More than two months after Apple debuted iOS 11, one the features teased for the update has finally rolled out: Apple Pay Cash. This peer to peer payment service — akin to Square Cash or Venmo — allows users to send money via iMessage (or even ask Siri to do it) and store money in their Wallet. From there, the funds can either be transferred to your bank account or spent at retailers that accept Apple Pay. All that sounds pretty straightforward, but there are some wonky aspects of this new service you should be aware of, including how you can avoid paying fees.
How to Setup an Apple Pay Cash Account
First off all, in order to utilize Apple Pay Cash, you’ll need to be running iOS 11.2. If you haven’t yet updated, you can go to Settings > General > Software Update to download and install the new version. After that, you should have an Apple Pay Cash card show up in your Wallet. Tapping the ‘i’ icon in the lower right corner will then present with options to add money to your account, add your bank account information for outbound transfers, and have it automatically accept payments. You can also update your billing address from this page if you need to.
What’s kind of odd about the “Add Money” option is that you can only load amounts over $10. Additionally, it seems that only debit cards are accepted for this part of the process. The reason this is strange is because it’s unnecessary — you can send any amount of money (between $1 and $3,000) on a per case basis without having a prior balance on your Apple Pay Cash card.
Like I just mentioned, you don’t really need to preload money onto your Apple Pay Cash account in order to send it out. Instead, you can simply tap the App Store icon in iMessage (note: the recipient must also have iOS 11.2 and have Apple Pay Cash set up) and select how much you’d like to send. You can use the plus and minus buttons to increase your total by whole numbers or tap the number in the center to launch a keypad and type in exact amounts. Once that’s done, just tap either “pay” or “request” and a card with that dollar amount will load in your message draft.
Tapping “send” will then prompt you to select which card you’d like to charge (assuming you’re sending money and not requesting) and have you verify the transaction using Touch ID — or, presumably, Face ID if you’re an iPhone X user. This is where the fees could possibly come in.
Apple Pay Cash fees and how to avoid them
If there’s a downside to Apple Pay Cash, it’s that it does charge fees in some cases. Should you select to send money using a credit card, Apple will tack on a 3% to the transaction, effectively negating any rewards you were likely to receive. However, this fee is waived if you’re using a debit card. Therefore, if you plan on using this service often, I’d highly recommend adding your debit card to your Wallet.
With your transaction verified, your funds will be sent. You can also add a note to the transaction, which will display in a cool, black background in iMessage. If the recipient has selected to automatically approve payments, it will go through instantly. Otherwise, you may see “pending” displayed on the card. You can also check up on the transaction status and view a history of money you’ve sent, received, and transferred to your bank by going back to the info page in Wallet and tapping “Transactions” at the top.
How to Use Apple Pay Cash Funds
While I haven’t played around with Apple Pay Cash too much yet, I did experiment with sending money back to my bank account. To do this, all I needed to do was enter and confirm my routing and account numbers. With that set up, cashing out was a snap and the funds appeared in my account nearly instantly (although they may take a few days to fully clear).
The other option you have is to merely spend your funds like you would with regular Apply Pay. Although I have yet to try this out for myself, this is a feature that separates the service from similar apps and may be a factor in some users’ decision to make the switch.
Overall, Apple Pay Cash seems like a nice addition to iOS. That said, I do find it odd that there are different rules for adding funds than there are for sending money on the fly. Furthermore, if you plan on using the service, be sure to avoid tapping your credit cards and spending an extra 3% on your transactions. But, with a debit card loaded and a contacts list full of iOS-using friends, Apple Pay Cash could be a convenient P2P option for you.