The Best Digital Wallets

Updated on May 11th, 2022
eCash

Key Takeaways

  1. All of these digital wallets will work with most bank accounts. With any of these, you can easily send money to and from friends
  2. Popular digital wallets, such as Samsung Pay, can be used to make payments at retailer locations, or online purchases
  3. Most wallets will charge a deposit fee. Others, like Venmo, will allow for transfers for free
  4. Our top pick is PayPal because of its ease of use and prevention of fraud.

It finally appears that people have warmed up to the idea of digital wallets. Whether it’s because they’re aware of how secure, fast, and convenient they are, the mobile digital wallet industry is expected to boom. We can thank the following best digital wallets of 2021 for leading the charge forward.

The Best Digital Wallets of 2021

Cash App

Cash App was released in 2014 and allows users to make contactless buyers with their iPhone or iPad, only with the iPhone 6 or newer. This digital wallet stores your credit and debit card information, like many other digital wallets. However, this info is converted into tokens that only can be accessed with your fingerprint. In other words, it’s one of the most secure wallets available.

Cash App also has another product appropriately called Wallet. This handy app stores everything from boarding passes, concert and movie tickets, loyalty cards, and coupons.

Pros:

Cash App will work with the majority of debit and credit cards; you’ll be able to send and receive money from friends, purchase cryptocurrencies, or even donate to charitable causes. When transferring money to a bank account, the process can take from 2-3 days, which is pretty standard across the industry. Additionally you can invest in stocks and bitcoin through the app easily. Cash app allows you to create a customizable, fee-free debit card. You can use it anywhere and everywhere to get instant discounts on everyday spending.  Lastly, with Cash app you can receive recurring paychecks up to 2 days early.

Cons:

While Cash App is great, be prepared to spend some cash on fees. If you want to have an instant deposit, the deposit fee will range from 0.5% to 1.75%, but will arrive instantly on your debit card. If you are sending money via credit card to Cash App, a 3% fee will be added on to your total as well.

Google Wallet

Up until 2016, Google Wallet was a mobile app. It’s now a web app that allows you to send money to anyone the US by using just an email address or phone number directly from your debit card, bank account, or Wallet Balance. Transfers occur in just a couple of minutes and you’ll need your Google Payments PIN to access funds.

Pros:

Google Wallet is a server-side wallet; that means that users information is stored on Google’s system. Users can transfer as many funds as they would like to the wallet and can use it however they would like. It’s essentially like any other debit card you would have. However, Google wallet’s support for the app itself isn’t the best. To get around this, you can get a physical card instead that is accepted anywhere where the merchant accepts debit Mastercard. Nowadays Google wallet is focused on peer-to-peer payments.

Cons:

Google Wallet’s fees are a little different than Cash Apps. Credit fees can be up to 4%, and debit fees will either be 1.5%, or $0.31, whichever is greater. There is no bank transfer fee, and you can withdraw money in around 1-3 business days. Google wallet may not be for everyone, but it integrates beautifully with other Google products.

Android Pay

Android Pay is Google’s secure and fast in-store smartphone payment option that’s built right into the operating system. Like most other mobile wallets, Android Pay relies on NFC technology to enable payments by tapping a phone to a NFC-enabled terminal. What makes Android Pay appealing is that Walgreen’s has launched a loyalty program for Android Pay users and you can now order and pay for food through Grubhub.

Pros:

Android Pay can handle multiple cards, and will allow you to choose which one you’d like to use. If that’s too much of a hassle and you really only you one card, you can you can set that one card as your default card. This way, you won’t have to think twice and can save some time with quick mobile payments. You should be able to use Android Pay at most merchant locations as well. If you’re looking to make payments on your phone, you can set up Android Pay to make those purchases, and you won’t have to re-enter the card information each time. Android Pay is a little different than Google wallet. Google Wallet is focused mainly on peer-to-peer payments, while Android pay is mostly for sending and receiving money with the absence of fees.

Cons:

There’s no charge when sending or receiving money. However, there is a 1.5% fee (or a minimum of 31 cents) for debit card transfers into or out of the account. Like most other digital wallets, transferring funds can take 1-3 business days, but an instant transfer will come with a fee.

Samsung Pay

Launched in 2015, Samsung Pay does something that no other digital wallet does; it utilizes both NFC and MST technologies. This means that you can make contactless payments at NFC-enabled terminals and traditional magnetic stripe terminals. Besides being able to store your credit and debit cards, you can also store gift cards, rewards cards, and memberships.

Pros:

Samsung pay is super easy to setup and will work at every location that accepts credit cards in the United States and abroad. If you have a Samsung Smartwatch, you can even pay with that. Additionally, you can manage your money account pretty easily. Samsung even has its own reward system for purchases. This service has no fee, and you can even get a whopping 30% on Samsung products, which can really add up if you’re in the market for a new phone or home appliances. You also will get Samsung rewards points, which you can then redeem into cold hard cash.

Cons:

Samsung pay is really only about mobile purchases. There is no actual website you can go to to make or manage payments. This may not seem like a big deal, but all of their competitors like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, and others all let you pay from the world wide web. In fact, you’re not even able to see your account online. For some, this may not be a big deal, but for others, this could be a deal-breaker.

PayPal

PayPal is one of the oldest, and most widely used, digital wallets. It’s been used to make payments online and transfer funds between other parties with relative ease. Paypal is available for both Android and iOS users.

PayPal has stepped up its game after signing agreements with Mastercard and card processor First Data. This allows customers to have the option of paying with the PayPal app, which is the same process as tap-to-pay options like Apple Pay, or swiping a PayPal Mastercard to make purchases in-store.

Pros:

Paypal is super easy to use and is a great way to send money to friends, family, or others. You’ll also never have to worry about security, as the company goes to great measures to prevent fraud. If, somehow, your pay for a purchase that ends up being a fraud, the company can help you get your money back. Your bank and credit card information will also be encrypted, and you won’t see any fees when sending money to friends, family, or others.

Cons:

Paypal is great for sending money to friends and family, but if you are looking to make a business transaction, you will be charged some fees. Like most other digital wallets, you’ll be charged for instant transfers, but not for transfers taking 1-3 business days. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, Paypal is quick to freeze accounts. If you account gets frozen, you have to somehow prove that you have done nothing wrong. Until then, you won’t have access to any of the money being transferred to your account or in your account.

Venmo

Speaking of PayPal, the company also owns Venmo, which is arguably the most popular peer-to-peer payment apps out there. Simply link a credit card, debit card or checking account and start paying back your friends. You can also receive payments too. Venmo uses data encryption to protect your financial information and you can even share your transactions with a message on Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare. Bank and debit card transfers are free, but card fees are 2.9 percent.

Pros:

Venmo offers a quick, convenient, free way to send money from a bank account or debit card. There are some fees when it comes to credit card payments, although these are typically quite low. You can pay for various purchases at certain business, and you can even get your own Venmo debit card or credit card. What makes Venmo unique, however, is the social element. You can see messages attached to payments, with the option of adding likes, comments, and other fun things. This may not be a big deal for some, but others find that it makes the whole process a bit more fun.

Cons:

While the social element is great, it should be known that all payments are public by default. You can make privacy changes to make it so payments are only visible to your friends or the Venmo recipient. While this is a step in the right direction, this can be frustrating if you like to keep your personal finances to yourself. Also, you can’t cancel payments on Venmo. If you need the money back, you have to ask the recipient for the cash back rather than doing it through the app. On top of that, you won’t be able to make international transactions, and Venmo is a popular platform amongst scammers.

Alipay

As a part of the giant Alibaba, it’s no surprise that this is China’s leading third-party payment solution and digital wallet. In 2016 though, Alipay moved beyond mainland China and arrived in Europe, mainly for Chinese tourists to make in-store payments and receive offers. For businesses situated in a city that’s a popular tourist destination, or if your business has an online store that caters to overseas customers, then it’s definitely worth giving Alipay a try.

Pros:

Alipay will protect your personal data makes the payment procedure easy and simple.

Cons:

Alipay has detailed records of all their users spending. This includes purchases, investments, and how much money they currently hold. Financial fraud is also quite present on Alipay.

Walmart Pay

Released during the summer of 2016, Walmart’s mobile wallet uses QR codes, as opposed to tap-to-pay that relies on NFC-technology. This wallet is compatible with Android and Apple phones and can also be used to organize Walmart gift cards, create shopping lists, store your Walmart receipts, refill your prescriptions,, and even find an item’s location inside your preferred store.

Pros:

Walmart Pay works with major credit card companies, and you won’t have to worry about your data getting stolen. To use it, you download the app, scan your items at the checkout area, and pay on the app. This makes the process much easier and can save you some time. You can use it with any card that is saved to your Walmart account, or use Walmart gift cards.

Cons:

The biggest limitation of Walmart Pay is that you can only use it at Walmart. It also can’t be used to directly connect with a bank account, and won’t give cash bank rewards either. While Walmart Pay makes the Walmart experience much better, it is quite limited.

Dwolla

Next on our list of best digital wallets for 2021 is Dwolla. Dwolla provides a digital payment network that can transfer money between U.S. bank accounts and credit unions simply by using their e-mail address or a phone number. There’s also a digital wallet feature to store personal and payment information so that transactions can occur within a day. This makes sending and receiving payments, paying employees, setting up recurring payments/billing a breeze. There are no transaction fees and with Dwolla’s intuitive API, you can tailor fit the program so that it fits your specific needs.

Pros:

Dwolla is great for businesses looking for bank-transfer payments. They work with all US banks and credit unions, and can easily integrate with apps like Slack, Plaid, Sift Science, QuickBOoks. Dwolla offers flexibility to provide what is best for their user. You can set a contract with them, or pay as you go. Dwolla is also well known for strong customer support. Transaction fees are low, and they also are a white-labeled service.

Cons:

If you’re not looking to sign a contract, there will always be a 0.5% fee per transfer if you choose to pay as you go. Additionally, they do not offer any credit card transactions, just ACH payments. You can use Dwolla as a credit card payment processor, but alternatives may be a better option.

Vodafone M-Pesa

M-Pesa is a mobile payment platform that is primarily used in Africa, particularly in Kenya, and can be used by iOS and Android users. The mobile service allows users to place money on deposits and withdraw the funds, transfer money to other users, pay bills, and purchase mobile operator services. Transaction fees between unregistered users costs approximately 101-500 Kshs, which is equal to $1-5 and 27 Kshs for registered.

Pros:

M-Pesa is connecting the world’s unbanked, especially in Kenya’s poorer population. Like many others, it’s easy to use and has tight security. What makes M-Pensa unique, however, is that it helps governments to acquire taxes and distribute social security payments. It also will enable charities and other non-government organizations to various beneficiaries

Cons:

M-Pensa relies very heavily on telecom and internet connectivity; that’s great but it doesn’t work super well in certain parts of Africa. Additionally, they are vulnerable to fraud and online scams. They acknowledge this, and are taking steps to move in the right direction.

Chalmers Brown - Former CTO of Due

Chalmers Brown - Former CTO of Due

I'm Chalmers Brown and former CTO of Due. I'm a big fan of technology and building financial products that help people better their lives. I have a passion for financial products that help people. I build complex financial infrastructure protocols that help scale financial companies. They are secure and support millions of customers worldwide.

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