You are currently viewing Zelle Vs. Venmo: Which To Use And When – Forbes

Zelle Vs. Venmo: Which To Use And When – Forbes

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Published: Dec 7, 2021, 7:00am
These days, cash apps let you move money about as quickly as you can spend it. Two of the most popular apps are Zelle and Venmo. But while they’re both members of the family of cash apps, they’re more like cousins than twins. Each app works differently and each might work out better for you than the other.
In the Zelle-vs.-Venmo competition, one app isn’t the clear winner. The victor in this competition depends on what you’re looking for in a mobile payment app.
Zelle (rhymes with sell) is a peer-to-peer or person-to-person app that enables you to send money quickly from your bank account to anybody you pick. Typically, Zelle capabilities are built into an app from a bank or credit union. More than 1,000 banks and credit unions in the U.S. offer Zelle within their apps.
In 2020, Zelle users sent $307 billion through 1.2 billion transactions. Zelle’s technology comes from Early Warning Services LLC, owned by seven major U.S banks: Bank of America, BB&T (now Truist), Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
You must have a U.S. checking or savings account to use Zelle. Zelle doesn’t charge fees to use its service.
Once you’re enrolled with Zelle, you just need an email address or U.S. mobile phone number to send money directly from a banking app to friends and family. Zelle says its app “can be used to send money to almost anyone you know and trust with a bank account in the U.S.”
You also can sign up with Zelle through its app if it’s not available from your financial institution. You’ll need to download the app from the App Store or Google Play and then enter your mobile number and the number of either a Visa or Mastercard debit card.
No matter which route you go, you’ll enter the amount you want to send in the app. If the recipient has already signed up with Zelle, the money will appear within minutes in their bank account. If they’re not yet enrolled in Zelle, they’ll be notified about how to obtain the money. It may take one to three business days before someone gets the money after enrolling in Zelle.
Aside from sending and receiving money via Zelle, you can accept payments through the app. This can include money owed to you by government agencies, schools or companies.
Zelle offers several advantages compared with Venmo. Among them are:
Just as with any app, Zelle has disadvantages. They include:
If you need to send or receive money fast, Zelle might be your go-to cash app. Beyond that, though, the Zelle app isn’t an all-around utility player in the same way that the Venmo app is.
Some people might think Venmo is simply a Zelle clone. It’s not. Yes, Venmo lets you send and receive money, much as Zelle does—to pay your best friend for your portion of a joint gift you gave or to cover your half of the monthly rent, for example.
But Venmo is more flexible than Zelle is. For instance, a Venmo user can:
You must meet three basic requirements to get a Venmo account:
Venmo’s app is available from the App Store and Google Play. Owned by PayPal, Venmo had more than 80 million users as of November 2021.
Unlike Zelle, Venmo does charge for some services. Its basic offerings are free, with no monthly or annual fees. These include sending money from a linked bank account, linked debit card or Venmo account, and making a regular transfer to your linked bank account.
But premium features come at a price. Want to use your credit card to send money to somebody? You’ll pay a 3% fee. Want to instantly transfer money from your Venmo account to a linked bank account or debit card? You’ll have to pay a 1.5% fee (minimum 25 cents, maximum $15).
If you’re seeking more flexibility, then Venmo might be a better choice than Zelle. That’s because Venmo’s offerings are more extensive, such as the ability to make in-store and online purchases. It’s an especially attractive app if a lot of your friends and family already use the app.
But whereas the Zelle app charges no fees, the Venmo app adds fees for several features. Plus, you might not gain access to cash as quickly as you might with the Zelle app.
Generally speaking, Zelle and Venmo are safe to use. Both incorporate security features into their apps, such as data encryption, purchase verification, multifactor authentication and fraud protection. Also, both Zelle and Venmo stress that you should send money only to trusted recipients, not strangers, to avoid being ripped off.
Despite these safeguards, users of Zelle and Venmo are susceptible to being victimized by scammers.
In October 2021, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) put providers of payment technology on notice that their business practices are coming under greater scrutiny, in part to shield consumers from payment fraud.
“Scammers use mobile payment services to trick people into sending money or merchandise without holding up their end of the deal. For example, a scammer may sell you concert or sports tickets but then never actually give them to you,” the CFPB warns. “Or a scammer might purchase an item from you, appear to send a payment and then cancel it before it reaches your bank account.”
Among other steps, the bureau suggests setting up password, PIN or fingerprint capabilities on an app like Zelle or Venmo to add an extra layer of protection.
Neither Zelle nor Venmo is a bad option for digital payments. Both function well as cash apps. The choice between Zelle and Venmo boils down to what you want a cash app to do for you—with Venmo being more robust than Zelle—and whether you’d rather pay no fees at all (Zelle) or you’re comfortable paying fees for premium offerings (Venmo).
John Egan is a freelance writer, editor and content marketing strategist in Austin, Texas. His work has been published by Experian,, Bankrate,, National Real Estate Investor, U.S. News & World Report, Urban Land magazine and other outlets. John earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in communication from Southern New Hampshire University.
Daphne Foreman is the Banking and Personal Finance Analyst for Forbes Advisor. She has worked as a personal finance editor, writer, and content strategist covering banking, credit cards, insurance and investing. As a small business owner and former financial advisor, Daphne has first-hand experience with the challenges individuals face in making smart financial choices.


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