Consumer IQ

Friends Owe You Money? Apps to Help You Get Paid Back

Say you and a bunch of your friend want to go to a concert together. You need to buy the tickets in one batch to get adjacent seats, so you step up to the plate and throw down your credit card.

You think to yourself, “Boy, I was so generous, they’ll definitely have the appreciation to remember AND the respect to pay me back right away the next time I see them so that I don’t have to awkwardly hound them for the hard earned cash that is rightfully mine.”

Not so fast, bucko.

The problem is that we live in a society where there are monetary exchanges going on multiple times per day for everyone. And at the same time we are overwhelmed by the media, by advertising, by work, and everything else. It’s hard to remember to pay people back. Even if your friends do remember, there will still be a few jerks out there who never intended to pay you back unless you shake it out of them.

So how do you get your money back without looking like a desperate, distrustful, selfish jerk yourself? That is what we are all afraid of, after all. That and the painful awkwardness. Luckily, there are a few web services and mobile apps out there today that can help us do the dirty work.

 

Venmo

  • -One-Time Fees: None
  • -Service Fees: None
  • -Mobile Apps: Android, iPhone
  • -Overview: Venmo is the only peer-to-peer payment system that is completely free. No transaction fees, even for debit and credit card payments (which has to make one wonder how Venmo stays in business and when the catch will come). You link either a credit card or a bank account up to your phone number and the rest is magic. Enjoy Venmo while it’s free, hopefully it stays that way!

Paypal

  • -One-Time Fees: None
  • -Service Fees: None with bank account, fees with credit card
  • -Mobile Apps? Android, iPhone, Blackberry
  • -Overview: Paypal has become a bit synonymous with fees. However, that’s not the case with their person-to-person payments service – if your friend has a bank account, that is. You choose how much the person your billing owes you, Paypal emails and/or sends a note to that person’s Facebook wall. That person then logs in to their Paypal account (or creates one) and sends the payment. You choose whether you or they pay any associated credit card fees, but there are no fees bank transfers.

WePay

  • -One-Time Fees: None
  • -Service Fees: 3.5 percent or $0.50 (whichever is greater) for credit card, $0.50 for ACH Transfer
  • -Mobile Apps: N/A
  • -Overview: WePay is very similar to PayPal, but with a cleaner, more-intuitive interface and some enhanced features, including the ability to set up ticketing events and donation campaigns with their own unique homepage. You will pay for the added functionality to the tune of $0.50 for ACH bank transfers or 3.5% for credit card fees. One big downside: no mobile functionality, so you cannot bill your friends on the spot – often the best time to do it.

GoPayment

  • -One-Time Fees: None
  • -Service Fees: 2.7 percent per transaction if you use the free card swipe reader, 3.7 percent for manual entries. For those accepting lots of transactions, there’s a pricing plan.
  • -Mobile Apps: Available for iPhone, Android, iPad and Blackberry.
  • -Overview: Intuit (the owner of Mint.com) has a suite of payment-processing products, including GoPayment, an easy-to-use mobile app and card reader that’s appropriate for either small business or individual use (even Girl Scouts have used it to take payment for their cookie sales).  Since there’s no contract or fee for the card reader, it’s a good option for people who may only need to take payments on an occasional basis.

Square

  • -One-Time Fees: None
  • -Service Fees: 2.75 percent with reader, 3.75 percent + ) $0.15 per transaction when card is entered manually.
  • -Mobile Apps: Android, iPhone
  • -Overview: Square is positioning themselves for business use, however, their service could be used for person-to-person payments as well. You get mailed a free card reader that you plug in to your phone, after signing up for the service (which is free). From there, it’s a flat 2.75 percent fee for collecting the payment via the reader. If you enter a card number manually, it is 3.75 percent plus $0.15 per transaction. A bit steep, if you ask me, but it is an alternative to get people to pay right on the spot what they owe you if they haven’t got cash or a check. If you want to be a real stickler with your friends, just add on the service fees on top of what they owe you!

Share-A-Bill

  • -One-Time Fees: $3.99
  • -Service Fees: None
  • -Mobile Apps: iPhone
  • -Overview: Whereas all of the other services on this list are ways to actually collect payment, Share-A-Bill is a little more subtle. It’s positioned more as a travel app that allows you to expense out all shared costs, work in currency exchange (for traveling), figure out who owes what, and then email out a report afterwards. It is not a payment collection service, on its own. If you have good trust with your friends, that might not be a bad thing. Unfortunately, it’s only available as an iPhone app at this point.

Looking for other great personal finance apps? Check out this list of the best free financial calculator apps or best Android personal finance apps. And, you can always download the Mint Android and iPhone apps for free.

G.E. Miller is the author of 20somethingfinance.com ñ recently voted as the best money blog for twenty-somethings by Kiplinger. Financial independence is his goal and passion.