“Just Venmo me,” is a phrase we’ve been hearing a lot in the US media content we consume. But what the heck does it mean? Venmo is a social media, peer-to-peer payment service that allows you to instantly pay your friends and family through an app on your smartphone. No more old-school cheques, or pulling cash from expensive automated teller machines (ATM). Everything is done digitally at the tap of a button, and recipients get their cash in seconds. I know what you’re thinking, “I gotta start using Venmo!” But ease off the throttle, Venmo is not available in Canada.
Canadian fintech companies have not let us down. They saw the incredible use case and mass appeal of Venmo and said “challenge accepted!” Right now, there are several Venmo alternatives available to Canadians. If you’re ready to kick crazy bank fees to the curb and take total control of your money (well, almost), here are the top 7 best Venmo alternatives in Canada.
You asked and they delivered. Wealthsimple has introduced the fastest and easiest way to instantly send money to friends and family. Gone are the days of logging onto your online banking, adding a recipient’s email address, and coming up with that annoying security question. If you want to send money in seconds, there’s an app for that.
Just download the Wealthsimple Cash app, load your wallet, connect with your contacts then send them money. Easy peasy. It’s completely free to use, and you can send money as often as you want. There are no caps on the number of transfers. The perks don’t stop there. Wealthsimple Cash has a prepaid credit card in the works. Soon you’ll be able to sign up for a sleek, chic, black prepaid Visa card. It’s linked to your Wealthsimple Cash wallet where you can load up the card and use it everywhere Visa is accepted. No credit checks, no bills.
A good friend will spot you cash when you need it most. Don’t make them wait for payday. Return the favour and pay them back, even before you have money in the bank. That’s right! You can borrow from yourself. Plastk is Canada’s first secured credit card that offers credit card rewards and dirt cheap cash advances. If you’re new to credit or trying to repair it, there’s no reason why you should miss out on the awesome credit card rewards everyone else gets. Use your secured credit card, get rewarded. It’s pretty simple. And there are other perks too.
Normally, a credit card cash advance would cost you a pretty hefty interest rate hike on the advanced funds. With a traditional credit card, the interest-free grace period does not apply to cash advances, you start getting charged the moment you withdraw. But not with Plastk. For a flat $5 fee you can withdraw up to $500 a day, depending on your available limit, and they’ll give you a 3-day interest fee grace period. You can send that cash to any Canadian debit card, credit card, bank account, or another Plastk cardholder. Transferring money to another Plastk user is quick, easy and a great alternative to Venmo.
The OG of peer-to-peer cash transfers, Interac eTransfer is still the most trusted and widely used method of peer payments among Canadians, and for good reason. Financial Institutions hopped on that train early and have dominated the peer-to-peer payment landscape for over 15 years. They've provided a safe, secure, and ubiquitous method of sending money to anyone in Canada with an email address.
No more writing cheques or running to the ATM for cash. All you need is the recipient’s email address. Just log into your online banking, add your recipient’s email or mobile phone number and create a security question only they would know the answer to. As long as the person you’re sending money to has an email account or mobile phone number and a Canadian bank account, they can instantly deposit their money. If you hate dealing with those pesky security questions, you can set yourself up for auto-deposit. Whenever anyone sends you an Interac e Transfer, it will go straight into your bank account and you’ll get an email or text notification.
All these peer-to-peer payment methods are great unless you need to send money abroad. We’ve got you covered there too. If you’ve ever needed to send money outside the country, you’re painfully aware of the high bank fees, incredibly slow and complicated wire transfer process and hidden charges. Wise allows you to send money to over 30 countries in more than 50 currencies.
With Wise, you can send and receive money from all around the world instantly and for a fraction of the price of a traditional wire transfer. You’ll get charged the real market exchange rate, not the bank's inflated exchange rate. All the fees are disclosed upfront before you finalize the transaction. Wise is even cheaper than Paypal. So if you or someone you love lives abroad, don't let borders get in the way of seamless cash transfers. Send and receive money in as little as one hour.
OFX is a global currency exchange and money transfer service. It enables people, businesses, and corporations to make payments or international transfers in different currencies. Customers can send money online or via mobile app to over 170 countries in over 50 different currencies with competitive foreign exchange rates, low fees, and bank-level security.
To use OFX, you need to open an account and fund it with the currency you want to send. You then have the option to send now at the current rate, send only when your desired rate is hit, or lock in a rate to apply to future transactions.
The OFX exchange rate depends on the amount being transferred and the currency pair. There are no transfer fees for amounts over $10,000 CAD. For lesser amounts, OFX charges a $15 CAD transfer fee plus any other applicable charges depending on the currency pair being exchanged or if a same-day payment is required.
Of course, this list would not be complete without paying homage to PayPal. First of all, did you know PayPal owns Venmo? That’s right. Venmo is the fintech brainchild of the engineering wizards at PayPal headquarters. But while Venmo is quick, cheap, and designed for individuals to send money to their peers, sometimes you need something a little more robust.
If you need to transfer over $5,000 to someone, but don’t want to pay bloated bank fees, PayPal is still your go-to platform. You can send up to $60,000, $10,000 in a single transaction, to another PayPal user. Instead of using a personal email address, users can provide a custom Paypal.me link instead, for added privacy. You can even send money to a recipient's bank account or a cash pickup site if they don’t have a PayPal account. The possibilities are almost endless with PayPal’s extensive roster of features and services.
No, you’re not experiencing deja vu. That’s Plastiq with an IQ. If you’re a business owner, say goodbye to merchant fees. If you’re a consumer, say hello to credit card rewards on all the things. Plastiq is an online payment platform that’s revolutionizing how individuals and businesses pay and get paid for pretty much anything. What's more annoying than missing out on killer credit card rewards on a big purchase because you can’t charge it to your credit card?
Plastiq allows businesses to accept credit card payments completely free. And it allows individuals to use their credit cards to pay for things like rent, tuition, or even a new car. Plastiq acts like a middleman accepting money from your credit card, then passing it along to the recipient by check, wire transfer, or direct deposit, whichever they prefer. But it’s not limited to credit cards, you can pay from your debit card too. Now you can earn those lucrative credit card rewards on purchases that you normally can't charge to a credit card.
Crypto enthusiasts, don’t despair, you’re invited to the peer-to-peer payment party too. If you want to completely decentralize your cash and protect your identity, look no further than ShakePay. You can send Canadian dollars, Bitcoin, or Ethereum to your friends and family in seconds. As long as everyone's on the ShakePay platform, you're good to go.
If you’re familiar with ShakePay then you know how to load your app with cash by eTransferring money from your bank account to the ShakePay receivables address. Once your money is loaded onto the app you can either send Canadian dollars directly to any of your ShakePay contacts. Or you can convert your CAD to BTC or ETH and send them crypto instead. The transactions occur off the blockchain, making them lightning-fast and free. ShakePay is user-friendly and simple to use, so even the newest crypto convert can be a cash-hacking genius.
For over a decade, Canada's big 5 banks have dominated the peer-to-peer payment ecosystem. But as the economic landscape changes and the demand for instant, low-cost transactions reach a fever pitch, the banks have failed to keep pace with Canadian’s desire for change. Canadian fintech companies have done an incredible job to fill the gap with ingenuity and cutting-edge financial services technology.
Venmo may be the go-to social payment platform for Americans, but here in Canada, we have a bevy of options to fill pretty much any need. Whether you want to repay your bestie for brunch, email rent to your landlord, or send cash to your cousin in New York, there are plenty of Venmo alternatives in Canada to move money from your pocket to theirs in a flash.
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About The Author: Heidi Unrau
Heidi Unrau is the senior Finance Journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she got her first bank job as an entry-level teller. She moved up the ranks to Credit Analyst, Loans Officer, and now a Personal Finance Writer. In her spare time, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to Freakonomics podcasts, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a pint of Häagen-Dazs. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, she's in the hot tub or arguing with her husband over which cash back card to use for date night. She’s addicted to coffee, crypto, and obsessively checking her credit score on Borrowell.
Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada, loves her free Tangerine bank account, and will never cut back on Starbucks. Like ever.
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