Zelle is a 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.
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. You need just a phone number or email to send money to other Zelle users.
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’re forced to use the mobile app to send money.
- No fraud protection. Sending money through Zelle is like sending cash: Once it’s sent, you can’t get it back — even if you send 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, but check with your bank to make sure you won’t pay withdrawal or transfer fees when using Zelle.
Zelle is supported by more than 800 banks. 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
You’ll need to sign up with Zelle to use it, and whether or not your bank supports Zelle will change how easy it is to use.
How to send money with 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/phone number with Zelle OR download the Zelle app and create an account.
- Send your payment. Choose your recipient, the amount you’re transferring and your payment method. 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.
How to receive money with Zelle
Receiving money with Zelle shouldn’t take long after receiving your payment notification, but payments through a debit card may take a few days or more.
- Confirm payment. You’ll receive a text message or email when you’ve been paid through Zelle. Select the link inside of this payment notification.
- Connect your bank. If your bank is a Zelle partner, select it from the list or download the Zelle app and enroll using a Visa or Mastercard debit card.
- Confirm your account. After connecting Zelle to your bank or debit card and confirming it, you’ll be given a timeline for payment.
- Access your money. Zelle banks will often receive payments instantly, while payments to a debit card can take a few business days.
Zelle transfer limit
The Zelle weekly limit is set to $500 if you don’t have an account with a Zelle participating bank. For 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|
|Citibank — Basic Account||$2,500||$15,000||$15,000|
|Citibank — Priority Account||$5,000||$20,000||$20,000|
|TD Bank — Instant transfer||$1,000||$5,000||$5,000|
|TD Bank — 3-day transfer||$2,500||$10,000||$10,000|
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.
Yes, but it will take at least a few days and may not be free. Your options include:
- Signing up with 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.
- Using a money transfer company. Look to digital money specialists if your recipient doesn’t have a bank account or prefers a cash pickup.
TransferWise: A solid alternative to Zelle
When you need to send money to a friend or family member in the US, benefit from fast service and low transfer fees with TransferWise.
- TransferWise's Borderless Account lets you send US dollars to any US bank account for $1.40 from around the world.
- If your recipient also has a Borderless Account, it's free.
- Next-day delivery to your recipient's bank account and to businesses.
- Trusted the world over, with five-star ratings on Trustpilot.
Because Zelle works primarily with partner banks and the service is included in the apps of many major US banks, there aren’t many Zelle reviews online. Zelle hasn’t claimed its Trustpilot profile, but its parent company Early Warning earns an A+ through the Better Business Bureau.
Some users on Reddit mention that Zelle is difficult to deal with when trying to sort out incorrect transactions, and one of the most common solutions is to contact your bank instead of contacting Zelle.
Is Zelle safe?
Zelle is used by hundreds of US banks 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 nonpartner 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 February 25, 2021.
|Google Play Store||4.2 out of 5, based on 63,648 customer ratings|
|Apple App Store||4.8 out of 5, based on 285,231 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’ 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 can 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 bank account directly to the 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 domestic money transfer field, head over to our guide on sending money in the US to see all of your options.
Compare other services that send money within the US
Frequently asked questions
How do I get my money from Zelle?
You need to enroll with Zelle to receive your money.
- Select 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.
Are there Zelle fees?
No, Zelle does not charge any fees for its service. However, your bank may charge a fee, so double-check the terms of service on your account or call 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.