Using Venmo, Amazon Payments, and Serve to Earn Miles with Debit Cards

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Yesterday I wrote about the potential to earn miles by purchasing money orders.  However, you can also earn Alaska Air or Delta miles by transferring money to others using either Venmo, Amazon Payments, or Serve.

As always, you should ensure that you have a legitimate reason to transfer money to your friend or partner to ensure that your accounts are not flagged by Amazon, Venmo, Serve or your bank and risk being frozen.

However, don’t transfer money to yourself and don’t set up 2 accounts in your name and transfer money between them.  If you do that, you risk freezing your account and the money in it!

My suspicion is that it is unprofitable for banks to continue to award miles for using debit cards with payment transfer services, so I wouldn’t expect this to continue for long.


Venmo used to allow folks to transfer up to $2,500 a month without a fee using a credit card.  This was a great way to meet the minimum spending requirements for credit cards for free, but you now have to pay a 3% fee to use Venmo to transfer money with a credit card.  In my opinion, it is is still worth paying a 3% fee to get you a 50,000 point credit card sign-up bonus if you have no other way of meeting that minimum spending requirement.

But Venmo recently started accepting debit cards and they do not charge a fee for “Debit cards issued by major banks.”  They do charge a 3% fee for debit cards issued by smaller banks.  However, this page says that using debit cards is always free, so I’m not sure which page is accurate.

There is a $2,000 monthly limit on the amount you can transfer using a debit card with a Venmo account.

I had more than 3 credit cards listed on my Venmo account (the maximum allowed), so I contacted Venmo to remove the cards and indicated that I wanted to use a debit card.  I never heard back from them, but I could add a debit card 10 days later.

I recently transferred money to Emily to pay for dinner using both the Alaska Air and Delta debit card and was not charged a 3% fee.  However, my Delta debit card shows a transaction of $13 from Venmo and also still has a pending charge of 2 cents from Venmo.

I’m not sure if this 2 cents is a fee (if so it is 0.15%), or if it will fall off my statement.

But fees could always change, so do a test transaction for yourself before transferring lots of money.

My statements haven’t closed as yet, so I don’t  know if I’ll earn miles, but will post an update in early September.

Amazon Payments

Despite angry comments proclaiming Amazon Payments’ demise over a year ago, you can still use Amazon payments to transfer up to $1,000 fee-free per month between persons if you select the “goods & services” option. 

This limit applies to both credit cards and debit cards, so it could be better to use Amazon Payments to help meet the minimum spending on credit cards since most other payment sites charge a fee for using a credit card.


American Express Serve was very frustrating to use with a credit card because the limits were low and funding your Serve account with a credit card and withdrawing the amount often resulted in accounts suspended or closed.  In my observation, American Express seems to have the best set of internal controls to deter folks from taking advantage of their products and services.

But it is unclear if American Express is as strict with funding a Serve account with a debit card.

There are no fees up to March 15, 2013 for adding money to your Serve account using a credit card OR a debit card.  You can add up to $100 a day to your Serve account using a debit card with a monthly limit of $1,000 for debit card funding.

I won’t be using Serve because of the hassle factor, but you can get $25 for opening a Serve account, funding it AND spending $25 or more elsewhere, so you’re getting $25 for free.

Bottom Line:  You can transfer money to others for legitimate reasons and earn miles when you use a debit card.  But don’t abuse this because having you bank account closed, with your money in it, is usually a much bigger deal than just having a credit card closed.  And you don’t want to be blacklisted from the banks either.

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37 responses to “Using Venmo, Amazon Payments, and Serve to Earn Miles with Debit Cards

  1. Although there is no amazon fee for senders, there is for the person receiving the payment. Has this been your experience using amazon payments?
    For Transaction >=$10:

    2.9% + $0.30 for all transactions

    Volume Discounts

    2.5% + $.30 for all transactions for monthly payment volume from $3k-$10k
    2.2% + $.30 for all transactions for monthly payment volume from $10k – $100k
    1.9% + $.30 for all transactions for monthly payment volume over $100k

    For Transactions < $10:

    5.0% + $0.05 for all transactions

  2. From my experience, I have not incurred any fees for receiving amazon payment <$1000

  3. I’m unable to access the link “Despite angry comments proclaiming Amazon Payments’ demise over a year ago”
    Authentication seems to be required.


  4. Here we go again….

  5. “I contacted Venmo to remove the cards and indicated that I wanted to use a debit card. I never heard back from them”

    FWIW I sent them an e-mail through their form on their website asking if my bank was classified as large or small and got a non automated response in about 15 minutes.

  6. Regurgitated content. Will not read again. F—-

  7. You just don’t get it do you? Why do you keep on posting these tricks despite being told not to do it?

    Its like you want the deals to be shut down. Let the lazy people find the deal by themselves and don’t spoonfeed them.

    I’m done, and I’m sorry I clicked any of your credit card links.

  8. To Commentator named: “Why?”

    Dude, just move on. AP has been around awhile, and other blogs write about it. I bet you learned about from a “public” source. AP knows what people are doing, and for whatever reason they keep it up. If they pull it down, it will not be because of these posts.

    Also, please find a better argument then “lazy people” and “spoonfeed”, that is a ridic argument. The point of a blog is to spread information. If you want to find stuff yourself, then practice what you preach; I suggest you quit reading blogs in general.

    Darius, I only use your links (when you have them, and I know you get referrals). Thanks for the good work!

  9. I must agree with Jacob. The idea that some things should remain confined to a self-appointed in-group is rather selfish and quite impossible to control. Anytime you aren’t the actual person who learned of something by your own efforts, you benefited from hearing it from someone else. I think there are quite a few who feel that information should be distributed until the point when it reaches them, then no further. Don’t read a blog if you don’t wish to, but don’t expect a blogger to keep your secrets for your in-group. And this blog post is partly a warning too – readers should know the risks of these practices, and some places they read of tactics may not be so careful to delineate those, leading people to doing things that can be costly to them.

  10. From my experience, AP works well for $1k/mo. And Serve will allow $250/mo (w/o fees) from a cc to pay for whatever. I tried using my Delta debit on Serve, but it didn’t work & I got some generic “refer to the FAQ’s” email from customer service.

  11. When I tried to load $ on my Serve account, it said that credit card companies could charge a ‘cash advance’ fee for loading my Serve account with my credit card. When I looked at the details for my credit card, it says it will incur a $10 fee for cash advances. Does this mean that if I load my Serve card with a credit card, I will be charged a fee from my credit card company (and not Serve)?

    Thank you.

  12. Well said, DaveS. I get so tired of the whingers and “I”m going to delete your blog from my feed” FROM THE SAME PEOPLE over and over. It’s like they can’t stay away, but also must contsantly complain.

    Daraius, thanks for all I’ve learned from your blog. Although it is not my only source of information, I like your style and your posts are very informative, always giving the pros and cons.

  13. The Amazon Pay is quite well known to our hobby, and I agree Dariaus does give a concise clear and clear review. I enjoy your blog and others like it, keep up the good work

    for those who are old enought to remember the words of Rick Nelson from the song Garden Party ” you can`t please everyone so you have to please yourself “

  14. I think I have a solution to all the problems. The more people complain about revealing these tricks, the more Darius with share with the community. Therefore, Darius, whatever you do, DO NOT POST ANY MORE TIPS AND TRICKS!!!

  15. Potential AP Alternative

    Amazon did not build their payment service just for a few “selected” group to their mileage accounts. Besides, AP is common knowledge for anyone who reads flyertalk, so it is not like proprietary information for anyone to claim.

    In the spirit of sharing information, here is something interesting –

    According to the fee structure disclosed on the website, Skrill / Moneybooker may become an alternative to Amazon Payment. For residents in the US, it is free to upload and withdraw funds. It charges 1% (up to USD 0.50 USD) for sending money and free for receiving. However, the privacy policy and general T&C is not the kind you would expect from an established business like AP so it raises red flags about information security. But if it is listed in wikipedia as a form of online payment so it must be trustworthy, right?

    Does anyone have experience using this website?

  16. “You just don’t get it do you? Why do you keep on posting these tricks despite being told not to do it?”

    When I read that, I laughed out loud. As if there were some sort of “Eyes Wide Shut” style masquerade party where Darius was pulled to the side by the Illuminati and told to no longer post these tricks. So I am wondering, “Why” are the detractors here, reading Darius’ blog, if not hoping to be spoonfed something new. Go away and good riddance.

    • @anonymous – That’s for business accounts, though.

      @David0603 – Link fixed. Thanks for letting me know!

      @ji – I haven’t mentioned these services and debit cards before, but your choice to read or not.

      – Goodbye.

      @Jacob @DaveS @Lisa @Jerry @Grant Thomas @Andy – Well said! And thanks for the support.

      @Knarf-o – Thanks for the update!

      @tina – Yes, that’s correct. Some credit cards will charge you a cash advance fee for using a credit card with Serve.

      @Potential AP Alternative
      – Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out!

  17. Mr . “Why?” : Do you learn about all this in your dreams? I bet you read about this somewhere.. Stop being selfish!!

    Keep up the good work Darius and YES I signup using your CC referrals and recently signed up bank account. See you in LA in Dec!

  18. FYI Just did a Venmo test transfer of $10 and it also charged me $.02

  19. For those who haven’t had a Serve account.. here a promotion for free $25 when you deposit $25

  20. test transfer of $15 on AP.. no fee occur for sender and receiver

  21. Pingback: Using Venmo With Debit Cards | Million Mile Secrets

  22. Does Venmo have the list of major banks / smaller banks?

  23. Is AMEX gift card work as debit card in Venmo?

  24. Darius, how is your testing with Venmo and Skrill / Moneybooker? thanks.

  25. I’d like to use my SPG card to transfer money to a friend via AP. Knowing AMEX is sensitive, how will they react to $1,000 monthly transfers?

  26. I wasn’t aware that I could earn Alaska Air miles if I transfer the money using the following accounts. This is great news by all means.

  27. Darius,
    If some of the credti card companies treat the loading by cc as a cash advance, then is it also true that one wouldn’t get the points/miles associated as a regular “purchase”??

  28. So far there is no way to upload funds to Moneybookers, only to pay someone. I would rather have Debit card uploads. We need more Bluebird and Amazon payment type accounts out there!

  29. Data point:
    Serve has a $200/day – $1000/month debit card load allowance.
    Tried to make an Alaska Airlines Debit card payment to Serve, but after the payment had been blocked repeatedly, I was told by BofA (ATM fraud prevention) that any such payment will be blocked by them !

  30. Is simple by venmo a new way to get have manufactured spending for credit card requirements

  31. I tried using Venmo just to test it out and to transfer money by ACH between bank accounts. They don’t let you send money to yourself, but you can just send money to some other email address (can be bogus) and then you can cancel the unclaimed transfer and it winds up in your Venmo balance available to cashout to any of your accounts. I tried to do just that, the service help the funds in pending review for 2 weeks! Ask customer service about when the funds will be transferred and they just say to dispute the transaction with your bank if you want the money back faster! Really? Is seems quite wide open to know that they’d never oppose a dispute. Whatsmore, I’d have to file a false claim with my bank to do that, and really scary if a bank investigation could reverse an ACH debit faster than a normally requested transfer. I have no idea what their beef is with doing this, after all their service is the one that allowed it to be done in the first place.

  32. If I have a bonus offer and I load a cc on serve it will show as a cash advance or like a payment , and that’s 1000 $ a month and 200$ a day !?