6 Ways to Use Venmo Without Being a Jerk to Your Friends, According to Etiquette Experts

published Mar 20, 2022
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tips for for using venmo
Credit: Apartment Therapy

Venmo and other money-sharing apps like Cash App have changed the game when it comes to sending money to friends, family, and others — but that convenience can come with its fair share of sticky situations. For many, money is an uncomfortable topic, and asking a friend to pay you their half of the dinner bill or dealing with an unexpected cash request can be an awkward landscape to navigate. 

A recent tweet from an individual who was sent a bill after a friend’s dinner party has ignited quite the conversation around Venmo etiquette, so if you’re curious about how to handle transactions of all sorts, these tips from etiquette experts will keep your cash-sending (and receiving) game as smooth, polite, and friendly as possible.

Keep your communication clear and concise.

“When it comes to using Venmo in transferring funds for expenses shared between friends, relatives, and colleagues, no matter what the expense is, make sure the other party knows the request is being sent at the time of the expense,” explains Dr. August Abbott, etiquette expert at JustAnswer. “If you’re out to lunch or there’s an event cost to be shared, make it clear to the other person that you’ll be sending a Venmo request for payment and approximately when you’ll be sending it, since many of us need a tighter budget these days.” Abbott advises keeping the notification short and sweet and making sure you add a please and thank you to your message.

Embrace the awkwardness.

Elaine Swann, etiquette expert at the Swann School of Protocol, says to lean into the awkward feeling instead of putting off asking for money because it feels uncomfortable. “Embrace the awkward and push forward towards your actual goal,” she explains. “This means you might have to have a not-so-comfortable conversation or send a text message that feels a bit odd, but the goal is to communicate effectively and get clarity.”

Imagine you receive a money request you weren’t expecting because you were under the impression the person was going to cover the entire cost of a meal or evening out. “If you feel like it’s not warranted or was miscommunicated, then ask!” says Swann. “Wait for their answer and if you come to an agreement, go ahead and pay it.”

Credit: Jessica Sharmin/Stocksy

Know when to just pay a request.

Sometimes a misunderstanding is just that — a misunderstanding. “When we receive a request for money from a friend for something we thought they were gifting us, we need to take a beat before we get upset,” shares Abbott. “This request goes into our ‘unexpected expense’ column of our budget and to argue it, dispute it, or whine about it is, or should be, beneath you.” If the request is coming from a friend, Abbott advises just paying the request and asking more questions around expenses and money in general in the future, so you don’t get into this situation again. 

Try a two-pronged approach when asking for money.

If someone owes you money for their half of a dinner bill, a bridal shower gift, or tickets for an event and hasn’t paid when they said they would, send them a reminder before sending the request on the app. “Instead of sending a random request on an app, the first step is to communicate with them in whatever way you normally would: verbally, via text, or on the phone,” Swann recommends. “Follow up with them and say, ‘I’m sending you a request via the app, then send the request.”

Abbott agrees with the two-step approach when dealing with a friend or colleague who hasn’t paid you back. “In this instance you aren’t so much owed for a service or item but for a promise,” she says. “In a private moment, take the person … aside and say, ‘I know you made a promise to send money via Venmo and am hoping you have a date in mind for when you can do this.’” If you’re still waiting after a few days, remind them one more time and then cover the expense on your own. 

Set a time frame.

In general, it’s best to pay someone back as soon as possible. “If you pick up the bill and everyone is going to split it, 24 to 48 hours is a good time frame to pay back,” advises Swann. If you genuinely forgot to pay your coworker back for lunch or your best friend back for concert tickets, do it as soon as you can and send a quick apology alongside the payment.

Leave a note.

Cash-sending apps include a little note section where you can remind the receiver what the money is for, and Swann recommends using it for every transaction. “Whether you’re sending or receiving, use those features so people can keep track of what’s coming and going.”

“Be sure to give a due date,” says Abbott. “Preferably a week or two so the person can juggle finances if necessary. For example, ‘I’d like to close this expense out by [this date]. Please let me know if you run into any delays.’”