant business, so it isn’t brand new to the money-transfer business. And Square says it has strong security measures and close human and machine monitoring for possible fraud. If fraud is suspected, the company says it can and will reverse the fund transfer. Still, digital services do get hacked, and email can be manipulated by thieves.

The service notifies you via email or text that it appears you have sent money, which gives you a chance to cancel a transaction that didn’t come from you or was a mistake.  So, if you don’t trust Square to defeat such things, you shouldn’t use Square Cash.

Square Cash has relatively low sending limits which can indirectly help with security. The weekly limit is $250 unless you link a mobile phone number and Facebook account, or verify your full name, part of your Social Security number and date of birth — then it’s raised to $2,500.

Try to keep your $Cashtag to yourself. Scams have been known to occur in which bad guys put money in your account and then try to reclaim it by nefarious means.

How Square Cash Compares with other Online Money Transfer Services

Yahoo News recently published a comparison report regarding companies providing online cash transfers.  Their report included the following information:

Square Cash

There are two ways to send money. After attaching a debit card to your personal Square account, either you can manually draft an email message to the recipient with the dollar amount in the subject line (at least $1) and copy cash@square.com, or you can use the Square Cash mobile app to create the email attachment for you. Either way, the transfer goes through your email account and the email account of your recipient.

WEIGH THE PROS AND CONS

Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • It’s completely free.
  • Simple, clear interface and setup.
  • Find nearby payees via Bluetooth
  • Lets you cancel payments.
  • Can automatically deposit money into your bank account.
Cons
  • There’s no support for credit card accounts.
  • Doesn’t work in web stores or at points of sale.
  • Only available in United States.
  • Low daily and weekly payment limits.

PayPal

PayPal lets you send money from a checking account, debit card or credit card account.  All transfers and receipts are handled through the service’s webpage or mobile app. You have to link an email account to register a new PayPal account.  Though credit card and debit cards are accepted funding methods for online transfers, 2.9 percent of the amount, plus a $.30 fee, is tacked on to each transaction, as opposed to no-fee transaction with linked bank accounts. The sender decides which party pays transaction fees. International transfers are also an option with PayPal, but charges range from .5 to 2 percent for bank account transfers and 3.4 to 3.9 percent for credit or debit cards.

WEIGH THE PROS AND CONS

Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Various funding methods
  • International transfers
  • Widely used — most people already have accounts
  • High limit of $10,000 per transaction
Cons
  • Debit and credit card transfers are not free.
  • Transfers are deposited in the recipient’s PayPal account, which have to then be withdrawn.

Google Pay

Google’s Gmail also has many, so the good news with Google Pay is that many people already have an account: They just have to link funds through the Google Pay service to get started with transfers.  Though Google Pay is best known for its NFC tap-to-pay technology on Nexus and other high-end Android devices, sending money from a desktop computer with Google is almost as simple.

In the attachment options of the compose page in Gmail, click the money sign and select which linked funds you’d like to send money from. If the recipient is already a Gmail and Google Pay user, then the money will be deposited into his or her Google Pay account once the transfer is accepted on the other end of the email. If not, the recipient will have to sign up for a Google Pay account to receive your payment.  Google Pay also gives users the option to send money through the service’s website or mobile apps for Android and iOS.

The service on desktop or mobile taps into your Gmail contacts so you can just type someone’s name in to pull up his or her email address, a convenient part of operating within the Google garden.  Google Pay applies fees for debit and credit card transactions, with 2.9 percent charged to the sender.

WEIGH THE PROS AND CONS

Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Sending money as a Gmail attachment is very simple.
  • Anyone with a Gmail account just needs to link a bank account, debit card or credit card to get started.
  • High limit of $10,000 per transaction and $50,000 per five-day period.
Cons
  • If you don’t already have a Gmail account, you’ll have to sign up for one.
  • Debit and credit card transactions are not free.
  • Money is deposited in a Google Pay account, which then has to be withdrawn to your bank account.
  • It can send money only in the U.S

Venmo:

For those looking to send and receive money with a social networking twist, Venmo might be the answer.  Users can make bank account or debit card transfers to other Venmo friends for free (credit card transfers cost the sender a 3 percent fee). Transactions between friends can then be posted to the app’s real-time Facebook-like newsfeed with personalized messages and comments if the user so chooses.  If you haven’t yet signed up for Venmo, you can be notified by text or email that someone is sending you money or requesting funds from you. You will have to install the app or sign up on the Venmo website to complete the transaction.

WEIGH THE PROS AND CONS

Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Social network feed of friends
  • No-fee transactions for bank accounts and “most debit cards”
Cons
  • Available only in the U.S.
  • Transaction fee of 3 percent for credit card transfers
  • “Most users” have $3,000 transfer limit per week.

So, overall, Square Cash is a promising company, with an amazing product that works so really well. We’re hoping that it becomes mainstream one day.

International Money Transfer Services

Square Cash and its main competitors are primarily designed for domestic transfers between friends or acquaintances. The services above have limited availability internationally. If you’re looking to send money internationally you may need to look into services specifically designed for international money transfers like the ones below.