Does Zelle work internationally?

Adam Rozsa
26.10.21
4 minute read

Zelle is a great way for customers to send electronic payments between bank or credit union accounts in the United States. However, under Zelle’s terms and conditions, both the person sending and receiving a Zelle payment needs an account in the US, as well as a local US phone number¹.

Unfortunately that means that you can’t send money internationally with Zelle².

Need to send a payment overseas? This guide has you covered, with some great alternatives - like Wise, which offers low-cost transfers with the world’s most international account. More on that later.

Get a free Wise account

What is Zelle?

Zelle allows you to send money between bank accounts in the US almost instantly, using just your recipient’s phone number or email address³. Then, if someone wants to send you money they’ll just need your phone number or email⁴ - making it easy to both send and receive money, and request money from friends or family.

Zelle is available for users in the US with an eligible US based bank account and a US mobile phone number. It’s worth knowing that you can’t use Zelle with business debit cards, credit cards, or cards linked to international accounts. Some other card types such as gift cards and some prepaid cards are also prohibited⁵.

does zelle work internationally

How does Zelle work?

You can enrol with Zelle by downloading the Zelle mobile app - or in some cases through your own bank or credit union’s online banking service. Not all banks allow direct access to Zelle - but if yours does, this is a simple way to link your account and start to make payments⁶.

Once you’re set up with Zelle you can send, request and receive payments. All you’ll need is an email or US phone number for the person you’re sending money to⁷. Transfer limits apply.

💡 New to Zelle mobile payments? Get a full guide to Zelle here.

Can I send money through Zelle internationally?

Zelle is only available for customers with a US bank account and US registered mobile number. That means it’s not an option for sending international payments to friends and family overseas.

Read on for some international Zelle alternatives.

International Zelle alternatives

Zelle can’t be used unless both the person sending and receiving a payment have a US bank account and phone number. However, there are some great alternative services for those times you need to send money securely across borders. Here are a few money transfer companies to consider.

Wise

Wise international money transfers allow customers to send payments to 80+ countries using the mid-market exchange rate with no hidden costs. Arrange your payment online - your recipient doesn’t need to have their own Wise account, as the money will be delivered right into their regular bank account for convenience. And even better - choose to send money internationally with Wise and you could save 6x compared to using your normal bank.

See how much you can save with Wise:

The true cost of sending USD to GBP

does zelle work internationally

PayPal

  • Send payments with PayPal or PayPal’s sister company Xoom, to 130 countries around the world⁹
  • Payments can arrive with friends and family in seconds with PayPal - recipients will need a PayPal account to get the money
  • Use the PayPal app to include messages, emojis and more when you send international payments⁸
  • PayPal international transfers have a fee of 5% of the transfer value, capped at 4.99 USD + 3% - 4% currency conversion fee¹⁰

PayPal is famous as a global payment provider for online shopping, and also offers personal and business payments at home and abroad. As well as sending money with your regular PayPal account, you can choose PayPal’s sister company Xoom for more international transfer options. It’s worth knowing that the fees for sending international PayPal transfers include both a transfer fee and a currency conversion markup - check out the full details before you initiate your payment, so there are no surprises.

💡 Learn more about PayPal and how it works here.

WorldRemit

  • Send payments to 130+ countries, in 70+ currencies¹¹
  • Payments can be arranged online for convenience, with payout options including cash collection, bank transfer, mobile money and airtime top-up
  • 95% of transfers available in minutes¹²
  • Model your payment online to see the fees and exchange rate which will apply - the costs and rates, as well as the services available, do vary based on destination country

WorldRemit was created through real life experience, after the founder discovered that remitting money home to his family was expensive and troublesome¹³. These days, you can send money to 130 countries, online and through the WorldRemit mobile app. You’ll then be able to choose how you want the payment to be received, including options for cash collection, which can be handy if you’re sending to someone without access to a bank account - or need the money to be in the recipient’s hands in a hurry.

💡 Get your full guide to WorldRemit international transfers here.

does zelle work internationally

Bottom line

Zelle isn’t an option for international money transfers because both the sender and recipient of a Zelle payment need a US based bank account and mobile phone number.

That means that while Zelle is great for paying back a local friend for your share of lunch, or to split household bills with your roommates, it’s not possible to use it to send money to a friend overseas, or remit a payment to a family member abroad.

If you’re looking for a cross border payment provider with the same speed and convenience as Zelle, check out Wise. Set up your transfer online or in the Wise app, get the real mid-market exchange rate, and save up to 6x on fees compared to using your regular bank.

Save up to 6x with Wise

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Zelle free for international transfer?

Zelle doesn’t charge for domestic payments - however, Zelle is not available for international transfers. Both the sender and recipient of a Zelle payment must have US based bank accounts and phone numbers.

Does Zelle work in Mexico?

Zelle can only be used by customers in the US with local bank accounts and phone numbers - you can’t make a Zelle payment to someone in Mexico. Check out alternatives like Wise for low cost international transfers to Mexico.

Can you use Zelle in Canada?

You can’t use Zelle in Canada - it’s for payments between US based banks only. Use this handy guide as a way to find alternative providers to make convenient, low cost, online and mobile payments to Canada.


Sources:

1]Zelle - service agreement
2]Zelle support - can I use Zelle internationally?
3]Zelle support - what is Zelle?
4]Zelle support - how do I get started?
5]Zelle support - trouble enrolling
6]Zelle support - link online banking
7]Zelle support - how can I use Zelle?
8]PayPal - home
9]PayPal - send money
10]PayPal - fees
11]WorldRemit - how it works
12]WorldRemit - benefits
13]WorldRemit - about us

All sources checked on 26 October 2021


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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