Best mobile payment apps in 2022, tested by our editors

Cellular fee apps generally is a handy solution to ship and obtain cash utilizing your smartphone or smartwatch. Paying for gadgets this fashion has by no means been simpler, due to the provision of quite a few cell fee apps, higher fee terminal infrastructure, and wider help for Bluetooth/near-field communication (NFC) contactless bank cards by American issuers. The coronavirus pandemic has additionally helped to make contactless “all the things” extra compelling, so with the ability to use our smartphones or smartwatches for cell banking and funds is as interesting as ever.

Over the course of a number of weeks, we examined out 5 totally different cell fee apps: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Venmo (by PayPal) and Money App (by Block, previously Sq.). We examined Apple Pay and Samsung Pay on simply their very own units and examined Google Pay, Venmo and Money App on each Android and iOS.

The apps work throughout a wide range of net browsers (except for Samsung) and watches. We examined the apps on an Apple Watch and a Samsung Galaxy Watch. We examined every of them with the next in thoughts: ease of set up, ease of setup, options, safety, charges and buyer help. As our testing concluded, two clear winners emerged: Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Greatest cell fee app general

Whereas Apple Pay solely works on iOS units, its person interface is uncluttered and easy to make use of. The app additionally presents sturdy safety and authentication for all of your purchases, and presents 2% money again on P2P funds.

Whereas Apple Pay solely works for its personal units, it’s accessible in quite a few nations, and its elegant and easy person interface (UI) and design make it a standout. Peer-to-peer (P2P) funds are solely accessible in america. In your iOS system, you’ll want to arrange Face ID, Contact ID or a passcode. In your Apple Watch, you’ll want to arrange a passcode. You additionally have to be 13 years previous or older.

If you wish to make a P2P fee, then you definately’ll have to ship an Apple Message, which implies you’ll want to know your recipient’s telephone quantity or electronic mail tackle. One good characteristic is that every one transactions generate 2% money again. When you have an Apple Watch, then you’ll want to join your playing cards and financial institution accounts particularly on the watch to be used in funds.

(left to right): If you have an Apple credit card, then this is the screen you use to make your monthly payment. You can add a bank account using the middle screen. The next screen shows where you set up your Apple Cash and let your phone accept payments to your account.

Runner as much as the perfect cell fee app general

Google Pay presents robust privateness choices that allow you to choose out of sharing information with exterior distributors or amongst numerous Google corporations. It really works with a wide range of bank cards and does not cost any charges.

Google Pay has totally different lists of nations and areas wherein it’s accessible relying on the transaction sort supposed. Google Pay works throughout Android and iOS and can also be designed to be succesful in your browser. There aren’t any charges and rapid transfers are from debit playing cards solely.

Since Google Pay additionally works by browser cookies, it doesn’t require your telephone to finish any on-line transactions. However, since it really works by your Google account, you’ll have to alternate emails to arrange the fee. Additionally, you’ll need a private account (Pay received’t work with workspace or enterprise accounts).

Google Pay has this selection of privacy options where you can opt out of sharing data with outside vendors or among various Google companies. If you want to use the app to check out at online stores, then you'll need to set the top button to share your account (as indicated in the screen above).

There are three totally different use circumstances for these apps (which we examined) that we’ll clarify, in addition to three different use circumstances that we’ll point out (though we didn’t take a look at these).

The primary use case we examined is making P2P money funds. Two examples of this are splitting a restaurant examine and sending present cash to household and associates. Customers are more and more utilizing these apps based on a latest survey by Lending Tree. The survey confirmed that 84% of the 1,200 respondents (all U.S. shoppers) have used no less than one cell fee app previously yr. Samsung Pay doesn’t help this mode however the different apps do.

Among the apps allow you to arrange swimming pools of funds, like a miniature model of GoFundMe to which your mates can ship you contributions. There are a number of methods to determine your recipient: by their telephone quantity and electronic mail tackle, or by their username (Block and Venmo help this) and, in some circumstances, by utilizing a private QR code (Block and Venmo are centered on this use case).

The second use case we examined is paying for retail purchases as a substitute of instantly utilizing a bank card or debit card. When the time involves pay at a bodily retailer, you maintain your smartphone (or smartwatch) near the fee terminal and it ought to learn the suitable card. This may be helpful if you happen to load a number of playing cards on the fee app, so that you don’t must cart round an overstuffed pockets with bodily playing cards. It’s also safer as a result of many of the fee apps create after which ship a one-time token as a substitute of your precise card quantity for every transaction. (Apple Pay and Google Pay are centered on this use case, though each additionally help P2P funds, too.)

The third use case we examined is utilizing them each time you’re procuring on-line. The Apple Pay and Google Pay apps can be utilized right here. You can even retailer your card particulars within the numerous desktop browsers in order that they are often auto-filled if you end up on the checkout display screen of your favourite retailer.

So, now for the opposite use circumstances we didn’t take a look at however are price mentioning. Every of the fee apps has moved past these three core conditions and now provide three different use circumstances: 1) a fancy sequence of their very own branded bank cards and debit playing cards, 2) help for Bitcoin purchases and different money-related options, and three) cash-back presents. Once more, we didn’t take a look at these final three use circumstances; nonetheless, it’s price being attentive to no less than the one about cash-back presents as a result of these can actually add up over time.

Do you have to be frightened about scammers when utilizing cell fee apps? Sure — the identical Lending Tree survey we cited earlier discovered that 15% of the respondents have been victims of scams. And the survey additionally talked about that, although P2P companies are rising, they’re not FDIC insured. The survey discovered that “62% of shoppers knew FDIC doesn’t insure P2P balances. Nonetheless, 49% of those that maintain a stability wrongly imagine their cash is protected.”

For those who intend to make use of any of those cell fee apps frequently, then you definately’ll wish to comply with these 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Shield your fee app with the strongest authentication you should use. It is best to use your face or fingerprint to open the app and to ship cash.
  • Step 2: Allow multi-factor authentication (MFA) as one other solution to defend your log-in. Even if you happen to don’t plan on utilizing any of the browser variations, you continue to wish to defend this entry methodology.
  • Step 3: Arrange app notifications of any transactions. That approach, you’ll verify what’s going on.
  • Step 4: Take note of what you’re doing when utilizing any app. The chance to make a mistake, particularly whereas multitasking and the truth that you may’t cancel any accomplished transaction, can imply bother.
  • Step 5: Don’t ship cash to strangers. Notice that, not like financial institution transactions, there isn’t any built-in fraud prevention when utilizing cell fee apps. When you ship the cash, it’s gone for good. So triple-check the small print earlier than clicking Ship.
  • Step 6: If you’re shopping for bodily items, then use your browser and the saved card characteristic in your browser.
  • Tip: The US Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) has extra tips about methods to keep away from a rip-off when utilizing cell fee apps and, a undertaking of the Nationwide Customers League (NCL), presents recommendation on methods to keep away from falling sufferer to a majority of these scams as nicely.

Throughout our pretesting analysis, we discovered there are greater than 20 totally different fee apps accessible, together with apps from retailers like Starbucks and apps from Mastercard and Visa. We chosen our 5 fee apps to check based mostly on desired options, safety choices and person critiques. We examined every of them with the next standards in thoughts: ease of set up, ease of setup, options, safety, buyer help and costs.

To start our testing, we put in the apps on one or each kinds of smartphones (if supported) and on an Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch.

Subsequent, we related to numerous financial institution accounts and bank cards and debit playing cards, utilizing them for retail purchases and P2P funds. We additionally tried every app when it was accessible for on-line retail purchases. We examined every app’s MFA help and different security measures. We examined every app’s capacity to inform you of fee transactions, and to dam another person from initiating a fee with out your biometric information or different elements to approve it.

Then we famous that the workflows for the fee apps had been comparable throughout the lot. We first ensured we had been downloading the right fee app from the legit app retailer. That is necessary and you need to take care right here. We then related the app to both our telephone quantity or electronic mail tackle (most apps need each), after which typed in a checking account or card that was to be the supply and vacation spot of our funds.

This was the second of reality, as a result of not each fee app supported each financial institution card (and we didn’t discover out till we bought to this step). Apple Pay and Google Pay labored with extra of our bank cards than the others did, however your expertise may very well be totally different.

After that, we arrange our app’s safety with our face or fingerprint to guard our transactions. It sounds extra sophisticated than it really was. After a flurry of affirmation emails and texts, we had been able to buy groceries or ship our associates some cash.

One of many large benefits of those apps is that you simply forgo the necessity to carry money and you’ll pay somebody on the spot. Nonetheless, for all of those apps, our persistence was rewarded. If we needed to make a P2P fee and our recipient was prepared to attend just a few days, then there wasn’t any charge utilized.

But when we needed the fee to occur in a matter of minutes, then it price us.

For instance, all of the apps had been free to obtain. However when it got here to charges, Apple costs 1.5% (with a minimal $0.25 and most $15 charge) and Venmo provides a 1% surcharge (with a most $10 charge). Sq. is free for all private accounts however costs 2.75% for enterprise customers. Google Pay and Samsung Pay don’t have any added charges.

Lastly, we additionally reviewed complaints collected by for Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Money App and Venmo. And we tried out the assorted help choices accessible for every service. All 5 apps had equal excessive scores on each. Money App, Samsung Pay and Venmo all share information with third events to trace inner advertising and marketing. Apple Pay and Google Pay don’t do that, though they could use this information internally throughout their numerous properties.

Throughout our testing, we used an Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch to gauge how simple it’s to make use of a smartwatch versus a smartphone for cell funds. So, is your smartwatch higher to make use of than your telephone for funds? No, we don’t assume so.

We discovered the watch actions wanted to get shut sufficient to the fee terminal to make a connection had been extra cumbersome than they had been once we used our telephone. And the usability elements to arrange the account on the watches are sub-par. For those who use your look ahead to different apps, then nice, however don’t rush out and get a watch only for funds.

(left to right): The Apple Watch wireless charger, the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch we used during testing. For both smartwatches, you can choose all kinds of timekeeping faces and load numerous apps besides payment apps.

Free at Money App

With Money App, which is owned by Block (previously Sq., Inc.), you arrange a username that your mates can use to search out you when sending or demanding funds. You do not want to know their telephone quantity or electronic mail tackle. Money App is restricted to debit playing cards just for direct entry. It additionally makes use of Plaid for connecting to your checking account, which we expect provides one other layer of safety points.

There are additionally numerous switch limits, too, for unidentified customers (e.g., sending $250 over per week or receiving $1,000 over a month). You possibly can arrange recurring deposits, direct deposits, make financial institution transfers and even file your taxes.

There’s a 3% charge if you’re transferring funds with a bank card. You can even immediately buy or promote Bitcoin from the app. Money App additionally works with the Lightning community to pay anybody with these cryptocurrencies.

(left to right): Cash App's green Main Payments screen is where you type in your amount and then choose whether to request or pay someone. Then you get the middle screen, which shows your account and where you type in your recipient. The third screen is where you can purchase Bitcoin.

Free at Samsung

Samsung Pay works in a number of nations, however it’s only accessible on Samsung smartphones and smartwatches. It’s principally a stripped-down model of Google Pay, utilizing the identical banking backends. It requires your cell quantity to finish its setup, and in our testing we discovered it didn’t help a number of of the debit playing cards we owned. It additionally doesn’t help any P2P funds: you’ll want to make use of the separate Samsung Pay Money app.

One benefit is that, whereas Apple Pay and Google Pay will solely work with point-of-sale (POS) fee terminals outfitted with NFC know-how, Samsung Pay (from the telephone, not from the watch) works at magnetic card terminals — these few which can be left and haven’t been upgraded — as nicely.

We had bother getting the Samsung Pay app to work with the Samsung Galaxy Watch (like Apple Pay, it’s important to individually set up every card to make use of on the watch), and wanted to put in and re-install numerous Samsung apps. We advocate utilizing Google Pay as a substitute.

(left to right): Samsung Pay features a wallet that can be used to handle all of your digital credentials, including airline boarding passes and payment apps. Here is a stored credit card in the wallet and various perks and benefits available.

Free at Venmo

Venmo, which is just accessible in america, was easy to arrange and get related to our financial institution card. Like Money App, you may ship cash utilizing a username, which obviates the necessity to know a good friend’s telephone quantity or electronic mail tackle. One downside to Venmo is that all your associates’ transactions are made public by default, so anybody can see them in its public feed. This implies the very first thing you’ll want to do when utilizing this service is flip these settings to Non-public.

Venmo additionally helps Bitcoin, Bitcoin Money, Ethereum or Litecoin foreign money transactions. If you’re sending funds from a bank card and may’t wait, then there’s a 3% charge. Funds despatched out of your checking account are free if you happen to can wait just a few days. Charges are clearly described on their Assets web page and there are charges for unverified customers when sending greater than $300 per week.

Venmo’s browser consumer mirrors the UI for its telephone app screens, which is beneficial for reviewing its quite a few configuration settings. But it surely may do a greater job explaining its safety protocols.

Venmo gives you 3 data privacy choices: Public, Friends and Private. If you are concerned about having all of your transactions in public, then you should set it as indicated to Private.

Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing and tech protection:

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