Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor in Colorado. He covers banking and loans and has nearly two decades of experience writing about personal finance.
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Justin PritchardReviewed by
Updated March 03, 2020
You can do much more than chat through Facebook Messenger—including sending payments to and requesting funds from friends who owe you money. If you spend a lot of time in Messenger, it may be a convenient option for sending and receiving money online.
You can use Facebook Messenger on your desktop or make in-app payments from a mobile device. Payments are free whether you send or receive them.
One advantage of using Facebook Messenger to send and receive payments is that you can easily split the cost of something with a number of people. For example, if a group discussion led up to an event, you can choose to split a payment between members of that discussion.
Before using the service for payments, you may want to become familiar with the basic requirements:
- You need to fund payments with a U.S. bank-issued Visa or MasterCard debit card or a PayPal account.
- You must be 18 or older to use the service.
- You can send money to trusted friends and family.
- You and your friend both must live in the U.S.
Sending money with Facebook is about as easy as sending a private message.
Start a conversation with the friend that you want to pay. Tap or click on the “$” icon and enter the amount you want to send. Hit “Next,” and the money is on its way. If you don’t see that icon, then you should contact Facebook Support.
To use Messenger payments the first time, you need to provide funding information. It’s easiest to submit this information as you go through the process of making a payment. But you can also add or change funding methods by updating your payment settings.
Enter your debit card number or PayPal account login and any other required information. If you’re using a phone, you also have the opportunity to set up a personal identification number (PIN) during this step. This helps prevent unauthorized payments. Choose a code that is hard to guess and that nobody else knows.
Because Messenger uses your debit card, the money will come out of your checking account almost immediately.
Make sure you have sufficient funds in your account to avoid overdraft charges, bounced checks, and other problems before you make a payment with Facebook Messenger.
If somebody sends you money through Messenger, you’ll get a notification. If your debit card or PayPal account are already linked, then Messenger will send the money right away.
If you don’t already have debit card information on file, you need to provide card details to accept the payment. Once that’s done, funds will go to the checking account linked to your debit card.
Facebook does not hold onto the money, but your bank might take several days to show the payment in your account.
If you need the funds to be available for spending immediately, Zelle might work as an alternative to Messenger payments—Zelle transfers are typically available within minutes. You might already have access to Zelle through your bank, and payments clear quickly when both your bank and the sender’s bank work with Zelle.
Facebook claims it encrypts your personal data and credit card number. It also takes care to store your financial information separately from your account data. However, as with any transaction where money is involved, you should take steps to protect yourself from fraud and other problems.
You can’t cancel Messenger payments, although recipients can voluntarily reject them if you make a mistake. Plus, the money comes out of your account immediately. Facebook does not advertise any type of consumer protection, and you are not supposed to use Messenger for business payments—including buying on eBay or Craigslist.
Con artists may take advantage of this service, as they have with Venmo, Zelle, and similar services.
To protect yourself, establish a PIN for Messenger payments (or Touch ID, if available on your device). Biometric security features such as Touch ID are only available when using the Messenger app on mobile devices. You have the choice to opt out of that additional step, but why take the chance?
Payments through Messenger are about as safe as any other app or online service. Facebook hired David Marcus, the former head of PayPal, in 2014, in preparation for Messenger payments (so you would expect industry-standard security).
Facebook claims that all payment information is encrypted, including your card number and details about your transaction. Facebook stores that data “separate from other parts of the Facebook network,” and the company dedicates additional resources to watch for fraud.
Privacy cannot be ignored. If everything is already on Facebook and you’re not concerned about that, a bit of your financial information might not matter. But data can be mined and analyzed in surprising ways, so be mindful of how you send and receive money. When you make a payment in Messenger, your name, profile photo, and payment amount are shared with your friend and stored in Facebook’s servers. In group payment situations, all members of the group can see payment amounts—so pay one-to-one if that matters.