Just don’t do it
There’s a fine line between frugal and cheap.
Venmo and other person-to-person payment services make sending money easy. With just a few taps on your smartphone, you’ve paid that friend back for dinner or your date for a drink — without ever having to hit an ATM. Venmo, which is owned by PayPal, processed $17.6 billion in payments in 2016, more than double what it did in 2015.
But the popularity and ease with which Venmo and other payment apps allow people to transfer money to each other, means that many aren’t afraid to ask for even the small amounts of cash. A survey of more than 1,000 people released Thursday from Bank of America found that one in three people think that no amount is too little to ask someone to send you using Venmo or a service like it. Bottom line: Your friends feel comfortable asking you to Venmo them for that $1 pack of gum you picked up.
But should they? It depends on your age group, income and relationship, says etiquette expert Pamela Eyring, president of The Protocol School of Washington. “For most teenagers and college students, every dollar matters,” she says — so if you’re in this group, it’s fine to ask for very small amounts to be paid back to you. “However, if you lend a tiny amount, say a few dollars, to a business colleague or a good friend, don’t ask for it back,” she says.
If you ask, you do it at your own risk. Relationship and etiquette expert April Masini notes says that while she think’s it’s fine to ask for any amount you’re owed, “when you start asking for small amounts, like a single dollar, you run the risk of being judged as petty.”
No matter how much you’re owed, be polite about the ask, Masini says, by saying something like “why don’t we Venmo this?” The use of “we” makes it seem like a joint, shared effort rather than a demand for payment. However, if you need the money ASAP or are dealing with someone who is difficult, you should be a little more direct, she says. Say something like, “Hey, can you Venmo me now while I’m thinking about it — I forget these things if I don’t take care of them in the moment,” Masini advises.
© 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved