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Square Cash for sending money: How it stacks up against rivals

Online payments company Square introduced a new service this week called Square Cash that makes it easy for users to send money to their friends using nothing but email or an app.

Square isn't the first company to release a service like this, but Square Cash might be the simplest one to use yet.

Others in the market include Google Wallet, PayPal and Venmo. Here's how the four compare.

Square Cash

Using Square Cash is as easy as sending an email. Users simply open a new email and write the address for the user they want to pay in the recipient field, include cash@square.com in the CC line, and write "$" followed by the amount they want to send in the subject line.

After sending the payment, they'll receive an email from Square with a link to a page where they are asked for the information for the debit card they want to use to fund the payment. Once that's done, the recipients will receive a similar email asking for their debit card information, which Square Cash uses to transfer the funds to the correct bank account.

With Square Cash, there are no fees and funds are transfered directly into users' accounts, although it takes one to two business days for them money to show up. The service works with any email client, and Apple and Android users can also download the Square Cash app to make the process of sending funds even easier.

Users can send up to $250 per week without giving Square anything besides their debit card information. Users need to provide their full name, phone number, date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security number or by providing their phone number and linking their Facebook account to increase their weekly limit to $2,500, according to Square.

Google Wallet

Earlier this year, Google also made it possible for some users to send each other money over email, using Gmail and Google Wallet.

Users simply compose an email using the Gmail desktop website and click on the attachment option. Instead of attaching a photo, users click the dollar sign and are then prompted to enter the amount they want to send.

If users connect their Google Wallet account with their bank account, money is free to send. If not, payments can be sent by linking users' credit or debit cards, but a 2.9% fee per transaction will be applied.

However, users who need to send a lot of money will like Google Wallet because it allows them to send up to $50,000 per five day periods.

The money can be sent to anyone, even those without Gmail, but to receive and withdraw the money, recipients must also have a Google Wallet account or they must set one up. Once the funds are received, users can withdraw the amount and transfer it to their bank account -- the process usually takes two days.

Users can also send money using the Google Wallet smartphone app.

Venmo

Social users may prefer Venmo, an app for Apple iOS and Android devices.

Venmo lets users send money quickly to their friends who are also on the app. Transfers are free as long as users connect their accounts with their bank accounts or debit cards (Venmo says most debit cards are accepted).

Using a credit card imposes a 3% fee per transaction. Users can send up to $3,000 per week using Venmo.

Once a payment is received, users can withdraw it to their bank account. Venmo says cash-outs usually take one to two days. If somebody owes you money, Venmo can also be used to charge them. That'll cause Venmo to notify your slow-paying friend that they owe you money.

Users can make their payments visible to anyone, just their friends or keep private. Dollar amounts aren't visible to others, but the reason for the payment is -- such as an owed meal or drink. Many users like sharing their payments, letting other friends "like" or comment on the transaction.

PayPal

If you've ever shopped online, you're likely familiar with PayPal. The online payments service can also be used to pay friends, either through its website or its smartphone app.

Users can both send and request money, by typing in the email address for their friend who owes or is owed a payment. Once the transaction is accepted, it goes through and is received on the other users' PayPal account.

Transfers are free if the sender's PayPal account is connected to his or her bank account. If not, a debit or credit card must be linked to the account and a fee is applied. The fee is 2.9% per transaction plus $0.30.

PayPal users can send up to $10,000 per transaction. However, they are only allowed to withdraw up to $500 per month from their accounts.

Conclusion

Each of these services get the job done, especially if you connect them with your bank account. But if you don't care about tying the service to a social network, you don't want to create another online account, and you don't want to worry about fees, Square Cash is the way to go.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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