Hi, I’m Quinn Askeland. In 2016, I started Transumo after experiencing expensive, slow, and frustrating international transfers and payments through banks. My mission is simple: to help others simplify and reduce the cost of transfers and payments. Fortunately, today, there are excellent alternatives for international money transfers and payments. See My Full Bio.
Zelle is a way to send and receive money from your friends and family in the US for free.
However, there’s one major drawback: you can’t send money overseas with Zelle internationally.
So what are the best ways to transfer money overseas?
The good news is, there are tried and tested ways you send money overseas quickly and cheaply.
But first, it is important to know what Zelle can and can’t do.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and savings on transfers if you use some of the links! For more information, see my disclosures here.
1. What Does Zelle Do?
Zelle is part of the mobile banking apps of most US banks and credit unions that lets you send and receive money from friends and family for free in the US – even if you hold accounts at different banks or live in different states.
Zelle has a lot of users, but not all of them are satisfied with its service. On Trustpilot, it has a very low rating of 1.1/5 from 805 reviews. However, on App Store and Play Store, it has much better ratings, such as 4.8/5 from 496k reviews and 3.9/5 from 130k reviews respectively.
Zelle is integrated with Chase, Bank of America, Citi Bank, USBank, Wells Fargo, etc – see the full list here.
With Zelle you can:
- Send money to people for free by entering their email address or US phone number
- Receive money without sharing your bank details (just share your correct email address or phone number)
- Use Zelle even if your bank doesn’t support it yet (just download the Zelle Pay app)
- Receive money in the form of disbursements from organizations or the government
- Small businesses can also use Zelle to send and receive money for free
2. Zelle Costs & Fees
There are no costs to send and receive money with Zelle – all payments are instant and free!
So how does Zelle make money? Zelle is a private company, owned partly by some of the banks who use it including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Other banks and credit unions who use Zelle may pay fees to Zelle. That said, Zelle could run at a substantial loss and still make a lot of sense for the banks and credit unions that participate. The biggest benefit to the banks and credit unions may be that (because of Zelle) customers feel less motivation to start using alternate services like Cash App and Venmo which are rapidly growing.
3. Does Zelle Work Internationally?
For a start, you need a U.S. bank account and mobile phone number to set up Zelle in your bank’s mobile app or to sign up for Zelle Pay.
But here is the real problem:
So while you can access your US bank account overseas, using Zelle international is an issue.
4. Best Alternatives to Send Money Internationally
Since Zelle is not a good option to send money here are some alternatives.
You can simply use your bank, but expect to pay high fees for a wire transfer.
From the US, typically you will pay a Sending Fee of $25 to $50 USD + (2% – 4% on the Exchange Rate Conversion Fee) + Receiving Bank Fee.
All this can make transfers very costly.
At this point many people turn to either PayPal or Western Union, Ria or MoneyGram or another remittance service.
Unfortunately PayPal, the international fees can be relatively high.
If you need to send cash and want the receiver to also receive cash Western Union (review), Ria (review) and MoneyGram (review) may be your best options, but these too can be expensive ways to send your money.
Fortunately, over the last decade or so a bunch of great services with online efficiencies have made sending money from bank accounts much easier, faster, and cheaper.
5. Quick Comparison – Zelle International Alternatives
These three money transfer companies represent the cheapest and best money transfer services we think you can find for smaller transfers – below $7000 USD.
|Best Ways||Best for||Limitations|
|Wise||Small bank-to-bank transfers below $7000 to almost anywhere||No cash transfers|
|WorldRemit||Affordable bank-to-cash transfers to 130 countries worldwide. Multiple payout methods||Fees not as good as Wise|
|Remitly||Instant cash transfers from the US and 20 other developed countries to 100 countries worldwide||Personal transfers only, no transfer between the sending countries|
For transfers above $7000 in the US we recommend OFX (review) if you like doing things online but want a top-notch service (24/7) with low fees. We also really like Currencies Direct (review) who are exceptional when it comes to telephone-based customer service.
Zelle is a cheap and fastest way to send money to your friends and family in the US.
However, Zelle internationally does not work .
If you want to send small bank transfers abroad affordably, we recommend a leading money transfer service (above) who can save you money and provide better options for where they send the money and they can do it quickly!
What is the best way to send money overseas?
International money transfer services are safe, have fees often many times lower than banks and they can also be faster.
Why can’t Zelle handle international transfers?
International transfers are a completely different challenge to domestic transfers as they involve far more regulation, different currencies, technology and customer service.