Venmo vs. Square Cash: How to Transfer Money to Someone?

BY George Tinari

Published 27 Feb 2017

Image credit: drew_dslr/Flickr CC

While mobile payment services aren’t mainstream just yet, at least not outside of the tech savvy bubbles of New York and San Francisco, they’re growing. It seems like at the beginning, people had trust issues with linking their debit cards and bank accounts to these apps, issues that are slowly disappearing. With more users on board, apps like Venmo and Square Cash become more useful since it’s that much easier to send and receive money to/from friends.

If you’re thinking about getting on the mobile payment train to send money, it’s not always easy to tell which app is best for you. Venmo and Square Cash take different approaches to sending and receiving money, so here are some useful feature comparisons to help.

Sending Money

Sending money works fairly similarly between Venmo and Square Cash. The primary difference occurs when you first sign up. Venmo encourages linking your bank account right away. (Note that you must have an online account set up with your bank to do this.)

The reason for this encouragement is because it’ll become necessary later on anyway. Not only can you send money from your bank account, but you need to have one linked to receive funds and transfer them to the account.

Square Cash on the other hand requires nothing more than a debit card at first. It just wants the debit for sending, but later on you’ll need that bank account tied too for receiving money. The good news here is that if you have a debit card with rewards or points, you might find benefit in Square Cash since it charges payments you send rather than withdraws.

The services are completely free when sending money with bank account or debit card. Credit cards are optional and have a 3 percent fee on both Venmo and Square Cash. (Business accounts on Square Cash charge 2.75 percent regardless.)

Sending money is easy enough on both too. Just tap the contact you want to send money too, enter the amount, and the cash is on its way. If the recipient doesn’t have a Venmo or Square Cash account, they’ll have to sign up for the one you used. You can choose to cancel the payment on both apps at any time and get a refund if they never sign up.

Lastly, both Venmo and Square Cash have features for making purchases in other apps. Square Cash takes this one step further though. While paying in apps with Venmo requires the app integrates with Venmo, which is rare, Square Cash gives you your own virtual card to use anywhere, even in Apple Pay. It’s a comforting layer of security to be able to use a virtual card that ties merely to your Square Cash, rather than directly to a bank account. However, Apple Pay and PayPal work quite similarly, so if you use those, mobile purchases with Venmo or Cash app probably isn’t as valuable.

Receiving Money

Receiving money doesn’t require the detailed description sending money does because it’s much easier: you just receive money. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

In both apps, you have two follow-up options when you get some of that cha-ching. You can either leave it in your Venmo balance or Cash balance, which is where the money automatically goes upon arrival, or you can cash out and transfer funds to your bank account.

Square Cash has the added benefit of an Auto Cash Out feature. When enabled, funds you receive will automatically go into your bank account. That’s a huge perk over Venmo, which lets all your funds sit in your Venmo balance until you manually request a transfer.

It’s free to receive money with both services and there is no fee or minimums to transfer it to your bank.

Venmo’s Social Integration

Where Venmo finally gets its big leap is its social feed. Square Cash includes one too, but the primary focus of Venmo is social. The feed is the first thing you see when you open the app.

Personally, I have dozens of friends using Venmo and absolutely none using Square Cash. I have so many that their transactions listing on my iPhone 7 Plus can only fit a day’s worth on screen before I have to scroll. This participation from friends and family a huge difference to me. It’s incentive to use Venmo.

Don’t worry, none of your financial information is shared in the feed nor is the amount of money being paid or requested. Plus when you request or send money you can choose to make it private if you wish.

Otherwise, Venmo just shows a stream of activity with some comments about the payments. Friends can like or comment on the activity as well. Even if it’s not a Facebook of its own, it’s at least interesting and inclusive to see other people spending their hard-earned cash.

Square Cash has an activity feed but it only shows payments involving you. Posts are organized in a nice conversation view, but it’s just not the same as Venmo. Venmo has created a mini-social network and Cash app is focused on you and you only.

Venmo for Fun, Square Cash for Business

Square Cash is definitely more fleshed out than Venmo. Not only is it a gorgeous app that’s easy to use, but its features are more professional. The virtual card is handy for shoppers, auto-cash out is a no brainer that Venmo should have, and the lack of a social feed is preferable to some.

Square Cash is about getting things done. It’s about sending and receiving money as efficiently as possible, and it’s flexible in doing so.

Venmo, on the other hand, makes sending and receiving money just plain fun. The integration with Facebook friends is an enormous plus for me. It makes sending and requesting that much easier because I know most people in my circle already have the app. Venmo doesn’t have as many features as Cash otherwise, but it’s a worthy trade-off.

Using Square Cash or Venmo boils down to your preference for social integration. If you just want to initiate transactions and go about your day, Cash is the better app for that. If you want to join the crowd and participate in the social exchange of currency, Venmo is triumphant.

Get Venmo and Square Cash:

Venmo in the App Store (free)

Square Cash in the App Store (free)