Like with Venmo, you won’t pay a fee to send money through Zelle. However, when using the app on your smart device, you could pay fees associated with your carrier’s message and data rates.
Zelle supports transfers between bank accounts only — in US dollars and within the States. You’ll also need a debit card backed by Visa or Mastercard.
As of July 2017, nearly 10 banks and credit cards have officially launched Zelle as its money transfer system:
Bank of America
Fifth Third Bank
Bank of Hawaii
Bank of the West/BNP Paribas
Frederick County Bank
First National Bank
MB Financial Bank
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union
Star One Credit Union
Zelle is available as a standalone P2P app that works very much like Venmo. But unlike Venmo, to send money with Zelle, you and your recipient must be members of one of 30 Zelle partner banks. You can download the standalone Zelle app on the Apple Store or get it through Google Play, depending on your device type.
Zelle also lives in your current bank’s app, offering a way to transfer money in four easy steps:
1. Set up your account. Log in to your current bank’s online system and register your email address or phone number to establish a connection with your bank account.
2. Send your payment. Choose your recipient, the amount you’re transferring and your funding account. Review your information and send.
3. Zelle notifies your recipient. Your recipient receives an email or text with instructions on how to receive the transfer. If your recipient is not registered with Zelle, they’ll be prompted with a one-time setup.
4. Zelle deposits your money. Your transfer is deposited into your recipient’s bank account, typically in minutes.You can also request money from friends or family, just like with Venmo.
How do I receive money with Zelle?
When another Zelle user sends you money, you’re notified at the email address or phone number that your sender used. If this email or number isn’t registered, simply register it to receive your funds.
Aliyyah’s firsthand experience with Zelle
One Wednesday night, I realized I needed to send money to someone quickly. I was looking for a same-day domestic money transfer service, and Kelly recommended Zelle as a bank-to-bank option.First, I confirmed that my recipient and I both have bank accounts with Zelle’s partner banks. Wells Fargo and Capital One.Then I sent $5 through my Wells Fargo mobile app to make sure she’d get the money right away. She refreshed her bank account balance summary on her tablet and saw my funds in her account.I went ahead and transferred the full amount right after. Happy with the convenient service, I’ve used Zelle twice since then, and it’s now my default method for quick transfers.Aliyyah, Publisher
What to look out for
Zelle is currently limited to bank transfers in US dollars within the United States. Like other payment processing services, it imposes some restrictions on the size and frequency of the transfers you can make.Zelle won’t be as helpful if your bank doesn’t yet work with it. If your friends or family use these remaining holdout banks, you’ll need to manually enter their banking information or use Zelle’s standalone app. Transfers to banks outside of Zelle’s network can take one to three days, rather than a few minutes.We’re also hearing firsthand accounts about low maximums that aren’t always advertised and other blips that could be a result of a quick rollout — or worse. We’ll continue to update our review as we hear more. Benefits and drawbacks
Backed by 30+ banks. Because it’s integrated into your bank’s app, you won’t need to download another one.
Instant transfers. When you use Zelle’s bank-integrated service, it processes direct bank-to-bank transfers in minutes.
No fees. Send money to other Zelle users for free.
Requires a bank account with Zelle-supported banks. The fastest transfers are between Zelle-supported banks. Otherwise, you must use Zelle’s third-party app — and wait up to three days.
Murky maximums. Despite initial PR announcements of high $2,500 maximums, readers don’t seem to be able to send this much. You’ll need to confirm with your bank how much — and how little — you’re able to send with Zelle.
US only. Zelle sends transfers in US dollars to US bank accounts only.
How safe is Zelle?
Because Zelle’s integrated into your existing bank’s website or app, if you’re satisfied with your current bank’s security and encryption, that same protection is extended to cover Zelle transactions. Zelle’s standalone app is backed by Early Warning Systems, a risk-management company that uses mobile identity authentication and advanced monitoring to ensure that your money is secure.
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