Square Cash Card Review (2020)
Have you ever owned something for years before one day you suddenly discovered a super useful function you never knew it had? That’s essentially what happened to me with Square Cash. Despite downloading the app long ago, I apparently didn’t keep up with its growing power and ability to save me money — that was until a couple of years ago.
So what is the Cash Card and what makes it special? Let’s take a look at what you should know.
What is Square Cash and What is Cash Cash?
Square Cash App
Square Cash (or just “Cash” as it’s commonly referred to) is mostly known for being a P2P money app akin to PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay Cash. When you download Cash and sign-up for the service, you can link a bank account in order to fund your account. You can also choose to add money to your account using a credit card, but there is a 3% fee for this option. With that out of the way, you can quickly and easily send money to friends using the app.
When you open Cash, you’ll notice a simple interface, allowing you to enter a dollar amount and elect to either request that amount of money from one of your contacts or send it to them. You can also tap the clock icon in the upper right to view and/or search your transaction history. Then, in the upper left corner, tapping the avatar icon will allow you to adjust your settings, view your balances, and cash out your money. Sending money back to your linked account with a slight delay (about two days) is free, while an instant transfer will cost you a 1.5% fee.
Although the main function of Cash may not sound like anything special, the app has also been adding some other features worth talking about. For one, the app has begun introducing the ability for users to buy and sell Bitcoin. Using the app, you can select how much Bitcoin you’d like to buy in USD and view your current balance, which will fluctuate based on the current $BTC pricing. Notably, you can also set up a wallet to withdraw your Bitcoin, although you will need to scan your photo ID before this option will be available to you.
By the way, while other apps like Robinhood have been expanding their crypto rosters, don’t expect the same from Square Cash. CEO Jack Dorsey has been outspoken about his support for Bitcoin and only Bitcoin, directly telling fans he doesn’t intend to add other assets to the app.
Of course, the other feature that makes Square Cash unique — and the reason I felt the app was deserving of a review — is their Cash Card.
Square Cash Card
In an effort to stand out from the pack, Square started rolling out their Cash Card — a physical Visa debit card that allows users to make purchases using their Cash funds. Adding to the offering’s appeal, these cards feature a sleek all-black design on the front, security chip, Visa Debit logo, and the laser-printed signature. Yes, Cash actually prints the signature you give them onto the card. But, before you get any wise ideas, they do say they review the “signatures” before they go to print.
As promised, these cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. You can also add your card to Apple Pay and utilize it that way as well. Finally, there’s another neat feature of the Cash Card we’ll cover in the next section.
Is Square Cash a Scam?
Before we dive more into the Cash Card, I wanted to address something that I’ve seen a bit of on the YouTube video review I did of Square. A few adamant commenters have alleged that the Cash app is a scam that’s caused them to lose money. Although I can’t speak to their experience (or know for sure if these are even legitimate comments), I have to refute this notion.
First of all, Square is a publicly-traded company with a strong reputation in the FinTech space and their products are utilized by small businesses across the country. Therefore I’d find it hard to believe they’d sacrifice that by creating an app to scam everyday users out of their cash. Plus, for the record, I haven’t encountered any issues with the app in the several years that I’ve been a user.
With all of that said, there are precautions you should take when using this or any personal finance app. For one, when sending money via Cash, make sure you trust the person you’re sending money to. Personally I suspect some of the people calling the app itself a scam have merely just fallen victim to shady folks. Additionally be sure to protect your Cash account as you would any bank account by utilizing strong passwords and other security features.
Last but not least, if you don’t feel comfortable using a peer to peer payments app or other finance tools where linking a bank account is necessary, it’s ok to skip them. While Cash and other FinTech ventures are far from “scams,” they may be susceptible to the same breaches that many retailers, banks, and others are. Luckily (to my knowledge) no such troubles have plagued Cash but it’s always a good idea to be vigilant in order to protect yourself.
Using the Square Cash Card
Now I’ll admit that, while I’ve found Cash to be convenient for sending money to friends and that it has become my preferred method for doing so, I hardly felt the need to obtain a Cash Card. After all, why wouldn’t I just transfer my balance back to my account and spend it like I normally would? Sure, the card’s cool design did give me some pause in writing the idea off entirely, but I eventually forgot about it and went on with my life.
That was until I learned about the Boost function the Cash Card offered. As it turns out, this feature allows you to save up to 10% at select restaurants including Wendys and Chick-fil-A or even save you money on Door Dash orders. Needless to say, this piece of information changed everything.
Soon after learning of the Boost feature, I finally requested my Cash Card through the app. To do so, all I needed was to offer up my address and provide my signature for the aforementioned style element. Within a few days’ time, my card had arrived and was ready to activate.
Anyone who’s ever received a new credit or debit card is surely familiar with the automated voice systems often employed in the activation process. This is where the Cash Card is very different; instead of placing a call to one of those 800 numbers, you’ll simply open up the Cash app and scan the QR code on the envelope your card came in to activate it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to check out the Boost function.
Boost — AKA The Star Feature
Just in case you didn’t already garner my age from the title of this column, I’ll make it clear that I’m not exactly what the kids would call “young” anymore. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t find the process of enabling Cash Card Boosts to be super intuitive at first. But, after a few tries and misses, I finally discovered that tapping the balance that appears in the upper middle part of your screen will not only show you a digital version of your Cash Card but also allow you to add Boosts.
As I mentioned, there are several different Boost options you can choose from — with “choose from” being a key phrase. Unlike apps like Dosh that allow you to take advantage of any current offer without opting in, Cash Card Boosts can only be selected one at a time. Although you can scroll through the different options and swap Boosts as much as you want before using them, once you’ve taken advantage of an offer, it will be locked onto your card.
Something else that’s interesting about Boosts is that the various offers take on different forms. For example, while Boosts at restaurants like Taco Bell give you a percentage off of your total, others will give you a flat dollar amount instead — such as the current $3 off at AMC Theatres Boost that’s available as I’m writing this.
In the time since I first started using the Cash Card, I have noticed a few changes to Boosts — some good, some bad. Perhaps the biggest adjustment is that there are some Boosts that now need to be “unlocked” by making other purchases with Cash Card. This actually impacted my favorite Cash Card Boosts, which entitles you to $1 off at “any coffee shop.” I found this to be outstanding after I discovered I was able to reload my Starbucks card with as little as $10, amounting to a 10% discount. Unfortunately, that particular Boost now requires you to make five other purchases using your Cash Card. Then you can utilize the perk five times before it locks up again. Similarly there’s also currently a Boost where you can save $5 on any grocery store purchase. However, in order to unlock this one-time-use offer, you’ll need to use your card for 10 other purchases. Some other current “locked” Boosts include $5 off a Lyft (five other purchases required, one-time use) and 10% off at Nike (10 other purchases required, one-time use).
Luckily, I’ve had the chance to try out the Boost feature multiple times at several places. Still, I recall that my first experience was at a Chick-fil-A. Seconds after the transaction was complete, I got an alert from the app informing me that my 10% Boost had been applied and that only $14.67 was deducted from my balance as a result. Woohoo!
Although the restrictions put on some Boosts do put a bit of a damper on my excitement (and my ability to use my Starbucks hack), it is understandable why Square made these changes. Also, to their credit, the locked deals are fairly lucrative offers. The bottom line is that it’s definitely worth regularly checking out Boosts and seeing what you might be able to save with your Cash Card.
Final Thoughts on Square Cash and Cash Card
At the end of day, apps like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash all have similar functions even if they each have their own perks and quirks. That said, Square Cash‘s Cash Card really makes them stand out in my eyes — especially with the Boost feature. To that point, what really impresses me about the Cash Card’s Boosts is that they’re all for places I could actually see myself shopping at. Moreover, in nearly each case, the percentage offered from the Boost bests what I’d earn from any of my credit cards.
I should mention that, in recent months, Venmo has also introduced a debit card of their own and launched what they call “Venmo Reward.” At first glance these rewards seemed to be similar to Boosts but, looking a bit further, it seems that they’re powered by Dosh. Thus, from what I’ve seen, it seems that Cash’s Boosts are actually a bit better value and are also more exclusive than Venmo’s.
With all that considered, I’d honestly have to say it’s worth getting your own Square Cash Card just for the Boost offers. Of course, the cool card design means it will look pretty snazzy in your wallet as well. All in all, I guess Square’s gamble on creating physical cards for their digital platform has proven perfect for pulling old folks like me into their app.
Also published on Medium.