Circle Review: Send and Receive Payments from Peers for Free


Circle is a peer-to-peer payment service you can use to send and receive payments virtually through iMessage, Contacts, text, email, NFC & Bluetooth, or Bitcoin. The purpose of a peer-to-peer payment system like Circle is to eliminate the hassle of exchanging money between roommates, family, and friends.

For instance, if you sign up for Circle, there’s no need to chase down your roommates for their share of rent and utilities each month. Instead, you can simply send payment requests through the app, and they can forward cash using their credit card, debit card, or bank account. This payment scenario can be convenient for both the sender and receiver of funds.

Circle integrates with banks and cards in the U.S., the U.K., and a few other European countries. However, they support Bitcoin worldwide. In this post, we’ll dig into:

  • How Circle works
  • How much Circle costs
  • The pros and cons

How Circle Works

Signing up for Circle is easy and free. You can sign up on your desktop computer or through the Circle app using your mobile device. The app is available for iOS and Android. You can link a debit card or bank account to Circle to send out payments to others.

Sending money

To send money with Circle, you input the email address, phone number, or Bitcoin address of the recipient.

Using a debit card is the easiest way to send payments. Circle supports a number of U.S., U.K., and some European issued Visa and MasterCard debit cards, and you have the option to make payments directly from these cards. There’s no need to add money from your debit card to your Circle account balance first before sending a payment.

If you add funds from your U.S. bank issued debit card, money will be available in your Circle account immediately to send to the recipient. However, adding money from your bank account to Circle can take 1 to 4 business days to complete.


Although Circle doesn’t allow you to link new credit cards, cards that were linked in the past can still be used.

Receiving money

Receiving money is just as easy as sending money. You can receive payments through iMessage, Contacts, text, email, NFC & Bluetooth, or Bitcoin. Once money is received in your Circle account, you can cash out to your debit card or bank account. The cash withdrawal process can take 1 to 4 business days to go through.


As mentioned, Circle is offered globally, but on a limited basis. Currently, Circle supports U.S. dollars, British pounds, euros, and Bitcoin for transactions. Circle is used primarily in the U.S., the U.K., and a few other European countries.

You can find out more about the international capabilities of Circle here. But, generally speaking, this payment service is one that will probably not be as useful if you need to exchange payments outside of the U.S. and Europe.

The bank accounts and debit cards that you can link to Circle are limited to ones issued in the U.S. and Europe. So, if you send a Circle payment to someone who lives outside of the supported areas, they may have trouble linking an account to cash out the funds.

Circle does plan to expand internationally and may even be adding more currencies to the service. There are other money transfer services available if you want to exchange money between countries beyond what Circle supports. We’ll cover an international money transfer service below.

Circle Peer-to-Peer Payment Fees

Circle does not charge any fees to process the payments you send and receive. However, there are third-party fees you may need to watch out for when sending money. Your credit card company may charge a cash advance fee if you transfer money from your credit card to make a payment.

Check with your credit card company first before doing a Circle transaction. You will want to avoid paying a costly cash advance fee for this service.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Circle offers peer-to-peer payments for free. There are no fees to send or receive payments.

Con: Credit card cash advance fees. The third-party credit card cash advance fees aren’t charged by Circle, but they’re still costs you need to think about. You’re better off connecting your bank account or debit card to Circle to avoid third-party fees entirely since these methods of sending payments are free.

Pro: You can send payments directly from your debit card. There’s no need to transfer money from your debit card to your Circle account balance before sending a Circle payment. You can pay someone directly from your debit card quickly. Again, sending payments through your debit card also has no third-party fees.

Con: Global support with Circle is limited. International support for Circle is restricted at this time, although the product may be expanding to support other countries and currencies in the future.

Other Ways to Send and Receive Payments

Venmo is another popular peer-to-peer payment service that’s quite similar to Circle. You can send money to friends and family using a phone number or email. Sending money with your debit card or bank account is free. However, there is a 3% fee if you send money with a credit card. Receiving money from others through Venmo is always free. The Venmo app is available for iOS and Android.

TransferWise is an international money transfer service. If your goal is to send money globally, this is a service that may give you more flexibility. TransferWise does charge a transfer fee to perform transactions that varies by country, which is something to keep in mind.

For a quick example, if you were to transfer $1,000 USD using TransferWise into the British pound, as of the writing this post, the recipient would get £802, and the transfer fee would be $9.90 USD. One area where TransferWise shines is the transparency in fees and exchange rates. TransferWise has an exchange rate and fee calculator on its main home page you can use to find out how much an international transfer will cost before you do the transaction.

Who Will Benefit the Most from Circle?

If you’re looking for a simple way to send and receive payments to peers stateside or within Europe, Circle is a service you may want to consider using because it’s free.

The most convenient way to go about sending money with Circle is through a debit card. Using a debit card, you can quickly send money to recipients without having to first add cash to your Circle account balance. Using a debit card will also help you avoid any of the fine print fees that may be involved with credit card transactions.

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How Pokémon Go Can Cost You (Even Though It’s Free)


Even if you don’t play games, you’ve at least heard of Pokémon Go by now or know someone who’s playing it.

There’s been a flood of news on Pokémon-related robberies, injuries and even over-walked dogs all on the heels of the game’s wildly successful launch. In fact, more than 15 million people have downloaded the gaming app since it became available in the U.S. earlier this month, according to research firm SensorTower, an app analytics company.

While the app itself is free, there are several ways the game can end up costing users, and not just in time spent playing it. Here are four ways Pokémon Go, or PoGo for short, can negatively impact your bottom line, plus some tips for ways to ensure it doesn’t.

1. Data Usage

This game is a data hog, there are no two ways about it. But there are things you can do to make sure you don’t start paying your cellular provider extra for data overages.

According to the Pokémon Go Database, the app can average from 2MB to 8MB or more of data usage per hour of play, depending on what kind of gameplay you’re taking part in (battling, capturing, walking).

The site said that “if half of a 2GB data plan is allocated to playing Pokémon Go, users can reasonably expect to play four to six hours per day without any issue. If Pokémon Go is played for more than six hours per day, an upgraded data plan may be needed.”

If an upgraded data plan isn’t in your budget or you just don’t want to shell out more money each month, there are some ways to reduce the data you use. Pokémon Go Database has several recommendations, including:

  • Download applications and updates only using Wi-Fi
  • Play only in areas where Wi-Fi is available
  • Set a data limit
  • Limit/remove high data-consuming apps

2. In-Game Purchases

According to a report by Quartz, based on data from SensorTower, U.S. Po-Go players using iOS already are spending about $1.6 million each day on in-app purchases. And Statista reports that worldwide revenue for Po-Go in-app purchases is expected to hit $58.2 billion this year and reach $76.5 billion in 2017.

But is spending real-world dollars to acquire virtual PoGo tools worth it? It could be if you’re offsetting the costs on what you’d spend on other entertainment and even gym fees.

PoGo player Michelle McGuinness, 29, says it is absolutely worth it to make in-app purchases.

“I pay $40 to $60 for games all the time, and I play them for maybe 40 hours,” the Seattle resident said. “I will blow past 40 hours of gameplay in Pokémon Go, and the app was 100% free. Throwing them $5 or $10 or $20, or even more, seems well worth it considering how much enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it. Even if I stop playing in a month, they’ve earned a few dollars from me, and I suspect I’ll be playing for well longer than a month.

“Plus, getting up and walking during work has made me noticeably happier,” she said. “The benefit isn’t just fun or exercise. I’m in a better mood all day. My boyfriend is exercising! He’s an active person, but he never once did cardio voluntarily. Now he’s walking, like, four miles a day.”

If that’s the case for you, it could be worth setting aside a fixed amount in your monthly budget for PoGo in-app purchases to make sure you don’t overspend. By setting a limit, you’ll be able to keep your own nest egg growing while you incubate your virtual ones.

3. External Purchases

Some businesses have been so inundated by PoGo players that they’ve put up signs saying, “Pokémon are for paying customers only.”

Some, however, have intentionally attracted PoGo players to their places of business using the game itself.

For example, one New York pizzeria owner Sean Benedetti reportedly spent $10 on an in-app purchase of a dozen “lure modules,” which attract Pokémon to a particular location for 30-minute intervals.

Benedetti saw his sales jump 75% last weekend because of the move, according to The New York Post.

“We had people come down, sit down and get a couple beers and play the Pokémon game,” Benedetti reportedly told the Post.

That might be great for the business owners, but if you’re spending an extra $5 to $10 on food or drinks you don’t need just to catch some extra Pokémon, those seemingly small expenditures add up to serious money by the end of the month.

Again, it’s a good idea to keep your budget in mind. You can still “catch ‘em all” without going into debt — or going up a pants size.

4. Buying Assistance

Those with entrepreneurial spirits are aiming to take advantage of the PoGo craze, offering their services for everything from rides to PoGo hotspots to even taking on the capture of Pokémon for you.

One such example, Ivy St. Ive, who billed herself as a professional Pokémon Go trainer, offered her services on Craigslist to catch Pokémon for anyone willing to pay $20 an hour. St. Ive, who told Gothamist on Tuesday that the ad had received a lot of attention, including from “creeps asking me out for drinks and coffee,” has since removed the ad.

If you’re already paying people for things like cleaning your home, taking your dogs for a walk (dog walkers may want to take note of the double-dip PoGo could offer), or other services you could do yourself, paying someone to literally play a game for you might not seem too far-fetched. But if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, have any outstanding credit card debt, or a pile of student loans to pay off, this likely isn’t your best money option. (You can use’s lifetime cost of debt calculator to see how your debt is impacting your finances.)

Instead, you might want to take that money and start an emergency fund so you’ll be prepared when the inevitable emergency strikes. It’s also a good idea to know where your credit stands, as low credit scores can end up costing you money on interest rates and more. You can check your two free credit scores, updated monthly, on

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: scarletsails

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The Ins and Outs of the Wally App for Daily Expense Tracking

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Since most of our transactions happen electronically with a credit card swipe or click of the mouse, it’s easy to lose sight of where your money is actually going each month.

Budgeting apps, like Wally, are a convenient way to keep track of expenses so you can meet savings targets and other financial goals.

How to Use Wally

Wally is available for iPhone and Android. After you download and subscribe for Wally on your device, you will see three main tabs on the left side of the screen: home, income and review.

The home tab is the opening screen and it’s where you enter expenses. You can choose from expense categories including transportation, clothes, entertainment and more. There are also subcategories within each major category where you can get really specific.

For example, under the home category there are additional line items including mortgage, rent, furniture and more. If a subcategory isn’t on the list, you can create your own.

Every time you go to enter an expense Wally will try to guess where you are on a map and connect your expense to that location. You can also scan receipts.

In the income tab, you add up each of your income sources for the month and set your savings goal. At first glance, I could not figure out how to set a goal for this review.

Tinkering around I found out you have to hold down and drag the orange scroll bar in the income section for savings target to pop up.

Here’s what the income section looks like before and after holding down the orange circle:

This is just one example of how the Wally interface is not so straightforward.

The third and final tab on the app is for budget review. This area shows a very basic analysis of your spending by category each week, month and year.

Wally 1

Wally 2











This is just one example of how the Wally interface is not so straightforward.

The third and final tab on the app is for budget review. This area shows a very basic analysis of your spending by category each week, month and year.

Who is Wally best for?

Wally is for someone looking to just track money coming in and going out to cut down on excess spending. The budget history section of Wally is a breakdown of your spending with minimal detail. It’s just a pie chart with color-coded expense categories. If you’re looking for an app that has more to offer in the analytics section, this isn’t the one for you.

What does Wally cost?

The best thing about Wally is it’s free. In the future, the creators of Wally may add premium plans with extra features like currency conversion and money management for families. But, there will always be the basic free version of the app that includes the expense tracking tools.

What are the pros and cons of using Wally?

If you’re on the hunt for a budget app, here are a few pros and cons of choosing Wally:


  • It’s free.
  • It’s available on iPhone and Android.
  • It saves the locations where you shop often so you can enter them quickly in the future.
  • You can assign recurring income and expenses.
  • You can take photos of receipts to store them.
  • There’s a review section where you get a very basic overview of your spending habits.
  • You can export data via CSV and store your data on iCloud.


  • Wally isn’t as user-friendly as it could be. It took some digging through the user tips manual to figure out the app.
  • The review section for expense analysis is limited.
  • Wally doesn’t link to your actual financial accounts. What your app says and the money you physically have in the bank may not match up if you forget to put an expense in.

How does Wally Stack Up Against the Competition?

SpendBook has a leg up on Wally when it comes to analytics and how user-friendly it is. The basics of the app are relatively similar though. You manually enter your income and expenses.

But, in addition to that, SpendBook has a calendar where you can review budget history down to each day. There’s also a section to manually enter balances from your financial accounts to see how income and expenses impact your bottom line. SpendBook costs $1.99 for iPhone.

LevelMoney is another similar system to track spending except you have the option to connect your financial accounts to the dashboard. Level Money uses your income, expenses, and savings goal to calculate your “spendable” amount, which is like an allowance.

This app is free and available for iPhone and Android. It uses 128-Bit SSL and AES encryption to keep your data safe. It’s also security verified by Intuit and McAfee.

Toshl Finance is a budget system with more options. You can manually enter data. Or you can connect up to two financial accounts for free. Toshl Finance uses your spending habits from the past to create a spending plan for the future.

You can export data to PDF, Google Docs, Evernote, Excel and CSV. You can also sync your Toshl Finance account with other devices. The service has bill reminders and spending analytics. It’s available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. The basic service is free, but the advanced version where you can set-up unlimited financial accounts and budgets costs $1.99 per month.

Should You Use Wally?

The biggest negative of Wally is it’s not particularly easy to navigate at first. Still, it’s free. So, if you’re looking for a way to take control of your everyday spending, this app is worth a try.




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