Cash App Review: Insane cashback, Scams, Customer Service, Hacks, Alternatives

Cash App, one of the most popular banking apps that is not FDIC insured. First off, this is not an account you should actually use other than to get cashback. We’ll get into that later. For now, let’s focus on why you should absolutely be interested in getting Cash App. Cash App Boost is a retailer specific cashback promotion where you can get anywhere from 10% to 20% cashback. Considering that this is a debit card, this is quite possibly the best cashback in the United States for everyday transactions (depending if you actually shop at the retailers, of course).

In addition to insane cashback, Cash App is a checking account, P2P money transfer service, Bitcoin broker and investing platform. It does all of that, but at a very introductory level. I would say it’s a good starter platform and that would make sense since many of their users are on the younger side. You can tell by some of the Cash App Boost offers

I’ll admit, I wasn’t interested in Cash App because I already have Venmo and a few bank accounts that are already set up for all my payments and direct deposits. So the Cash App’s $5 sign up bonus wasn’t that interesting. I’m only interested in full value and Cash App Boost will probably give your $1 to $5 every time you get food or groceries with approved retailers. Considering everyone eats food, this could prove to have a lot of savings. Think of it as you spending $300/month on groceries and going out to eat. With 10% back, that’s $30/month back in your pocket. Over a year, that’s $360.

Signing Up For Cash App

To sign up for Cash App, you’ll need to download the app. You cannot sign up for Cash App through their website, but once your account is set up you can manage your account through the Cash App website later if you’d like. Signing up for Cash App takes LESS than 5 minutes and this is the process:

  • Enter your phone or email address
    • You will get a confirmation code to enter in the app
  •  Confirm Your Bank’s Country
    • Cash App is currently available in the US and UK only
  • First and last name
  • Date of Birth (must be 18 or older)
  • Last 4 numbers of your Social Security number
  • Choose a $Cashtag
    • A unique name for getting paid by anyone
  • Zip Code

Sign Up Bonus

After signing up, you’ll then have the option to order the Cash App Debit card. Once your account is open, you can add my referral code for a free $5 after you transfer money to someone. To add the referral code, you’ll need to go to your account page (top right icon) and then scroll down (not very obvious). Full disclosure, I get $5 if you sign up and you get $5 after transferring money with Cash App for the first time. That’s a pretty good deal for both of us.

Cash App Referral Code: PSNWRQV (link)

Getting Your Cash App Debit Card

I’m cheap, so I went with the free one. I don’t really see any value in paying for the glow in the dark card since I haven’t lost my debit card in the dark before. As for the Limited Edition $35 HBA debit card, proceeds from the sale will be donated to charity. Square, Inc doesn’t specify which charities, but they do tell you it may include Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, Emergency Release Fund, and Gays & Lesbians Living in A Transgender Society. Even though Cash App is a small financial institution compared to the bigger banks, I like that they are helping people.

 You have the option to request a physical debit card for your Cash App account. There are 4 options “Choose your finish”:

  • Black
    • Price: Free
    • Can add your design in the bottom right
  • White
    • Price: Free
    • Can add your design in the bottom right
  • Glow in the dark Yellow
    • Price: $5
    • Can add your design in the bottom right
  • Limited Edition Cash Card for HBA
    • Price: $35

After choosing the type of card you want, you’ll be able to customize your card (if you selected the Black, White or Glow in the dark) with ALMOST anything you want. You can put a name, drawing or emoji. I thought this was a fun way to customize the card, but I’m not the type of person that would show off a debit or credit card, there’s no reason for that other than to get robbed. You will then have the option to send the card to any address but it will require more personal information.

Re-Design Your Cash App Card

In the event that you want a different Cash App card, you can change it for a $5 fee. Additional fees for the premium glow in the dark debit card ($5) and the HBA card ($35) will apply.

Using Your Cash App Digital Debit Card

Once you’ve completed the Cash App debit card application and customization, you’ll instantly have a digital debit card available. You’ll be able to fund your Cash App account with a debit card, bank account or Bitcoin. After funding your account, you can add your debit card to Google Pay or Apple Pay (Samsung Pay not available as of August 2020).

With your new Cash App debit card added to your contactless payments platform (Google Pay/Apple Pay), you can immediately start using your Cash App debit card to make purchases. With that said, your next step would be to activate the Cash App boost so you can start saving money because it is the best cashback card for groceries and dining (depending on retailer).

You will also have the account number in the app (will have to change the option to unhide it) so you can start making payments using your debit card to online retailers.

Cashback Cash App Boost

Cash App Boost (Cashback)

What is Cash App Boost? Cash App Boost is just a term for cashback. The Cash App cashback rates are VERY generous and out-do any credit card on the market. This is very surprising considering this is just a debit card with no annual fee. There is a limited promotional time period for each Cash App boost and you’ll have to actually look at the app to see the current offers and the conditions to qualify for cashback.

How do I use Cash App Boost? You’ll have to go into Cash App and select the boost you like. Make sure that gets added and appears under your digital debit card. Then, you’ll need to fulfill any of the requirements listed for that specific Cash App boost.

Example: 10% off Each Purchase at McDonalds:

  • The deal expires in 4 hours
  • Minimum purchase amount is $1
  • Max discount of $5
  • Can be used once every hour

In this example, you’ll need to first activate the boost so it appears on your debit card. You can then make any purchase between $1 to $50 at McDonald’s using your Cash App debit card or contactless payments (Google Pay/Apple Pay). A purchase is considered your total payment for all the items in your order. So it doesn’t matter if you just order 1 big mac or 10 big macs, as long as you pay for everything is 1 transaction that’s considered 1 purchase. Since the max discount is $5, the most you should spend at one-time to get full value is $50 at McDonald’s. That’s because you get 10% back with a maximum cashback of $5.

When you get 10% cashback on a purchase, it’s exactly like ordering 10 meals at McDonald’s and getting your 11th meal free. Considering of course each meal has the exact same value. There is no other debit or credit card that offers this level of cash back.

What kind of Cash App Boost are available?

It seems like the Cash App boosts you can get are dependent on how much you use the app. Since I am a new user, I am seeing 10% cashback on items that a more frequent user would see 15% cashback for. The incentives on what you need to do exactly aren’t publicly noted. I’m assuming it’s on how much you use it and not by where you live. That’s because I used a VPN to log in to multiple locations around the US and the Cash App boosts remained the same. For a random sample of available boosts, see the comments on this post.

Cash App Boosts (Cash App cashback) have a time limit and can possibly be switched out with a different promotion upon the expiration date. As a brand new user in August 2020, these there the boosts available to me:

  • DoorDash 10% off each order
  • Any Grocery Store 10% off one purchase
  • Walmart 10% off one purchase (Boost is unlocked after making 5 purchases anywhere using Cash App)
  • McDonald’s 10% off each purchase
  • Chick-fil-A 10% off each order
  • Domino’s 10% off each order
  • Subway 10% off each order
  • Chipotle 10% off each order
  • Dollar Tree 10% off each purchase
  • Starbucks 10% off one purchase

How often can you use Cash App Boost? You can use the Cash App boost once every hour for the exact same retailer (depending on the usage restrictions, of course). If you want to use a boost of each of the available retailers in your app, there is no time restriction. So you can get cashback on McDonald’s then switch your boost to McDonald’s to get a discounted coffee.

Can you change the Cash App Boost? You can swap between Boost Retailers as many times as you like in the app. All available boosts will remain in your app, so switching between boosts doesn’t mean you’re permanently losing the opportunity to get cashback with a retailer. You’re just swapping between any of the available boosts.

When do I get my Cash App Boost cashback? Instantly. If you get 10% off a $10 purchase, your account is only charged $9. In the details of the transaction in your Cash App you’ll see the total price then your discount from the boost. Comparing Cash App’s boost to traditional cashback programs, I love the instant savings without having to wait to get my rewards.

What happens if a qualified transaction doesn’t register as a Cash App Boost? In the event that your Cash App boost doesn’t go through, you’ll need to contact Cash App Support. As a responsible saver, you should take a look at your accounts to make sure the Cash App discounts are appearing. It’s easy for Cash App to identify charges from Starbucks, Walmart and McDonald’s, but when it comes to Cash App boosts like “Any Grocery Store,” there might be a delay in your cashback if there’s a confusion with the merchant category.

When does the Cash App boost expire? Each Cash App boost has its own promotional time period so the duration the offer is available may vary depending on the offer. Cash App tells you exactly how long you have left to use a boost which makes it very easy to figure out.

Cash App Fees

The fees for Cash App are pretty consistent with most banks. BUT, since Cash App offers less features than a big bank, they pad their list “Details about your Cash Card” with benefits that other banks don’t even need to mention:

  • $0 Monthly Fee: A majority of banks have no fees or waive monthly fees depending on direct deposit or monthly balances
  • $0 Per Purchase Fee
  • $2 ATM Cash Out Fee: Additional charges for ATM operators more details below
  • $0 Cost to Add Cash
  • $0 ATM Balance Inquiries
  • $0 Customer Service
  • $0 Inactivity
  • No overdraft fees (you can’t withdraw more than you have)
  • NOT FDIC Insured
  • No Foreign Exchange Fees (not listed as of AUG 2020 but available)
  • $5 to Re-design debit card
  • 3% to send money via linked credit card (also not listed on their fee table)
  • 1.76% Bitcoin buy/sell fees

This is just what’s displayed in the app and there’s even more about Cash App fees on the official website. I think it’s manipulative to pad the list by showing a lot of $0 fees for things like Customer Service, email, SMS, phone and ATM balance inquiry. FYI, this is the list as of August 2020. I say this cause I’m calling Cash App out for not even mentioning that there are no FOREIGN EXCHANGE fees on their debit card. That’s a big feature. (No FOREX Cash App)

Cash App ATM Fees

Each time you use your Cash App debit card to withdraw money, there will be a $2 charge from Cash App. You’ll also have to pay for any fees that the ATM operator may charge. In the US, most ATMs will charge you $5 to withdraw any amount of cash, making your grand total $7 just to use the ATM.

Hang on though, you can actually waive the $2 ATM cash out fee and the ATM operator fees if you get at least $300 in direct deposits to your Cash App each month. Unemployment Insurance deposits also qualify for Cash App ATM refunds.

Hang on some more, Cash App will refund up to 3 ATM withdrawals for up to $7 in fees each time. So if you use an expensive ATM that makes your fees $11, Cash App will only reimburse you for up to $7. (Official Cash App ATM Withdrawal Info)

  • $2 ATM Fee (plus ATM operator fees)
    • Up to $7 of the ATM fees can be waived 3x per month, if you have a direct deposit of at least $300/month

Any ATM in the World…on the Visa Network

There are also no foreign exchange fees on international purchases and ATM withdrawals. Much like the Charles Schwab Visa Debit Card, you can use the Cash App Visa Debit card at ATMs on the Visa network. There will be a small currency conversion fee built into the transaction (consistent with most banks).

No foreign exchange fees on

Using Cash App

Using Cash App to send Money: If you are using Cash App to pay for an item or service that isn’t a legitimate retail business like Best Buy or Starbucks, DO NOT SEND THEM MONEY with Cash App. My apologies for the all caps, I’m just very serious. There’s no purchase protection on Cash App and once the money is out of your account, it’s gone. When sending money to someone using Cash App, you have the option to send them money via $Cashtag, text message or e-mail.

  • Sending Money with Cash App is free if you are using the balance in your Cash App account, a linked bank account or debit card.
  • Sending Money with Cash App with a credit card has a 3% fee.
  • Sending Money with a !Cashtag: When using a !Cashtag to send money, the name has to be typed in perfectly. A typo can result in your money going to the wrong person. I recommend sending a small amount of money first ($1) before sending a larger amount of money.

How To Claim Your $Cashtag: When creating your Cash App account, you have the option to create a !Cashtag. It’s like having a unique username where people can send money directly to you without you having to reveal personal information like your email address or phone number.

Securing Your Cash App Account: If someone hacks your e-mail, they can use your e-mail to log in to Cash App. The solution is, make sure you have a unique and strong e-mail password. You can further enhance your Cash App security by adding Security Lock in the preferences. It’s a unique 4-digit PIN that you set which is required to transfer funds.

Advice Against Cash App Hacks

There are numerous stories about people being hacked on CashApp. Much like bitcoin hacks, there is no investigation unless it’s for millions of dollars. So if your Cash App account is hacked, it’s very likely you won’t see that money again. The hackers/scammers taking your money are very unlikely to face any consequences.

On the other hand with a bank, your account is FDIC insured and they have a lot of fraud protection in place. If money is stolen from your account, there will be an investigation and you will still have access to your funds. While with Cash App, your account may be frozen with no access to any funds.

I’m saying, banks are much more secure when it comes to your log in and personal information. There’s a lot of consumer protection too. BUT, if your bank account has Zelle, sending money through Zelle is just like Cash App where your money can disappear.

For any online transactions, I HIGHLY recommend using PayPal and making sure you send money using the “Paying for goods/services” option. This triggers a 2.9% fee but that does give you the important purchase protection you need when dealing with strangers on the internet. (Useful Reddit Breakdown of Cash App)

There’s some stories on reddit about couples that break up. One unlocks the others phone and opens their CashApp account to send themselves money. This is a crime, but not something where you can immediately get your money back and will be a big headache to pursue legally. Solution: Change your password to secure your account. What a burn though. Your relationship fell apart and you just got robbed.

Avoiding Cash App Scams

There’s a lot of Cash app scams. Scammers love Cash App because there’s no purchase protection. Once you send the money to someone, that money is gone. Here’s a few Cash App scams to watch out for:

  • Fake Customer Support: A fake notification for calling Cash App appears and you contact them. They tell you to give them access to your Cash App info so they can help you. They then drain your account of funds. It sounds like something no one would fall for? Wrong. Here’s a news clip. Scammers have no heart, so you need to keep your guard up. Same scam from posted on reddit recently.
    • Lesson: Never give a stranger access to your account. Only contact the official Cash App Customer Support phone number listed on their website.
  • Cash App Earn: Download an app and make money! There is NO APP, website or method to instantly get hundreds of dollars in your account for free. You’ll likely be robbed of any money you have in your account.
    • Lesson: If it’s too good to be true and it’s not from a reliable source, it’s a scam.
  • Cash App Money Flip: A stranger contacts you and tell them to send $100 via Cash App and they’ll flip it to $1000. They’ll even show screenshots and customer testimonials. It’s all fake and you will lose your money. It’s the too good to be true situation.
    • Lesson: Don’t trust strangers on the internet
  • Claim Your Free Money: A stranger sends you a message telling you they sent just you $1000. They will even show you a screenshot of the transaction but you’ll see nothing on your side. Then they’ll inform you that the transfer will require you to pay $50 in taxes. You send them the money and then you receive nothing.
    • Lesson: Don’t trust strangers on the internet.

It’s brutal to read about people losing their money to online scams. Cash App still have a long way to go in terms of warning it’s users about potential scams and protecting them. If you want to feel better about these scams, there’s people like Kitboga and Jim Browning who are fighting back against scammers (although it’s not Cash App specifically).

How to contact Cash App Customer Service

Alright, I haven’t used their customer service but there are a lot of complaints online about how difficult it is to get in contact with Cash App support. You won’t be able to find the phone number within the Cash App, but a quick Google search reveals the Cash App customer support phone number: 1-855-351-2274 with the official Cash App Customer Service Phone number being listed on the Cash App card agreement page.

To use the in-app customer support, you need to go into the Cash App and select> Profile> Support > Something Else > Can’t Access Old Account> Support

This brings up the Cash App email support form where you can explain your issue and they say that they will get back to you within 48 hours (will vary).

What happens if you send money to the wrong person? That money is gone.

What happens if someone sends you money you didn’t ask for? It might be a scam. The money could be sent from a hacked account and they want it sent back to another account. It’s best to let Cash App customer support handle the issue. Otherwise, don’t touch the money and don’t communicate with the stranger.

More Information about Cash App

Cash App is NOT FDIC Insured: This means if they have a data breach and all the funds in people’s accounts disappear, Cash app might not be able to pay you back. Or even in the event that Square (owner of Cash App) goes out of business and has to dissolve the company. Now that’s an extreme example, but things happen. FDIC insurance means that your funds are covered by the US government if the bank fails.

There is no Purchase Protection when paying someone directly for good or services with your Cash App Balance: Never pay for any purchases or services that are not through a legitimate business using Cash App because there is no purchase protection. Purchase protection is when you can dispute a charge with a business or service. That is something you can do with credit cards and bank accounts from the traditional financial institutions.

Cash App vs Traditional Banks: Traditional banks offer much better customer service but depending on which bank, it could also result in higher fees. That’s why I think you should consider the differences when using Cash App vs Traditional Bank accounts.

  • Cash App and Venmo are not FDIC insured so you don’t have any government protection in the event of Cash App or Venmo failing as a financial institution.
  • Fraudulent activity causes your account to be frozen until you can resolve the issue with customer services. In some cases, account never get unfrozen. Which makes it very dangerous if your direct deposit payments go into Cash App since you have money going in, but it can’t come out.
  • There’s no protection on your account. At least that’s my impression from reading the many comments on reddit about how people have their accounts frozen and can’t withdraw their own money.

Difference Between Cash App and Square Cash? There is no difference. Cash App was originally known as Square Cash then rebranded and is a very simple to use entry-level bank account/payment system. Square Cash Boost is now Boost on Cash App.

What I love about Cash App?

Boost on Cash App! There is no credit card that can compete with this level of generous cashback on the Cash App debit card. I think getting 3% on dining is pretty good, but getting 10% back on places like Chik-fil-A and Chipotle is very generous. Using Cash App only for the boosts can save you a lot of money if you’re spending any money at any of the retailers on the Cash App boost list.

If you do a $300 direct deposit, you can get ATM fees reimbursed (up to $7 per transaction and up to 3 times per month) anywhere in the world! There is no foreign transaction fees making this a debit card that can actually compete with Charles Schwab.

What I hate about Cash App?

Cash App is intentionally designed to be very simple and easy to use and does charge additional fees for using the ATM. When comparing Cash App to a more traditional bank that has great customer service, no fees, more account controls AND a bigger sign-up bonus, it doesn’t make sense to use Cash App. That’s why I always recommend Charles Schwab as the best checking account that has no fees and a $100 sign up bonus. Cash App in my opinion is too simple. Since there’s no consumer protection (like with PayPal), sending money is a one-way irreversible transaction. If someone drains your account, that money is gone. With a traditional bank, you have more consumer protection if someone makes an unauthorized transaction and that’s absolutely a crime that the banks will pursue.

How do I recommend using Cash App?

  • You should only use Cash App for Cash App boost. I would not recommend holding any money in the account more than what you’re willing to lose.
  • You can keep the account open with $0 and quickly fund your account with a linked bank account any time you want to use the Cash App boost feature for cashback. BUT, this still has risk. I would recommend funding your Cash App account with Bitcoin from Coinbase Pro.
  • Never respond to anyone on Cash App and only contact customer support directly through the app whenever you have an issue. Consider anyone trying to “help” you make money on Cash App or claiming to be customer service a scammer. Only contact customer service directly.
  • For paying friends, I would recommend sending them a small amount of money at first ($1) to make sure you have their information typed in correctly before making a large payment. This makes sure the money doesn’t mistakenly go to someone else.
  • If you want no ATM fees on the account, you’ll need a direct deposit of $300/month. I would “fake” this by sending money through multiple accounts until I find one that triggers the ATM refund. You can find examples of that here.

Cash App Alternatives

  • Paying Friends/Family: Cash App, Venmo and Zelle are intended for you to send money easily to friends and family.
  • Paying for Goods/Services: Use PayPal or pay directly to the company with a Credit Card. Cash App has no purchase protection.
  • Checking Account: Charles Schwab is completely free. There are no fees and no direct deposit requirements.
  • Investing: The investing feature on Cash App is very basic. Since Cash App hacks are not unusual, I would recommend using Charles Schwab, Merrill Lynch, TD Ameritrade or Fidelity for any real investing. Although it’s more complex, the chances of you being hacked are much lower. FYI, FDIC insurance doesn’t apply to stocks.
  • Buying Bitcoin: You can easily buy Bitcoin with a 1.75% fee on Cash App. Coinbase has a fee of 3.5%, but Coinbase Pro is 0.5% while having more advanced buyer controls.

TLDR

Using Cash App Boost for Cash Back is an amazing deal that no other credit card rewards can compete with. Getting no foreign transaction fees and ATM fees refunded (with Direct Deposit) is also a nice bonus. Although these benefits are great, it comes with A LOT of risk. There are so many stories about people being scammed or getting locked out of their account and Cash App hasn’t improved their security. There is also no FDIC insurance so if you’re money disappears, it’s gone. With that said, I think you should never keep a balance in Cash App and only use it for the generous cash back.

Is Cash App worth getting? Absolutely. The Cash App Cashback promotions are unmatched. Just be extremely cautious and make sure to secure your account.