5 Best Zelle Competitors and Alternatives You Should Know

What is Zelle?

Zelle is one of the most popular ways to quickly send money between bank accounts in the USA. It’s one of the simplest payment apps, with its benefits and drawbacks.

The app has definite cons, including its payment limits, lack of fraud protection, and inability to use a credit card to transfer money. You may be interested in using an alternative app, which is why we’ve put together a list of some of the top competitors. Let’s begin by talking about what Zelle gets right.

Direct payments

Unlike most mobile payment services, Zelle can be used through its standalone app or as part of your regular banking app or website (as long as it’s supported).

This has its obvious advantages, as money can be sent straight to your recipient’s bank account without the need for a middleman. It also means that your recipient doesn’t need to own the app to receive payments, making things a lot simpler.

No fees

Several other payment services, including Venmo and Cash App, charge fees ranging from 1.5% to 3% when sending money with a credit card or immediately depositing funds into a bank account. Zelle doesn’t charge any fees, which is a blessing when transferring large amounts of money to a different account.

1. Venmo

A couple of decades ago, if you wanted to pay a friend back for a drink or a movie ticket, you’d probably give them the cash. As we’re getting closer to a cashless society, apps like Venmo make it easier to pay your IOUs quickly and precisely through your phone. Venmo was launched in 2009 and is owned by PayPal.

Social payments

Venmo is one of the best alternatives to Zelle due to its focus on the social side of things. The idea behind the app is that you can split the costs of shared activities with your friends or take the hassle out of less fun things like paying utility bills with your housemates.

Overall, Venmo almost feels more like social media than banking with its feed letting you share emojis and animated gifs with your payment requests.

Pay businesses

Just because Venmo feels less formal than your everyday banking app doesn’t mean that it’s any less capable. As well as using it to pay your friends, you can also pay with Venmo on apps like Uber Eats or use it to pay local businesses. Each business has a unique QR code on Venmo, making it easy to scan and make contactless payments.

2. PayPal

PayPal is less about sharing costs with friends and more about making quick and secure online transactions. Several sites like eBay use PayPal to process payments, and there were just under 3,000,000 active monthly users at the beginning of 2021.

Secure international payments

One of the biggest attractions of using PayPal over Zelle is that it’s available all over the world, while the latter is only available to users in the USA. If you regularly send money to family abroad or make purchases from different countries, this can be a massive advantage of using the service. PayPal has advanced search features, which make it easy to know who exactly you’re sending money to.

Simplify online shopping

Another advantage of using PayPal is its online shopping features. Many sites offer you the ability to checkout with PayPal, which means you no longer have to enter your card info every time you want to complete a purchase on a new online store.

If you run into a problem, PayPal’s buyer protection helps you get refunded and covers the cost of shipping if you need to return an item.

3. Google Pay

Google Pay is the Californian tech giant’s answer to a mobile payment service. It’s designed for online checkouts on websites and apps and as a contactless payment method in stores that doesn’t require an internet connection. Unlike Apple Pay, Google Pay works on Android and iOS, making it a more accessible option than its main rival.

Make quick contactless payments

Google Pay is accepted at millions of stores around the world, you’ll be able to recognize them by the symbols on the card reader.

To make payments with your phone, all you have to do is unlock your device and hold it over the terminal until you see a tick appear. There’s no maximum payment limit, and each transaction is protected with multiple layers of security.

Add loyalty cards and boarding passes

One cool feature of Google Pay that we don’t often see is adding non-banking cards and passes. You can save your transit tickets to Google Pay and not worry about misplacing them on the day of your journey. The same goes for loyalty cards; save them to the app, and you’ll never have to search through your wallet or miss out on savings because you left your cards at home.

4. Wise

Two Estonian friends founded London-based company Wise, fed up with the large fees and unfair exchange rates when transferring money through traditional banks. They came up with Wise, which over 10 million customers now use around the globe. You can sign up in under a minute and download the app on both Android and Apple devices.

Real exchange rates

One of the biggest benefits of using Wise is that the company uses real exchange rates when sending money abroad, which is up to seven times cheaper on average than the leading UK banks. Currently, you can send money in 56 different currencies to 80 countries, and there’s always the option to request a currency if it’s not yet available.

Receive money like a local

As well as sending money all over the world, Wise also makes it simpler to receive money by giving you localized account details that you can share with friends, businesses, or employers around the world. For example, to receive US dollars, you can share your routing and account numbers, whereas for EU countries, you can share your SWIFT/BIC bank code and IBAN.

5. Cash App

If you’re interested in a Zelle alternative that goes the extra mile, Cash App is worthy of your attention. This app has all the payment and banking options you’d expect, plus some pretty great investing and debit card options.

It was developed by Square, Inc and launched in 2013. The app works on both iPhone and Android and is available to users in the USA and the UK.

Invest in stocks and Bitcoin

One of the best things about Cash App is just how fast and accessible its investment features are. You can start investing in stocks from as little as $1USD, and it’s also one of the quickest ways to convert dollars into Bitcoin, which takes just six taps from your Android or iPhone home screen.

It’s not as advanced as other brokerages, but it’s a great introduction to the stock market, and there are no monthly maintenance fees.

Cash Card Boosts

Like many of the Zelle competitors on this list, Cash App has its own debit card that can be used to make purchases online or in physical stores. The unique quirk about the Cash Card VISA is that you add what Cash App refers to as Boosts, which are discounts for popular stores and restaurant chains that can be used once every hour.