New apps are entering the send-and-receive money market all the time, and it seems as though every social networking and communication platform wants to get in on the action. Users love them – simply link the app to a credit card, debit card or bank account, and send or request money with a few clicks. No writing a check or remembering to hand over cash the next time you see someone.

While the market leaders seem to have parity regarding app features, here are some things to consider before using them.

1. Think about how you'll use the app.

While the services may be similar, there are important differences. For example:

  • Some providers hold the funds in a balance in the app until you transfer it to your bank account, while others simply move the money directly from one bank account to another.
  • Times to complete transfers vary, with some happening in a day or less and some taking longer.
  • Some apps have limits on how much you can send.
  • Most won't charge for personal use, although there may be fees for using a debit or credit card, or for pulling funds out of the app.

Just be sure you know what to expect before diving in.

2. Send and receive money only with people you know and trust.

This is important, especially if you're buying something and using an app to send money to the seller or if you are selling something and the buyer is paying you using an app. While some apps permit transfers to be canceled by the sender before the money actually changes hands, even if you've received a confirmation, others provide that funds sent cannot be canceled.

If, for example, you posted a bicycle for sale and took payment via an app, the buyer could ride off on your bike and cancel the transaction, leaving you with nothing – and no recourse. It may be better to stick with cash, a cashier’s check or a bank check in these instances.

3. Lock your device and app.

How many times have you seen someone post from another friend's social networking account? It's too easy to pick up a phone or tablet and get into the owner's apps. While it may seem inconvenient to require a passcode every time you pick up your device, you'll get used to it in no time.

You should also set up a passcode to access the app and make it distinct from the one used to unlock your device. You can also set the app to notify you of transactions and changes to your account settings.