Transferring money
January 28, 2021 11:21 AM   Subscribe

What are the best free or cheap ways to transfer money between people in the United States in 2021? Google Pay now charges 1.5% - there must be better ways. Looking to pay small amounts and large (rent). Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Work & Money (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Zelle has no fees.
posted by GuyZero at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2021 [9 favorites]

I've been really pleased with Venmo; my wife swears by Zelle, and I know that my bank has Zelle support built in.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 11:30 AM on January 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

For friend-to-friend things, everyone I know uses venmo or cash app, both of which are free if you link to a bank account and don't mind waiting a few days for transfers to banks to clear. My bank very badly wants me to use Zelle which is the banks' answer to venmo et al, but which nobody knows exists so I never actually use it. The one time i tried it out with my then-girlfriend for shared expenses it worked perfectly fine but I haven't seen adoption in my 30something social circles that already have venmo/cashapp set up.

Can't help with the rent side of things - all my landlords expected paper checks and were confused or annoyed at any other suggestion.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:30 AM on January 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

(Obviously as witnessed by other answers some people do know Zelle exists, but the lack of awareness relative to venmo makes it much less compelling to just give somebody a few bucks for my share of a meal - I don't want to spend time explaining it to a friend of a friend when I could just use venmo and be done).
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:31 AM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Venmo for little things, Zelle for bigger. (Zelle only works if both of your banks use it; the first payment between 2 people can be a bit fiddly to set up, and seems to be different from institution to institution, but after that it's simple.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:40 AM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Venmo has worked for this purpose for me for transfers ranging from under $10 to over $1000. They make money not through transfer fees but by investing the money sitting in your account — you have to manually transfer it, which takes a day or two to process. I've never had an issue with it.

Only thing I'd say is if you need the transfer to be really instantaneous rather than "sometime in the next business day or two" then Venmo might have a little too much risk.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far! Please include how much it costs to use the transfer method you suggest, if possible.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:44 AM on January 28, 2021

Best answer: If both parties are on Apple devices, Apple Pay is free and instant. But it needs a link to a bank account (also free to set up) to get money in or out of the system.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:57 AM on January 28, 2021

I'm using Zelle to pay rent, and past some initial setup confusion, it works well.
I do have to split my rent payment into multiple days to get around the max limit.

My partner's family also sends very small amounts with it instead of something like Venmo.

Once, to avoid the hassle of split checks, my manager paid for a team lunch and the team members paid them back. We all individually decided to use a different payment method (as a mildly annoying prank), and I did think Square Cash (now just Cash App?) was pretty easy to send/receive with a reasonably low fee (which might drop to free now, if you can wait for the transfer?)
posted by Anonymous Function at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2021

Practically, most people have one or more of Cashapp (Square Cash), Venmo, PayPal, Facebook Pay or Apple Pay, and they probably also have Zelle with their bank.

Zelle is imperfect but it does put your money directly into the other person's account, typically within a minute or so unlike Venmo, which gives it to Venmo to hold onto until the recipient transfers it to their bank account. I work for a bank that has Zelle, so on the one hand I'm biased (although obviously I'm not speaking for them, just as a consumer), but I'm also perpetually frustrated by how bad a job we do of telling everyone about it!

You can also typically set up an external account with your bank as a "transfer account" if you have the account and routing number. So if you have someone you trust you need to exchange money with frequently, that's a good way too.

But the reality is that I usually use whichever app the babysitter prefers, because the future is in the hands of the young.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:12 PM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not a specific suggestion, but my local credit union does not charge extra for Their online bill pay service. We paid our rent with it for years and now so the same with our mortgage. Initial pays sometimes take a week to go through, but subsequent payments after that usually go through same (business) day.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:13 PM on January 28, 2021

Billpay. No app required.

You log in to your bank account and fill out a simple form. Your bank then cuts a check, puts it in a stamped envelope, and mails it. You can even schedule it ahead of time, recurring, etc. They even give you an expected arrival date.

This is a free service and widely available.
posted by aniola at 1:07 PM on January 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

The smallest amount I have sent using billpay was $0.01 to test it the first time I used it. Worked great.
posted by aniola at 1:10 PM on January 28, 2021

Zelle, cash app, and Venmo are all free.
posted by MadamM at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2021

My wife and I have been using Zelle to transfer money between the two of us for a few years now (for shared expenses, etc) and have never had any issues. Zero fees.

For rent, I second aniola's suggestion to try billpay - it's a free service offered by most larger banks and they will mail a check if electronic payment isn't possible.
posted by photo guy at 1:58 PM on January 28, 2021

Last year little Winnie was selling Girl Scout cookies with her troop in front of a grocery story. They approached an elderly woman who responded apologetically that she didn't have any money or credit cards with her. The girls were ready for that: "We take Venmo, too!" The women brightened and said, "oh, in that case!" and proceeded to buy half a dozen boxes.

I have Apple Pay, Zelle, and Venmo all set up, but Venmo is the only one I ever actually use.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 2:14 PM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Google Pay seems to have free transfers to a bank account but will charge the 1.5% transfer fee for debit cards or instant bank account transfers.

This is in-line with Venmo's fees, for example, which are free for standard transfers but 1% for debit cards or instant bank account transfers.
posted by kdar at 3:16 PM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Zeller; most major US banks seem to have it and unlike the others it's integrated with your banking app.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:57 PM on January 28, 2021

I use Venmo -- it's free to transfer money between people and pretty cheap to do an instant transfer to your bank account.
posted by woodvine at 8:12 AM on January 29, 2021

One note on using Zelle for rent - technically the recipient is supposed to have a business account if this is something formal (e.g. you're renting a house from a 3rd party as compared to paying your half of the rent to a housemate). Business accounts sometimes have fees involved.
posted by Candleman at 11:07 AM on January 29, 2021

I use Zelle when I sent money to my mom in a different state. Beats walking down to the bank and do out-of-state deposit.
posted by kschang at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2021

I have used Facebook payments several times. Appear to be no fees to either party, and it's instant or nearly so. Had a friend with a broken-down car stuck at the side of the road, needing a tow. Sent him the money, he re-tried his debit card, and the funds were there. Have used it for $5 to $1000.
posted by xedrik at 8:01 AM on January 30, 2021

I use PayPal for this w/ family members all the time.
posted by nosila at 8:27 AM on January 31, 2021

« Older What is all the activity on the trading exchange...   |   How to hide my face in a Zoom call without causing... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.