Can I Use Venmo to Meet My Credit Card’s Minimum Spend?

Apr 10, 2017

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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

Everyone loves a big juicy credit card sign-up bonus, but it’s important to be able to meet the sometimes substantial minimum spend requirement. That’s why TPG reader Walker wants to know a few details about Venmo…

Do you know if sending someone money on Venmo would count as spending or a cash advance?

TPG Reader Walker

Venmo is a simple payment service that’s grown significantly in popularity over the last few years. Basically, you can use the service to send or receive money with anyone else who’s willing to sign up for a Venmo account. People use it for things like paying rent to their landlord, pooling cash to one person to cover a group outing or even just sending money owed to a friend.

As with many payment services, Venmo offers several ways to fund the payments you send to others, such as using your bank account or debit card. Credit cards are also one of the choices, and most folks have reported that charges for Venmo payments do code as purchases, not as cash advances. That’s an important detail because not only do cash advances generally not count toward a credit card’s minimum spend for sign-up bonus purposes, but you’ll also start racking up obscene interest charges on cash advances from the day the charge posts instead of getting the usual 25 or 30 day grace period to pay off the bill in full.

Venmo credit card transactions usually code as regular purchases, but come with a 3% fee.

So Venmo sounds like the perfect way to make your minimum spend, right? Not quite. Because while using a bank account or debit card to fund your Venmo payment is free, using a credit card means paying a 3% fee. That means if you use Venmo for $4,000 in minimum spend payments, you’ll end up paying an extra $120 for the privilege of doing so. That isn’t horrible, and if it’s the difference between getting a big sign-up bonus or missing out on it, then you may want to eat the fee. But you’ll be better off finding no-fee methods of spending, or even lower-fee options such as paying taxes or college tuition if those work for your needs, and considering Venmo only as a last resort.

Also, just in case you’re wondering, Venmo is not a fan of people sending money back and forth to each other entirely for the purpose of earning credit card points, even if they’re paying a fee to do so. The company has been known to quickly shut down accounts that don’t appear to be engaging in legitimate transactions. So if you’re going to use Venmo, make sure it’s for a real reason, not just moving money around.

Thanks for the question, Walker, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

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