Zelle allows you to send and receive money in minutes — here’s how it works (2024)

Zelle is a money transfer service that allows you to send and receive money in a matter of minutes. The app doesn't charge any fees and can be a convenient solution, whether you use it with your friends and family or for your small business.

Below, CNBC Select outlines how Zelle payments work and what you need to know before you start using it.

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How to use Zelle

To set up Zelle, all you need is a bank account. You can access the service either through your financial institution's mobile app or website or through Zelle directly. You can enroll using your email address or phone number — this will be the information other users will need to send you money.


On Zelle's secure site

  • Cost

    Free (but check with your bank to ensure it doesn't charge an additional fee)

  • Transfer speed

    Instant: transactions typically occur in minutes when the recipient's email address or U.S. mobile number is already enrolled with Zelle

  • Standout features

    No need to download an extra app; Zelle is already included with most mobile banking apps

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, to U.S. bank accounts

  • Availability

    iOS and Android; must have U.S. bank account linked to an email address or compatible U.S. phone number

  • Security features

    The Zelle app uses authentication and monitoring features to make your payments more secure

Terms apply.


  • Fastest money-sending method (when both sender and recipient are signed up)
  • Compatible with hundreds of U.S. banks and credit unions


  • You can't link your account to credit card to use as payment method
  • You can't send money to international bank accounts
  • Recipients must sign up for Zelle to receive money (if the recipient doesn't enroll within 14 days, the payment will expire, and the funds will be returned to your account)

If your bank doesn't have Zelle integrated yet, you'll need to sign up directly through Zelle and also provide information for the debit card you'd like to use to make and receive payments.

Sending money with Zelle

Once you have set up your Zelle account, you can start sending money to other Zelle users. Here's how the process works:

1. Enter the recipient's phone number or email address

First, you'll need to input information associated with the recipient's Zelle account. Make sure the recipient is someone you know and trust. If you authorize a payment and later realize you have been scammed, you might not be able to get your money back.

2. Enter the transaction amount

Next, you'll be prompted to enter how much you want to send. Make sure that the amount falls within the transaction limits established by your financial institution.

3. Send the money

Review the transaction details to ensure everything is correct. Note that you can only cancel a payment if the user you sent money to hasn't signed up for Zelle. Otherwise, the payment will go straight to the recipient's bank account and can't be reversed.

Receiving money with Zelle

If you have a Zelle account, you don't need to take any additional steps to receive the money another user sent you. It will automatically be deposited into your bank account.

If you don't have a Zelle account yet, follow the link provided with your payment notification. You'll be prompted to select your financial institution. Then, simply follow the instructions to sign up and receive the funds.

If your bank or credit union doesn't work with Zelle, you can still receive the money through the Zelle app.

How does Zelle compare to other money transfer apps?

Zelle is free, quick and convenient, making it an excellent option for bank-to-bank transfers. At the same time, depending on your needs, a different money transfer app might be a better choice for you.

For example, Zelle doesn't offer transfers to or from international bank accounts. If that's an essential feature for you, look into Remitly, CNBC Select's pick for the best app for sending money internationally. Transfers usually take three to five business days and costs vary by country. Economy transfers are often free.


On Remitly's secure site

  • Cost

    Free to download; transfer costs vary by country and amount (economy are often $0, express transfers start at $3.99)

  • Transfer speed

    3 to 5 business days

  • Standout features

    Convenient delivery options, including sending money directly to trustedbanks,cash pick-up locations,mobile walletsor viahome delivery

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, links to debit cards, credit cards and bank accounts

  • Availability

    iOS and Android; for U.S. users sending to other countries only

  • Security features

    Secure server with data encryption; two-factor authentication

Terms apply.


  • Straightforward fee structure based on country and amount
  • Affordable economy transfers (3 to 5 business days)
  • High user approval rating in Google Play and Apple Store
  • Large network of financial partners to send money for cash pick-up


  • Extra charges for linking credit card as payment methods
  • Express transfer fees as high as $93.99 (for transfers of $9,000 or more)

Zelle also doesn't allow for credit card payments. Venmo, Cash App and PayPal, on the other hand, let you link your credit card. Note, however, that if you use a credit card as your payment method with any of these services, you'll be charged a processing fee.


On Venmo's secure site

  • Cost

    No charge for sending money from a linked bank account, debit card or your Venmo account; a 3% fee for sending money using a linked credit card

  • Transfer speed

    Instant transfer to Venmo balance; 1 to 3 business days for direct deposit (free) or instant transfer to your bank account for 1% fee ($10 max)

  • Standout features

    Links to popular apps; social features to interact with your friends' payments (including stickers and emojis); Venmo debit and credit cards

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Only available in the U.S. and only compatible with U.S.-based bank accounts and phone numbers; compatible with iOS & Android

  • Security features

    Multi-factor authentication when signing in; QR code readers to make sure you link to the correct user account before you send money

Terms apply.


  • Widely used and therefore easy when splitting bills with friends
  • Can link as payment method to popular apps including Uber, Uber Eats and Seamless
  • Can use to pay at participating online merchants
  • Users who opt-in can use a free Venmo debit card
  • Can link to the Venmo Credit Card to earn rewards on most popular spending categories at authorized merchants (subject to 3% credit card fee for person-to-person payments)


  • Charges a 3% processing fee when using linked credit card as a payment method
  • Charges a 1% fee for instant cash-outs (to disburse funds immediately to your bank account with no waiting period)
  • Not all users can currently link two separate Venmo user accounts to a joint bank account (Venmo is slowly rolling out this feature)

Cash App

On Cash App's secure site

  • Cost

    Free to download and use basic services

  • Transfer speed

    1 to 3 business days or instant cash-out deposits for a 1.5% fee (25 cent minimum)

  • Standout features

    App allows users to invest money in individual stocks as well as buy and sell bitcoin

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank accounts and credit cards

  • Availability

    iOS or Androis

  • Security features

    Data encryption and fraud detection technology; unique, one-time login codes, two-factor authentication

Terms apply.


  • Free debit card for users who opt in
  • Free ATM withdrawals if you direct deposit at least $300 per month (otherwise $2 per withdrawal)
  • Cash App Offers provide discounts with certain retailers that are automatically applied to a purchase to help users save money (only one may be active at a time)
  • App includes features to let users invest in stocks and buy and sell Bitcoin


  • Charges a 3% processing fee when using linked credit card as a payment method
  • Charges a 1.5% fee for instant cash-outs (to disperse funds immediately to your bank account with no waiting period)
  • Cash App cash and savings balances are covered by FDIC insurance through a partner bank (up to $250,000) only if you have a Cash App Card (or are a sponsor of any active sponsored accounts)


On PayPal's secure site

  • Cost

    Free to download the app; $0to make purchases using a bank account or your PayPal balance; $0 to transfer money to friends and family; 2.9% + $0.30 transaction feeto pay business/contractor invoices

  • Transfer speed

    1 business day or instant transfer with 1% fee

  • Standout features

    PayPal Credit lets qualifying users pay for purchases over $99 over six months interest-free

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank accounts and credit cards

  • Availability

    iOS and Android; available in more than 200 countries and regions

  • Security features

    Two-step authentication, data encryption, email confirmations for every transaction

    See our methodology, terms apply.


  • Widely used by individuals and businesses alike
  • Flexible payment options with the ability to finance large purchases over six months interest-free with PayPal Credit (APRs vary)
  • High transfer limits: send up to $60,000 in a single transaction (depending on eligibility)


  • International transfers can get pricey ($2.99 to $4.99, plus 2.9% of the transaction amount and an additional fee based on location)
  • Fee structure is more complex than other money transfer apps

Cash App can also be an attractive option if you're interested in investing. The app allows you to invest in stocks, as well as buy and sell bitcoin.


  • Is Zelle safe?
  • Do you need a bank account to accept Zelle?
  • What banks does Zelle work with?
  • What is the monthly limit for Zelle?

Is Zelle safe?

Zelle is generally safe to use, thanks to its data encryption which ensures your data is protected. Plus, when you send or receive money using Zelle, you aren't sharing any sensitive financial details. Another user will only need your phone number or email address to send you money.

At the same time, the fact that Zelle transfers are quick and irreversible makes it an attractive target for scammers. Only send money to people and businesses you trust. There's no fraud protection in place to get your money back if you've authorized a transaction.

Do you need a bank account to accept a Zelle payment?

Yes, you need to have a checking or savings account at a bank or credit union to send or receive money using Zelle.

What banks does Zelle work with?

According to Zelle, the service is currently available in over 1,700 banking apps. To check if this number includes your bank, you can search Zelle's database.

Here are some examples of major banks that offer Zelle:

Note that Discover® is currently not accepting new Cashback Debit customers but interested applicants cansign up to be notifiedby email when they can apply for an account.

What is the monthly limit for Zelle?

There's usually no limit to how much money you can receive with Zelle. But you're likely to face transaction limits when you send money, and they vary by the financial institution.

For example, Bank of America has three limits to how much you can send in a specific time period:

  • Up to $3,500 in 24 hours
  • Up to $10,000 in seven days
  • up to $20,000 in 30 days

The bank also limits the number of transfers. Small businesses, Merrill Lynch and Private Bank clients have different transaction limits.

Chase, on the other hand, has a different set of limits for personal checking accounts:

  • Up to $2,000 in a single transaction
  • Up to $2,000 a day
  • Up to $16,000 in a calendar month

To compare, Discover allows you to send up to a total of $600 per day but warns that it can "change your send limit, from time to time, based on a variety of factors."

As you can see, limits can vary broadly. Check with your financial institution to learn the restrictions for your account.

Bottom line

Zelle is a convenient and quick service for money transfers — and best of all, it's free. While it can be an ideal solution for sending or receiving payments from friends and family or paying your favorite small businesses, always exercise caution. Ensure that you know and trust the receiver and that the money is going where it's meant to go (as opposed to an impersonator's bank account). Remember: once you authorize a payment through Zelle, you're unlikely to get a refund even if you've been defrauded.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage ofpersonal finance,tech and tools,wellnessand more, and follow us onFacebook,InstagramandTwitterto stay up to date.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

Zelle allows you to send and receive money in minutes — here’s how it works (2024)


Zelle allows you to send and receive money in minutes — here’s how it works? ›

Choose the amount to send.

How do I send money in minutes with Zelle? ›

Follow these steps to Send money with Zelle®:
  1. Sign on and select Transfer and Pay on the desktop or Pay & Transfer on the mobile app.
  2. Select Zelle®.
  3. Select Send.
  4. Select the recipient.
  5. Enter the amount.
  6. Select Review.
  7. Select Send.

Does Zelle typically take within minutes? ›

Money sent with Zelle® is typically available to an enrolled recipient within minutes. You'll receive notification when the payment is sent and once it's deposited into their account.

How does receiving money with Zelle work? ›

Someone sent me money with Zelle®, how do I receive it? If you have already enrolled with Zelle®, you do not need to take any further action. The money will move directly into your bank account associated with your profile, typically within minutes1.

What is the downside of using Zelle? ›

Unlike many money transfer apps, Zelle does not charge a fee for instant transfers. Zelle transfers are generally secure, but the app does carry risks, including the risk of glitches at banks that can affect money transfers.

What's the Zelle limit per day? ›

The Bottom Line: Zelle Transaction Limits

Sending limits usually range from $500 to $5,000 per day and $10,000 to $20,000 per month, though some banks may allow you to increase your limits.

Does Zelle allow instant transfer? ›

Enter the amount you want to send. If your recipient is already enrolled with Zelle®, the money will go directly into their bank account, typically in minutes. If they aren't enrolled yet, they will get a notification explaining how to receive the money simply and quickly.

How long does a Zelle pending review take? ›

According to Chase's website, they typically complete their reviews within one business day. However, in some cases, reviews could last up to three business days. This delay often occurs when additional verification is required before releasing funds.

Why can't I receive money from Zelle? ›

Verify Your Zelle Account: Ensure that you have a valid and active Zelle account linked to the email address or phone number provided to the sender. If you haven't registered for Zelle or haven't completed the verification process, you may need to do so in order to receive the funds.

What is the cut off time for Zelle? ›

24/7 365 days a year. Next Day- Cut-off time: 10pm EST. Standard- Three business days. Cut-off time: 1am EST.

How safe is Zelle for receiving money? ›

Zelle® is a fast, safe and easy way to send and receive money with friends, family and others you trust - no matter where they bank. Zelle® is an easy way to send and receive money with friends and family – you know, those you know and trust – at different banks and credit unions, for all sorts of things.

Do you have to have a bank account to use Zelle? ›

Find out if your financial institution offers Zelle®. Important: While you can typically use Zelle® with people at different banks, at least one person must have a bank in the Zelle Network in order to send and receive money.

Does it cost to receive money on Zelle? ›

Zelle® doesn't charge a fee to send or receive money. We recommend confirming with your bank or credit union that there are no fees for Zelle® transactions. Was this helpful?

Why do banks not like Zelle? ›

Regulators say hundreds of millions of dollars are stolen through scams and fraud each year involving one of the most popular electronic options for making payments: Zelle. Now, the banks may be negotiating new ways to protect customers.

Can someone reverse a Zelle payment? ›

No, Zelle® payments cannot be reversed. With Zelle® money moves into an enrolled recipient's account within minutes and cannot be reversed.

What is safer, Zelle or Venmo? ›

Both of the payment services are decently safe, have user-friendly interfaces, and allow you to conveniently send money when you need it. Zelle stands out from Venmo with its absence of instant transfer fees, but it also cannot be used as a wallet. So, if you need a wallet function, you should go for Venmo .

Does InBank use Zelle? ›

Introducing Zelle — a fast, safe and easy way to send money in minutes1 to friends, family and others you trust, right from the InBank mobile app.

What prepaid card works with Zelle? ›

Using a Prepaid Debit Card

To maximize your chances of your debit card working with Zelle, get a prepaid debit card in the Visa or Mastercard network. Also make sure to get a debit card that associates your phone number or email address with the card.

Can I send money from Zelle to Cash App? ›

While there is no direct way to transfer money from Zelle to Cash App, you can link your bank account to both services and transfer funds between them. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this blog post, you can easily move money from Zelle to Cash App using the same bank account.

Why won't Zelle let me send money? ›

There may be an issue with the email address or mobile number they have enrolled with Zelle®. You may verify with the Recipient they have fully enrolled with the email address or mobile number you are trying to send money, and have opted into receive notification.


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