What is Zelle - How Does It Work, Fees, Limits and More

Vivien Thuri

Sending money to your friends is becoming easier day-by-day. The ease and speed of new money transfer services make traditional card transactions look like a thing of the past.

Zelle is one of these services, allowing for speedy, no-fluff peer-to-peer transactions.

If you’ve been thinking about registering with Zelle, but are wondering what Zelle actually is, then read along as we dive into the how-to’s and safety considerations involved in the process.

Table of Contents 📝

What is Zelle?

Zelle is a mobile payment app that simplifies the payment process and allows for peer-to-peer transfers to happen within minutes. But it's not only for consumers, as a business you might want to know more about the Zelle business account.

If you’re looking to make fast transfers, then Zelle might just be for you. On top of this, the app is supported by hundreds of banks.¹

If your bank uses Zelle, then you can register for it through your mobile banking app. If not, you can simply download the Zelle app.²

See if Zelle is the best for you: Zelle vs PayPal ; Popmoney vs Zelle ; Zelle vs Venmo

How does Zelle work?

If you’re looking to use Zelle but are wondering how it works, then the first step is to see if your bank uses Zelle.

  • If they do, you can enroll through your bank’s mobile banking app or website, simply by entering your phone number and email address.

  • If your bank doesn’t offer Zelle, then all you have to do is download the Zelle app separately and sign up through it.

Once you’ve registered for Zelle, you can make your first transfer. For this, all you need is the recipient’s phone number and email address.

When you’ve confirmed the payment, they’ll get either an email or text with a link to accept it. There are different scenarios for the recipient accepting the payment:

  • If the recipient is already a Zelle member, then the money will be in their account in minutes
  • If the recipient is not a Zelle member, but their bank uses Zelle, then they can register for it via their mobile banking app
  • If the recipient is not a Zelle member and their bank does not use Zelle, then they’ll need to download the Zelle app and register via it²

One thing to note is that if you want to either send or receive money with Zelle, you must have a bank account in the US.

This means that you can’t send money internationally using Zelle, as the recipient's bank account will be non-US.³

If you'd like to send money internationally use Wise. You can send money online to more than 70 countries using the mid-market rate.

Send money internationally with Wise 🚀

Send, Receive and Request money with Zelle

Whether you’re sending, receiving or requesting money with Zelle, the steps involved are similar.

If you’re looking to send money with Zelle, all you need to do is:

  1. Find out if your bank uses Zelle, with the help of their online tool
  2. If they do, register for Zelle using your phone number and email address through your online banking app or website - if not, download the Zelle app and register via it
  3. Enter the email address or phone number of the person you want to send money to
  4. Enter the amount you want to send to them

Not so complicated, right?


If you want to receive money and are already signed up with Zelle, then any payments will go directly into your account.

If you’re not signed up, then follow these steps to access your payment:

  1. You’ll receive a payment notification via email or text from Zelle - click the link provided
  2. Select your bank
  3. Follow the steps to sign up for Zelle - either through your mobile banking app if they support it, or by downloading the Zelle app
  4. Receive your payment

And voila - that’s it!


If you want to request money, the steps are almost exactly the same:

  1. Enter the email address or mobile number of the person you’re requesting money from - or simply select them from your contact list if you’ve made previous transactions with them
  2. Select to request money
  3. Enter the amount you want to request
  4. Confirm the request

If your bank doesn’t offer Zelle, then you’ll also have to enter your card details when registering.

On another note, It’s important to remember that Zelle should only be used with people you trust.

Is Zelle safe?

With such speed and ease, you may be wondering: is Zelle safe?

As Eminem said: “you only get one shot” - and this is something to remember when using Zelle. You need to be sure that you’re sending money to the person you trust.

coin-stacked-in-red-lifebelt

Unlike other peer-to-peer transfer services, it is very hard to get your money back after making an unwanted payment with Zelle. This is because Zelle doesn’t offer safety features such as buyer protection. This means that if you don’t receive an item that you paid for, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back.⁴

Similarly, because Zelle transfers are completed in a matter of minutes, you often don’t have the chance to cancel a payment. Some sources have speculated that this makes it a preferred platform for scammers and fraudsters.⁵

To stay on the safe side, Zelle emphasises that you shouldn’t send money to strangers or people you don’t trust. In fact, Zelle has a whole section on their website dedicated to warning users about fraud and scams.

All this being said, Zelle is still safe to use as long as you follow this advice. Moreover, one of the stand-out benefits of paying with Zelle is that your money is never held in a third-party location, meaning it is either in your bank or your recipient’s. This means that your money is always insured.

Is there a fee to use Zelle?

If you’re a prospective Zelle user, you may also be wondering: is Zelle free?

You’ll be happy to know that Zelle doesn’t charge any fees for receiving or sending money. You heard right - you won’t pay a dime in Zelle fees!

Similarly, Zelle is free to download and use. That being said, they do recommend that you check with your bank in case they charge additional fees.⁶

What banks use Zelle?

Given Zelle’s popularity, the next question is what banks use Zelle? Luckily, Zelle is supported by a whopping 947 financial institutions, so it’s likely that your bank supports it too.

Here are just a few of the many banks who support Zelle:

  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo Bank
  • Chase Bank
  • PNC Bank
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Capital One
  • Ally Bank
  • Citi
  • Fidelity Bank
  • Discover Bank

Limit for Zelle transfers

If your bank doesn’t offer Zelle, then you’re limited to the Zelle weekly limit, which is $500. If, on the other hand, your bank does offer Zelle, then you’ll be restricted by their limit.⁷

Limit for Zelle with banks

Depending on which bank you use, the daily and monthly transfer limits will vary.

Here are a few examples of banks and their Zelle transfer limits.

BankDaily Sending Limit (USD)Monthly Sending Limit (USD)
Bank of America⁸$3,500$20,000
Wells Fargo Bank⁹$2,500$20,000
Chase Bank¹⁰
  • $2,000 - personal checking account
  • $5,000 - private client, banking and business accounts
  • $16,000 - personal checking account
  • $40,000 - private client, banking and business accounts
Citibank¹¹
  • $1,500 - new customer ≤ 90 days
  • $2,500 - existing customer > 90 days
  • $5,000 private, priority, global, international and citigold
  • $6,000 - new customer ≤ 90 days
  • $15,000 - existing customer > 90 days
  • $20,000 - private, priority and citigold
Citizens Bank¹²$1,000$5,000
Discover Bank¹³$600n/a
TD Bank¹⁴
  • $1,000 - transfer within minutes
  • $2,500 - 3 day transfer
  • $5,000 - transfer within minutes
  • $10,000 - 3 day transfer

If you want to send more than the Zelle transfer limit your bank offers, or are even looking to send money internationally, then enrolling with a cheap international transfer service - like Wise - might be a smart idea.

Join Wise in minutes ⌚

With Wise, you can send up to $1 million in a single transaction. But remember to double check with your bank first, as if their sending limit is lower, then you’ll be capped at that level.

On top of this, you’ll be offered the competitive, mid-market exchange rate, which could save you up to 7x more compared to other financial institutions.


Overall, if you’re looking to send money to a friend in a matter of minutes, without any additional fees, then Zelle is a good option.

Compared to other peer-to-peer transfer services, Zelle’s lack of fees is a real bonus. But, that being said, the speed and ease of the transaction comes at a different type of cost - namely, security.

If you’re going to send money with Zelle, then just make sure you know and trust who you’re sending to.

Sources:
  1. Zelle - Partners
  2. Zelle - How it works
  3. Zelle - Who can you send money to
  4. Zelle - security
  5. Experian - What you need to know about Zelle
  6. Zelle - Fees
  7. Zelle - Limits
  8. Bank of America - Zelle limits
  9. Wells Fargo - Zelle, Section 10.D
  10. Chase - Zelle overview
  11. Citibank - Zelle limits
  12. Citizenbanks - Zelle limits
  13. Discover Bank - Zelle overview
  14. TD Bank - Zelle limits

All sources checked on 20 May 2021


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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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