Zelle: Fees, transfer times and how to use it

TransferWise
05.13.20
7 minute read

You can use Zelle through your online banking service, or via the Zelle app, to make payments to friends, family, and people you trust. All you need is the email address or US based cell phone number of your recipient to get started.

Zelle payments are usually processed instantly, making this an easy way to split the cost of a taxi with friends, or contribute to buying a shared gift, for example. However Zelle does have a few limitations. You shouldn’t use it to pay someone you don’t know, and you can’t send or receive payments internationally.

This guide tells you all you need to know about using Zelle, and gives some alternative options like TransferWise for those times when Zelle isn’t the best option available. Let’s get started.

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Table of contents:

What is Zelle and how does it work?

Zelle allows enrolled users to send quick and easy payments to friends and family. The money is typically received in minutes, and you only need to know the US phone number or email address for your recipient to get started.¹

If your bank is part of the Zelle network, you’ll be able to use Zelle via your normal online banking app. If your bank doesn’t offer this service, you can still download the Zelle app and access the service that way.


What do you need to know about using Zelle

Zelle is a convenient way to make payments to people you trust, but there are a few limitations to the service. Here’s what you need to know.

You can’t use an international bank account

Zelle is only available in the US. Users must have a US bank account and cell phone number to use the service.² ³

If you need to make a payment to someone based overseas, or if you want to pay from an account which is not based in the US, you’ll need a different option. TransferWise offers cheap and convenient international payments which use the mid-market exchange rate for all currency exchange. You can set up your payment online or using the TransferWise app, and send money to over 50 different countries, with no hidden fees to worry about.

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You’ll need a smartphone to use Zelle

Some banks will offer Zelle payments via their online banking service - which means you can use Zelle from whichever device you usually use to manage your money. However, if your bank doesn’t offer this option, you’ll need to download the Zelle app onto your smartphone to arrange a payment.⁴

There’s no option to use a credit card

Zelle payments can be made using your US bank account, or a Visa or Mastercard debit card. You can’t use a credit card, business debit card, prepaid card, or an international debit card.⁵ ⁶ ⁷

If you want to send money to friends or family overseas, you can do so using a TransferWise multi-currency account and debit card. You’ll be able to hold dozens of different currencies in your account, and the linked card can be used anywhere you see the Mastercard logo, making payments simple.

Zelle sending limits

When making payments either through your bank via Zelle or straight from the Zelle app, you’ll encounter some limits. This means for larger transfers you may be better off using a different service, such as TransferWise.

In general, transfers to new recipients will be subject to stricter limits. This is done to make sure your money is safe. Once several transfers have been made to the same account, your limits are likely to be increased.

Here are the limits of some of the bigger banks along with Zelle. Bear in mind that these limits are subject to change, so always check with your bank. The limits may also vary by account type.

Bank / provider Limits
Chase⁸
  • Personal Chase checking account and Chase Liquid card $2,000 per transaction and day, $16,000 per calendar month
  • Chase Private Client or Private Banking client account $5,000 per transaction and day, $40,000 per calendar month
  • Chase business checking accounts $5,000 per transaction and day, $40,000 in a calendar month
Wells Fargo⁹ Daily limit $2000, Monthly limit $20,000. Transfers to new recipients will have lower limits
Bank of America¹⁰
  • Individuals - 24h limit $3,500, maximum 10 transfers
  • 7-day limit $10,000, maximum 30 transfers30-day limit $20,000, maximum 60 transfers ⁹
  • Small businesses - 24h limit $15,000, maximum 20 transfers
  • 7-day limit $45,000, maximum 60 transfers 30-day limit $60,000, maximum 120 transfers
Zelle¹¹ Weekly limit of $500 if your bank is not a Zelle partner - can’t be increased

Your money isn’t insured

Zelle is intended to make payments to people you trust. Money is usually received very quickly after a payment is set up, and you won’t be able to cancel your transfer once you’ve made it. It’s important to check you have the right details for any payment you make, as you may not get your money back if you send it to the wrong person by mistake.

Zelle suggests using a credit card if you’re buying something from someone you don’t know, as credit cards often offer buyer protection in case something goes wrong.¹² ¹³


Zelle fees

Zelle does not charge users to send or receive money.¹⁴ You’ll need to confirm that your own bank or credit union doesn’t add a fee - but most banks offer Zelle payments without any additional charges.

How to send, request and receive money via Zelle

To make a Zelle payment, you’ll need to log into your online banking service, or the Zelle app. Simply enter your recipient’s US phone number or email address, and the amount you want to send. Once you confirm the payment it will be processed instantly.

If you receive a Zelle payment you’ll get a notification. If you have already enrolled with Zelle you won’t need to take any further action. The payment will automatically go to your linked bank account. If you have not yet enrolled, you’ll need to set up Zelle to get your money. Just click on the link provided in your notification email to get started.¹⁵

You can also use Zelle to request a payment. Simply log in to Zelle on the app or via your online banking service, and click on the Request button. You’ll then be able to enter the contact details for the person you’re requesting money from, and send the request.

Zelle transfer times

If you send money to someone already enrolled with Zelle, it will usually be received in just a few minutes. However, it’s worth noting that it’ll take a little longer for your payment to be received if the recipient hasn’t already enrolled in the Zelle service. In this case, the money will be received one to three business days after enrolling.¹⁶

Using Zelle with banks and credit unions

Hundreds of banks and credit unions - serving some 100 million customers - are in the Zelle network, working together to offer simple fast payments between US based accounts.

If your bank or credit union is in the Zelle network you’ll be able to make payments conveniently by logging in to your online banking service. That means you don’t need to download any extra apps, and can make payments and manage your money all in one place.

For eligible US based customers, Zelle can be a fast way to send money to friends and family. It’s handy for splitting restaurant bills, or paying a babysitter, for example, and means you don’t need to worry about carrying around a lot of cash. However, it’s not the right service for every occasion. Don’t use Zelle to pay people you don’t know, for example. And you can’t use Zelle to send money to people based overseas, either. In that case, you’ll need an alternative like the TransferWise multi-currency account and debit card.

See if you could save with TransferWise


Sources:
  1. Zelle Introducing Zelle - April 20, 2020
  2. Zelle Should I use Zelle® with my financial institution's banking app or the Zelle app? - April 20, 2020
  3. Zelle My card details don't seem to be working. What can I do? - April 20, 2020
  4. Zelle Can I access Zelle® to send or receive money without a smartphone? - April 20, 2020
  5. Zelle About the Zelle Network - April 20, 2020
  6. Zelle Can I use Zelle® internationally? - April 20, 2020
  7. Zelle Enroll with the Zelle® App Using Your Online Banking Username & Password - April 20, 2020
  8. Chase QuickPay® with Zelle® - 13 May 2020
  9. Wells Fargo Zelle Transfer Service Addendum- 13 May 2020
  10. Bank of America Zelle transfer limits - 13 May 2020
  11. Zelle Is there a limit to how much I can send? 13 May 2020
  12. Zelle Using Zelle® Safely - April 20, 2020
  13. Zelle Using Zelle® to pay for goods or services from someone I don't know - April 20, 2020
  14. Zelle Are there any fees to send money using Zelle®? - April 20, 2020
  15. Zelle Someone sent me money with Zelle®, how do I receive it? - April 20, 2020
  16. Zelle How long does it take to receive money with Zelle®? - April 20, 2020

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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