Whether it’s splitting a tab, paying someone back for a few rounds at the bar, or negotiating six months of electricity bill back payments with your roommates, there isn’t always an easy way to square away your debts with friends. You never want to be that person who breaks out the checkbook at dinner.
But you’re in luck: There are plenty of great digital payment apps that can make your life a lot easier.
The most obvious choice for the job is the PayPal app. Once you sign in to your PayPal account, you can link your card or bank account when prompted. If you want to add a second card, you’ll find the option to do so on the app’s home page. In order to transfer funds to a friend’s account, select the option on the bottom left of the app that says “Send.” If your friend also uses PayPal, you send money using their email address.
However, PayPal knocks you with a 2.9% fee for sending money via a credit or debit card account instead of sending from a PayPal account to a PayPal account. To avoid that fee, check out Venmo, an increasing popular mobile payment app that doesn’t knock you with a fee if you link it with a debit card (using a credit card involves a 3% fee).
When you first open Venmo, you’ll be prompted to enter your bank info — stick with a debit card to avoid that fee. If you give Venmo access to your Facebook friends list, you’ll be able to select from a list of your friends already using Venmo, thanks to integration with Facebook’s social graph. You can also search for people on Venmo who aren’t already your Facebook friends by clicking the new transaction button—the upper rightmost gray button—and then typing a name.
Once you have selected your recipient, you’ll be prompted with a number pad on which you’ll be able to decide how much to transfer. Venmo also lets you request payments from people — say, that roommate who still hasn’t doled out his share of last night’s Thai delivery order. If you have somebody you really trust, like a significant other, you can let them take money from you without asking — sort of like having a joint bank account — but that’s probably not the smartest thing to do with casual friends.
Venmo keeps money you receive in a separate account; you can either hang on to that cash to use via Venmo or “cash out” and have it hit your regular bank account in 24 hours.
It’s worth noting here that Venmo recently had a security scare, but it’s taking steps to address those issues. There are other cash-sending alternatives, too: Mobile messaging app Snapchat recently added “Snapcash,” a payment feature that integrates with Square, while Facebook is rolling out a payment option in its Messenger app as well. Which app you use ultimately depends on which ones most of your friends or roommates are using and which one you feel most comfortable linking to your bank accounts.