Technology has created a wide range of ways for businesses and individuals to accept and send payments. Has your son or daughter recently asked you to “Venmo” them? Are you concerned when farmer’s market vendors swipe your card on their phone? Today we cover some of the most common payment types and how to use them.

*Disclaimer – Sharkey, Howes & Javer does not endorse any of the following products or services. This post is for informational purposes only.

Mobile Credit Card Readers

Mobile credit card readers, such as Square, have been widely successful. These readers offer the ability for anyone to “set up shop” at little to no cost. The card readers plug into the headphone jack of a phone and connect to an app. Instead of charging a flat fee per transaction, these readers simply take a small percentage of the transaction, usually 2.9%. Readers like Square allow small businesses to accept credit cards on the go.

Just like a regular credit card machine, your information is transmitted to the processor over the internet. The risks of using a credit card on a mobile reader and in your favorite big box store are virtually the same.

Pay Back a Friend

Gone are the days of trading cash back and forth or writing a check to a friend. Apps such as Venmo which is owned by PayPal, allows friends and family to send money back and forth without racking up additional fees. The money can be stored in your account with the app or transferred to your bank at any time.

Thankfully, most of these apps are owned or have been purchased by reputable banking companies who have structures in place to protect the user. That said, stick to paying and accepting money from people you know well. For example, let your daughter Venmo you for those new shoes, but stick to cash for Craigslist transactions.

Pay With Your Phone

New apps are making it possible to pay without your wallet. This technology has been slower to catch on than others due to a perceived safety issue and a slow transition to new card readers by retailers.

Apple, Android and Samsung all offer payment or wallet options. Typically, when you are ready to pay, simply open the app and hold your device near the card reader. Your device should ask for a fingerprint or password before the payment processes. To keep account information secure it is highly recommended to use a 6-digit passcode or a fingerprint as security on your device.

Keeping up with changing technologies can seem overwhelming and we understand feeling unsure about whether or not to use them. While today’s post is purely informational, we hope it cleared up some of the confusion around alternate payment methods. We always recommend doing your own research and reviewing user agreements and privacy policies carefully.

The good news, next time you have someone ask you to Venmo them, you will be up to speed on what they mean even if you choose to write a check instead.

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