8 Best Mobile Payment Apps to Pay Friends, Shop Online or In-store

In 2024, we’re all about convenience. Curb-side pickup, online shopping, and digital payments are the new normal. Splitting transactions with friends and family has also never been easier. You can even do it from your phone – cashless.

Businesses are also shifting to cashless operations, and according to one study, 59% plan to do so within the next two years. Consumers must shift, too, which means getting familiar with the best mobile payment apps to pay friends and shop online or in-store. 41% of consumers are either already cashless or plan to be in the next two years, so it’s time to jump on board. Here’s our list of the best mobile payment apps.

mobile payment apps

How Do Mobile Payment Apps Work?

A payment app is like a digital wallet. You link it to your funding account, usually your checking account or debit card, and use the app to pay friends, family, or a retailer.

To make a payment, enter the user’s handle and the money you’re sending. It’s always a good idea to double-check the user ID to ensure you send the funds to the correct person or business.

To receive funds, you don’t have to do anything except provide your user ID. The person paying you enters your user ID and the money they’re sending. Most payment apps automatically transfer the funds to your balance. You can leave the funds in the app or transfer them to an external account.

8 Best Mobile Payment Apps 

1. Revolut

Revolut

Revolut is one of the most versatile options for transferring money and paying for purchases. You can even send money internationally and receive payments in 25+ different currencies. There are three plans to choose from, and each comes with a Revolut prepaid debit card you can use to shop in-store, add to your Apple Pay or Google Pay wallet, or use a virtual card number to shop online. 

The Standard plan for no monthly fee has plenty of features, but you get added purchase protections and travel benefits with the paid plans and a metal card with the Metal plan. Each plan also comes with access to apply for an FDIC-insured savings account called a Savings Vault that pays a great APY, much higher than you’ll find with a traditional savings account. You can also round up your purchases and send the change to your Savings Vault. 

  • Fees: There are three plans to choose from. Standard is $0.00/month, Premium is $9.99/month, and Metal is $16.99/month.
  • Transaction types: You can pay friends and family, split transactions, and send money internationally. Use your Revolut card to make in-store purchases, add your Revolut card to Apple Pay or Google Pay, or use a virtual card number to shop online. Exchange money in 25+ currencies.
  • Apple store user rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
  • Google Play user rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Disclosures:

The Revolut USA Prepaid Visa® and Prepaid Mastercard® are issued by Metropolitan Commercial Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. for Visa cards, and Mastercard International for Mastercard cards, and may be used everywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted. Banking services are provided by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, and are subject to the terms of a Cardholder Agreement. “Metropolitan Commercial Bank” and “Metropolitan” are registered trademarks of Metropolitan Commercial Bank © 2014.

A note from Metropolitan Commercial Bank: Funds in your Revolut Prepaid Card Account are held at an FDIC insured institution. Your funds will be held at or transferred to Metropolitan Commercial Bank, an FDIC-insured institution. While there, your funds are insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC in the event Metropolitan Commercial Bank fails if specific deposit insurance requirements are met and your card is registered. See fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/prepaid.html for details. FDIC insurance does not protect your funds in the event of Revolut’s failure or from the risk of theft or fraud.

See Terms & Conditions for details. Funds in your Revolut prepaid card account are held at Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Member FDIC.

Revolut Prepaid Visa Card issued by Metropolitan Commercial Bank (Member FDIC) under Visa U.S.A. Inc. license, subject to applicable terms.

Savings Vault services provided by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC 

2. Apple Pay

apple pay

Apple Pay is accepted on millions of websites and apps, and you can use it to send money to friends and family as long as they have Apple Pay. It’s a secure way to carry money without physically carrying cash or your credit cards. 

Add your credit or debit card to your Apple Wallet to set it up. The Apple Pay app is already on your iPhone or Apple Watch. You just need to add your cards. 

You can also access Apple Cash, a digital card in Apple Pay. You can send and receive cash from family and friends with Apple Cash. You can also use your Apple Cash to pay online or in-store. 

  • Fees: No fees for Apple Pay (possibly a fee if you link a credit card). For Apple Cash Instant Transfer, a 1.5% fee ($0.25 minimum and $15 maximum) is deducted from the amount of each transfer.
  • Payment limits: A signature may be required for in-store purchases over $50.
  • Transaction types: You can pay friends and family or make in-store purchases with merchants that accept contactless payments and with select online merchants where you see the Apple Pay symbol.
  • Apple store user rating: 3.1 out of 5 stars
  • Google Play user rating: n/a

Tip: You can pair it with the Apple Card to receive 2% cash back on every purchase.

3. Google Pay

google pay

Google Pay is available on Android and iOS devices. You can pay a single friend or start a group to split expenses for meals, gifts, or other purposes. You can also use Google Pay to pay in-store and online. In addition, the app keeps track of your previous purchases and all activity, so you can reference them when needed.

The Google Pay dashboard offers an overview of your accounts to view how much money you have and evaluate your spending habits.

Google Pay also offers cashback rewards when you activate the offers in the app before spending.

  • Fees: No fees (possibly a fee if you link a credit card)
  • Payment limits: A maximum single transaction is $5000 with a verified account or $700 if not verified. The maximum you can send friends or family in a rolling 7-day period is $5,000 if verified or $500 if not verified.
  • Transaction types: You can pay friends and family, and select stores in-person and online where you see the Google Pay symbol.
  • Apple store user rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
  • Google Play user rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

4. Samsung Pay

samsung pay

Using your phone, Samsung Pay is a simple way to pay at retail stores. You can link your favorite debit or credit cards to the app and use it to pay in-store. In addition, you can make payments right from your Samsung phone’s lock or home screen by swiping up, and you can also add membership and loyalty cards to your Samsung wallet.

Samsung also offers reward points for purchases made with Samsung Pay that you can redeem for rewards in the Samsung store.

  • Fees: No fee
  • Payment limits: No limits
  • Transaction types: Only for paying in-store or online
  • Apple store user rating: n/a
  • Google Play user rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

5. PayPal

paypal

PayPal offers P2P payments and payments to retailers in-store or online. In addition, PayPal offers a wide range of cashback deals with partner stores, and you can also choose to buy now or Pay Later.

PayPal is easy to use, and you can send money to family and friends if they have a PayPal account too.

  • Fees: No fee for personal or retail transactions unless you pay with a credit card, then there’s a small transaction fee
  • Payment limits: No limit if you have a verified PayPal account
  • Transaction types: Pay in-store, online, or person-to-person
  • Apple store user rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
  • Google Play user rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
  • Tip: Regular PayPal users may consider getting the PayPal Cashback Mastercard to earn 3% cash back on PayPal purchases and 2% on everything else.

6. Cash App

cash app

Cash App lets you do everything, including sending money, spending money, saving, and investing. You can instantly pay anyone with Cash App, and the recipient doesn’t need to have Cash App, just an email address or phone number. But they’ll receive a text or email asking them to download the app to receive their funds.

You can spend money using the free debit card that accompanies your account, get direct deposit, and buy stocks and bitcoin with your funds. Your free debit card may also earn you discounts at partner stores, and you can receive direct deposit funds two days early.

  • Fees: Free to send and receive money, but if you use a credit card to send money, there’s a 3% fee, and if you want instant access to money received, there’s a 0.5% – 1.75% fee. 
  • Payment limits: You can send $250 within 7-days and receive up to $1,000 in 30 days, but you can increase those limits by verifying your Social Security number, full name, and date of birth.
  • Transaction types: You can pay friends, shop online or in-store with the Cash App digital card, or get a physical card for $5.
  • Apple store user rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
  • Google Play user rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

7. Venmo

venmo

Venmo is a social P2P app that makes it easy to pay friends, receive funds, and shop. When you send money to friends or family, you can include a note and emojis, making it more social and fun to pay friends and family.

Venmo also allows you to set up groups and split bills, whether a dinner bill or collecting the monthly rent. In addition, you can use the funds you receive to transfer to your checking account, buy cryptocurrency, and shop online.

  • Fees: There’s no fee for sending money to people if you use your debit card. If you pay with a credit card, there’s a 3% fee. There’s no fee to shop online.
  • Payment limits: If you have a verified account, you can send up to $60,000 per week and spend up to $7,000. Without a verified account, you’re limited to spending $299.99 per week, which includes person-to-person and online purchases.
  • Transaction types: You can pay friends and shop online where you see the Venmo symbol.
  • Apple store user rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars
  • Google Play user rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

Tip: If you use Venmo often, consider pairing it with the Venmo Credit Card and earn 3% cash back on regular purchases; Venmo updates the cashback categories based on your purchase history.

8. Zelle

zelle

Zelle is an app offered through certain banks that allows you to pay friends and family instantly. The recipient doesn’t need Zelle before you send money, but they must enroll to receive the money. Then, you can send money using their email address or phone number.

Zelle is available in 1,000+ banks and is free to use.

  • Fees: n/a
  • Payment limits: If your bank already offers Zelle, they set the limit. If your bank doesn’t offer it yet, your limit is $500.
  • Transaction types: Pay friends and family for free
  • Apple store user rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
  • Google Play user rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

Are Mobile Payment Apps Safe?

Mobile payment apps are safer than carrying your physical card. It doesn’t use your actual card number for the transaction, so there’s nothing for hackers to steal. Mobile payment apps use encryption and tokenization to keep payment information secure. 

Should You Use More Than One Payment App?

Using multiple payment apps gives you more flexibility when paying friends or family. Since not everyone uses the same app, it’s nice to have options. Most P2P apps are free unless you want instant transfers of money you receive, so there’s no harm in using more than one app.

If you’re using payment apps to pay in-store, it’s best to choose your favorite and stick with it to easily track your purchases.

FAQs

What's the best app to send money to friends?

Venmo is the easiest and friendliest app to send money to friends. It’s a social network that makes it fun to send money, but you can also set your settings to private if you don’t want anyone else to know how much money you send or why.

What is the most popular app?

Venmo, Cash App, and Apple Pay are the most popular payment apps, especially for in-store purchases.

Is society going cashless?

It’s possible society may be mostly cashless in the future. Though it’s difficult to say when. Since the pandemic, many stores already don’t accept cash, and some believe the trend will continue.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t used a payment app before, it may take some time to get used to but the benefits are worth it. Some restaurants are even allowing customers to pay via payment app when the check arrives. It’s a real time-saver and a safer transaction since you don’t have to hand over your credit card.

You can start by choosing an app that’s popular among your friends and family. That way if you ever need to transfer money or split a bill, you have an easy way to get it done.