How to Use Your Smartphone to Easily Send Money to Family and Friends


If you’ve ever tried to split the tab after a meal with friends at a restaurant, you know just how frustrating it can be to try and pay each other back when the establishment imposes a two-card-per-table limit.

Some friends have cash, others are digging through their pockets for quarters, and others “forget to hit the ATM” like they said they would the next day.

Thankfully though, a new slew of mobile apps have made it easier than ever to send cash to acquaintances quickly, efficiently, and with enough info available to be sure that everyone’s paid their fair share.

These are a few of our favorite services you can use to pay friends with a smartphone.


PayPal is still the easiest, and most widely recognized service that lets you send money to friends, family, business partners, or even a hobo on the street, with just the tap of a button.

To use the app, you need to set up a PayPal account either on your desktop or from your smartphone, and attach either a bank account or a credit card that the company can pull funds from to send to your intended destination.

PayPal enjoys the distinct advantage of allowing you to send money to anyone, even if they haven’t signed up for a PayPal account themselves already. All you need is an email or phone number, and the app takes care of the rest.

To send money with PayPal, start by installing the app either through the iTunes App Store or Google Play.


From here, you can sign into your PayPal account, and depending on if you’ve already attached a payment source or just want to send money using your card on a one-off basis, you can hit the “Send Money” icon, seen below.


Choose your recipient either by their PayPal account name or main email address, and type in however much you owe them.


Hit send, and you’re done. They can receive the money in their bank account, or it can be tied to a PayPal balance for further use later, dealer’s choice.

Fees for using PayPal are variable depending on a few different factors. If the only financial information tied to your account is on a credit or debit card, there’s a 3% charge assessed. This is on top of the $0.30 that PayPal that charges for checking or savings accounts, though who this fee lands on is dependent on whether you chose “Goods and Services”, or “Family and Friends” during the first stage of payment.

The former is free, while the second will lump the cost into the total amount that the recipient will eventually net by the time they accept the amount on their end. These numbers go even higher when sending money into or out of the US, varying from 0.5% to 2.0% depending on the destination country and their banking practices.

Google Wallet

Google takes the hassle of getting money out of your back pocket and into the palms of friends with its “Send money through Gmail” service, which allows you to tack any sum you want from your Wallet right into the body of an email just as you would a standard attachment.

Not only that, but as long as you’ve already set up your payment options beforehand, the mobile Wallet app contains a one-touch-no-fuss method of sending money to loved ones or friends as long as you have their email address or phone number in your contact list.

To send money in the Google Wallet app, simply select the “Send Money” option in the main menu, seen below.


From here you’ll be asked to enter the amount.


After that, just enter the email address or phone number of the person you want to pay, and the funds will be sent their way within a minute or less, depending on your connection speed.


The best part about Wallet is no matter if you’re using a card or a bank account, either way, no fees are assessed as long as the amount being transferred between both parties is under $100 and sent domestically in the US.

Google Wallet also helps to solve the problem of figuring who owes what on the tab at lunch, with the handy “Split Charge” feature that will pester anyone sitting at the table with a money request for however much they owe you based on your inputs.


When Snapchat famously declined Facebook’s attempt to buy the service out for $3 billion back in 2014, many analysts and reporters in the blogosphere rightfully raised the inquiry that was on everyone’s mind: “Well that’s bold but…how exactly do you plan to make money now?”.

Snapchat was quick to respond, with the release of their money sending service, Snapcash. Debuted as a partnership between the boys at Snapchat and the mobile-payment monolith Square, Snapcash makes it simple for you to quickly and easily send cash to anyone on your friends list after enabling the option in your Snapchat settings.

To send funds in a “snap” (even I feel bad about that pun), open the app, and go to your settings.


Here you’ll see the option for “Snapcash”. Click in, and after you agree to the terms and services, you’ll be asked to add a debit card to pull funds from.


Once the payment option is verified and approved, you can open up the messaging portion of Snapchat for the friend you want to pay, and choose the “Send cash” button on the right-hand side.


And it’s as easy as that! Select the amount, and you’ll get a verification email in your inbox as soon as the money goes through. Snapcash’s fees are similar to PayPal’s: free if you’re using a checking/savings account domestically, and around 2.9% if you choose to go the card-only route instead.


And a list like this wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the new hotness on the block: Venmo.

Venmo sort of came out of nowhere, and rapidly filled the role of “friend-to-friend” payments that also link up with a number of social media accounts in a cinch. The benefit here is that you never need to set up an exclusive Venmo identity, and neither do any of your future payees as long as you know them on Facebook.

Technically you can use a separate email (Facebook isn’t explicitly required), but as we’ll note later, Venmo’s social features can be both a blessing and a curse.

To get going on Venmo, open the app and choose which registration style fits your needs best. Next, you’ll be taken to a prompt which, much like Snapcash and PayPal, will ask you to enter your preferred payment method, whether that’s a checking account, a debit card, or a credit card.

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To start the payment process, tap the icon in the top right corner that looks like a pencil writing on a pad, seen below.


After that (depending on the method you used to sign up), you can either flip through your Facebook friends to find the person you want to pay, or enter their email address or phone number to get started with the transaction.


Type in the amount you want to pay them, and hit “pay”. This is also the same window you can use to request money from friends, but keep in mind that whoever you send it to will have to have already registered with Venmo themselves first in order to see it.

And they’re paid, no harm, no foul. Though Snapcash and PayPal are just as equally easy to operate, we prefer Venmo due its social media integration. This in mind, there is a caveat.

The one (and admittedly pretty significant) drawback we have to mention, is that if you use Venmo to pay a friend or family member; everyone’s going to know about it. By default, the app automatically shares any payment activity with everyone in your Facebook friend’s list.

Thankfully, this is an option that can be turned off through the privacy settings seen below, but unless you know about it beforehand, you’re bound to make at least a few payments that the rest of the world can comment on or “like” in their own feed.


That problem aside, Venmo has quickly rocketed to the top of the Android and iOS app stores for its intuitive UI, simplicity of use, and nearly non-existent fee schedule which will only charge you 3% if you’re transferring cash with a credit or debit card, (which stays in line with the industry standard).

So the next time your waiter or waitress tries to pin the dinner bill on one card, don’t sweat it, because Venmo, Google Wallet, PayPal, and Snapcash are there to help you pick up the tab.

Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. Raised around tech from birth, he's had an interest in PC hardware and networking technology for years, and has come to How-To Geek to contribute his knowledge on both. You can follow him on Twitter here.