I’m not a finance guy by any means. I do OK and happen to be a son of a retired bank manager, but I don’t really think about those things much. However, I’ve recently started using the Cash app for peer-to-peer transfers and snagged the optional debit card as well. It’s become my go-to combo for most of my daily purchases.
Now, let’s not go crazy and say that the Cash app has completely replaced other banks. It has, however, become a self-imposed way for me to manage my daily spending. With the optional debit card, I’ve set up direct deposit and use the card for a weekly allowance outside my normal bills.
What make the Cash app unique for this solution?
A couple things actually stood out for me on the Cash app, one being that I already had it installed for P2P payments. I didn’t have to go searching for another solution. I already knew the basics and trusted the app from its parent company Square. The app also instantly notifies you of transactions. You’re pinged for both withdrawals and deposits to help you keep an eye on your money.
Another is Boost. This is the main reason I chose to give the physical debit card a shot. I could use any prepaid debit card for the majority of my usage, but Boost sets Cash apart in my eyes. Boost offers users unique, instant discounts when used at certain retailers. The list seems to alternate, but the offerings are general places I visit anyways.
What kind of Boosts are offered? Well, Taco Bell is the big one for me. I know it’s terrible, but I truly love that place, and Cash gives you 10% off each purchase. My other favorite is $1 off any coffee shop. I frequent java houses on the regular and this fit my needs yet again.
It’s worth mentioning that Starbucks operated inside other stores, like Barnes & Noble or Target, do not apply the Boost due to the transaction is for the retailer and not the coffee brand.
The Boosts don’t stop there. You will also see things like $1 off Sonic, 10% at Waffle House and Chipotle, and even 5% off at Whole Foods groceries. Some Boosts are regional, but for me, the offered selection are places that I enjoy. This made the Cash app debit find a new home in my wallet.
What I don’t like
There are a couple things that make me uncomfortable. One is related to the overall app security and the other surrounds the funds themselves. Let’s start with the app.
Square has done a great job with the app. It’s sleek, fast and works. However, I don’t care for how the fingerprint/PIN security settings will only allow you to lock the card information. I wish they’d add a setting to lock the entire app like most banking apps.
PayPal and Venmo both lock any access to the app behind the security measures you choose. The Cash app allows you to access most of the app like balance and transactions without ever presenting a PIN or fingerprint prompt. Maybe this is petty as transfers and your card number can be hidden with bio-metrics, but I’d like to see the additional security.
My other beef is with the lack of FDIC insurance on funds in your Cash account. Your funds are only secured by internal security of Cash’s parent company Square. This means if someone gains access to your information, Cash is not federally backed to refund you the fraudulent activity.
Your funds will be held at or transferred to Bank. FDIC insurance is not available at this time.
Cash has implied that they do “float” the money between FDIC insured institutions, but the bottom line is there are times that it is at risk more than a traditional checking account. Since a bank is covered by federal insurance, the account is covered instantly once funds are present. With Cash’s virtual nature the money is left in a bit of limbo.
Funds you deposit to Cash App are secure and insured. Square works with network institutions who provide FDIC insurance for a majority of the funds, and Square protects the remainder.
— Cash App (@CashApp) March 8, 2018
Still Works for Me
Despite the knocks, I really like the system Cash has in place. It’s a clean app with instant transfers and the Boosts add incentive for me to use the debit card. I don’t like the lack of FDIC and is the reason I limit the funds I keep in the account.
Honestly, with rumors that Square will apply for its banking license, I’d strongly consider it for my only banking option if it was insured. For now, it’s a nice in-between for me to manage my play money.
Please excuse me while I go save 10% at Taco Bell.