Emoji-friendly, friend-friendly, and definitely split-the-bill-friendly Venmo, the person-to-person payment service app, is on just about everyone’s phones. In just the first half of 2018 the app handled $26 billion in payment volume — no wonder then, its name has become a verb.

But even if you’re among the many who have quit cash for Venmo, you may not be Venmo-ing right. For anyone still requesting rent from your S.O. for all to see, or always forgetting to pay your share after a night out with friends, these tips are for you.


Part of Venmo’s appeal is that it turns typically boring cash transactions into chats: Instead of digging for money at a bar, you can tap out what you owe and attach a martini glass and flamenco dancer emoji — because why say it with words when a smiley will do?

No shame in that on the surface, but do you really want your mom or your coworkers seeing that time stamp, and knowing you were out drinking at 3 in the morning? Solution: Set your transactions to private. It takes an extra tap, but it’s worth it in the long run to keep your private life just that.


If you like to keep your transactions public, know that being specific in your descriptions is helpful, if avoiding the rumor mill is a thing you like to do. A quick scroll of recent public transactions on my Venmo revealed a transaction with the zippered lips emoji, another that said only “fantasy,” and another that says “open the box.” Draw your own conclusions, and think for a moment what snap judgments you want to solicit from the world.


Scene: Interior, restaurant, late at night. To speed up paying the bill, best friend hands credit card to server and then says to you, “You can just Venmo me your half. It’s $40, including tip.” Pick up your phone immediately to send that money to your bestie. An implied rule of an easy-to-use payment system is that you take advantage of said ease and do it promptly, lest your companion need to hound you for the cash a week later.


Remember, Venmo is something that exists in place of cash — by the transitive property, it exists in place of coins as well. If you’re using the charge feature, don’t charge someone the exact change. Just round up or down. If you wouldn’t want to deal with the change in real life, that should extend to Venmo, too.


If you’ve never met the person you’re Venmo-ing, don’t send them large sums of money. This sounds like a no-brainer, but the fast pace of technology notoriously clouds judgment.

While it’s great to think everyone is operating on the up-and-up, just keep in mind that Venmo is not StubHub or Ticketmaster: There is no way to vet transactions and you might find yourself out a couple hundred bucks. Double check the spelling of your recipient’s name, too. Some users have found out the hard way that there’s no guarantee that you’ll be refunded when you send money to the wrong person.

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