3 Dos & 3 Don'ts For Using Venmo

Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
If Emily Post were around today, I expect she would have a thing or two to say about Venmo. I’m the first to admit the app has changed my life: Everything from paying rent to splitting a birthday present for a mutual friend is far easier with the addition of this little blue icon on my phone. But with new technology comes new territory, and with that, new etiquette — and potential faux pas.

Like much of the online world, Venmo gives us a mask to hide behind. With it, you can reach through someone’s phone and ask them for money without ever having to speak to them in person. This is extremely useful — it does take some of the confrontation out of what could be an awkward transaction — but it can also be off-putting. Money, even on Venmo, can be a sensitive topic.

If you use Venmo even occasionally, check out these tips to make sure you're not unintentionally offending your money-owing friends.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Do: Use it for birthday presents, splitting checks, and collecting rent from roommates.
There are some use cases that Venmo was just made for, pure and simple. Never has collecting money for a friend’s birthday present been so easy. I have a friend who is a host at a restaurant who said Venmo has changed her life: Instead of splitting the check 13 ways, groups will now have one person pay the check, while the rest Venmo their portion. This makes things easier for everyone involved.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Don’t: stalk.
We've probably all been guilty of this from time to time, but let's face it: Venmo stalking is creepy. I had a friend admit to me he found out his ex was dating someone simply by stalking her Venmo charges. NO. Just no. Money is a private thing, and even though some people leave their transactions public, you shouldn’t do a deep dive on their finances. A little browse here and there, okay, fine, but there is a line between chuckling at everyone's emoji-filled transactions when you’re bored, and being able to recount that your friend Mary paid $28.16 for appetizers last Wednesday.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Do: Think about which charges should be kept private.
Many of us try to make our Venmo charges funny. Inside jokes, “Your Mom” references, and inappropriate emoji are always popping up on my feed. But it's a very good idea to keep some charges private. It's a security thing: A thief could figure out what times your place is typically empty based on your regular "Thursday night girls' night!" posts across various apps. And third-party sites such as Vicemo actually scrape Venmo for any public transactions that mention booze, sex, or drugs. We recommend keeping your sharing settings limited to friends only, at least — and not visible to the wider universe — and keeping most of your transactions completely private.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Don’t: blindside people.
Give someone a heads up before you charge them. It’s not that difficult to shoot someone a text and say, “Hey, charging you on Venmo for the Beyoncé ticket” (or even better, say it in person). It's incredibly awkward to get a Venmo charge for something you paid for six months ago that you barely remember, and then having to ask for clarification. And billing your ex for a bunch of charges after you've split: Yeah, that's a no-no, too.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Do: agree beforehand.
My roommates and I were recently invited to a “dinner party” by a close friend. We went, brought a bottle of wine to our host, and had a nice time. The next day, we all received a shocking Venmo charge for $25. Along the lines of not blindsiding people, if you're planning on charging friends for a group activity, make sure that point is well established beforehand. Inviting someone to your home for a meal and then retroactively charging them for the food without prior warning is not acceptable, and puts everyone in an uncomfortable position.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Don’t: split hairs.
Yes, money is precious, and as a young person, I understand all too well that every dollar counts. However, between groups of friends, it all equals out. If your friend grabs you Starbucks, there’s no need to Venmo her $2.75. You will (and should!) get her next time. Now, you shouldn’t be footing the bill for dinner every time, but try to have grace, especially between pals. While everyone has their own level of comfort, for close friends I wouldn't expect anyone to Venmo charge me for anything under $10. Decide what that limit is for you, and be sure you're neither always being expected to cover someone else nor the friend who's always being paid for.
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