Square Cash Review

Pros and Cons of Sending Money (or Getting Paid) with Square Cash

Contactless payment with mobile phone at the coffee bar
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It seems like it should be easy to send cash electronically, but until now that hasn’t been the case. Square Cash, for better or worse, makes the process as simple as sending an email or typing your card number into a simple Web page.

Pros: free for consumers and very easy to use.

Cons: almost too easy to use – although you don’t hear many reports of fraud – and limited options for customer service in those rare cases when something goes wrong.

How Square Cash Works

There are several ways to use Square cash:

The app is easy to use. Just follow the prompts, which ask you to enter an amount and basic contact information of the person you're sending to or receiving from. You can use phone numbers, email addresses, or $Cashtags (branded usernames specific to Square Cash).

To use Square Cash with email, simply create an email to the person or business that you want to send money to. Funds come from your checking account via your debit card, and payment goes to the recipient’s debit card. The process is simple:

  • Create an email to whoever you want to pay
  • Write the dollar amount of your payment in the subject line
  • Send a “carbon copy” (Cc:) of the message to Cash@Square.com so they’ll know you’re trying to make a payment
  • If you like, you can write whatever you want in the message body (or you can just leave it blank)
  • Send the email

If it’s your first time using the service, you’ll get an email from Square Cash asking you to provide your debit card number.

The same is true for your payee. After about two business days, the funds will arrive in the payee’s checking account.

Cash.me allows Square Cash payments from any secure web browser. Go to the Cash.me site for the person or business you want to pay (using their $Cashtag after a slash), enter a card number, security code, and payment amount – and you're done.

The Appeal of Square Cash

There are a number of P2P payment services out there, so what makes Square Cash appealing to its users? It’s currently the simplest and least expensive way to make payments:

  • There are no fees to use Square Cash (at least for personal payments; businesses pay 1.5% to receive payments)
  • There’s no need to install an app or any software, nor do you need to link to social networks
  • No need to create an account and keep track of a new username and password (although you can create an account for additional features, which is a good idea if you want to keep your account secure)
  • Doesn’t require any special device with the latest technology
  • You just provide your debit card number, which is probably available in your pocket – no need to dig up bank account numbers and routing numbers

Business Use

Square Cash started as a P2P service, but businesses can also use the service using Cash for Business. $Cashtags, while available to everybody, are geared towards business users. The cost to receive payments as a business is 2.75% (up from 1.5% originally). If you like Square Cash for personal use, sign up for a separate business account (and use the personal account for personal payments so you don’t have to pay business fees).

If you want to give your customers one more way to pay, Square Cash for Business might do the trick. They can use their own device, or type in their card number on a device you provide (assuming they trust you) to complete payment. No cash, checks, or change required.

Personal accounts are monitored for heavy or unusual activity. Some customers report having their personal account converted to a business account if Square suspects you’re conducting business.

Potential Pitfalls

Square Cash’s simplicity is great, but it comes at a cost. Be aware of the following issues so that your experience with the service is as smooth as possible (or maybe you’ll decide to use a different service):

Email security: any email sent from your address (or that appears to have come from your address – hackers can trick email systems) will pull funds from your checking account.

It’s essential to password protect any device with access to your email accounts, keep your virus protection up to date, and keep an eye out for strange transactions in your bank account. It's also a good idea to set Square Cash to ask for the 3 digit security code from the back of your card for every payment.

Availability: Square Cash is a fairly new service, and most people will have no problem using it, but it’s not available for certain people. Service is available within most of the United States, but overseas payments are not allowed. In addition, you’ll need a “real” debit card (MasterCard or Visa only) that’s linked to a checking account; prepaid debit cards and ATM cards won’t work. If you need a card, see Where and How to Get Debit Cards.

Customer Service: it’s not yet clear what to expect from Square Cash in terms of customer service. This is a technology company that has done some interesting things to make payments easier. The service is designed to run with minimal human involvement, and some customers have had a hard time getting answers when they encounter the occasional (but inevitable) hiccup.

Limits: Square Cash allows you to send up to $250 per week, and you can receive up to $1,000 per week. If you want to go above those limits (sending up to $2,500, for example), things get a little less simple: you’ll have to provide more personal information and possibly link Square Cash to your Facebook account.

One card per email: you can only link one debit card to your email address. Of course, you might have multiple email addresses, so it’s not too hard to use different debit cards for different payments. If you want to change the card linked to your email address, you can create an account and make changes online.

Privacy: Square Cash asks for a lot more information than you need to provide when you pay with a debit card. I was required to verify my account for a payment under $200. To get verified, you have two choices: verify by providing personal information, or connect with Facebook. You'll need to provide the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, and Square Cash wants your date of birth. If you verify with Facebook, Square Cash gets access to your friends list, your likes, and your date of birth (and you'll still need to provide the last 4 digits of your SSN).

Customer Service Options

Square Cash offers a pretty bare-bones service, but it does what most people need (and does it well). If you have any problems, there are a few ways to solve them.

Contact support: you can’t call anybody, but you can send messages to Square Cash’s support team to resolve any issues you’re having.

Mistakes making payments: if you made a mistake, you can cancel payments as long as the recipient hasn’t yet redeemed the payment, or you can dispute the payment with Square Cash. Payments are received automatically by recipients that have previously provided debit card information to Square Cash, but if you send an email to the wrong address (and that address is not set up with Square Cash), you might be able to cancel the payment.

Dispute payments: if any unauthorized charges appear in your bank account, contact your bank immediately to get full protection under federal law. It’s also a good idea to let Square Cash know that you’re disputing the charge.

Keep track: to keep tabs on any Square Cash activity, you can sign up for text message alerts. To do this, you’ll need to create an account and turn on text alerts.

Use a bank account: if you prefer to use a bank account instead of a debit card, you can do so. However, you can only receive payments; you'll need a debit card to send payments.

Alternatives

Of course, Square Cash isn't the only way to send money. Alternative P2P payment options include PayPal, Popmoney, Google Wallet, and several other cheap ways to send funds.

Venmo is one of the most popular P2P payment methods, but that popularity has attracted scammers.