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Zelle Review: What You Need to Know


Written by Caroline Lupini

Zelle® is a person-to-person payment network that facilitates instant ACH transfers between U.S. bank accounts. It is built into the websites and apps of over 50 partner banks and credit unions, but almost anyone with a U.S. bank account and a Visa® or Mastercard® debit card can use it by downloading the Zelle app on iOS or Android. However, at least one party to a transaction must be using an account with a partner bank or credit union.

Is Zelle safe to use?

Zelle is designed and marketed as a tool to send money to people you know and trust — such as family, friends, a babysitter or a neighbor. The company does not recommend using its service with people you do not know personally, and cautions that “neither Zelle nor the participating financial institutions offer a protection program for any purchase or sale conducted using Zelle.”

How does Zelle work?

How to send money with Zelle

If you use the service through your bank’s website or mobile app

Navigate to the bank’s Zelle/person-to-person transfers section, enter the recipient’s email address or phone number, and submit your payment.

If you use the Zelle mobile app

Download the app and enter your phone number to get a verification code. Then enter your debit card details, and initiate a payment by entering the recipient’s email address or phone number.

How to receive money with Zelle

If you use the service through your bank’s website or mobile app

Navigate to the bank’s Zelle/person-to-person transfers section, and ensure your email address or phone number is registered. You can then give the sender the email address or phone number associated with your account. Depending on your bank, you may also be able to initiate a payment request with their email address or phone number.

If you use the Zelle mobile app

Download the app, enter your phone number and receive a verification code, and enter your debit card details. You can then give the sender the email address or phone number associated with your account, or request money from the app.

How long does it take to send and receive money with Zelle?

Money sent with Zelle is typically available to the recipient within minutes. However, if the recipient is not registered with Zelle at the time of the transfer, it may take one to three business days for the recipient to have access to the funds, once they enroll.

Is there a limit to how much money you can send and receive with Zelle?

If you use the service through your bank’s website or mobile app

Banks set their own limits for the amount of money you can send and receive through Zelle. For example, Wells Fargo has a maximum of $2,500 per day and $4,000 per rolling 30 days, but it may limit individual transactions depending on “your funding account, your recipient and the transaction history for each recipient.” Chase has a maximum of $2,000 per transaction, $2,000 per day and $16,000 per calendar month. Check with your financial institution for the limits that apply to you.

If you use the Zelle mobile app

The limits set by the app aren’t as straightforward: “your weekly send limit is based off usage and experience with the service.”

Are there any fees to use Zelle?

There are no fees to use the service.

Zelle vs. other person-to-person payment networks

Zelle vs. Venmo

Process

Zelle withdraws funds directly from the sender’s bank account and deposits them directly into the recipient’s bank account.

Venmo withdraws funds from the sender’s Venmo balance, if available (otherwise directly debits their bank account for free, or charges their credit card for a fee), and deposits funds into the recipient’s Venmo balance. The recipient must separately transfer the funds from their Venmo balance to their bank account.

Speed

Zelle transfers typically occur instantly. Venmo transfers go into the recipient’s Venmo balance, and they must separately request for the funds to be deposited to their bank account; transfers requested before 7 p.m. EST on business days usually arrive on the next business day, and transfers requested after that time (or on weekends or holidays) usually arrive on the second business day. Venmo offers instant transfers through your eligible debit card for a $0.25 fee per request.

Fraud protection

Both have limited recourse for misdirected or fraudulent payments, and no buyer/seller protection for purchases.

When you login to Venmo, you will need to provide your username and password, and you can also set up multifactor authentication. With the Zelle app, you will only enter in your phone number and verify that in order to log in. If you use Zelle through your bank’s website or app, the level of security will depend on your bank.

Fees

Zelle does not charge any fees; Venmo charges a $0.25 fee for instant deposits, but standard ACH deposits (next business day if initiated before 7 p.m. EST) are free. Venmo also charges a 3% transaction fee for using credit cards.

Other features to note

Venmo supports credit card payments, while Zelle does not have an option for using a credit card.

Zelle vs. Popmoney

Process

Both transfer directly between users’ bank accounts and are integrated into various banks’ online banking.

Speed

Zelle transfers are typically instant. Popmoney transfer times depend on whether the payment is made with a debit card (next business day if confirmed by 10 p.m. PST) or bank account (up to three days depending on the bank).

Fraud protection

Popmoney offers very little detail about security, so it’s hard to gauge how safe it is to use. They do not offer any explicit information about fraud prevention or recovery of misdirected or fraudulently sent funds.

Fees

Zelle transfers are free. Popmoney transfers cost the sender $0.95 per transaction.

Other features to note

Popmoney supports scheduled and recurring payments.

Zelle vs. PayPal

Process

Zelle withdraws funds directly from the sender’s bank account and deposits them directly into the recipient’s bank account.

PayPal® withdraws funds from the sender’s PayPal balance, if available (otherwise, it directly debits their bank account, or charges their credit or debit card for a fee). It then deposits funds into the recipient’s PayPal balance. The recipient must separately transfer the funds from their PayPal balance to their bank account.

Speed

Zelle transfers are typically instant. PayPal transfers go into the recipient’s PayPal balance, and they must separately request for the funds to be deposited to their bank account; transfers usually arrive on the next business day. But if transfers made after 7 p.m. EST on business days. or on weekends or holidays, usually arrive on the second business day. PayPal offers instant deposits with an eligible debit card for a $0.25 fee per request. Debit card transactions through PayPal, which carry a fee, are usually completed within 30 minutes.

Fraud protection

PayPal offers buyer and seller protection for transactions made for goods and services.

These protections do not exist for personal (“friends and family”) transfers, so the services are about equal in this regard.

When you log into PayPal, you will need to provide your username and password, and verify your login via SMS code. PayPal’s SMS verification is somewhat clunky and difficult to use. With the Zelle app, you will only enter in your phone number and verify that in order to log in. If you use Zelle through your bank’s website or app, the level of security will depend on your bank.

Fees

Zelle does not charge any fees. PayPal charges a $0.25 fee for instant deposits, but standard ACH deposits (next business day if initiated before 7 p.m. EST) are free. If you choose to use a credit card to send money to friends and family on PayPal, the sender will pay a fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. Payments made from a bank account do not incur this fee.

Payments for goods and services, which are covered by PayPal’s protection policies, will cost the seller 2.9% plus $0.30. The buyer will not incur any additional fees, regardless of the payment method.

International transactions carry fees, and you can look up the fees that may apply to your transaction, based on the currency involved, here.

Other features to note

PayPal supports credit card payments and international payments, which Zelle does not.

Zelle vs. Circle

Process

Zelle withdraws funds directly from the sender’s bank account and deposits them directly to the recipient’s bank account.

You fund your Circle balance with a connected bank account, and Circle withdraws funds from your account balance, if available. You can also send money directly from your debit card, without first having to fund your Circle account. Circle then deposits funds into the recipient’s Circle balance. The recipient must separately transfer the funds from their Circle balance to their bank account.

Circle Pay supports international transactions (U.S., U.K. and parts of Europe) with no additional fees.

Speed

Zelle transfers are typically instant.

You can make an instant transfer on Circle by using a debit card. Transferring funds between a bank account and Circle takes one to four business days.

Fraud protection

When you log into Circle, you will need a username and password in addition to verifying your login via SMS or Google Authenticator. Circle also uses two-factor authentication when you request to cash out your account. With the Zelle app, you will only enter in your phone number and verify that in order to log in. If you use Zelle through your bank’s website or app, the level of security will depend on your bank.

Neither offer any buyer/seller protection and neither can intervene in the event of a dispute.

Fees

Both services charge no fees. However, Circle used to accept credit card transactions: Credit cards linked to Circle before the company stopped supporting them may incur a third-party fee when used.

Which banks use Zelle?

Zelle is natively supported by a wide variety of banks and credit unions — this means you can set up and use the service directly from the bank or credit union’s website or mobile app. If you or the person you’re paying doesn’t bank with one of these institutions, or would prefer to route payments to/from a different bank, you can still use the service by downloading the Zelle app and setting it up with your mobile phone number and Visa or Mastercard debit card. However, at least one person in a transaction must have an account with one of Zelle’s partner institutions — two people who registered directly in the Zelle mobile app cannot send money to each other.

The following banks work with Zelle, as of May 24, 2018:

  • Ally
  • America First Credit Union
  • Bank of America
  • Bank of Central Florida
  • Bank of Hawaii
  • Bank of the West
  • Bank of York
  • Bank7
  • BB&T
  • BBVA Compass
  • BECU
  • BNY Mellon
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Citizens Bank
  • City National Bank
  • Collins State Bank
  • Comerica Bank
  • ConnectOne Bank
  • Dollar Bank
  • Frederick County Bank
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • First Citizens National Bank
  • First National Bank Credit Union
  • First National Bank
  • The First National Bank of Central Texas
  • First Tech FCU
  • First Tennessee Bank
  • FirstBank
  • Franklin Synergy Bank
  • Frost
  • Guadalupe Bank
  • Homestreet Bank
  • Huntington Bank
  • KeyBank
  • M&T Bank
  • MB Financial Bank
  • MidWestOne Bank
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Northwest Bank
  • PNC Bank
  • Provident Bank
  • Quontic Bank
  • Regions Bank
  • Renasant Bank
  • SchoolsFirst FCU
  • Seacoast Bank
  • Star One Credit Union
  • Stockman Bank
  • Suntrust
  • Surrey Bank & Trust
  • TD Bank
  • US Bank
  • United Bank
  • United Community Bank
  • USAA
  • Wells Fargo
Comments
Carlos Scarpero
Carlos Scarpero   |     |   Comment #1
Zelle is horrible. Use pay pal or Venmo instead, I'm not even a member of the site, yet I keep having to protest fraudulent activities on my checking account.
Upset
Upset   |     |   Comment #2
Zelle charges businesses a 2.5% transaction fee
KDLS
KDLS   |     |   Comment #3
Doesn't work for BBVA compass
Grams
Grams   |     |   Comment #4
Dont use Zelle if you want money over $300. I was sent $340 on Friday and it first said I couldn't get it until Tuesday. That's not within minutes as it states. Today is Tuesday and it won't be available until tomorrow. I rather use cash app!
sc_country
sc_country   |     |   Comment #5
Zelle is awful. I used it to transfer $130 from an account with one bank to my account at another bank. (I first sent a small $3.00 amount to make sure it worked - the $3.00 was instant and worked fine). Then I did the $130. It was not instant, and under the "expected deposit date" there was no date. No one at the bank had ever seen that before.They said typically amounts over $200 take 2 business days, but no explanation in my case. No one could get answers for me. Because Zelle is a third party service, bank staff are not equipped to deal with situations like this. I just wanted to cancel the payment but could not do that either. I recommend using PayPal instead. Payments from your bank to PayPal account are usually instant and fees are reasonable. I will never use Zelle again and may close my bank account because of the way the situation was dealt with.
Former LOYOAL Customer
Former LOYOAL Customer   |     |   Comment #6
Zelle just implemented a 2.5% fee or $15/transaction this month!
W H A T A R I P O F F ! ! !
avoid this so-called service
G2G
G2G   |     |   Comment #7
Love Zelle, read through the comments that are negative, and all of them are a function of the banking relationship with the user who doesn’t understand how a bank works, or the user failed to read about the rules and how the program works.
KelliA
KelliA   |     |   Comment #8
I just used Zelle for the first time to transfer money from my Bank of America checking to my Capital One checking. First I sent $5 to see if it would be instant because I needed the money to be available the next day at a local CapOne bank. It went through without a hitch. Then I transferred $600 from BOA to CapOne and it was instant.

One thing I will note, is that on the BOA account, I registered my email and phone # with Zelle. Then I went to the CapOne account and did a 'request money' using Zelle and input the email associated with Zelle on my BOA. Once I made the requests, they showed up on my BOA as a 'request payment'. I clicked on pay, and it went through.
Nozelle
Nozelle   |     |   Comment #9
I sent 2 transactions of $300 to another Zelle user and they never received it though they came out of my account. Called Zelle, they said give them 24 hours to replace the money. It’s been over a week now and still no returned money. Don’t ever use Zelle!
Anita
Anita   |     |   Comment #16
Similar situation, I choose to use them either. My daughter transferred money that she owed and went from being held for 5 days, 7 days , and now 14 days. It should be illegal for Zelle to withhold funds without informing the sender. It takes away “their right to choose” if they want to continue with the transaction or decline. Bank inform you if there is going to be a hold placed on your deposit.
Skooter
Skooter   |     |   Comment #10
Maybe it's simply bad luck (low probability?), but I just had two thousand dollars stolen from my checking account through Zelle. Oddly enough, I had never even signed up for it... Obviously there are security flaws to be exploited, and Zelle is no exception. Most banks will do an excellent job resolving any problems, but be mindful of giving out sensitive information people!
#11 - This comment has been removed for violating our comment policy.
bob
bob   |     |   Comment #12
I've used Zelle numerous times to send $ 1800.00 dollars to my son on the west coast. Never a problem. I attempted to send my daughter $ 1000.00 also on the west coast and it would not do the transaction. Some sort of security barrier from her bank or mine, not sure. That was all transacted roughly 6 months ago. I'd imagine with the new launch done directly through Zelle things are bound to improve. My tennants pay thier rent to me via Zelle. AA++ for Zelle.
Shari
Shari   |     |   Comment #13
They also cannot change your phone number which is an issue I have now.
Amy
Amy   |     |   Comment #14
I've never had a problem sending or receiving money through Zelle. No fees, no problems.
#20 - This comment has been removed for violating our comment policy.
Anita
Anita   |     |   Comment #15
I never had a problem with Zelle until recent. My daughter sent me money Friday morning and Zelle originally said it would be held until Wednesday. The money was NOT deposited on Wednesday. The changed it to Friday. No money on Friday, held for 14 business days. I never use Zelle again. I think that they should inform the sender that the money is going to be held and give them the option to decide if they want to continue with the transaction. The sender should have the right to choose.
Frustrated Person
Frustrated Person   |     |   Comment #17
Zelle put a hold and the bank does not know when it would get released. It is horrible service. The bank states that they cannot do anything. There are no notifications ..
PISSED OFF
PISSED OFF   |     |   Comment #18
DO NOT DO ZELLE!!!They take your money and say that the transaction failed then do not refund it back and tell you to go through your bank!!!
Realtor
Realtor   |     |   Comment #21
Zelle is a favorite application used by pirates who invade your email. Do not use this application.
Cocodaqueen
Cocodaqueen   |     |   Comment #22
I have $1000 email for a zelle payment which has 7 days left. I don’t have and no bale to obtain a bank account. Ugh I just my money.
Len
Len   |     |   Comment #23
My experience with Zelle is terrible. I never signed up for Zelle but I was hacked three weeks ago.
They hit my credit cards, PayPal account and had $400 transferred to their account. I went to BMO Harris bank the day I found out about the hack and as of today, three weeks later, I still do not have my money. Every other credit card and PayPal account took care of the problem immediately but not BMO Harris and Zelle. They said it had to go to their fraud department and they don’t know how long it will take to get my money back, at least 2 weeks, it has now been 3 weeks weeks and nothing.
I thought the banks had FDIC insurance to protect your money I guess it is only to protect their money.
Also I thought the fraud department is suppose to work for the client apparently that is not the way the fraud department works at BMO Harris they work at their own speed not yours.

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