When you want to give somebody money, do you fish around in your pocket for cash and count out the bills you need? And when somebody owes you for lunch, do they grab their checkbook? Or do you just get out your phone to send and receive money because that’s easiest?
Cash App is one of the most well-known money transfer apps currently available with more than 70 million active users per year as of 2021. Even if you haven’t used it, you’ve probably heard of it. And maybe you’ve wondered if you should be using it.
In this Cash App review, I’ll share what this payment app does well and where it falls short, compare it to other payment platforms, and help you decide if it’s right for you.
Cash App is a safe, low-cost payment app option that lets you transfer money, make purchases, and more from your mobile device. Expanded offerings including free tax services, trading capabilities, and a teen-friendly debit card set it apart from other money transfer apps.
- Offers instant deposits
- Free transfers from bank account
- Early direct deposit
- Low limits on unverified accounts
- Credit card transfer fees
- Deposit fees on instant transfers
What is Cash App?
Cash App started in 2013 as a payment app for sending and receiving money. It was created by Square, Inc. (now called Block, Inc.), the tech company responsible for those mobile payment card readers that can be attached to phones and tablets (that you’ve probably swiped a time or two when buying yourself a coffee).
Since then, Cash App has been expanded to include banking and investing features as well. There’s even a Cash App debit card called the Cash Card, designed to help teach teens responsible money management.
Pros & cons
- Instant deposits — Receive money in your account instantly if you choose instant transfers instead of standard transfers.
- Free transfers — There’s no cost for adding money to your Cash App account from a linked bank account.
- Early direct deposit — Cash App users may qualify to receive their paycheck up to two days early, with cooperation from their employer.
- Some international payments — Send money to anyone in the U.S. or U.K.
- Low limits — $250 sending limit per 7-day period and $1,000 receiving limit per 30-day period for unverified accounts.
- Credit card transfer fees — Pay 3% of each transaction when you transfer money with a credit card instead of a debit card.
- Deposit fees — Pay between 0.5% and 1.75% when you choose to cash out your balance with an instant transfer (instead of a standard transfer that takes one to three business days).
How Cash App works
The basic functions of Cash App are sending money, receiving money, and paying merchants for purchases. Funding your Cash App account and depositing money to your bank let you add and receive funds without missing a beat.
Here’s how it all works.
Cash App makes it easy to send money quickly. To find a person you want to send cash to, you can search one of the following:
- Phone number
- Email address
From there, you’ll enter the amount you want to send, add a note to indicate what the payment is for (which is a good idea for keeping track of your transfers), and select “Pay.” You can send money in either USD or bitcoin.
You can also scan a person’s QR code, found in their profile, if you’re sending money in person.
The recipient does not have to be a Cash App user in order to receive a transfer from you. You just need their phone number or email or you can allow contact access to automatically find your friends.
Note that you may only send up to $250 in a seven-day period if your account is unverified. To receive a higher limit, you’ll need to provide your full name, birthday, and social security number in order to verify your identity (this is the only way to increase the limit but is not required to use Cash App and send money).
Receiving payments is just as straightforward. You do not need a Cash App account to receive payments from other people, but you will need to provide your email address or phone number.
You can receive up to $1,000 every 30 days without verifying your identity. If you verify your identity by providing your personal information and SSN, there is no limit on how much you can receive.
If someone owes you money, you can request the amount from them. This is the same process as sending money except you’ll select “Request” instead of “Pay.”
You can also use Cash App to make in-person or online purchases. All you have to do is scan the QR code the seller or checkout page provides and follow the instructions.
Merchants will pay a 2.75% processing fee when you use Cash App to pay them, but you won’t pay anything extra.
Fund your account
All of the money you send comes either from your Cash App balance or from a linked bank account or credit card. To add cash to your balance, just select “Add Cash” and enter your PIN to confirm the amount you want to transfer. You can make one-time transfers or schedule recurring transfers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis using your debit card.
Bank account/debit card transfers are free but credit card transfers cost 3% each time.
Cash deposits are also accepted at select merchants including certain Walmart, Walgreens, and 7-Eleven locations. Use the app to find a location near you.
When you want to transfer your balance to your bank account, you can choose to either make a standard or instant deposit.
Standard deposits are free but will take one to three business days to finish processing, so the money won’t be available right away. Instant deposits cost between 0.5% and 1.75% per transaction (with a minimum fee of $0.25). Sometimes, it’s not possible to make an instant deposit (usually for security reasons) and Cash App will default to a standard deposit in these cases.
To move the money from your Cash App to your bank, select “Cash Out” from your account.
Other Cash App features
You can stop at sending and receiving money with Cash App, but there are a few other products and services you can access if you have a Cash App account.
The Cash Card is a Visa debit card also offered for teens between 13 and 17 years old. It requires a Cash App account and approval from a parent or guardian. The adult who approves the account becomes the legal owner and the teen becomes an authorized user.
Like other debit cards for teens, this card has a number of protections in place to keep users safe. For example, it isn’t linked directly to a bank account and includes limited parental controls. Parents or guardians will be able to see all of their teen’s transactions and freeze their debit cards if needed to help control their spending. Additionally, many merchant categories including bars, casinos, and hotels are automatically restricted to prevent teens from making unsafe or illegal purchases.
Users can get more money for their accounts in a few different ways. They can request money from their parent or guardian, receive Cash App payments from friends and family members, or link direct deposits if they have a job. Using their Cash Card balance, they can spend in-person, make online purchases, initiate transfers, and make ATM withdrawals.
Cash Cards can be used at any ATM for a fee of $2.50, paid to Cash App each time, plus any other ATM fees the network may charge.
Once approved, anyone 13+ can send and receive up to $1,000 every 30 days, cash out up to $25,000 every seven days, and add up to $7,500 every 30 days.
Another perk of the Cash Card is Cash Boost discounts. Users can activate up to one Boost at a time to receive discounts whenever they use their card at select establishments. For example, 10% off at American Eagle or Shake Shack. They can swap their Boost for another at any time. Boosts can’t be used for Cash App Pay payments.
The Cash App Card does not offer cash back rewards or pay interest.
Read more: Banking 101 — A guide for teenagers (and anyone who needs a refresher)
Cash App Investing
Cash App Investing is a basic trading platform that lets users invest in stocks, ETFs, and bitcoin. Traders can purchase fractional shares of more than 1,800 different stocks for as little as $1 with no commission or trading fees. All stocks are listed on Nasdaq or NYSE exchanges and issued through DriveWealth.
You can automate your stock trading with Auto Invest transfers every day, week, or two weeks (minimum $10) or make one-time purchases whenever you want.
Bitcoin is also supported by Cash App. You can either sell bitcoin or transfer it to others instead of USD. Pro tip: use an external wallet to store the bitcoin you purchase for added flexibility and security.
Even debit card users can invest. Cash Card Round Ups let teens round up purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the extra in stocks, ETFs, or bitcoin.
Advanced trading including margin trading and options is prohibited.
Early direct deposit
You may qualify to receive direct deposit transactions up to two days early with your Cash App account. This can help if you’re short on cash but don’t want to take out a payday loan.
To be eligible for early direct deposit, you need to have automatic transfers set up for your paycheck and your employer must approve your payment in advance.
Cash App Taxes
Cash App also offers free tax filing through Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma Tax). To estimate your refund and file your tax return, all you have to do is provide your personal information and upload last year’s tax forms. Then, you’ll link the bank account where you’d like to receive the refund.
In addition to helping you get as much money back as possible, Cash App may also help you receive it up to five days sooner than you normally would if you deposit it to your Cash App account. You can check the status of your refund at any time from the app.
Cash App Taxes, the new and rebranded version of Credit Karma Tax, has a unique competitive niche. It’s the rare online tax service that lets you file simple and complex returns for free — no paid tiers and no surprise fees.
- Free for multiple tax forms and schedules
- Great mobile app access
- Simple interface, layout, and navigation
- Limited customer support
- No multiple state returns
This service is best for people with fairly straightforward taxes. If your income and filing situation is complicated, you may benefit from more sophisticated tax software.
How much does Cash App cost?
Depending on how exactly you use Cash App, you may pay fees.
There is a 3% credit card processing fee for credit card payments and a fee of between 0.5% and 1.75% for instant deposits. And when you use your Cash Card to withdraw money from ATMs, you’ll pay a $2.50 transaction fee to Cash App (deducted from your Cash App balance).
To save money and avoid fees, opt for slower deposits and don’t use your credit card for transfers.
Who is Cash App best for?
These are some of the people who are a good fit for Cash App.
You’ll get the most out of Cash App if you qualify for the Cash App debit card. The Cash Card unlocks banking features like early direct deposit and Cash Boosts on everyday spending, and it’s mostly free to use.
People who want to transfer funds quickly
If you just want an app that will make your life easier by giving you a faster way to send payments, Cash App might be a good choice.
People who don’t have Cash App
It might seem counterintuitive, but Cash App is actually a good option for people who don’t have it. Cash App users can easily send cash to non-users, which isn’t true for every cash transfer app.
But while you don’t need to invite friends to create a Cash App account in order to send them money, you can receive an account bonus for each friend that starts using the app.
People who want to make international transfers
Cash App supports fee-free transactions between the U.S. and the U.K.
Who is Cash App not ideal for?
There are some people who shouldn’t choose Cash App over alternative apps. Here are a few.
People who send a lot of money
If you regularly send and receive money, you may find Cash App’s limits (without identity verification) to be pretty restrictive.
People who don’t want to share their Social Security Number
There are plenty of reasons you might not want to share your SSN, but Cash App might not let you send and receive much money unless you do.
Is Cash App safe?
Cash App uses a variety of required and optional safety features to protect your account and money. For example, you’ll need to use a one-time use code each time you log into the app and can set up two-factor authentication for extra protection. You can also enable a security lock that requires your passcode every time you’re sending cash. So yes, overall, it’s safe.
But scams and phishing do still happen. Scammers and phishers target many payment apps, not just Cash App, and may try to convince you to send them money with the promise of more or a service.
To avoid sending your money to the wrong person, just remember that you can’t cancel or reverse transfers and always play it ultra-safe. Verify that the person you’re trying to send money to is the person you think they are using any information you have like their full name, email, phone number, or unique $Cashtag. And if someone you don’t know ever pushes you to give them money, contact customer support to report them.
Cash App vs. competitors
Cash App differs from some of its top competitors, PayPal and Venmo, in a few important ways.
PayPal is a fintech company that lets you transfer cash from your phone. In addition to letting you send and receive money, it also offers a rewards credit card; buy now, pay later services; a savings account that earns interest; and money management tools. Both PayPal and Cash App offer early direct deposit.
Cash App is a good alternative to PayPal for people who want to make instant transfers and save money as PayPal charges more fees. But PayPal is likely the better option for business owners, people who want more banking features, and those who regularly make international transfers.
Venmo is another payment app that goes beyond person-to-person money transfers. Fees are comparable between Venmo and Cash App. For example, Venmo also charges a 3% fee for credit card transfers. But as for differences, Venmo offers a credit card while Cash App does not and Cash App offers investing features while Venmo does not.
Venmo has higher transaction limits for most users, so it’s probably the better option for larger payments. But if you want to invest or make global transfers, choose Cash App.
Cash App is a safe, low-cost option for sending money and making payments. While it’s not perfect and does have transaction restrictions and fees worth noting, it’s a good option for basic, everyday money transfers between users and non-users.
Free tax services, trading capabilities, and a teen-friendly debit card set it apart from other money transfer apps, and we appreciate that you don’t have to have an account to use it.