Square Cash vs. Venmo vs. PayPal vs Google Wallet: What's the best way to send money online?

Daniel Bean

Keep your wallet in your back pocket, bucko: With Wednesday’s launch of Square Cash, there's now one more way to send money online to friends, family and business associates. There are now so many, in fact, that choosing the best service for transferring cash between cellphones has become an actual task in itself.

So, how do you decide? With PayPal, Google Wallet, Venmo and now Square Cash, all offering types of free money transfers, some of the choice comes down to simple convenience. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each online money transfer option to help you find which one best serves your needs.

Square Cash

Brought to life by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square has become a heavyweight in the e-merchant space with its free iPad, iPhone and Android card readers, as well as its cheap merchant fees.

With its new Square Cash service, Dorsey's company has eliminated transfer fees for debit card accounts. Square Cash is completely free with no hidden fees.

There are two ways to send money. After attaching a debit card to your personal Square account (sorry, it doesn’t appear that credit cards are accepted), 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.

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  • It’s completely free.
  • After attaching a debit card, everything else is as easy as emailing the money.


  • There's no support for credit card accounts.
  • 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.
  • It's currently available in 48 U.S. states. Hawaii and Tennessee users can receive cash but not yet send.


The PayPal money-sending service is a bit older than the others on this list, and though it offers many, many features and ways to send and receive money, it can also be costly.

PayPal lets you send money from a checking account, debit card or credit card card account. It even lets you keep money on hand in your PayPal 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.

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  • Various funding methods
  • International transfers
  • Widely used — most people already have accounts
  • High limit of $10,000 per transaction


  • Debit and credit card transfers are not free.
  • Transfers are deposited in the recipient’s PayPal account, which have to then be withdrawn.

Google Wallet

Google's Gmail also has many, many users, so the good news with Google Wallet is that many, many people already have an account: They just have to link funds through the Google Wallet service to get started with transfers.

Though Wallet 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 Wallet user, then the money will be deposited into his or her Google Wallet 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 Wallet account to receive your payment.

Google Wallet 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.

Like PayPal, Google Wallet applies fees for debit and credit card transactions, with 2.9 percent charged to the sender.

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  • 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.


  • 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 Wallet account, which then has to be withdrawn to your bank account.
  • It can send money only in the U.S


For those looking to send and receive money with a social networking twist, Venmo might be the answer.

With Venmo, 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, though.

Venmo — which is owned by eBay, which owns PayPal — does have larger restrictions on weekly transaction amounts than PayPal or Google Wallet. That sending money with a debit card is free, however, might make it more handy for easily splitting a lunch bill among buds. And you can even post a charming comment about it in the newsfeed.

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  • Social network feed of friends
  • No-fee transactions for bank accounts and “most debit cards”


  • Available only in the U.S.
  • Transaction fee of 3 percent for credit card transfers
  • “Most users” have $3,000 transfer limit per week.