The etiquette of paying friends through Venmo

By Alysia Marquez 

College students are faced with an etiquette dilemma; how do we politely go about our Venmo transactions? 

The college landscape is unique, thousands of young people, in their late teens or early twenties, given free reign for the first time in their life. The freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. But with this freedom comes an abundance of responsibilities. 

Two of these responsibilities overlap – our social life and our finances. Both are equally important, but the addition of financial responsibility to our social life puts uncomfortable and unwanted stress on our relationships. For young people, Venmo is the main platform for this type of financial interaction. 

When sharing a meal or splitting an Uber, Venmo is now the first choice when it comes to repayment. But the use of Venmo brings about several related issues and questions. Do you request someone the money they owe you, or just hope that they’ll remember? What amount is too little to be repaid? Do you make the transaction public, or private? What is the statute of limitations on a specific transaction?

To minimize the stress and tension associated with our finances, we can narrow it down to five Venmo rules of thumb.

First, be straightforward & transparent. When the topic of money, or who’s paying, is brought up, set up a clear and concise plan. Who is footing the bill, and who will have to repay their share? People appreciate those who take the initiative and are open about finances, it makes it much easier for everyone else. Be open about expenses, this eliminates the anxiety and stress associated with “Venmo Anxiety.” 

Second, treat others the way you would like to be treated. If it’s an amount of money that you’d want to be repaid, make sure to do your share and pay that money back. Doing so creates a positive relationship with the people you often exchange finances with; you’re reliable and honest about finances and understand that it is important.   

Third, unless told otherwise, assume that you should pay someone back. Be the bigger person and take the initiative – assume that they want to be repaid unless you are told otherwise. Always ask how much you owe and who you’ll be paying.

Fourth, if it’s been longer than two weeks, it’s safe to assume that the transaction’s been forgotten, and the debts forgiven. This goes both ways; between the “Venmo-er” and the “Venmo-ee.”  

Failing to remember the money, especially in terms of asking someone to pay you back, means taking responsibility for the forgotten payment. 

Fifth, don’t Venmo request anybody you truly care about. While it is a straightforward and clear option, it can often come across as greedy and insincere. Venmo requesting is equivalent to breaking up with someone over text; rude and cowardly. Be straightforward and ask for the money to their face. If it’s money you really need from someone that you’re not close to? Request away. But it’s better to request that money outside of the platform, instead of inside of it.

Given our new social landscape, it is important that we adapt with these modern platforms. Money is a sensitive subject for everyone, and for most college-age students every dollar counts. Venmo politics are not for the weak but is something that is becoming much more mainstream. Obviously, these “rules” have exceptions, and you should always do what you feel is right and get what you are owed. Just make sure to minimize your losses along the way.  


Alysia Marquez is a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism

Best in Business Book Awards

Official Media Partner

BIB Book Awards Sponsors

Exclusive Sponsor
Investing & Personal Finance category

Exclusive Sponsor
Business & Reporting category

Official Content Distributor