Zelle Pay is a personal payment feature, and standalone app, backed by the biggest banks in the U.S. to offer a level of convenience that cannot be provided by major competitors such as PayPal, Venmo, and Popmoney when it comes to sending money to family and friends.
Being offered directly by the banks themselves, customers don't have to link their accounts to a third-party service and the money moves directly between bank accounts.
Because it is so handy, Zelle Pay may be used rather frequently. That's why it is good to know what limits may apply to these payments and what you can do once you've reached them.
Zelle Pay Limits at Top Banks
|Bank||Daily limits||Monthly limits|
|Bank of America||Up to $2,500/day||Up to $20,000/month|
|Wells Fargo||Up to $2,500/day||Up to $4,000/month|
|CItibank||If you have been a Citi customer for less than 90 days:
If you have been a Citi customer for more than 90 days:
|If you have been a Citi customer for less than 90 days:
If you have been a Citi customer for more than 90 days:
|PNC Bank||Up to $1,000/day||Up to $5,000/month|
|Capital One||Up to $2,000/day||Up to $10,000/month|
|Citizen's Bank||Up to $1,000/day||Up to $5,000/month|
|U.S. Bank||Between $1,500 and $2,500/day||Between $5,000 and $10,000/month|
|Ally||Up to $5,000/day||Up to $10,000/30 days|
Note: We aim to provide the most accurate information, but the limits state above may change at any time without notice. If your accounts appear to have different limits, we encourage you to share this information with us in the comments section below.
What Do You Need to Use Zelle?
One very important thing to note is: not every U.S. bank is partnered with Zelle. It is constantly working on adding more and more banks to the network.
If your bank is partnered with Zelle, you don't need to do much to use Zelle because the bank has everything set up already -- you can begin sending money right away through your bank's online account or mobile banking app. When it comes to receiving money, again, no work needed on your part. The money will just end up in the designated account to receive Zelle payments.
If your bank is not partnered with Zelle, you can sign up for the standalone Zelle mobile app (available on Android and iOS). You can link a Visa or MasterCard debit card to send and receive payments.
What is the Process for Making a Payment?
The payment process is rather straightforward and simple:
- Find the person you want to pay by entering the person’s e-mail address or phone number. You don’t need to know the person’s bank information or anything else to send them cash.
- Choose how much money you want to send. If the person receiving money is already enrolled with Zelle, they’ll see the money in their bank account.
If they haven’t enrolled, they’ll get an e-mail confirming that they’ve received a payment. The e-mail will also contain instructions on how to enroll in Zelle’s service.
One of the biggest draws of Zelle is that there are no fees to have a Zelle account or to send or receive money. Many competing apps charge a fee if you want to send money in specific ways, usually with a credit card. Other apps also tend to charge fees for expedited services. Zelle doesn’t charge any fees for its service, but you are limited to using savings, checking, and debit card accounts to send and receive money. You can’t use Zelle to make payments with a credit card.
As always, you should check with your U.S. bank or credit union to confirm that it will not charge any extra fees for using Zelle.
What really sets Zelle apart from its competition is how fast the service is because it takes out the middleman. When banks work directly with each other, the transfers are much faster.
When you send money using a service like Venmo, you may have to wait a few days to transfer the money from your Venmo account to your bank account. Some companies, like PayPal, will let customers pay a fee for fast transfers to their bank accounts, but paying to get access to your own money doesn’t make much sense.
With Zelle, person-to-person payments are made directly between bank accounts and occur much faster:
Zelle payment speed
|Recipient enrolled with Zelle?||Speed of payment|
|Not enrolled||1-3 business days|
What to Do If You Hit the Payment Limits
There are limits to how much money you can send using Zelle at one time. This limit is put in place to help protect you. If someone was able to access your account without your authorization, you wouldn’t want them to be able to empty your bank account through Zelle. The danger of instant transfers from bank account to a bank account is that it is difficult to get your money back if it is sent to the wrong place or without your permission.
Zelle’s limit how much you can send to someone in a single day, and limits how much you can send in a thirty-day period. If you’re sending money a lot, it’s not hard to hit the limit.
If you do hit the Zelle Pay limit, but still need to send money to someone else, you can try these alternatives.
Use another payment service
Though you won’t get the advantage of free, instant transfers by using another service, you could use a competitor like Venmo to make the additional payments.
A service like Venmo or Square would be the most like Zelle because they are based on mobile apps and they’re easy to set up. It will take a few days for them to be able to get the money to their account, but it’s the easiest way to send a payment.
Mobile Payments Apps Comparison
|Mobile Payment App||Venmo||PayPal||Zelle||Popmoney|
|Fee(s) to send money||Free, except when using a credit card (3%)||Free||Free||$0.95|
|Fee(s) to receive money||Free||Free ("gift" payments only)||Free||Free|
|Payment limits||$2,999.99 per rolling weekly period||$10,000 per transaction||Varies depending on the paying bank||Debit card: $500 per day or $1,000 per 30-day period br> Bank account: $2,000 per day or $5,000 per 30-day period|
|Platforms||iOS, Android, and web||iOS, Android, and web||Varies depending on the bank||iOS, Android, and web|
Write a check
If you need to make a very large payment, the best way to do it is probably by writing the person a check. While checks aren’t exactly a modern invention like mobile peer-to-peer transfers are, they get the job done in a cinch. Most banks even let you deposit checks from your phone just by taking a photo. That means you won’t be forcing the recipient to make an annoying trip to the bank.
Pay with cash
If you don’t need to make a particularly large payment and have the cash on hand, you can always pay the person in cash. In the worst case, you can visit the nearest ATM to withdraw some cash to give to the person.
This method could see you run into issues with ATM withdrawal limits and will force the recipient to visit a bank to deposit the cash, so it shouldn’t be the first option you choose. Still, the saying “cash is king” is so well-known for a reason. It’s easy to make cash payments if you have the money on hand.
The slowest strategy, but one that would be one of the easiest to manage is to just wait until you’re back under Zelle’s payment limits. Zelle has both daily and rolling thirty-day limits, so for particularly large payments, this might not be the best choice. Still, if you’re only hitting the daily limit, you could use this option.
Common Uses for Zelle Pay
Frankly, the ways to use Zelle are limitless. In any instance where you need to pay someone, it is definitely an option. The most common ways that you're likely to use Zelle are:
Split the restaurant tab
When you're out at dinner with friends, you could ask your waiter or waitress to do a split check, but this quickly become unwieldy for large parties. Having one person use their card to pay for the whole bill makes the process much faster. You can then use Zelle to pay that person back. If you have the opportunity, try to be the one who pays for the bill with your credit card. It’s a great way to rack up some easy rewards.
Pay your rent
Another common situation in which you’ll need to send money quickly is when you’re paying rent. Your landlord is only going to want one check, not one check from every roommate. Ask your roommates to send you money with Zelle when you write the check for the landlord. In fact, you can even ask if the landlord accepts Zelle directly.
Buying and selling locally
Think about those times when you're scouring websites
Zelle has set out to compete with the big names in peer-to-peer mobile transfers. It has a lot of support behind it from the clout of the many banks that are supporting the service. With the service being so convenient, it looks promising -- hopefully, more banks will get partnered so that it becomes extremely easy to send money back and forth.
The payment limits are likely to be more than enough for the most common uses of personal payments, but we do expect that the limits will vary based on each customer's relationship with the bank.