Cash is dirty, requires counting, and is easily lost or stolen. Credit cards have high fees, lead to overspending, and consume precious pocket space. That's why many savvy spenders are turning to convenient and secure mobile payment apps for their transactions. Here are seven of the most popular for paying retailers or making peer-to-peer payments.
PayPal, which launched in 2010, is perhaps the most established mobile payment app. With it you can send and request money and manage your account directly from your phone. PayPal also works as a digital wallet, enabling you to store your bank and credit card info for payments at your favorite retailers.
Use Venmo and you'll never again have to remind a friend to pay you back. Create a payment in the app and click Request or Pay. Send to one person or multiple people, and after the payment is made, the payee can cash out to their bank overnight. You can also see your friends' transactions or share your own in app and/or over social media. For extra security, Venmo now enforces multifactor authentication, which requires additional verification to complete transactions.
Google Wallet enables you to securely pay stores, online retailers, and friends. You can add money, send money, request money, or split a restaurant tab or hotel bill. If plastic is perfect for you, send away for a Google Wallet card and then swipe to pay. If you let the app use your location, it can suggest local offers and require Touch ID for all purchases.
Square Cash comes from the makers of Square Register (iOS, Android), the well-known card-processing app used by food trucks and other businesses. Just link your debit card to send or request cash. Set a Touch ID or passcode for added protection. Square Cash's recent update brings three new features: $Cashtags, or a name you can share with anyone to get paid; Cash.me, a Web profile that allows payments from anyone, whether or not they're on the app; and Cash Pro, which enables businesses to accept payments for a 1.5 percent charge.
Facebook Messenger, the official Facebook messaging app for texts, emails, and even calling, now allows users to pay each other directly in the app. Connect your debit card to your Facebook account, click the small $ icon above the keyboard to open a payments screen, enter the amount you wish to send, and the money is transferred through Facebook to your payee's bank.
Next time you're out at happy hour or dinner with friends, snap a photo of the itemized bill and share it with your companions. Each person can use Tab to select their items, and tax and tip are divided proportionally, making drunk math a thing of the past.
Oink is an offers app. Search for deals by category or proximity, save them to Passbook for easy access, and redeem them in person or over the Web. Oink pairs with a card that you can load with money for payments. For example, you can hand an Oink card to your kids so they can make approved purchases on the App Store or elsewhere. You can track their purchases in real time in Oink, so you know where their (your) money is going.