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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
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