Backed by many major US banks, Zelle can transfer money into your recipient’s bank account — typically in minutes. But both the sender and receiver must have US bank accounts and watch out for unclear limits and much slower transfers for unsupported US banks.
Zelle is an American mobile payment processing network developed by some of the largest American banks — Bank of America, Chase, Capital One and USAA among them. Zelle is known for transferring money nearly instantly between users who have bank accounts that support Zelle integration. It is not available for Canadian bank accounts.
Why should I use Zelle?
- Integrates with hundreds of banks. Zelle is partnered with more than 500 banks. Chances are that if Zelle is integrated into your bank’s app you won’t have to download another one.
- Instant transfers. Transfers between two supported banks typically happen within minutes.
- No fees. Zelle is free, so sending money to other Zelle users will cost you nothing.
- Convenience. When sending to other Zelle users you just need their phone number or email.
What should I watch out for with Zelle?
- US only. Both the sending and receiving bank accounts must be in the US to use Zelle.
- Only supports bank accounts. You can’t pay with a credit card to send money through Zelle.
- Smartphone required. If your bank supports Zelle you may be able to access it through the bank’s website, otherwise you’ll be forced to use the mobile app to send money.
- No sending protection. There is no fraud protection with Zelle. Sending money through Zelle is like sending cash, once it is sent you can’t get it back — even if you sent it to the wrong person.
Zelle works by moving money directly from one bank account to another. Zelle sends your recipient a text or email once a payment is waiting for them. If the recipient’s bank supports Zelle they can accept the payment through their bank app. Otherwise, the recipient uses a link provided by Zelle to accept the payment to a debit card.
Unlike Cash App, Google Pay, Venmo and other competitors, there is no escrow or intermediary period where the money is held by Zelle. Instead, money moves directly from your bank account to your recipients in as little as a few seconds.
Zelle is free to use and doesn’t charge any fees for its service. However, because Zelle works with hundreds of banks it is always best to double check with your bank to make sure there won’t be any withdrawal or transfer fees charged to your account by your bank, specifically.
How to send money through Zelle
Sending money with Zelle can be done in just a few steps, either through your bank’s mobile app, the web or the Zelle mobile app for Android and iOS:
- Set up your account. Log in to your current bank’s online system and register your email address or phone number to establish a connection with your bank account.
- Send your payment. Choose your recipient, the amount you’re transferring and your funding bank account. Review your information and send.
- Zelle notifies your recipient. Your recipient receives an email or text with instructions on how to receive the transfer. If your recipient is not registered with Zelle, they’ll be prompted with a one-time setup.
- Zelle deposits your money. Your transfer is deposited into your recipient’s bank account, typically in minutes.
Zelle sending limits
The following dollar amounts are in USD. Your weekly limit is set to $500 if your bank isn’t partnered with Zelle. For the major banks that partner with Zelle, the Zelle limits are:
|Bank of America||$3,500||$10,000||$20,000|
|Chase (personal checking)||$2,000||$14,000||$16,000|
|Chase (Private Client)||$5,000||$35,000||$40,000|
Unfortunately, many banks don’t make the limits known, and all bank Zelle sending limits can change at any time. Contact your bank directly for the most up to date information.
As of August 2020, more than 600 banks have incorporated Zelle into their money transfer systems. Major banks that support Zelle include:
- Ally Bank
- Bank of America
- BMO Harris Bank
- Capital One
- Discover Bank
- Fidelity Bank
- Fifth Third Bank
- Morgan Stanley
- Pinnacle Bank
- PNC Bank
- Redwood Capital Bank
- TIAA Bank
- TD Bank
- US Bank
- Wells Fargo
Yes, but it will take at least a few days and may not be free. Making a transfer between banks can be done even if your bank doesn’t support Zelle. You have a few options here, including:
- Signing up to the Zelle app. You may still be able to use Zelle even if your bank isn’t supported by downloading the Zelle mobile app and connecting your debit card. This won’t work for all banks, though, and transfer speeds are slower than when using a Zelle partner bank.
- Using an alternative service. Alternative domestic transfer options include Google Pay, Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay and more. To read more about these services, visit our domestic transfer guide to learn how to get your transfer started in little to no time.
- Using a money transfer company. If the person you are sending to doesn’t have a bank account or would prefer to pick up money in cash, a money transfer company might be your best choice. To learn what company might best suit your needs, check out our extensive guide on money transfers.
Zelle is used by hundreds of banks in the US and transfers money directly between bank accounts. However, just because your money should be safe in Zelle’s hands doesn’t prevent user error while transferring money through Zelle. Here are some key tips to increase the safety of your Zelle transfer:
- Do you know the recipient? Only send Zelle transfers to people you know and trust. Zelle should be used to pay friends, family, coworkers and the like — Zelle should not be used to pay strangers.
- Are you being scammed? If the item you are about to buy online and pay for with a Zelle transfer seems too good to be true, chances are it is. Zelle offers no buyer protection, so if you get scammed you probably won’t get your money back. Use a service that offers buyer protection, like PayPal, when making purchases online from strangers.
- Would you send cash? Treating a Zelle transfer like you’d treat cash is a great way to make sure you stay safe. You wouldn’t send an envelope of cash without double checking the address, so always look twice at the mobile phone number or email before confirming your transfer.
Yes, Zelle has an app on both Google Play and the App Store. The app makes it possible to:
- Connect non-partner bank accounts. Enroll using a Visa or Mastercard debit card to connect your US-based checking account.
- Log in using biometrics. Both face and fingerprint recognition can be used to log in.
- Send money on the go. Quickly pay friends and family members with a few taps after a shared meal or day shopping.
- Request money. Send money requests through the app to make sure you get paid back without delay.
Ratings accurate as of April 21, 2020.
|Google Play Store||4.2 out of 5, based on 38,932 customer ratings|
|Apple App Store||4.8 out of 5, based on 206,600 customer ratings|
More on the best money transfer apps
These three money transfer apps let you send money to friends and family for free, but each has its own style and slightly different use case.
Zelle vs Venmo
Both apps allow you to send money from your phone to friends and family, but with varying sending and receiving limits one may be a better choice than the other for you. In short, Venmo is absolutely the more socially-focused of the two choices, while Zelle may be the more convenient option if your bank is a Zelle partner.
Zelle vs Cash App
Cash App offers similar features to Zelle, with added features like buying and selling Bitcoin, investing in stocks and more. There are slight differences in sending limits between Zelle and Cash App, and Cash App supports transfers to friends in the UK from the US. However, you may want to stick with Zelle if you prefer straight bank-to-bank transfers with no escrow.
Zelle is best for sending money to friends and family, but offers some additional features that you can take advantage of in the right circumstances.
- Using Zelle with a small business. Zelle supports transactions between users and small businesses so long as the small business’s bank account is a registered Zelle partner. Only use this service to pay small businesses that you trust, as you won’t be able to cancel payments through Zelle if you are unsatisfied.
- Using Zelle for disbursements. After creating your account and enrolling with Zelle, you’ll be able to use your Zelle account to receive disbursement payments from organizations, companies, the government and more. Typical reasons for using this service include insurance payouts, claim settlements, refund checks and similar situations.
Zelle is a straightforward way to send money from your US bank account directly to the US bank account of a friend or loved one. However, things get a bit more complicated when you bank at an unsupported bank and have to register your account using a debit card. To see how Zelle stands up to competitors in the US money transfer field, head over to our guide on sending money in the US to see all of your options.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get my money from Zelle?
You’ll need to enroll with Zelle to receive your money.
- Click the link in the payment notification you received.
- Find your bank or credit union in the provided list. If your bank isn’t supported, you’ll have to download the Zelle app and enroll using a Visa or Mastercard debit card.
- Follow the provided instructions to enroll and collect your payment.
Is there a fee to use Zelle?
No, Zelle does not charge any fees for its service. However, your bank may charge a fee, so double check with your bank before using Zelle.
What happens if a Zelle payment doesn’t go through?
The payment will be refunded in full to the sender’s account after 14 days if the recipient does not accept it during this time.