What the hell is a Venmo? Who is Cash App? Where is Zelle Pay?

You’ve moved here and you’ve worked out how to setup your Social Security Number and your bank account, you’ve worked out tipping, and you even have an apartment… But people keep asking if they can “Venmo you” money!?

The biggest surprise when I moved to New York and the United States was the fact that some things I took for granted had completely disappeared. Sure, there’s gigabit internet throughout the city, and WiFi in every park, but banking was one area where it felt like I had been transported back into the Middle Ages.

Cheques Checks exist, for starters. If you want to pay your accountant, or to the State, there is no BSB or Account Number listed at the bottom of an invoice, only an address. You then probably have to wander off to the bank and have them prepare a few checks for you and Google “how to write a check” (ok, maybe that was just me).

But for transferring money between friends, surely this isn’t the way!? Don’t worry, it’s not.

Enter, Venmo

Venmo is a PayPal service which was created to fix this issue when you want to transfer money between friends and is basically a standard for living in the States and especially in New York.

For iOS users: You will first need to change your phone to be in a US region (which requires US banking details – click here for help), however, it’s quite easy.

Once you install and setup the app, you will see what is effectively a mini social media for transferring money to friends. You each have a username (I’m @AmericaJosh in case you feel like testing the “Send Money” function), and you can send or request money to and from each other.

You connect up your bank account, it pulls money directly from it, and sends it to your friend. You maintain a balance inside Venmo for this purpose and then can move the money back to your bank if you want to pull it out as cash.

Enter, the Cash App

So here’s where the Cash App has a little bit of an advantage. With the Cash App, you get a card with it. So it works just like Venmo except you can actually spend the money from your balance in a store, and you can also use the card at an ATM! Again, you have a username, but with this one there’s less social media and more just sharing money (I’m $AmericaJosh on here, too).

Another advantage over Venmo is that they just introduced “Boosts” so if you use the card at a store you’re boosting at you get a discount (e.g. $1 off every coffee store, or 15% off at Shake Shack).

In addition to all of that, if you sign up for the CashApp and use this link, I get $5, and so do you! For free!

Finally, what’s Zelle?

So to round all of this out, there’s Zelle, which is the bank’s response (yeaaaars later) to Venmo and the Cash App. It’s the ability to transfer money between customers interbank and intrabank. It’s just got a funny name so that they can brand the whole idea.

This one is all done through your banking app, and it will probably be labeled with something like “Quickpay with Zelle”. This should be a free transfer between your friends, without the need for a third party app… No $5 here, sorry.

Questions? Thoughts? How’s my driving? Let me know!

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One Comment

  1. Lewis Tulley

    Useful article!

    One other thing I have found in regards to checks is that, once you go to a bank and ask for a certified bank check (i.e. for a deposit on an apartment), the cash comes right out of your bank. If you then don’t end up using the check for any reason (i.e. you can’t agree on broker fees with the estate agent), to get the money back you need to have the agent give you the check back, then physically deposit it at the bank (not through the ATM – in the actual bank).

    Ouch!

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