The Square Cash card is a game-changer for group travel

First things first: I was not paid to write this post. I’m not doing it as a favor for anyone at Square. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone at Square.

I just really, really like this thing.

The worst (and often, the least discussed) part of group travel is that it makes travel budgeting a near-impossible.

Expenses are generally covered by a few people in the group. One friend books the Airbnb, the friend who owns a car pays for the gas, and the friend who has the Chase Sapphire Reserve (and probably can’t shut up about it) pays for food. These people then either charge the group after each expense incurred or add it all up after the trip and split the sum between members of the group.

This makes budgeting near-impossible for the individual. Expenses add up slowly and are covered by multiple people. It’s not until after the trip, when you’re paying people back, that you realize you spent way more than you intended.

This setup is also a payback headache. Those paying upfront have to make sure they record all of their expenses in order to charge for them later. They might not get paid back in a reasonable amount of time, often having to chase people down to get their money back.

While the payback issue is a first-world problem, budgeting issues are a legitimate grievance.

Enter the Square Cash card.

The Cash card is beautifully simple to manage and solves budgeting and payback for group travel.

Here’s how it works. Everyone in the group downloads the Square Cash app. One person gets the Cash card (free of charge, provided by Square). The group agrees on a budget before the trip. Everyone uses the Cash app to send an equal amount to the owner of the card.

Then, for every group expense incurred during the trip—booking the Airbnb, paying for gas, buying drinks and food, whatever—use the Square Cash card.

The cardowner’s app will show the balance on the card, so the group can track expenses in realtime. As the balance declines, the group can decide whether to tighten spending or to contribute more.

And there’s no payback problem because everyone pays upfront. No chasing people down reminding them to pay you back.

If there’s any remaining balance on the card at the end of the trip, the cardowner divides that amongst the group. Easy.

The only potential wildcard is to pick a cardowner who is a trusted member of the group, who won’t use it on any non-group expenses, and will fairly split any remaining balance at the end of the trip. Unless your friends are douchebags, this shouldn’t be a problem.

That’s it! You can sign up for Square Cash here. (Full disclosure, this is my affiliate link—and we’ll each get $5 if you use it!) Ordering your Cash card is easy once you’ve downloaded the app.

Bonus: you can get a custom signature printed on your Cash card. They’re pretty snazzy.

Image Credit: Square Cash Twitter. They retweet a ton of awesome Cash card photos – check them out!