Venmo Review

Table of Contents

PROS

  • Sending and receiving cash is effortless
  • Can be used on some sites and apps that accept PayPal

CONS

  • Default privacy setting shares your payment history with the world
  • Can't pay people via website
  • No international payment method
  • No peer-to-peer payment protections
  • Scammers are known to take advantage of it

VENMO SPECS

Free Version No
Free Credit Report/Score No
Web Interface Yes

ALL SPECS 

One of the best reasons to prefer Venmo is that there's a good chance anyone you want to pay—or instant transfer money from your Venmo safe—is also using it. Though the same could be said of the app from its parent company, PayPal, Venmo remains the highest-profile peer-to-peer mobile payment apps around. It smoothes transferring money between friends, turning it into social entertainment. There are some downsides to this visibility, but the app also offers real benefits.

Splitting payments, withdrawing money, split bills and instant transfer funds into your bank account is all part of Venmo account is strong execution. The biggest news for Venmo account since our last look is the Venmo debit card that lets you access your savings account funds at ATMs and stores. Despite some caveats, Venmo is a mobile payment app worth considering.

Getting Started With Venmo App

Venmo app works on iOS, Android, and the web. I've been using Venmo user on an iPhone X running iOS 13 and on a Windows 10 PC with no difficulties. The signup page clearly shows all the service's fees. There are very few of these, and Venmo account charges no monthly or annual fee, though that's par for the course for mobile payment apps.

The biggest transaction fee is the 3 percent transaction fee when using a credit card (required by credit card companies). You also pay 1 percent if you want to move money from your Venmo account to your linked bank account faster than the standard wait time of one to three days. Venmo iOS app

You can sign up with your Facebook account or by providing a name, email address, mobile phone number, and password. Next, you confirm the Venmo account via SMS text. You then designate and verify a bank account for your business profile by entering Venmo debit card or bank account details.

You can either enter your online linked bank account login info or have a Venmo user send a test charge after telling it your routing and account numbers. Adding a credit card as a payment source is an option, but you still need a linked bank account connected, since the credit card won't receive money.

You then connect with friends already on the platform, usually via Facebook. Verifying your identity raises the same amount of transfer money you can send or receive money at once from a $299.99 initial weekly cap to $6,999.99. This cap is lower than Google Pay $10,000 weekly limit, but more generous than Square Cash's $250 initial weekly limit. In all, Venmo is one of the easier payment apps to set up.

Unfortunately, there's no way to circumvent the 3 per cent fee on Venmo payments taken from credit card transactions or a non-major debit card. The same holds for most payment apps, though, including Apple Pay CashSquare Cash doesn't even let you use a credit card for payment options. If you're looking for money transmission in business days, rather than with your friends, you need to use an NFC-payment app like Android Pay or Apple Pay, or a payment app like LevelUp.

Paying Friends With Venmo Account

To help you give and get cash from your friends, the Venmo app needs to know who your friends are. The app analyzes your phone's contact list to find Venmo user. You can also invite anyone you know to try out the service. Those two methods work fine, but Venmo account prefers to import your Facebook profile to generate a potential friends list. If you're not connected on a social platform, and your contact is in range, you can have them scan a QR code to connect for money transfers.

To make or request Venmo payment, you simply tap the Pay or Request button, select a friend (or use the QR code), choose between instant transfer money and asking for it, write a description for the Venmo transactions (with optional emoji), and tap Pay or Request. You'll choose a source for the payment at this point, with any Venmo balance coming first.

Entering the description is an extra step not required by other payment apps, but it's part of Venmo's social aspect. If you're not feeling verbose, an emoji alone does the trick in place of a text note. Once the amount, recipient, and note are in place, you get a final confirmation button, in case you get cold feet about reducing your assets. Venmo alerts you if and when your friend complies or when you have new pending debts of your own.

Venmo on the web

Performing a transaction with someone you're physically present with, but with whom you're not friends on Facebook, has been greatly simplified by the Venmo account Codes feature. With this, you simply point your phone's camera at the recipient's QR code, and, presto—you can send and receive money. I tried this with a non-Facebook-friended coworker, and she was in receipt of my generous buck before you could say “mobile payment application.” The Square Cash app, however, Makes money transfers to someone in physical proximity even easier, with its Nearby feature.

As mentioned, your transactions are uncomfortably visible by default, but it's easy to restrict the information to Participants Only in Settings > Privacy and Sharing. In the same Settings area, you can opt to prevent anyone from sharing your activity. The current signup process makes the privacy options clearer, but I still think public shouldn't be the default. When I asked acquaintances if they knew their activity was visible to the public, some were taken aback and immediately changed the privacy settings. Others were perfectly at ease with the transparency of their Venmo account money dealings. One small blessing is that the feed doesn't show the amount of the cancel payments.

Occasionally, this public sharing leads to some funny, cryptic stories of past wild nights out for friends to like and comment on. “Tony S.” paid “Bruce B.” $10,000 for “Science Bro Stuff.” Friends love flaunting inside jokes on the Internet; after all, braggadocio is the impetus for most social network posts. But honestly, do other people really need to know whom you send money to? Venmo users is now powered by the payment experts at PayPal, so its security is backed by that outfit's heavy-duty systems and encryption. There's also a good process for locking your venmo account if you lose the device on which you installed Venmo.

Potential privacy panics aside, Venmo's Facebook integration might be one of its greatest strengths. Not only is Facebook arguably the quickest way to find most people's friends, but the constant newsfeed also gives the impression that everyone else is using Venmo, so you should, too. Watch the me-too psychology of social media in action.

As noted from the start, a payment app is only useful and practical if your friends and family are on it, too. If your friends and family have iPhones, fine, Apple Pay does the trick, but you can't use it to send money internationally to an Android user. Mobile payment apps are all about send and receive money less complicated, so if you have to download some new app to get back the five bucks you lent a buddy a few days ago, that's just another hassle. Friends, unlike merchants, don't usually have the luxury of NFC terminals or devices like those from Square to get paid via debit and credit cards.

With Venmo, you get something just as convenient. So, it's in everyone's best interest that more people use the same app. Of course, Facebook Messenger's Payment options don't even require downloading a separate app, making it potentially even more convenient.

Using Venmo with Siri

Using Venmo with Siri on an Apple iOS device resembles doing so with Apple Pay and a few other apps: When I told Siri to pay a coworker $5, the response screen let me choose among Venmo, Apple Pay, Cash, and PayPal. Once you choose Venmo, the payment process is identical to starting from the app.

Venmo's effortless payment system makes it an app worth relying on. The app keeps a running list of past transactions you can check. Receiving Money shows up in green while sending money paid out is red. Similar to Apple Pay Cash, the app also functions as a virtual wallet to store funds, which you can cash out and transferring money to a linked bank account after a few days of processing time.

Payments to Online Stores and Apps 

You can now use Venmo account on some mobile sites and apps that include a PayPal button for checking out. This is not a big stretch, since PayPal owns Venmo. You need to turn this capability on with the Enable Mobile Web Purchases setting, and not that it doesn't work in your computer's browser. Advantages over simply paying with PayPal include letting you split the cost or share activity to your Venmo users. Stores you can pay include Foot Locker, Jane, and lululemon. Sites and app basic services you can pay using Venmo include Delivery.com, Grubhub, and Uber (as well as Uber Eats).

What's New and Coming for Venmo?

Since our last review, Venmo has added several new capabilities (many of them emoji-related). Here's a quick summary of the new features:

The Venmo Card. If you're one of Venmo users, there are some benefits to getting a Venmo Mastercard debit card. It lets you withdrawing money from your Venmo balances at an ATM (which sometimes incurs a $2.50 fee, plus the bank's fee) unless it's part of the Money Pass network of ATMs

Like a lot of cards, the Venmo card offers cash back rewards for certain in app purchases. One advantage of this system is that the reward cash appears in your Venmo account as soon as the transaction completes, though that can take up to 30 days. Credit cards usually make rewards available only after the monthly statement arrives, and then it takes up to three days after you make a request.

Direct Deposit. Venmo claims you can get access to your pay faster if you choose direct deposit, though it involves the extra step of moving or add money to your bank account activity unless you pay everything as Venmo users (which isn't possible). The company says its direct deposit is faster than using a bank account, many of which add a couple days' processing time. To set up direct deposit, you need to confirm your identity and share the Venmo routing number with your employer. You can even set up direct deposits for tax refunds and government stimulus money.

Custom Animated Stickers from Holler. One of Venmo's big selling points is the fun it brings to payments with not only posts and comments, but also emoji. These new ones are animated, for even more fun!

Business Features. Though standard Venmo account are not intended for business transactions—and don't offer the protections found in other payment methods—the company is flight-testing bank account designed for sole proprietors to transact in business days.

Another recent Venmo business feature is Venmo Payouts, which allows certain large companies like Chipotle and PepsiCo to send cash rewards and rebates to consumers.

This is currently a pilot program, part of Venmo's push for more business days usage. Venmo wasn't originally designed for commerce, but rather for friends and family paying each other, and it lacks protections found in other platforms designed specifically for business transactions. For example, if you sell something and take payment via Venmo, and the buyer is using a stolen credit card, you're out the money when Venmo receives a complaint about the stolen card. This is not the case for credit card payments.

Venmo Caveats

It's not for nothing that you'll see online articles with titles like “The Top X Venmo Scams.” Even Venmo's own support pages point out a variety of nefarious activity that takes place on the service. When I first opened the app after a couple of years of not using it, I saw two payments to myself, one for $100 and one for $10. DO NOT ACCEPT PAYMENTS LIKE THIS. You could be setting yourself up for a world of hurt and even for legal and criminal quagmires. It's possible that the payment was made with a stolen credit card, is part of a money-laundering scheme, or that the scammer will demand repayment for the transfer money they sent you, putting you in more legal or blackmail style trouble.

Another scam occurs when you sell something, and the buyer later retracts the original payment leaving you with neither your product nor the payment. Follow Venmo's guideline: Do not use Venmo for business transactions—just to send and receive money between acquaintances. If you use the service for business and run into a scam, Venmo won't help you, since you violated its terms by using it for nonpersonal or unauthorized transactions.

I also found emails from Venmo users requesting instant transfer money from my bank account activity. Make sure you don't click the Complete Charge button in these emails. I wish Venmo included a Report Transaction option, just like every social network does for posts. As it is, you have to go through a time-consuming customer service process to resolve issues. A Venmo contact suggested blocking the offending bank account, but even after I did this, they still appeared in my Top People on the payment page. A couple of tips to protect you from nefarious activity: Fund your payments with credit card payments (even though this incurs a 3 percent surcharge), since credit card payments companies are required to implement consumer protections. Second, set your audience to Friends or Participants Only. Third, set up a PIN, so a stranger can't pick up your unlocked phone and pay themself.

Makes Money Transfer Services – the Fun Way

Other mobile payment apps simply send and receive money between people. Venmo attempts to make payments between friends and family not only easy but also social. Despite potential scams—which you can avoid with proper use of the service—this focus makes all the difference, especially for those who like to share. Those who are more privacy-minded can adjust the visibility of their transactions to fit their comfort level or simply use another service, such as our Editors' Choice, Google Pay.

Venmo

PROS

  • Sending and receiving cash is effortless
  • Can be used on some sites and apps that accept PayPal

CONS

  • Default privacy setting shares your payment history with the world
  • Can't pay people via website
  • No international payments

THE BOTTOM LINE

Venmo's clear focus and strong execution make it one of the best overall mobile-payment systems, as long as you understand the possible privacy concerns with its default settings.

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