Over the course of your travels, you will need to pay for goods and services. You will also need to receive payment, whether it’s from clients or friends when going out to dinner.
Why Use So Many Apps?
Not all payment systems are available everywhere so you’ll need flexibility if you want to pay/receive funds without the hassle of constantly using cash, which is often impractical. For example paying my rent in cash can require multiple trips to the ATM which have long lines, withdrawal limits and are often out of money (looking at you, PDC).
While are some very strong opinions about PayPal, mostly about their practice of freezing accounts, there is no denying there huge presence in this space.. It is a convenient method of receiving payment and I use it when clients aren’t able/willing to pay using Wise or Venmo. However, I never keep more then a few hundred dollars in the account and primarily use it for online shopping and auto-paying a few charities that I support.
A subsidiary of PayPal, Venmo is my primary tool of choice when paying my US-based friends. Getting a check split can be difficult, if not impossible at many restaurants and it’s often easier to simple have one person pay for the tab on a credit card.
The app is easy to download and setup. Like WhatsApp, you can now simply scan another person’s info to add them to your payment contacts
While living in Latin America, Xoom is my de facto bill pay tool. Also owned by PayPal, I use it to pay for my rent, Spanish lessons and reload my mobile data plan. The transfers for mobile are almost immediate and the other payments are usually available within a day.
One piece of advice: I tried paying my rent with a bank-to-bank transfer and the verification process was a headache. Opt instead for pick-up service, in which the recipient can go to a store (ex:, 7/11, OXXO, or Walmart) to pick up the funds. It’s faster and will save you a ton of headache.
Wise (formerly Transferwise) is my default app for paying and getting paid from people based in Europe. It is supported in approximately 60 countries. I’ve been using it since 2017, when I signed up to pay for a co-working space in Estonia, incidentally where Wise was founded. Since then, I’ve used it to pay my European roommates and receive payment from my UK-based clients. Transfer fees are typically between 0 – 4%, depending on the amount of the transfer. Most of my transfers have been available within 24 hours and I’ve never waited longer than 2 days.
XE – Currency Converter
This simple and easy to use currency converter is one I use frequently when I’m shopping. If it costs more than a few tacos, I like to know how much I’m spending in my home currency. You can monitor up to 10 currencies of your choice (which I find is more than sufficient for my current country rotation). While I only use it as reference tool, it does offer the ability to transfer funds (bank-to-bank only) and monitor currency fluctuations, complete with notifications.
CashApp is a popular app for paying people in the United States. I’ve used it in the past and it works great but my current frustration is that it won’t allow me to use my passport to validate my identification. My driver’s license is old and doesn’t scan using the tool provided.