When you first learned about the money app Venmo, you were probably hesitant. If something so good hadn’t already been created, then there must be something wrong with it, right? Well, fast-forward a few years since its launch, and you likely don’t go a week without saying or hearing the phrase “I’ll Venmo you,” essentially meaning someone will send you a payment on Venmo. It definitely has gotten rid of the awkwardness of sending your friends a bank transfer or check or passing them cash for dinners, group vacations, wedding expenses, and the like.
But as people are using the app more and more, certain questions of etiquette have cropped up. Is it ever acceptable to use the “request” option with your friends? Is there a minimum amount of money necessary when it comes to making requests? Can you follow up when a charge hasn’t been fulfilled? The list goes on and on. To make your financial life easier (and your social life less confusing), we’ve rounded up the dos and don’ts of etiquette when it comes to this money app—consider this Intro to Venmo 101. Scroll through to see all of our top Venmo tips.
Do: Consider Timeliness
The popularity of Venmo means that people are more willing to lend money more than ever before. But if your friend just fronted all the money for your next international getaway, get on that payment ASAP (he or she is not a bank). It’s completely fine to pay others for dinner and drinks the next morning, but don’t let it go too long or they’ll be wondering whether you forgot. Also, never have someone front you money “until you get your next paycheck.” Venmo is for making bill-splitting easier, not so your friend can get you through until your next pay period.
Do: Have Discretion
We’ll talk more about this later, but if you’re making a public transaction, be wary of what you’re typing as a comment. Someone we know may have once requested a payment for How to Be Single (the movie!) from a friend who had just been broken up with. Needless to say, it may have accidentally looked like said person spent a lot of money trying to get over her ex.
Do: Make Sure You Link to the Proper Account
Venmo allows you to link to multiple bank accounts—payments can come out of one and when you cash out, the “owed” money can be deposited into another. Make sure that you have the correct one checked in the settings before you make a transaction and accidentally overdraw.
Don’t: Forget to Cash Out Regularly
Venmo basically allows you to “bank” a certain amount of money when people send you transfers. Until you hit “Transfer to Bank,” it remains in limbo (if you were to then Venmo someone else money, it would deduct from that pending amount). Always remember to make sure to cash out. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that money is automatically in your checking account.
Don’t: Treat It Like It’s a Social Networking Site
Yes, the occasional public comment is totally okay (emoji too, of course). But really and truly, this is not a social networking site. As one friend put it: “You should at least speak in discreet emoji. I shouldn’t know that you did karaoke and got chicken fried rice and shared a cab home with so-and-so last night.” If we know who you’re dating via Venmo before you’ve made it official, chances are you’re sharing a little too much.
Don’t: Charge Someone for a Date
Or pay for one. You never know how a first date will go—especially after you met online and your potential suitor doesn’t even vaguely resemble their profile photo. The rule of thumb is never to “charge” someone for a date via Venmo. If you decide you want to split the bill, then pull out your wallet in person. But there should be no charging after the fact when things didn’t turn out so well. A friend confesses: “My friend got ‘billed’ $42 on Venmo after it was established there wasn’t a second date. She denied the request.”
Don’t: Feel Bad Following Up on Payment
Here's another important Venmo tip: Fronting money can be an awkward thing, even with close friends. If your friend forgets to pay you for a $50 dinner, that’s one thing, but a coffee? Best to let that one go—they’ll get you next time. If you are dealing with larger sums of cash with someone close to you, simply text or ask for a payment. We would strongly suggest against using the “request” button here (it just seems too formal). Give him or her a few days, and then if you haven’t received the payment, follow up kindly via text.
It’s a completely different situation altogether if you’re waiting on a payment from someone you don’t know well (like a friend of a friend’s for a bachelorette party). In this case, feel free to send an email or use the “request” button. After all, you were nice enough to go out on a limb to front the money here. And with larger groups of people, never hesitate to reach out personally if someone didn’t actually split the dinner you shared (using Venmo is not a reason for you to have to pay more).
Be sure to read the rules for lending money to friends, and tell us your top Venmo tips in the comments.