Ask RedWeek / November, 2018

Are Venmo and Zelle safe ways to pay for a timeshare rental?

I'm doing my first timeshare rental, and the owner has asked me to pay with Venmo or Zelle. I haven't ever heard of these - is this a safe way to pay?

Digital wallets like Zelle and Venmo are quick, convenient, and incredibly easy to use, but they're just not the best choice for timeshare rentals. Both companies are very clear in their warnings that they're intended to pay friends, family members, or people you trust. Now, we believe most of the owners on are worthy of trust, but unfortunately there is no way to be 100% sure when sending a pre-payment.

Zelle is a payment service that has been offered by over 75 leading financial institutions since 2017. But before tapping that Send Money button, know that you're not going to get it back if there's a problem. Using Zelle is the same as completing a bank transfer. It's just a lot easier and faster to do and once the money is sent, you can't dispute the payment in any way.

Venmo has been around quite a while longer and is a subsidiary of Paypal. Unlike Zelle, credit cards can be used through Venmo, but if there's a problem with your rental, don't expect Venmo to get involved. They provide very bold warnings on their site that unless you are paying a Venmo Approved business, the service may not be used for any good or service. So, in a vacation rental transaction, there is no protection for any party involved. It's also important for owners to know: if a renter paid with a credit card via Venmo and chooses to dispute the purchase, even after they check-in, Venmo will not protect the timeshare owner in any way and they will be held responsible for the disputed amount.

Bottom line: unless you're willing to risk hundreds or even thousands of dollars, take time to read each company's policies about sending payments and know what recourse you have if there is a problem. We have posted a payment method comparison in our Resources section that should help you decide.

The only 100% safe way to rent a timeshare is to have some recourse to get a refund if the unit you get isn't the unit you agreed to rent. RedWeek Payments provides this payment protection, but only about 25% of our rentals are currently using it. All owners can add RedWeek Payments to their posting, as long as there are at least a couple of weeks to the check-in date. First American Title also provides a vacation escrow service that is a safe alternative. Both platforms hold the funds until you check-in to make sure you get what you paid for, and gives you a chance to make a dispute if things aren't right.


  • Avatar for connieh128
    Nov 13, 2018 (3 days ago)

    So, one should not send rental money out of the country by wire tap?

  • Avatar for phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Nov 13, 2018 (3 days ago)

    Connie H: Wire transfer is often used by scammers and money launderers and therefore is discouraged by Please view the Payment Method Comparison Chart for the pro's and con's of the various payment methods.