Popmoney Sends Money From Bank to Bank

Inexpensive, but not Perfect

Dollar sign on Circuit Board
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Popmoney is a payment service that moves money electronically from one bank account to another. It was originally designed for payments between friends and family, and Popmoney for Small Business allows businesses to use the service as well. The service is legitimate — but as with all forms of payment, it’s important to verify that you’re not being scammed before you send money.

The good: Popmoney is an inexpensive way to move money.

The fee structure is fairly straightforward, and it might even be free to use. Popmoney might be part of your bank account, so no signup is needed.

The not-so-great: Popmoney can be frustrating to some users who complain about problems with transfers. If you can’t afford to be without funds for several days or more, use Popmoney with caution. Fees are low, but there may also be less expensive options — especially if you’re making personal payments (PayPal, Venmo, or Square Cash may be suitable alternatives).

Popmoney Basics

Electronic transfers: Popmoney moves funds directly from one bank to another bank using the Automated Clearing House  (ACH) network. Unlike other forms of payment (like PayPal or Vemo), you don’t have a Popmoney account that holds a balance — the money is always in the sender or recipient’s bank. Payments can be made to an individual using their email address or mobile number.

An option for payment: With electronic payments, there’s no need to carry cash or write a check. If you’re out with friends, one person can cover the bill and pay their share electronically (as opposed to everybody getting change for a $20 bill or handing over a stack of credit cards). One person can pay, possibly earn rewards on their credit card, and get reimbursed electronically.

If you’re the one receiving payments, you don’t have to cash a check, make change for friends, or hope that people will pay you back eventually.

Personal payments: The ideal use of Popmoney is to send funds to somebody you know and trust (or to receive payment). Some businesses have business accounts with Popmoney, and others use a personal account “informally” to accept business payments. Just be aware that if you use the personal service for business payments, you might not have all of the consumer protections you’re accustomed to. You might be comfortable paying your landlord or your babysitter, but buying goods online is risky.

Processing time: Payments with Popmoney take several business days. In most cases, that’s fine. However, there have been complaints about frozen payments and seemingly endless wait times. Especially if it’s your first time using the service, avoid making any time-sensitive payments. Once you’ve sent and received funds a few times (and successfully set up your accounts), you’ll get a feel for the timing, and you can avoid unpleasant surprises. Most complaints about Popmoney refer to money being locked up for longer than expected – neither the sender nor the receiver can access the funds (but things get resolved eventually).

Payments funded with a debit card are the fastest, and they may be in the receiver’s bank account within one business day.

Availability: Popmoney is automatically included with bank accounts in many banks and credit unions. If your bank already has a relationship with Popmoney, you can send and receive funds while logged into your accounts. If your bank does not currently offer Popmoney, you can still use the service (for sending and receiving) at Popmoney.com.

Cost: Receiving a payment is generally free — unless you requested the payment through Popmoney. At Popmoney.com, it costs $0.95 to send money. Banks and credit unions have their own fee schedules, so check with them if Popmoney is part of the account offering. At most institutions, transaction costs are around one dollar (or free).

If You Received a Payment

When somebody pays you using Popmoney, you’ll get a message (by text or email) explaining that you’ve received a payment.

If you’ve never used the service before, you’ll have to provide instructions on where Popmoney should send the money. 

Again, if your bank uses Popmoney, the process is simple: Just claim the funds while you’re logged in to your bank account. If not, you’ll need to provide bank account and routing information at Popmoney.com.

Unless you initiated the transaction by requesting money, there should not be a cost to pick up the funds (although your bank or credit union may charge a fee).

Sending Money

You can make payment using your bank’s website or mobile application, or you can use Popmoney.com (and Popmoney’s app). Log in to the secure area of your bank’s website and look for links to “Popmoney,” “Pay a person,” “P2P Payments,” or similar. If your bank does not have a relationship with Popmoney, you’ll need to set up your own account directly with Popmoney. You can also use a debit card (which will pull funds from your checking account) to set up the payment.

Sending money is generally inexpensive — either free or around one dollar per payment, depending on your bank.

To make a payment, you’ll need to provide information about the recipient. It’s easiest to use an email address or mobile phone number, but you can provide the recipient’s bank account and routing information if you have it. If you make a mistake, payments can be canceled before they’ve been processed, but you generally can’t reverse a payment.

Is Popmoney Safe?

Popmoney is a legitimate payment service – that’s often a surprise to people who have never heard of it and receive money or requests from friends.

However, there’s always a chance that you’ll get a fake email from your “friend,” which takes you to an impostor website designed to steal your information (and money). If you get an unexpected message, use extra caution — verify with your friend before clicking on anything. Be sure that you only access the service at the official Popmoney website or through a secure area in your bank’s website.

Making purchases with Popmoney can be risky.

There is no “buyer protection” at Popmoney, so you’re on your own if you don’t get what you expected – or if the goods never arrive at all. Alternatives like credit or debit cards (preferably credit cards for safety) and PayPal offer more protection. Popmoney has been used in scams on popular online auction sites (similar to Venmo).

Sharing Account Information

When sending or receiving funds, you don’t need to share your bank account information with anybody (your routing and account numbers) — everybody can use email addresses or phone numbers. On the other hand, when you write a check (or endorse one that was written to you), others may be able to see sensitive account information and copy your signature. As a result, Popmoney can offer some privacy.

If your bank uses Popmoney, your account is automatically ready to send and receive payments. However, if you pay somebody who does not use a bank that works with Popmoney, your payee will need to provide their bank account information to Popmoney — and not everybody wants to do that. Likewise, if you’ve received a payment and you have a non-Popmoney bank account, you’ll need to provide that information to collect the payment — again, make sure you only do so at the real Popmoney.com website.

To send and receive money without providing your bank account and routing numbers, you can always try Square Cash, which uses debit card numbers instead. Also, there are many other ways to send money to another individual electronically —and you might already have an account with one of those services. For example, many people already have PayPal accounts and use them regularly. See how Popmoney compares to PayPal.