The Cheapest Ways to Send Money

This illustration describes affordable ways to send money to another person including "PayPal," "Venmo," "Checks," "Google Play," "SquareCash," and "Facebook Messenger."

Britney Willson @ The Balance 

Sending money is easier than ever. Numerous options allow people to transfer funds more or less instantly. Checks and cash have their advantages because people are accustomed to dealing with checks, and everybody knows how to spend cash. However, there are other ways to transfer funds that are safer, faster, and easier to manage. If cost is a priority, consider some of the cheapest ways to send money to another person.


It's free to send money with Venmo, and the app is designed to make it easy to split expenses like meals, rent, and entertainment costs. Venmo, owned by PayPal, pulls funds from your bank account or debit card for free, and you also can pay for free out of any balance stored at Venmo. There's a small charge if you fund the payment with a credit card. In addition to the payment feature, Venmo includes a social element.

You can include a message explaining what each payment is for, and those messages can be posted to a newsfeed visible to friends if you choose. You can comment on other friends' transactions, so the idea is to have fun and see what your friends are up to. Venmo is best used with people you know and trust.

Cash App

Cash App, as the name suggests, is a mobile app that is owned by Square Inc. Like other person-to-person (P2P) payment services, it allows users to send funds instantly via a mobile app. There is no cost to use the service, and it is especially convenient if you want the funds to end up in your checking account anyway because your debit card is linked to your checking account. To use the service, the sender and receiver both need to set up a Cash App account. Once you’re up and running, making a transfer is as easy as sending an email.

Cash App has attempted to separate itself from other competitors by allowing users to make stock purchases, buy bitcoin, and have paychecks direct deposited into their accounts, among other features.


You’re probably used to buying from online merchants with PayPal, but you also can send money to individuals. When making personal payments out of your PayPal balance or linked checking account, PayPal is free. You’ll need to pay a fee if you send from a debit or credit card, and the recipient might pay a fee if the payment is considered a business payment.

What about overseas payments? You can do that, too, but PayPal charges a modest fee to send internationally.

Facebook Messenger

If you spend a lot of time on Facebook, Messenger payments are a convenient and free way to pay friends. To send or request a payment, you'll need to be friends on Facebook, and payments can be made using your browser or the Messenger app. Set up your payment account by adding debit card information or linking it to your PayPal account. Once you're ready to send, start a conversation and select the dollar sign icon ("$").

Funds can be sent through Facebook Messenger only in the U.S.

Google Pay

Google Pay is another free option for personal payments. There’s no charge to send money from your Google Pay account balance, linked checking account, or debit card. For Gmail users, sending money is especially easy. Once the money comes into your Google Pay account, you can send it elsewhere, transfer it to your bank, or use a Google Pay Mastercard for purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Online Bill Pay

If your bank offers online bill payment, you often can make payments for free. Just add a payee using the name and address of the person you want to send money to. It doesn’t have to be a business. Banks generally print and mail a check for you, so you won’t have to pay for postage or dip into your supply of checks. Of course, this is only free if you can avoid paying monthly fees for your checking account, and if your bank truly sends those payments at no charge. Check with your bank or credit union to see what types of features it offers.

Write a Check

For the cost of a stamp, an envelope, and a check, you can send money the old-fashioned way. The total cost is probably less than a dollar, and there’s no need to fiddle with a new online service. If you don’t plan to send money regularly, a check might be an easy one-time solution. If you’re using regular mail, be sure to do it safely, and keep an eye on your checking account to make sure the check made it to the right place.

Bank P2P Payments

There’s a good chance your bank offers a P2P payment service. Most consumers already have access to Zelle in their bank accounts, but check with your bank or credit union to be sure. In many cases, those payments are free, and funds are available almost instantly once you're up and running. If your bank doesn't offer Zelle, you can use the service on your own or see what's available with your bank. Look for an option to “send money to a friend” or similar. Some institutions use ​Popmoney, which also offers inexpensive transfers.

Things to Consider

Most P2P services require both the sender and recipient to have an account. Even if they don't, it's usually easier if both people do. Creating an account is generally easy, but it might be inconvenient or undesirable, particularly for a recipient. Try to find a method that works for both of you. It might not be worth saving $1 if the recipient has to figure out how to create an account and get everything linked, just for a one-time payment.

Such services often limit how much you can send, at least initially. Be aware of daily or monthly maximums and find out what it takes to increase those limits. Some services allow you to send more after you request an increase and provide additional information about yourself.

If you’d like to send money overseas, be sure to research whether or not that’s an option and how much it will cost. PayPal often works for overseas transfers and wire transfers (which cost more) or money orders are also an option.

Article Sources

  1. Venmo. "Make and Share Payments." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  2. Cash App. "How Can We Help You?" Accessed March 13, 2020.

  3. PayPal. "PayPal Fees Are Always Fair." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  4. Messenger. "Conversations Come to Life on Messenger." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  5. Google Pay. "Send Money." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  6. Zelle. "Get Started With Zelle." Accessed March 13, 2020.

  7. Popmoney. "Why Popmoney?" Accessed March 13, 2020.